Draco decided to take a walk before he lost his temper. All the fussing was getting to him again and he didn't really *want* to yell at them, but it might be necessary if he didn't get away. He strolled down the hallway. It was dark and cool, being the middle of the night, so he had the halls all to himself. Well, nearly to himself. He found a familiar ghost and nodded to it. "Good evening."
"Escaping?" Slytherin asked dryly. Draco nodded. "You know they do it because they care."
"I do, but I'm still not used to it so it's upsetting me." He leaned against the nearest wall, touching his stomach because the baby was active. "I've been trying hard to keep from snapping at them. But it's not necessary."
"They're experiencing the magic of having a child through you," Slytherin reminded him. "Why Xander one doesn't have one himself I don't know."
"Because he said he has enough," Draco reminded him. "We have no idea what will become of the next one if he has one. William is a hellion and Maeve looks so innocent even though she's not. Some person will have one hell of a problem with her some day."
"You said that they weren't going to be so close. Besides, they're first cousins."
"Very true. Your son and she will remain close, but he will find his own spouse among the best friends."
Draco groaned. "You're being obtuse on purpose, aren't you?"
Slytherin nodded. "Yes, I am." He smiled. "How very astute of you." The human moaned and slid down the wall. "Kicked?"
"Pains. I get cramps now and then, nothing major, just painful," Draco ground out. He took a few deep breaths and forced himself to relax. "Which one?"
"Hmm? Oh, William. He does adore your adoptive father so." He floated closer. "Would you like some help?"
"No, I'm fine," Draco said, forcing himself to stand up. He rubbed his stomach a few times, keeping his daughter calm. "This is definitely my last." Slytherin laughed. "What?" he asked, starting to get worried.
"I remember my wife and concubine saying the same thing. Eventually they wanted to hold a small child again."
"Ah, but I'll have grandchildren before this one starts school," Draco pointed out.
"Indeed, you will," Slytherin agreed. Draco stared at him and he smiled. "What? You sounded so very sure so I supported you."
"Of course you did. Which one?" He crossed his arms.
"You look like a pissed off pixie," Slytherin said in delight. "Your hair is tousled and you're like some succulent sex slave kidnaped to be kept." Draco raised an eyebrow. "No?"
"No. I'm much too much a top to ever not kill someone who tried to keep me."
"If you say so. How did your summer go? Did he learn anything?"
"He did let me spoil him and he's slowed down at bit."
"If you say so."
"What has he done now?" Draco asked pushing off the wall. "I noticed he was out of bed."
"Come, I'll show you." He led the way to an unused hallway and down to the last classroom. He opened the door and let the boy see. The moonlight was hitting just right, shining off Xander's chest and sword as he moved through a complicated series of movements. It made his breath catch as Xander shifted and moved slower, slowing himself down until he was moving so slowly it looked painful as the weight of the sword wore on his muscles. Xander moved his lower half, slowly still, and a little more weakly, but his legs were in keeping with the other movements.
Draco pulled back and closed the door, nodding the ghost away. "I didn't know anyone could do that these days."
"It's not that hard, I trained myself," Xander said from behind them. He was leaning against the doorway, smiling at them. "You could watch if you want. I don't mind." He moved back inside and they followed him. "For future reference, I heard you breathing. This is meditative for me." He pushed a chair into a far corner. "Stay there and don't come closer. I'm still occasionally stumbling and I don't want to hurt you."
"That would be nice," Draco agreed, smiling at him. He watched as Xander picked up a battle axe, a large, heavy one, and moved back into his former position in the middle of the room. The other man shifted, then turned to face away from him, making Draco snicker.
"Sorry, I'm not used to being watched. Iggy hasn't watched me in years and George refuses." He shrugged but stayed facing away. He started to move it, testing the weight and the heft, then slowly started to weave it around his body.
Draco watched silently, pleased that he had seen this. Xander wasn't weak and helpless, even if he seemed to be. This man had many layers it was amazing. He smiled at the small curse as Xander moved his wrist in the wrong direction. "Relax, I'm not here. Do what you would normally do." Xander nodded but didn't turn around. Eventually he did, but his eyes were closed. He started to move again, regaining his meditative state soon enough. This was amazing! Xander knew exactly where his blade was, he was stepping into the blade's path and missing himself. Draco shifted in the seat as the blade came close, but Xander missed him by about a meter and backed up. He moved around the room, missing everything that was settled around the room. He nearly nicked a chair's arm but it was missed. Slowly, Xander slowed down again. The movements became so slow the blade gleamed. The sharpened edge was so slow you could see the sharpening marks and a small fault in the blade. Eventually, he came to a stop, panting heavily. Draco clapped. It had been an amazing show. "You taught yourself?" he asked when Xander looked at him. He got a panting nod. "Are you all right?"
"I do this full one once a week. Every other time I do lunges and the more traditional 'going to kill you' practices." He flopped down into a chair and tipped his head back. "I wish the heat would die. This is horrible."
"You need a shower," Draco agreed with a smile. Xander flipped him off. "I think we've been over that before."
"It would be acceptable," Slytherin pointed out. Xander looked at him. "It wouldn't be the first time a born declared someone to be his family because he wanted them for himself and it was easier to get him now." He smiled. "That was very impressive. Does your son do that as well?"
Xander shook his head. "He knows how to swing one if he needs to but nothing else." He forced himself to stand up and put his weapons up. Then he helped Draco up. "Come on, let's go shower. You look like you had a cramp."
"I did, but it was a small one." Draco took Xander's arm to walk with him. "How long have you been doing this?"
"Since I was seventeen. I thought it'd be helpful so I trained myself using some movies and eventually a few books on the subject. No one really knew I could do it." He escorted them to the tower so they could use the good showers. "If you want, you can talk to me while I hose off the sweat."
"If you want." Draco sat on the side of the tub, waiting until Xander was in the shower. "What else can you do?"
"Just that with those weapons. I found them the most useful so I trained myself with them. I didn't think a lance would be helpful at all." Xander dipped his head under the water. "I thought about doing some advanced training with fencing foils but they're too delicate to take off a head with and the dancing that you do when you fence would only throw me off."
"How long after getting out of the hospital did you start again?"
"Two weeks. As soon as I could stand up again." Xander grabbed his shampoo and washed his hair. "I do crossbow practice tomorrow night if you want to help."
"No thank you. I'm hoping for rain tomorrow."
"The weather people in London said it was possible," Xander agreed, rinsing out the shampoo and adding some conditioner. "If it is, then we've got a game on Saturday." He rinsed that out and turned so he could grab his shower gel and his bath puff. "How did you like the first one? I saw you in the stands."
"I thought that you did something to possess them," Draco said honestly.
"I told them that I'd give them a half-hour backrub if they won," Xander said, clearly smiling as he turned to work on his back.
"Ah!" Draco said happily. He had been gifted with one of those and it had made him limp. He grunted and rubbed his stomach. "Would you mind stopping that, you?"
Xander laughed and stuck his head out of the shower. "She dancing?"
"No, she's kicking my back. It's painful." He stood up and walked over, looking at Xander's legs. "They do look better," he noted.
"Yeah, I think whatever Iggy gave me for my back finished healing the damage from the mold incident." He ducked back in and finished washing up, then came out to grab his towel. "You can have it if you want."
"I'm fine. I took one earlier and the basement is cool again tonight. You might want to dry your hair."
Xander grabbed a second towel and worked on his hair, then headed over to his bedroom. He grabbed some pajamas and pulled them on, then tossed both towels toward the baskets. "There, I'm done for the night." He looked at Draco, and smiled. "Want a backrub?"
"I'd adore one," Draco admitted. "Up here?"
"Or down there. Whichever is easier for you."
"I don't like how everyone stares at my stomach."
"You didn't last time either, but you got over it." He pulled his 'son' closer and gave him a hug, stroking his back gently. "It'll be over soon and you'll be thin again." Draco nodded, starting to sniffle. "I know the hormones are horrible and are starting to ambush you. We love you enough to put up with you at your crankiest and only get you back a little."
Draco pulled back, sniffling some more. "I don't know what this is."
"I saw you cry at a soup commercial," Xander reminded him. "This is normal. Remember when Tara was preggers with Zach and she used to cry whenever someone told her she was pretty." Draco nodded and scrubbed at his face. "Come on, I'll work on your back and you'll get off, then we'll all sleep."
"Okay. Down there?"
"Everyone should be asleep by now," Xander reminded him. "George took a sleeping potion because his back was bothering him again."
"All right. Am I staying with you?"
"If you want. If not, you could go curl up with Iggy. Or Fred." He walked Draco down the stairs and down to their temporary quarters. "Go to the bathroom and I'll be over here," he said quietly. Draco nodded and went to clean himself up. Xander shifted George on their bed and made room for Draco to lay down. As soon as he came out, he helped him settle himself on his side, making sure he was comfortable before he started. "Tell me if I hurt you or make you cramp," he whispered. He started to slowly stroke, getting slowly harder to take the stress knots out. Draco started to moan in pleasure and he smiled, enjoying this side of his gifts. As soon as the younger man was a puddle, he started to work the whole back, making him sigh in relief. Pregnancy might make Draco look good, but it was hell on his back. He noticed a little bit of puffiness around his 'son's chest and smiled. No wonder he hadn't wanted anyone to see him without his shirt. As soon as Draco started rolling back into his hands, he helped him up. "Go play in the bathroom," he told him. "Then come cuddle."
Draco smiled and walked away, weaving a little on his way. While he was in there finishing himself off, he was joined by Katie. He jumped. "What are you doing?"
"Sorry," she mumbled, looking him over. "You're cute like that," she said blearily. She moved him and used the toilet, then washed her hands and walked out.
Draco's mouth hung open. He had never been interrupted like that before. How very rude. And why had she been without a shirt herself? He groaned and finished himself off, then went back to the bed so he could crawl in between the couple. They cuddled and it was nice. He had missed this in his daily life. Damn, he needed a long-term lover.
The rain started late Friday night and everyone woke up to it pouring. The students slowly came out of their hiding spots and ranged around the open areas, taking in big breaths of rain soaked cool air. It was even a bit cold out there, but that was all right. There was some general laughter at the people playing in the rain, including Fred and George, but everything would be fine again. Rain had finally come to Hogwarts and everything would go back to normal. The students slowly packed up and headed up to their rooms, gathering clothes, animals, even some of the games to take back with them, and ran back up to fight over who got the good showers.
Xander smiled as he leaned on the railing, watching his mate and brother-in-law play. Pretty soon the kids joined them and they danced around and got covered in the mud as well.
Snape walked up behind him. "Is that my son?"
"Yup. Your son is the one who just threw the mud at Ron and Hagrid," he said, pointing at one of the mud-covered bodies. He looked at him. "You survived the heat as well?"
"Tara and I both did. The seventh years were rather calm and most of them used the time to study. How was your family?"
"We're finally able to go back upstairs. I'm sure Draco will be thankful for his harder bed and being able to sleep alone." Snape gave him a look. "Most of the beds down there were broken and we weren't about to dive around in the back of the room. He spent most of the time between us or between Iggy and Raena." He smiled as the girls ran out and jumped on the twins, sending them crashing into the mud. "I guess tomorrow's games are back on."
"That's what I was looking for you. Wood got an owl saying that the other team doesn't want to play in the rain."
"They'll play in blinding heat but not in the rain?" Snape nodded so Xander leaned out over the railing. "The game tomorrow might be canceled," he called down. "They don't like the rain."
"Then they'll forfeit," Alicia called back.
"Unless it's a downpour so hard you can't see through it, we're playing," Fred yelled.
"I'll tell Oliver." Xander turned and looked at Snape. "Thanks for bringing that news. Need any help with the seeping problem in your office?"
"I had forgotten about that. I'll check on it and call for you if you need it." He walked away, heading away from Xander.
Xander headed to Oliver's room, tapping on the portrait over his door. "We want to play unless it's so bad you can't see through the rain."
Oliver handed over the note. "They have a member who's got an anger problem when it rains. He basically goes primal and hurts people on purpose so he's locked up." Xander shrugged. "They don't have an alternate."
"That's their fault," Xander said honestly. "We went out and found people, they can call people from their old teams as well."
"They want to hold it off for two weeks, would you accept that?"
George snuck up behind Xander and grabbed him, making him muddy as well. "Why?"
"They've got someone with rain rage."
"Yay," George told him. "Let them call their old teammates like we did."
"Flint's heading the team," Oliver said with a faint smile. "He can't find anyone." He smiled at Xander as he tried to wipe himself clean. "Would you be willing to postpone?"
"If we must. We're not happy about it. Most everyone is thinking play or forfeit."
"Then I'll write back and allow a postponement. Thank you, guys. I want to see his team play badly."
"Hell, I just want to beat him into the mud," George told him. He kissed Xander's neck. "What did you do to Draco? He's blushing at Katie."
Xander turned to look at him. "She walked in on him last night in the bathroom after I gave him a backrub."
Oliver shook his head. "Your hands should be licensed," he teased. "Go away before you make me muddy."
George grabbed him and hoisted him up, carrying him down to toss him in the mud. "He doesn't want to play!" he announced. The girls squealed and pounced him, getting him filthy and slippery. "Flint wants a postponement. Tell him to come up and tell us to our face, Oliver."
"Fine," Oliver sighed. He got up and brushed at the mud. "I'm messy. I've even got mud in my hair."
Maeve loaded up on her mud and trotted over to hug him. "Mud is fun," she said innocently. He smiled down at her and noticed the extra mud. "Play with us, Uncle Oliver?"
Lucien smirked and threw a few clumps of mud at him. "Got you!" Maeve snorted and picked up more mud and threw it back. "Meany!" he complained. He got her back.
"Mud fight," Fred called, knocking Oliver back into it with an evil grin. "Tell us if we hurt you."
"I don't need to be dirty. Xander, help!"
"I'm not coming out there, they'll get me as well." The girls looked at him and he went 'eep' and disappeared, heading down to the town. He found Madam Rosemerta, who was the other official on the league, giving her a smile. "Did Flint send you a message as well?" She nodded. "We will play, or we will postpone for two weeks."
"The kids have a game that day," she pointed out.
"Yay. We can play before or after. Or they can play tomorrow. Their choice. We're also willing to accept their forfeit if they'd rather," he said innocently.
She laughed. "Xander, you can be so mean. Don't sit on anything. I don't need to clean up after the mud." She patted him on the side of the face. "Flint is in the back corner. You can't miss his teeth."
"Cool." Xander strolled back that way, waving at a few people he knew. "Flint?" he asked the guy with the teeth. The man looked up and sneered at him. "Sorry, I got pounced by the muddy children. Are you still determined not to play tomorrow?"
"It wouldn't be fair. It's not like we have enough people to rotate like your team does."
Xander shrugged. "We've only got one extra person and she hasn't come to practice yet. We're in a good mood today. You can play us in two weeks, tomorrow, or forfeit."
"What did your *husband* say about that?" he sneered.
"The same thing my adopted son, Draco, did. That you should have to forfeit if you can't play," he said with a cruel smirk of his own. "Your choice."
"Doesn't the school have a game in two weeks?" Xander nodded. "Who's playing?"
"Slytherin against Gryffindor." A few people hissed and started to talk to each other. "Ravena swears she's catching it this time," he told them, egging on the betting. Madam Rosemerta sighed, but she got ten percent of all the money so she wasn't so pissed. "Up to you. We can even play at another pitch if you want."
"You'd miss your own children's game?" Flint asked.
Xander shrugged. "I think we'll be done in more than enough time and we'll have family there watching it for us. The kids will understand. Morning game, ten, pick a pitch."
"I have a friend at Chudley, I'll ask them if we can borrow theirs. They're closest and have a floo port." He stood up and shook Xander's hand. "We will kill you. You'll be a widow before my team is done with you."
Xander snickered. "No, you won't. If you hurt the twins, I'm bringing in my niece. Simone is quite the beater. And the other kids will play for us." He turned and walked away. "Besides, my team has wonderful incentive to win and smash you into the mud. We'll see who needs dental care at the end of the game." He accepted a small package from the bartender. "What's this?"
"Food for Mr. Malfoy. He called down and begged so nicely," the bartender told him.
"Okay." Xander popped back to the school. He was pounced from behind. "I've got snacks for Draco, give me a moment," he said quickly. Draco came over, taking the box from him with a smile and a nod. "Okay, then we're playing at ten in two weeks against the idiots. They're finding an alternate pitch and Flint thinks we're going to die." Everyone laughed. "Now you can pounce me."
"I was going to throw you into a shower," George said in his ear. "After all, you're muddy."
"Whose fault is that?" Xander asked, allowing himself to be led to the showers. He was shoved against the wall and his mouth attacked, so it was all good. George would get him clean again.
Fred walked up to Xander, a sad expression on his face. "Our seeker can't play that Saturday."
"Damn," Xander said, thinking about it. "Why?"
"His daughter's wedding."
"Oh, so he *really* can't play," he agreed. A bright idea hit him. "What do the rules say about the kids playing?"
"Not a thing," Fred said, starting to smile. Then he frowned. "They've got a game."
"Good point, and she's as good as Harry is." He smiled at his brother-in-law. "Do you want to ask her or should someone else?"
"Sure. I'll be seeing her when I help Ron give exams in a few classes. Or I could go pull her out of class. She's got Lupin and Black and they wanted us to win as well." He winked. "Leave it to me, I will find an alternate seeker." He walked out of his classroom and headed up to the Transfiguration classroom. He patiently leaned against the wall, out of the way, until the classbell rang. The kids still had a moment before they came out. Sirius was yelling at them. As soon as the door opened, Xander waved Mellie over. She smiled sweetly up at him. "Mellie, I have an important favor to ask of you, my dear little one." He put an arm around her shoulders and walked her away so she wouldn't be late to her next class. "You know about the fun league most of your family plays in?" She nodded, still smiling. "Our seeker for our next game is going to be missing it due to a wedding. And since you're the first one that came to my mind, and I know you want to prove yourself as good as your father, I decided I should give you first right of refusal."
"You picked me over my brother and Ravena?" she asked, sounding excited.
"Well, yeah. Not only do they have games, this is a mostly older Slytherin team. Their captain is the one that your daddy used to play against. I think you'd be more than able to handle them and your brother and Ravena would be overkill. Why bring out the super ones when you're playing against normal people," he said with a smile.
"You think I'm a normal seeker?"
"No, but they will."
She brightened back up, she didn't like being compared to her big brother. She was just as good, but she didn't have the desire that he did for the snitch. To her it was a game, not a calling. "Do you really think I'm good enough, Uncle Xander?"
"I think you're a wonderful seeker, Mellie. You scare the hell outta me when we play against you. Besides, you're more used to working with your Uncles. Ron can only work with Ravena and the other kids, you're more generalized and that makes you the better seeker. Did you know that your brother might not be able to play pro because he can't work with anybody?"
"Wow. I hadn't thought about that," she admitted. She was bouncing against him. "I can really play?"
"Yup. We'll be practicing tonight so you'll have to find a broom, or we'll have to find you a broom if you can't. You find me tonight after dinner and I'll introduce you around so you know everybody and we'll deal with the broom issue. Got it?" She nodded. "You're a wonderful girl, Mellie Potter, and just as special as Ron is, if not more so because you don't have your sister's temperament and he does sometimes."
"He can throw fits," she agreed, chuckling in delight. "I'm much more like daddy on his calm days."
"Yes, you are," Draco agreed as he walked up to them. "I take it you heard about your seeker?"
"Yes, and I just told Mellie she was going to be helping us."
"Yeah, I'm going to trounce those nasty buggers into the pitch," she said excitedly.
"I'll lend you my backup broom if you want," Draco assured her. She beamed. "Go to class before you're late." Mellie hurried down the hall. "Why her?"
"Because she has to prove that she's good. She's also calm and steady, unlike Little Ron and your daughter, who can't work with people they don't know. She's also just as great as those two are without the stress of *needing* the snitch. I think she'll do fine."
"You do remember that those people are experienced and live to hurt others?"
Xander smirked at him. "She can hold her own. She did it against Agatha for years. You guys keep underestimating Mellie and it never pays to. She is so much like her father's dutiful and fighting sides. The Harry that you saw in the advanced classes is Mellie now. It never pays to underestimate the quiet ones. Willow was one of those and look how she turned out. Tara was so shy and quiet that she stuttered."
Draco shuddered. "Merlin, I had no idea she had been one of the quiet ones."
"And shy. She was nearly invisible girl."
"No, I meant the girl that went invisible," Xander told him. He turned and headed for his classroom. "Got to torture third years who don't believe. Have fun."
"Gee, thanks," Draco said at his most dry. He shook his head and headed back to his classroom. He had some things to get done before he had another group to torture and make miserable.
George looked up as someone tugged on the back of his shirt, and turned to find his niece standing there. "Mellie, are you practicing with us?" he asked with a grin and a hair ruffle.
"Uncle Xander said I could have my own fun beating up the Slytherin idiots, though the ones at school leave me along because Aggie said so," she told him. She grinned. "Aggie remembers my last fit at her fondly."
"Really?" Oliver said, smiling down at her. "Are you as good as your brother?"
She nodded. "I'm like Daddy's calm side," she told him. "I can do it, but I don't have the desire for the snitch that Ronnie has. I'm just as good though."
"We'll see," Alicia told her with a smile. "You are so adorable."
"Thank you. I tried really hard to keep my hair out of my face." She patted the multiple pigtails around her head. "I think it'll stay for now. I'll figure out something more stunning for the game."
"You're not going to your house's game?"
She shrugged. "I'd have to cheer for both seekers. I like Ravena. I get funny looks when I say that so even the kids in my house leave me alone most of the time."
"I'm sure they'll figure out that you're related soon enough," George assured her. "Where is our beloved captain and my twin?"
"In the shop finishing up something," Katie told him. "You even look like your father, all except for the texture of your hair."
"I started out with Ronnie's hair, but fortunately mine got darker. I only got mum's texture." She tightened up her ponytails. "Can I take off and practice?"
"Sure," George told her, watching as she zipped off. "She's good."
"She's so tiny," Katie put in. "The big bruisers will target her."
Xander and Fred walked out together, with a fixed bludger, tossing it over. "Now it won't come for Oliver."
"Xander, she's just a kid."
"With her father's spark of determination, her brother's skills, and her sister's mannerisms. Mellie can hold her own. I did ask Harry's permission and he agreed, she deserved the chance to prove herself. Otherwise she won't be able to play until her brother graduates in four years."
"I guess, but she's still so delicate," Alicia told him.
George laughed. "She lived with Agatha and held her own. Aggie *never* picked on Mellie."
"That's because she knew Mellie could tromp her," Mellie said from above them. "I'm not that delicate. I played against my uncles all the time and they don't play nice either." She smirked down at them. "Plus, I help the beater/chaser group practice since Ronnie is so delicate."
"Should we start calling him Ronnie?" Fred asked. She nodded. "Let me guess, he got pissed at the comparison?"
"No, he's tired of being little." She beamed down at him. "Come on up, the breeze is light and nice."
Everyone mounted up and went up to practice, and everyone thought she was more than good enough to play with them by the end. Mellie had gotten pissed at the bludger and stolen her uncle's bat from his hand, hitting it at a building so it would leave her alone. That more than showed them that she was tough enough to play with them.
Xander walked onto the temporary pitch and nodded. It was good enough and there were seats on top of the flat buildings since they were behind the shops. More than enough room for everyone. He looked at his crew, who were on top of the shop, then at the other team. "Oliver, where do I know that one guy from?" he asked, pointing.
"He's a pro player," Oliver said with a frown. He finished pulling on his ref's outfit and flew over there. "Professional players aren't allowed to play," he reminded Flint. "Remove him or prove that he retired."
"It's a World Cup year, none of you are playing," Flint pointed out.
"The rules state that no professional player may play, even in the off seasons. That's how we got around the League. Remove him or forfeit." He summoned over his co-ref, pointing at the player. "He's a pro."
"It's not like we have multiple subs," Flint said angrily. "You're hogging all them." Madam Rosemerta went for the rule book.
"They had an emergency substitution. Their seeker has his daughter's wedding to attend," Oliver noted.
Madam Rosemerta flew up to join them, rule book in hand. "Technically, the rules do say that professional players may not play in the off-season. There is no exception made for World Cup years. I did call over and the National League people said it wouldn't be very fair to the non-professional players, but that we could start a third ranking for them if they wanted during World Cup years." She closed the rule book and looked at the Captain. "Can you prove he quit?"
"No," he ground out. "Fine, then I want to substitute from their team." Oliver snorted. "What? You think they won't play? We want Malfoy."
"Draco!" Oliver yelled. Draco came over. "Would you please inform them that you're still listed as a professional player?"
Draco smiled at Flint. "I am. I'm listed as being on my team and not on sabbatical." He shrugged. "Sorry."
"Fine, then I'll go up to the school and get Slytherin's seeker, Mr. Malfoy's daughter."
"They have a game today," Draco reminded him. "I won't allow you to make the team lose against the Gryffs because you're too vain to call on other former members of your house."
"They're not interested," he admitted coldly. "We can't play without a seeker."
"You can, but you won't win," Madam Rosemerta corrected primly. "You've got ten minutes to make a substitution or forfeit." She looked at Oliver. "I'm set if you need to leave for the children's game." He smiled at her. "Any bets on the snitch this time? I know what Xander said, but he's very close to the children. I wanted a more professional opinion."
Oliver snorted. "Ravena's pissed at the boy because he pushed her into the pool this summer, swore he'd be eating crow with some chopsticks she pulled outta her hair. Besides, he's been being blinded by her beauty." He winked. "They're so cute."
"I'm sure," she agreed. "I saw him down in town the last weekend free and he was talking about how Ravena would love this and that."
The team in front of them broke apart from their discussion. "Fine, we want Potter's son."
"You have to clear that with Harry," Oliver reminded him. "He's not in town but we can call him. It'll take a few minutes, he's in London in a muggle hotel."
"Why?" another chaser sneered. "Too delicate and hiding?"
"The League forced him to, took him from his house in the middle of the night," Oliver corrected. "Malofy, you got that phone thingy with you?"
"I do, but I can't get a signal up here. Let me floo home and call him."
"You use muggle stuff?"
"Yes, it's quite handy," Draco told him smugly. "It puts some of the scared wizards off their balance when I do so." He flew down, heading into the joke shop to use their floo. He came out a few minutes later, dusting himself off. "He said no," he called. "Said it was anyone but Flint, but he doesn't want his son scared off." He joined them. "Potter also reminded you that his son has a game today as well." He looked over at Oliver. "He's on his way but he had to put on decent clothes. He just got out of the gym."
"That's fine," Madam Rosemerta said calmly. She looked around. "Do you have another choice? You could pick Ravenclaw's if you wanted, she's rather good. Probably at Mellie's father's level if truth be told." She looked over there. "Is the poor dear taking a nap?" she said with a bit of 'aww' in her voice.
Oliver looked back and smiled, then nodded. "She said she was up late last night writing a paper for Snape."
"We could pick him," one of the chasers said. "I hear he used to play."
Oliver coughed. "He used to play chaser, I looked up his qualifications. He played his last two years of school and nothing since." Flint glared at him. "I wanted to know what qualifications he had to ref our game and it wasn't like I could ask him. The book was in the library if you wanted to look through it."
"Why would I have to? I trust my head."
"True, and I still trust mine now that she's recovered from dealing with your year." Draco coughed, trying to hide his amusement. "Or their year," he added for good measure, he knew McGonagall had nearly been driven to drink by the Potter/Weasley/Granger trio and their fight against Malfoy. "Just remember, you can't ask Potter either, he's still listed as a pro player too."
Flint swore under his breath and looked at his team. He looked at Madam Rosemerta. "It's not fair that they've got extra players. All spots should be filled before that's allowed. I know for a fact that two teams don't have enough players."
"They've formed into one team," George said as he joined them. "Are we playing or not? Some of us would rather be doing more enjoyable things right now than waiting." He glanced back, then smiled. "My husband needs a good and proper snogging to calm him down for this afternoon's game watching. He's being bouncy again."
Madam Rosemerta broke out in loud, nearly violent hysterical laughter. "Is that what's wrong with him some nights then?" George nodded. "I'll have to remember that when you two start in the bar again." She looked around, even some of the crowd that had heard was laughing. "We can hold off the game for ten more minutes if you need it."
"He won't be able to play," Oliver told her.
"Why? Does it hurt when he takes it?" Flint asked sarcastically.
"No, he routinely wears me out," George admitted. "He's the best cure for insomnia ever invented. Just ask our lovely ladies."
"Speaking of which, isn't that Johnson?" Draco asked, pointing.
"Oh, it is." George zipped down, grabbing her for a hug. "You came! You made us so happy! Even if they are trying to break rules again! Come on, we'll go wait with the family." He smiled and waved at the little girl. "Would you like to come talk with us as well? We have treats, normal ones and pranks." The girl smiled shyly at him. "Come along then." He grabbed Angela and hoisted her up in front of him, then grabbed her daughter and her bags, taking her over to where everyone else was waiting. "Look who the adopted son spotted."
"Gee, he can see something that's not gold and shiny?" Katie teased.
"That and our sister," George told her, carefully letting everything down onto the roof. "Welcome to our insanity. Xander, this is Angelina, the other third of our wonderful women." He smiled at the little girl, who was staring at Mellie. "That's Harry's youngest daughter."
"I heard one of them went bad," Angelina said quietly.
"No, that's her older sister. She's a fifth year in Slytherin," Fred assured her. "Mellie, wake up, sweetheart."
Mellie yawned like a young lion cub and stretched. "Hi. Who're you?" she asked the little girl as she sat up. "I'm Mellie Potter."
"You're Harry's little girl?" the little girl asked, smiling at her. "I watch him play a lot."
"Yup, I'm his youngest child." Mellie shook her hand. "What's your name?"
"Awww," Katie said, smiling at her friend. "You usually call her Alicia around me."
"She's Katie Alicia," Angelina admitted, starting to smile. She looked at the building beneath them and then at the twins, who were grinning. "When you said a cave, I thought you were kidding."
"Nope, my husband built it for us," George told her, pointing at where Xander was checking Oliver's shoulder for him. "Oliver, get off my husband."
"He's groping me, not the other way around," Oliver said patiently. He smiled at Angelina. "Welcome to the insanity. You'll be assimilated soon too." Xander finished adjusting his sling and let him go so he came over and hugged her.
"Wow," little Katie whispered, pointing at him for Mellie's benefit. "Is that Oliver Wood?"
Mellie nodded. "Yup. That's Uncle Oliver. He lives in our old house now. Daddy said he needed the quiet more." She giggled with the girl. "Uncle Oliver, this is Katie Alicia. I'm sure she'll be playing some day."
"Not if her father has any say," Angelina said dryly. Everyone else laughed. "He's serious. We had a major fight over me teaching her how to fly. He hates flying."
"Pfft," Alicia snorted. "She has to learn, all of us do once we're at school." Angelina shook her head but Alicia nodded. "Even the blind witch they had starting a few years back had to learn."
"Andrea has a voice guided broom, it's very special," Ron told them. "I helped her find it." He shook Angelina's hand. "Don't know if you remember me, I'm the tortured younger brother." She chuckled. "If you want, I'll sit out and let you play with the girls today. Hey, Oliver, let the arsehole play. It's not like he plays very well. Harry and Draco both beat him every time they run against him. Hell, even Percy could fly circles around him."
Oliver smiled. "If we do that, the game won't be legal and you'll be a game short for the championship."
"I'm not giving up the Xander-at-my-beck-and-call prize for anything," Katie told Ron. "But if you want to switch with her, we'll let you. You can go play in the shop or something."
Ron shrugged. "I thought she might like it. She can even use my broom if she wants."
"You let people use your broom?" Angelina asked, sounding like she was shocked. No *good* player let anyone use their broom, especially not a specially made one like a Venagen. "Didn't Harry teach you anything?"
"Love, I used to make brooms," Ron told her. "I'll know if you do something to it." He grinned. "All up to you of course."
"Flint's back up and ranting," Oliver warned. "Be ready, he's trying to take away our alternates."
"He can fly without the broom," Xander said sweetly. "Don't you guys have orthodontists?"
Everyone cracked up laughing. "George asked the same thing," Katie gasped.
"The boy is a complete and utter tool," Alicia agreed. "Tried to menace me once by threatening to have some of his boys attack me one night. I reminded him that they'd have to catch me and they weren't fast enough to catch me on the ground or in the air." She tightened her ponytail. "Mellie, have I told you that your hair is very cute today?"
She beamed. "The girls did mine after they did Ronnie's. Ana is *excellent* at doing hair. She's going to make a good mommy some day."
"Yes she will," Fred agreed. "What's their problem anyway?"
"Their seeker is a pro," Oliver told him. "Angelina, what do you say? One for old times sake?" She smiled at him. "Unfortunately, I have to ref, but our keeper is good and our alternate is good enough."
She laughed. "If I must." She took Ron's broom. "I don't have a uniform."
"Hell, I've got an extra," Ron told her. "Come on." He led her down into the shop through the new catwalk Xander had installed last night. "Mellie, do you need yours hemmed?"
"Just the sleeves," she told him, holding out her arms. They were a little too long. Katie and Alicia pulled her aside, teaching her the hemming charm.
Oliver flew back up and over to Flint's side again. "Do you have news or not? If not, they're willing to take your surrender."
"We've got one coming. Curmantz has agreed," he said darkly.
"Really?" Oliver said, looking down at him. "Isn't he retired due to injuries?"
"He can still beat that little girl," he said smugly.
"If you say so. I think Mellie Potter's more than good enough though." Flint's jaw tightened. "You didn't read the program?" He flew off to talk to the other ref. It was going to be a bloody game, it was a good thing that Madam Pomfrey was down there already.
Ravena and Ron moved around each other, looking in the same direction. They could feel a snitch close by. They knew it was coming back to them. All they had to do was spot it and catch it. Ravena smirked as she saw it glinting in the air, heading off at top speed for it before it could move farther into the pitch. Ron was a few seconds behind her. So was the bludger that the second beater on Gryffindor's team sent at her. She reached out and grabbed it just as the bludger hit her, knocking her out.
"Ravena!" Ron yelled, catching her and the escaping snitch. "Medics!" he called. Oliver blew the whistle. He looked at Iggy, who nodded at him to do the right thing. "She had it, I caught it when it fell from her hand," he told Oliver as they floated down, letting the ref take his darkling from him. The other players landed as Ravena was laid onto the ground.
Iggy walked over and knelt down to check her over. "Head injury, a small concussion. We have the medicine back in our changing room," he announced. Oliver nodded. "Is it over with?"
"I need a second opinion," Oliver said, looking at the snitch in his hand. It had some blood on it so he wiped it off with his thumb. "It's not ours!" he said in disbelief. "I don't bloody well believe it. Headmaster!" Dumbledore came running and he presented it to him. "It's not ours."
"Mine is locked in a box in my locker," Ron said quickly. "So is Ravena's since I had both of them. You can check, sir."
Dumbledore looked at the peculiar carvings. "Ron, what did yours have on it?"
"Gryffindor lions. Ravena's has swirly designs from the hammering because she didn't want to hurt it by engraving it." He knelt beside Iggy, picking Ravena's head up to put it into his lap. "Is she going to be all right?"
"I'd like to know that as well," Draco announced. "What happened?"
"Bludger to the back of the head," Iggy told them both. "Headmaster, I'll need her to go to our dressing room. I have my medicine case in there."
"Fine, Ignatius. Take her and all the involved parties." He smiled as Ravena was gently lifted by her boyfriend, and taken by her father. "Oliver, is this even one of our snitches?"
"No, it's the towns!" he said in disgust. He sighed and waved the announcer down. "The game's not ended, it's not our snitch."
The announcer waved for attention and everyone looked down at them. "The referee has an announcement." He handed his wand to Oliver.
"This snitch is not the school's," he said, holding it up. "I declare a miscatch and the game will resume once all players are on the field." The crowd gasped, then booing started. "It's not ours, people, and half of both teams are in the dressing room for medical reasons. Get over it and wait for twenty minutes." That settled them. "Headmaster, with your permission, take over my duties until I can come back, I'm going to deliver the snitch to that ill-timed game in town." Dumbledore smiled and nodded. "Mellie's going to love this story," he told himself as he remounted his broom and took off for the town. He blew his official whistle, calling a time out as soon as he came within range. Both teams came to a halt and looked at him so he held up the snitch. "Ravena caught her," he said with a smile. Flint groaned. "Re-release is the proper course of action," he told Madam Rosemerta.
"Is she all right? You're bloody," George asked, flying closer.
"Simone's fellow chaser hit her in the head with a bludger. Your son's treating her. Please send ours back up if she should appear down here." Mellie laughed. "You think I'm kidding? She caught it, got knocked out, and Ron caught her." The waiting crowd gasped, then started to talk. "So our game is still ongoing."
"We've already got a bludger from you guys," Fred said dryly, pointing at where Harry was sitting on it. "Did you need it back?"
"Please," Oliver said with some disgust. "No more simultaneous games, please." He accepted the bludger and headed back to the school, handing it to the Headmaster before going to check on the children. "How is she?" he asked as he walked in. He noticed both snitches hovering around her. "I gave them back theirs. Yours are to remain in your lockers," he told Little Ron, who looked about ready to cry. "Not all the time, kid," he said, giving him an affectionate pat. "Your dad's probably on the way up, he was in town watching your sister play."
"I know. She's not okay yet."
"She'll be fine," Iggy said patiently, then he looked at Draco. "Both of you leave." Draco opened his mouth. "Now, or I'm going to sedate you. You're upsetting yourself, the baby, and Ronnie." Draco nodded and took the boy outside to wait. "You too, Oliver."
"Will she be fine? Madam Pomfrey's in town." The door slammed open and Snape walked in. "What're you doing in here?"
"I have the rest of the anti-swelling potion," Snape told him, handing it over, watching as it was carefully mixed with the other and poured down the girl's throat. "Give her ten more minutes to regain consciousness and another twenty to be fit to be checked for further playing." A loud roar went up and they looked toward the door.
"Either Harry's just come up or there's been a snitch sighting," Simone noted dryly. She was sitting on another bench. "Iggy, want privacy?"
"Yeah, go keep Ronnie calm," he agreed. The rest of both teams wandered out. "You guys as well."
"Fine." Snape looked down at him. "Don't even think about it, you're not good enough yet," he said quietly, taking Oliver out with him. Harry was standing there, and so were two snitches, in his hand. "Ours?" It was handed over. "Is that the town's?"
"They've called the game until yours is over with," Harry told him, handing it to his son. "Do whatever you want with it for now." He hurried back inside and put it in with their two. "Is she all right?" he asked Oliver.
"She's got a concussion, possibly a small fracture," Snape told him. Draco moaned. "Sit, now," he ordered.
"You don't need the stress," Harry agreed. Draco glared at him. "If it were my kid, I'd be pacing and snarling too, but you're presently more delicate and can't have this stress."
"I'm fine," Draco ground out.
"Accio chair," Simone said, taking the direct course. She slammed it onto the ground behind him and Denver shoved him into it. "Stay. Don't make me hurt you enough to force you onto bedrest. You won't like it." She stormed away.
"That's her being worried," Denver explained to the shocked listeners. Simone turned the corner of the building and there was a crunching noise. "Don't break your knuckles," he called.
"I'm not," she snarled. She hit the bulletin board again.
Oliver looked at Snape. "What would he try to do?"
"Heal any fractures. He's learning that this term but he's not experienced enough to do so yet." He looked back at the door. "I should check on him. He's too young to be unmonitored." He looked at Raena, who was coming down the stairs. "What is he doing?"
"Waking her up. He said he's almost done. It's a very small fracture and he's letting her decide whether or not to continue playing. She's already whining at him about having caught the snitch. She's being too stubborn to listen to him about not finishing the game."
"She did and I'll let her teach me how to eat with chopsticks," Ron said pitifully. Strong arms hugged him. "Thanks, daddy."
"You're welcome," Harry said, kissing him on the top of the head. "That's not me though."
Ron looked up at who was holding him. "Hi, Professor McGonagall," he said with a faint smile. "She'll be fine. Iggy will make it all better."
"I'm sure he will and she'll be fine. Wood, what was that?"
"The town fun league is running a match today as well," Oliver reminded her. She grunted in annoyance. "They thought they'd be done by now. The former Slytherins aren't that great. It took forever for their replacement seeker to get there though so it's running long. Ravena caught their snitch."
"And I caught her," Ron put in. "Did I hurt her more?" he asked Iggy as he came out.
"She's got a sprained neck from it, but she's fine," Iggy said, giving him a smile. "She's in the bathroom getting cleaned up. She refused to sit out this one."
Wood shrugged. "I can't bench her without the head of her house's say so."
"I'll talk to the girl," Snape said, moving that way.
"I'll do it," Draco corrected. "She is my daughter." He walked in, tapping on the bathroom section to let her know he was there.
"I'm almost clean and I'm playing," she said, her head in one of the sinks. "We need better bathrooms in our changing area."
"They're just as horrible, but someone cleaned these recently," Draco said quietly. His daughter turned to look at him, her hair wet and parted in the back so she could clean up the new dent. "You don't have to play. There is an alternate seeker."
"It's the principle," she told him, crossing her arms over her chest. She looked so much like her mother in one of her stubborn moods. "I am the main seeker. I am not hurt that bad. I'm playing, father."
"Ravena, you nearly had your head taken off," he pointed out, moving over to hug her. "No one would fault you. You wouldn't be here. You're going to the hospital to repair any remaining damage."
"I'm fine," she protested, pushing away from him. "I'm fine, father. I can see fine, my balance is a little off but Denver taught me how to fly dizzy. I can do this."
"Not unless you can convince me that this isn't your pride speaking," he said gently. She could be so prideful sometimes. She got it from him of course. It didn't make him any more likely to let her play, but it did mitigate his anger at her for being so stubborn. "Young lady, you are injured beyond what is acceptable. You will come with me to the hospital."
"Daddy, if this had been you and you were playing against Harry, wouldn't you play?"
"You don't hate Ron with every bone in your body, there's a difference, Ravena."
"Yay! I might love Ron, but I have to prove that I'm good enough to move up the ranks or I'll end up being a homemaker somewhere. Or making brooms, which will piss me off to no end. I'm going to play, no matter what you say or do. Even if you disown me and tell me that I'm too stubborn to love," she told him, lifting her chin, her eyes glistening with more than pain.
He smiled at her. "I could never not love you, daughter, but your stubborn streak needs to end this time. You have a few more years to prove yourself, not that you should have to."
"Women hardly ever get to play," she pointed out, moving away from him again. "If I want to play, I have to be tougher and faster than all the guys, and I am. I know I am."
"It doesn't mean that you have to play with a crack in your skull," he reminded her, trying not to lose her temper. "You are not playing and we will be going to the hospital together. You can either obey me, or I will get Agatha and Shey to tell you the same thing and back it up with Snape. I will not have my daughter dying because of a shiny ball!"
"Daddy, calm down before you start to have contractions again," she told him. He glared at her. "I don't want her to come out now. I haven't bought her a birth present yet." She smiled at him. "You're not going to win. Even if you carry me away from the pitch right now, I will come back. I'm catching that bloody snitch no matter what."
He crossed his arms and glared down at her. "No, Ravena, you are not putting your life in danger for a stupid fucking ball!"
"My goddess is wonderful, not just some shiny ball!"
"I can take yours away," he warned her. She swallowed but shrugged. "You're willing to risk everything over a stupid game?" She nodded. "How did you get this way!" he demanded. "Not even Potter's son is this fucking stupid! Ravena, you are not going back out there! I forbid it. Over my dead body, young lady, do you understand?"
"Iggy, he's cramping again," she yelled. Iggy came in and forced Draco to sit down. "Father, you've already lost. I'll get checked out after I've caught my goddess."
Iggy looked at her. "If you play, you run the risk of getting brain damage, Ravena. You won't be able to play ever again." She glared at him. "Hey, truth. A skull fracture and concussion is dangerous. You can't fly with one because you can die from the altitude change. If you make sharp and fast turns, it could burst some blood vessels. You could end up worse than a vegetable lying in a bed for the rest of your very long life, trapped in your head because you can't interact with anyone or anything. Not even your snitch."
"Won't your medicine guard me against that?" she demanded.
He faced her down, his greater height letting him look down at her. "Some," he admitted. "It won't protect you against further damage, and it won't help your depth perception. Hell, even if it wasn't against us, I'd be trying to force you to stand down. If Madam Pomfrey were here, she'd be strapping you to a bed. If you get on a broom and go fast, high, or make turns, you could die. Is that what you want to do to your father?" Draco patted him on the back. "Think about what will happen to him if he loses one of you to something so stupid as a game!"
"I..." She shook her head. "I have to prove myself."
"Ravena, you proved yourself last year!" Iggy said in exasperation. "You and Ron did something that's only happened *twice* before! *TWICE*. And that was in the pro leagues, not at the school! This stupid fucking pride of yours is getting out of hand and I'm about ready to turn you over my knee and beat you until you see sense," he told her coldly. "You are not playing. I don't care if you have to fly to get away from something, you can hide. You are not getting on a broom again today, and not until you have clearance medically, which I won't give you. If you try, I can have Oliver force you to land as the only medic around." She looked hurt so he grabbed her and hugged her. "We almost lost you, little darkling," he whispered against her hair. "You nearly died out there. If Ronnie hadn't caught you, you'd be part of the pitch." She started to sniffle. "None of us had our wands and we were all too far away. We nearly lost you and now you're going to do something that assures it. I'm not letting you die for a game, Ravena. Not a chance in any sort of hell. Not with what it would do to the family and not with what it would do to me personally." She started to cry. "It's hard and I know why you want to play, but not this game. Next game. I'll check you over myself, darkling, and make sure that you're fine before I let you practice. Not that you need it." She nodded. "No, you don't."
"He's also a year older," Draco reminded her, pulling his daughter over to hold her. He had blocked out how close he had been to losing her. "You will not play and you will let me get you checked over by someone who has more experience than your cousin, Ravena. You may play again another game. There will be more times to beat Ron's arse into the ground."
Iggy patted her on the back. "He's so worried he's clinging to anyone. He thought he had hurt you more when he caught you. I'll bring him down to cuddle you later. For right now, I want your father to take you to the hospital. The rest of us will join you there tonight, then we're all taking potions so we don't have nightmares about you dying." She wiped her eyes and stared at him. "I'm serious. Your head is that bad. I was wary about letting you go before because I didn't think I could stop you, but Professor Snape said he'd back me up. He can ground you as well and Uncle Oliver said I have the final word because I'm the only healer around here. You're going to the hospital. You're going to let the professionals help you, and we'll come make you feel better tonight. Besides, Simone's already beaten up the guy who sent the bludger at you." She smiled at that. "Come on, the both of you." He helped Draco up and put a hand on his stomach, but it was knocked away. "Keep it up," he said, staring his uncle down. "You're in early labor and you're going."
"Daddy, please," Ravena said, grabbing his hand. "The baby will be hurt if you don't go. I'll even go with you."
Iggy smiled at him. "See?" Draco nodded and Iggy did what he had to so the baby was stabilized a bit more. "You're both going even if I have to put in a permanent thumbtack in at the hospital. I can even get Daddy up here to escort you if necessary."
"I'll go with them," Snape said from the doorway. "Is she going?"
"They're *both* to go," Iggy told him. "Draco's in early labor and Ravena's finally seen sense."
"Daddy, I didn't mean to hurt you that way," she told him, giving him a hurt look.
"It was the fright," he assured her. "Never do either of those again."
"Yes, father." She leaned against her side. "We're ready."
"Excellent. How are you getting there?" Snape asked.
"I need a placement," Iggy told him. "I can probably teleport them, but portkey isn't advisable in either situation and neither is the floo. Speed and dizziness isn't what they need at the moment."
"I'll pop over if you want," Simone offered from the doorway.
Iggy shook his head. "There's too many people there, I need a shiny marker that I can pop at. Get Aunty Tara to head there. We'll go from outside so we don't have to factor in the building." She nodded and ran off. "Professor Snape, please support Professor Malfoy outside." Snape took Draco and led him off, Iggy and Ravena behind him. "Thank you, darkling."
"I just want to play," she assured him.
"I know you do, sweetheart, but you can't," Ronnie said as soon as they walked out. "It would kill all of us to lose you." The snitches in his hands fluttered up and came to her. "Please, don't finish this game. I'm begging. I'll do anything. Just don't die."
Ravena grabbed him and hugged him. "I won't die on you," she promised. "We Malfoys have hard heads and the Weasley side has an even harder one," she whispered against his ear. Iggy tapped her on the shoulder and she let him go. "Catch it for me?"
"Sure," he agreed, giving her a teary smile. "I want to hear from you tonight."
"I'll be taking you with me tonight," Iggy assured him. "Grab on." He searched for Tara and smiled, finding the brilliant white light. He took both of them with him, but ended up in a convent. At least he was in London.
"This doesn't look like the hospital," Draco pointed out, smiling slightly. It wasn't often that Iggy messed up, but when he did, he did it with style.
"Sorry, I was looking for a pure white light," Iggy said, shrugging at the nun sitting at the desk in front of them. "Sorry to barge in, we'll be leaving." The man looked at him, then smiled and waved. "Hi. Sorry and all that." He searched again and found Tara's personal signature this time, heading for it. He grabbed Ravena as she fell, cushioning her. "Nurse!" he screamed. Someone come running. "He's in early labor and she just took a bludger to the back of the head. I gave her the anti-swelling and the anti-concussion formula together. She's got a minor fracture and we just teleported, twice." He let them take her, and Draco was rushed away. He scrubbed at the blood on his hands.
"Twice?" Tara asked.
He looked at her. "I was looking for your shiny spot and found a nun and a middle-aged priest," he admitted. An auror came running. "What now?" he demanded, in a truly foul mood.
"You found a what?" he asked angrily.
"Oh, shut up," Tara snapped. "Finding someone in the flood isn't easy. He's lucky he saw me at all." The auror took a step back. "Go find one of the Mysteries people, now." He backed up another step.
"Actually, I think one of them knew about it. He had this mark, here," he said, touching the back of his neck. "Looked familiar, like a Gryffindor crest actually. The nun, I'm not so sure about." He was motioned at so walked over. "Yeah?"
"What's wrong with the father?" she asked. "We can't feel anything."
"His daughter nearly falling from half a mile up caused him to have a few contractions. I sent some energy into the shield to even out the cramping he was doing. It felt like early contractions to me." She nodded for him to go on. "He's had some tension crampings before now, but nothing that felt like labor."
"Did you have your wand?" He held his arms out, showing off his uniform. "Oh, dear. Sorry." She smiled at him. "Come remove the shield fully and we'll see what's going on. The doctor can't feel the baby right now."
"She's the next guardian," Iggy pointed out, following her. "Hey, Doc. I added some energy to his shields to try and prevent more early labor."
"That's the right thing to do, Ignatius, but I can't feel the baby."
"That's not a problem." He gently stripped off the energy he had put around her to cushion her, then stepped back. "I'm not subtle enough to remove the rest of it."
"I am," he said with a smile. "Very good job. Did she really want to play with that injury?"
"She wants to play pro and girls hardly ever get in," Iggy reminded him. "She has to prove herself to be better than the boys. We eventually reminded her that she nearly died, and then we pointed out what would happen to the family if she did die. That's when I felt the first labor contraction."
"I was trying to ignore how high up she was," Draco admitted quietly, looking down at his stomach. "I couldn't even see her without glasses. She was a small blur."
"Who caught her?" the doctor asked as he worked to remove the rest of the shields.
"That's what I felt," Iggy announced when another tremor went through his uncle's body.
"That is early labor. You show a definite affinity for this part of life," the doctor praised. "Are you becoming a healer?"
"Like you said, I have an affinity, but I'm excellent at potions. I'm specializing in healing potions so I'm getting the training anyway," he said with a faint smile. "Do you need me?"
"Check on my daughter," Draco demanded. "I'm fine."
"Yes, Uncle Draco." Iggy walked out and looked at a nurse. "He wants to know how his daughter is."
"She's presently berating the doctor." Draco laughed from inside the cubicle. "She's down this way." She led him that way. "You really found a priest and a nun?"
"Tara shines so very brightly, so I was looking for that. They're on the outskirts of London. I don't have a marker here."
"Would you like to put one down?" she asked. He handed her a thumbtack. "Anyplace in particular?"
"Somewhere out of the way so we don't slam into anybody, but convenient for you," he said with a smile. "Thank you. I keep meaning to put one down."
"Not a problem, Ignatius. We don't like to see you, but you're always very contentious about telling us everything you've done. We accept you as some sort of EMT for us." He laughed and walked in, giving his whining cousin a hug. "Here she is. Should I tell her father anything?"
"I'm fine," Ravena told her. "They want to keep me, Iggy."
"They'll need to do some sculpting to make sure your skull isn't warped, darkling. It's got a huge dent and a small crack in it."
She rolled her eyes. "Can't I go back to the infirmary at the school and recuperate after they get done?"
"I can allow that," the doctor agreed, looking at the boy holding the girl. "Who are you?"
Iggy looked at him. "The person saving your sanity," he said dryly, then held out his hand. "Ignatius Harris-Weasley. I'm the one who administered the potions to her since Madam Pomfrey was in town at the simultaneous game and they tend to get hurt worse."
"Did you know how strong you made it?"
Iggy snorted. "You'd rather I had made it too weak and watched her hemorrhage?"
The doctor grimaced. "No, I guess it was the best you could do."
"Considering we were in the changing rooms and I was lucky I had any made at all, yeah, it was," Iggy assured him. "She's living. Even though she fell from so high up even the chasers couldn't see more than a green and red speck of the two seekers. She's damn lucky Ron was there to catch her too. We were so far away..." His stomach churned and he blindly sought a bucket, throwing up into it.
"At least it happened now," the nurse said, smiling at the girl. "You are not only stunning on the field, young lady, but very lucky your family is so good."
She nodded, but grimaced at Iggy. "Can we finish this so I can check on my father? He was in early labor."
"Your father's pregnant?" the doctor asked, pulling back out his penlight. "Look up for me. The damage must be more extensive than I thought."
"No, her father's pregnant," Iggy said between heaves.
"Iggy, that's gross," Ravena told him. "You're going to make me sick."
"Absolutely not, young lady. No violent actions."
"Then I'd step away from me," she told him and he stepped back. "Iggy, are you all right?"
"I'm fine," he assured her. He rinsed his mouth out and lifted out the bag, tying it off and dropping it into the second one the nurse was holding out. "Sorry, but it just registered how close she came to dying." He gave her a hug. "I'll spring your father, little one." She smiled at him. "You behave. Not everyone can be as brilliant as I am." He walked out, taking a moment to take a deep breath.
Tara gave him a hug as soon as he came close enough. "Threw up?" she asked. He nodded, resting against her shoulder. "It happens to the best of us, even your father," she soothed. "How is she?"
"Still defiant, but I think we broke through the defiance wall." He looked over as someone screamed in Draco's cubicle. "Sounds like someone got a shot."
"I'll make sure he can come back tonight as well," she said, letting him go. "Do you want to finish the game? I called back there and Albus said the game was still halted while waiting on word."
He shook his head. "This is one of those moments when I think I need a drink. As the commercials say, it's Miller time," he told her, heading for the floo. He went right to the Leaky Cauldron and sat at the bar. "Tom, can you please break the rules and hand me something to knock my ass out?" he begged.
"I heard," he said, handing over a mirky brown drink. "Your dad said you'd need it. It's low alcohol but it'll knock you out since you're a novice drinker. He said he'd take all the heat but he knew how stressed you got about someone nearly dying on you."
Iggy gulped it. "It tastes like chocolate coffee and milk." He blinked a few times, then put his head down on the bar. "Ravena wanted to play."
He looked up. "Because she wants to go pro and thinks she has to prove herself."
"With her ability, they'd better bloody well accept her!" Tom said, outraged. "Merlin, I'll talk to one of the guys myself when he comes in next about having him talk to her. Get some sense into that dark little head of hers."
Iggy smiled at him. "Thanks, Tom. I stopped shaking."
"I know, kid. It's the way of these things. As your mentor told someone the other day, that's why you're a potion's whiz and not a healer. She was screaming fit to be tied and all, and he told her off for ya. Want me to call you someone?"
"Please. Someone calm if possible. I don't need to do more than break down and shake for a bit. I already threw up breakfast." He put his head back down on his arms on the bartop. "Thank you, Tom. How much do I owe you?"
"You saved a future World Cup player. I'll forgive it this time." He smiled as the boy slowly relaxed and eventually fell asleep. He walked over to the floo and called the calmest member of the family, getting Percy to help the poor boy back to the school.
Ravena woke up in the school infirmary, with her father snoring in the bed next to her, and shifted. She had to get up and go to the bathroom. She slid the covers off her and moved, but the nurse was there and tucking her back in. "I have to go to the loo," she protested.
"Then I'll help you. You are not to move without help for the next week, young lady," she said, hurrying her into the bathroom so she could go back to bed sooner. "I don't know what got into your head when it was cracked, but throwing that fit didn't help you any, let me tell you. I won't tolerate it and I yelled at your cousin for letting it go on so long."
She touched the nurse's arm. "He threw up, Madam Pomfrey. Don't yell at him. I'm a stubborn creature, I get it from my mum." The nurse pursed her lips together, but it looked like she was trying not to smile. "I'm sorry I got Iggy in trouble."
"He's not in real trouble," she assured the girl as she helped her back to bed. "Now you stay there or else," she chastised. "You'll have visitors as soon as I send word down." She fluffed the girl's bound hair back some and then went to inform the family that she was awake and complaining. It was a good sign from her.
Agatha made it in first. "How dare you pull such stupid shit and endanger the team!" she yelled.
"Potter, I can take your voice," Pomfrey told her. She was still very pissed at that girl for what she had done to that boy. "You will not swear in here, and you will modulate your tone to a more reasonable register."
"Yes, Madam Pomfrey," Agatha said, glaring at her once she was gone. She walked over to the bed. "You nearly died. Are you happier now?"
"I had to prove myself, Aggie, you *know* that."
"I know, kid, that's why I'm not kicking your ass," Agatha told her, staring her down. "Next time, listen to Iggy. He's smart, he knows when you shouldn't play. Hell, even your father knew you shouldn't play and he's a blond."
"Yes, a brilliant one," Denver said as he walked in. He hugged his little sister so hard she squeaked. "I'll kill you if you try to act up that way again," he said against her ear. "You may be the force of stubbornness, but I won't allow you to hurt yourself." He pulled back. "Next time you even get a sprain and fight about it, I'm going to knock you out and tie you to the bed."
"You?" Ravena snorted.
"Okay, Simone," he conceded. "But I'll help and will be tying the knots."
"Who won?" Ravena asked him.
"We did, your second string seeker sucks badly, sister dear." He slid up onto her bed and smiled at her. "Ron wanted to give your house half the points and was very disappointed when he found out he couldn't do that. It still wouldn't have saved you though." He shrugged. "We'll see about next year."
Simone and Iggy walked in together and hugged her. They were rudely shoved aside by Ron and Mellie. Ron climbed up and hugged her so tightly she couldn't breathe and Mellie grinned at his sappiness. "I caught the snitch," Mellie announced. "Daddy was even there to see it."
Ron nodded, snuggling in once he had to relax his hold. "She was great, all the uncles said so," he said against her neck. "Never scare me like that again, Ravena. I'll even give up playing with any snitch if you'll promise to never do it again."
"Aww," Simone said, grinning at them. "You two are cute."
"Then you won't beat me up for thinking she's as pretty as the Golden Goddess?" Ron asked hopefully.
"As long as daddy doesn't mind," she said with a shrug. She pinched her sister's arm. "Don't do that again, I'll hurt you next time once you're better to teach you a lesson."
"I love you too, Simone," Ravena said with a smile. "Iggy, I'm sorry you got in trouble."
"Trouble," he snorted. "You have no idea what sort of yelling I got since yesterday." He leaned down and kissed her on the shoulder. "I'm now officially listed at St. Mungo's as a healing potions master in training. The doctor who treated you bitched long and hard to his boss, who complained to his, who went further up the chain all the way to the Under-Minister of Magic, who yelled at Snape and Pomfrey." He grinned. "I'm now legal to treat anyone who needs it, as long as it's within my certified range and they keep my records up to date." He crossed his arms. "Then your mother got me. *Both* my fathers had to pull Aunt Ginny off me, along with Grandfather, who reminded her that I had saved your life. So she cried on me while berating me for not taking you immediately to the hospital."
"You probably should have," Simone agreed.
"She wasn't stable enough to move and I got her there as soon as possible. The Emergency Room doctors agreed I did the best I could and in a timely manner. They actually congratulated me for waiting to puke as well." He looked down at Ravena again. "So, not only have I gotten yelled at by your mother, both Grandparents once she was calmed down, and both of my mentors along with Uncle Percy's direct boss, I got in trouble for going to have a drink, which made Daddy yell at people and Uncle Percy yell at people, and then he yelled at me for heading for that crutch immediately. Uncle Harry laid out *exactly* what happened so I got out of that one with an admonishment to not go there again. Other than that, I've spent the last day filling out forms. Missing our target forms. Teleporting into the hospital form. Forms to allow my thumbtack and moving it to a better placement. Forms on how I got you two there at all. That one was short. I put gryphon-born on it and handed it back. They looked at me funny, but someone apparently saved my butt from more forms. Then they went after Raena. She's still filling out forms so she'll be seeing you tomorrow."
Ravena looked at her oldest sister. "How long was I out?"
"Two days," she told her. "Ana'd be here, but she was handling mum. Mum's been sleeping down at the shop on Iggy's bed."
"Hopefully they changed it," Iggy noted. The kids giggled. "Ravena, all the wrist cramps are more than worth it because you're both okay. But if you *ever* argue with me again about being able to play with an injury, I'm going to lose my temper and make you sorry. Do you understand?"
She nodded. "I'm sorry I argued with you, Iggy. I won't do it again. Probably." He rolled his eyes. "Do you know one of the nurses in the Emergency Room thought Darkling was my middle name?"
Simone snorted, leaning against the foot of the bed. "I'm not surprised. Mum said that one of them looked at her like she was the evil bitch queen of death and asked why she was bothering her."
"I think it's a neat nickname," Ronnie supported. "Salazar gave her the perfect nickname. She is a beautiful young woman, even if she is a little dark now and then. The perfect dark darling." He snuggled back in. "Your father said he'd get us Chinese food so you could teach me how to eat with sticks."
Ravena laughed. "I told you I'd catch the snitch first." He gave her another squeeze. "Ronnie, breathing is good," she gasped.
"Get off her bed," Madam Pomfrey snapped.
Iggy looked at her. "Good luck. I doubt anyone's going to be moving him anytime soon." He walked over and laid a hand on Draco's stomach. "Strong, normal, little warping toward the weak side."
"Is he okay?" Ravena asked.
"He's fine, dear, just a little weak after they stopped his labor. He needs rest as much as you do." He looked over as more people walked in. "Hi, Uncle Ron."
Ron waved at him, then grabbed Ravena and hugged her as hard as he could. "You're all right," he whispered. "You scared me, Ravena. Nearly made me as sick as Percy."
"I'm fine," she agreed, looking over his shoulder at her sister, who smiled and left them alone. "I've been okay, Uncle Ron."
"Darkling, they tried to wake you up yesterday," Ronnie said, stealing her back. "Mine, find your own wonderful woman who understands your basic nature."
Ron smiled at his namesake. "You're a pile of mush today, but I guess it's understandable. Her mum's on her way up."
Ronnie held on tighter, but didn't squeeze. He had gotten thrown out last night for unrelenting squeezing. "She's moving me over her dead body." His uncle laughed and pulled a stool over to sit near them. "Did Mellie really catch the snitch?"
"Yup, she really did. We were ahead by twenty and she caught it right beside the other team's goals. The other seeker was very appreciative. Said she was as good as you were, and that the bloodline obviously hadn't been weakened by your mother." Ronnie grinned at that. "He said he wants to watch her play so you two can take some time off now and then if you would to give her the experience."
"She can play with you guys," Ronnie said with a smile. Ravena nodded slowly and he stopped her head but tipping back up her chin. "Don't do that, you'll hurt your neck more."
"I feel fine," she said patiently.
"That's because Iggy made you a super pain potion and fed it to you before you woke up," Ron told her. He flinched as the door slammed open. "I think that would be your mum. Want me to leave?"
"Yes," Ginny said icily, "and take the brat with you."
"No," Ravena said at the same time. She glared at her mother. "Fuck you. Where were you for my games?" She shifted and hugged Ronnie. "He's helping my head feel better and giving me highlights from the rest of the game, and from his sister's. Go bug father."
"He's not allowed to have the stress," Ron told her gently. "He's having nightmares through the sleeping potion. We're under orders to leave him alone and they put up a silencing charm around his bed. The only one who's allowed over there is me, your sister Simone, and Xander. We seem to calm them down. We'll let you cuddle with him later," he said with a faint smile. Then he looked up at his sister. She was scowling. "No one told you?"
"No, I heard," she spat. "Go away, Ron. I want to talk to my daughter."
"Mother, I want him to stay so you can't say mean things," Ravena told her plainly. "If he's here, you can't throw a real fit and you can't scream nasty things at me. Accept it." She stared at her mother, and noticed the shock. "I accept what happened, and the possible consequences of the game I play. Seekers are the most often harmed, but I am a seeker and no matter how many times you yell, I'm staying a seeker."
"You're never playing again," Ginny told her, glaring ice at Ronnie. "You, get off my daughter. You're related."
"Uncle Harry's not really my uncle, Mum, even I know he's only sort of adopted into the family." Ravena sat up with some help, and groaned, holding her neck. "I'm not giving up anything because of this. Simone didn't give up when she ripped up her wrist and her back, I'm not giving up because I nearly got my head caved in. I'm fine. If you'd like to hug me and make sure of it, I'd really like that."
Ginny leaned down and gave her a hug. "I know you're fine, but you're also in further danger for as long as you continue this stupid crusade."
Ravena got free. "Mum, blow yourself up. I like playing, it makes me happy. Happier than even bra shopping sort of happy. Happier than Simone when she's playing with her beasts happy. I'm not going to quit."
"I'll tell the Headmaster that you're not allowed to play," Ginny warned.
"She doesn't need parental permission," Ron pointed out. She glared at him. "Ginny, it happens. Harry got hurt as well. She's *fine*, but the more you complain the further away you're pushing her. Be happy that Iggy had the potion made up already."
"The fact that he did scares me!" she shouted. "All right? I'm scared my daughter will die next time, are you happy now?"
"No," Ron said, pulling her over for a hug. "I'm just as scared for her. And for Ronnie, and Mellie, and even the rest of them. But they're no safer on the ground and they love to play. Yelling and getting hysterical won't help that."
She pulled back. "How do you know? Huh? How can you sit there and give me such bullshit advice."
He shrugged. "Because I have a daughter who's a future slayer," he told her. She gasped and covered her mouth. "I've already been through this in my mind and had some help working through it. You know as well as I do that deaths during games are so rare these days it's an anomaly. The only thing that could have gone wrong was that Iggy didn't have the potion and couldn't make it to the hospital. He did have the potion and he did take her as soon as she quit fighting him."
"Why didn't he take her immediately?" she demanded.
The school nurse cleared her throat. "Moving her in the condition she was in before she got the potions would have started seizures, and there's a slim chance that teleporting will remove abnormal things from a person's body during transit. In this case, it would have been her brain. Ignatius did the right thing in stabilizing her. He also fought with her about going. That is what I don't know why."
"Because you can't teleport another gryphon-born against their will," Draco groaned. He zapped the silence barrier. "I heard screaming."
"Don't you dare sit up," Madam Pomfrey ordered, bringing down the silencing charm. "Her mother's here."
"I saw." The curtains between the bed were opened. "Can I see her?"
Ron carefully lifted Ravena up and carried her over, settling her in with her father. "How's your head?" he asked him.
"Fine. The headache's nearly gone, so is the itching." He touched his stomach, putting a hand over his daughter's. "She's fine. I was woken by a kick to my solar plexus." Ron smiled. "You can touch her later."
"Sure. Ronnie, wanna get her something to read?"
"Please," he agreed, hurrying away with his uncle.
Ginny walked over and looked at them. "She won't give up playing."
"Neither would I," he agreed.
"Yes, but you're a willing adult."
"And she's more than smart enough to know all the risks and make her own decisions. This one injury is bad, but she hasn't been hurt before now. Most seekers get hit at least twice in a year, and sometimes as many as twice in a game. Ginny, this was a simple injury. I'll work with her."
"Ronnie will work with me too," Ravena said, stroking the large lump. She looked at her mother. "I'll play behind your back so I stay in practice, mum. I love playing quidditch and I'm not giving it up. Go ask Uncle Oliver how often things like this happen. I'm probably the worst injury in the school in fifty years."
"Eight-seven," Draco corrected, smiling when she looked up at him. "Short of a killing curse, which was odd, you've had the worst injury in eighty-seven years."
"Did they die?" Ginny asked.
"That was before the portkey's perfection," Draco told her. "They had to floo and his lower back had three broken vertebras. They died on the trip over." Ginny shuddered. "And he was a keeper who got knocked off. Maybe you should thank Ron Potter for catching her instead of snapping at him."
"Someone else would have."
"Ginny, the crowd wasn't fast enough to catch her without hurting her worse. All the kids were wandless due to the rules and too far away. She was so high up I couldn't see her, only a green dot. He saved her and you just yelled at him."
"It's all right," Ronnie said as he walked back in. "I'm used to Aunt Ginny's moods by now." He handed over the new book he had gotten his last weekend in town. "Here, don't lose my place marker."
She smiled at the title, then at him. "Thank you, Ronnie."
"You're welcome, Darkling." He grinned at her as he noticed she was relaxed. "Iggy's going to try and convince the Headmaster to let him sneak out for treats tonight. Want some chocolate?"
"Please. Maybe even some dipping chocolate for the remaining berries?"
"Sure." He beamed at her. "Can I have the grapes?"
"The grapes are mine," Draco told him, smiling over at him. "Why don't you lead Ginny over to the visiting room and I'll get her over there, then we can talk. All right?" Ronnie nodded, starting to blush. "Madam Pomfrey?"
"If you wish," she sighed. "She really should be in bed."
"I'll be in the big comfy chair," Ravena pointed out. "It's like a bed sitting up."
"I know. I'm the one who picked it," Madam Pomfrey said as she picked up the girl. "You can rest with him later." She took the girl away.
"Ginny, if you yell at her about this or make demands, you will lose her," Draco said gently. She nodded and walked away. He settled himself onto the bed, wiggling a little bit. He noticed his belly wiggling and gave it a disgusted look. His daughter kicked him harder than she ever had. "Sorry," he told her, patting her gently. She shifted against his back and then settled down again. Iggy came running in. "What?" he asked worriedly.
"I felt her. She's still active enough to reach out." Madam Pomfrey ran in behind him, with Snape right behind her. "The baby reached for me."
"I'm not getting shooting feelings up my spine at all," Draco told them, starting to worry.
"You wouldn't be, she's not reaching out magically," Iggy told him, distracted as he started to reweave the shield around the baby.
"What other way is there?" Draco demanded.
Iggy looked at him. "I felt her mind touch mine, Uncle. It is a known gift among us and a guardian would have to be able to touch the pure magic and thought strings to do her job more easily. She's reaching out that way."
Snape stepped back and looked at the shield. "That's nearly impenetrable."
"It should be," Iggy assured him. "I talked to Helena earlier about what to do if the baby started this, I thought I felt something last night but I couldn't be sure." He stepped back, moving the energy to a weak spot. "There, now nothing can get through it."
"I can't feel her," Draco told him
Iggy looked at him. "Trust me, she's fine. We can weaken it in a few days."
"Is she sharing his nightmares?" Madam Pomfrey asked, starting to wring her hands.
"No," Iggy assured her quickly, "she's bored. Really, really bored." Draco gave him a cold look. "I'm calling Helena right now," he told him. "And your doctor because he has to know. She's reaching out because she can feel the magical streams around her and wants to play with the pretty colors." Draco groaned. "Pain?"
"Irritation," he said dryly. "Go, call, now."
"Yes, sir." Iggy hurried out, going to make the calls.
Draco looked at the other two. "Have you heard of this?"
Madam Pomfrey nodded. "It's listed in the books. It's usually considered the sign of a pure magic user." She grimaced. "Most parents decide not to continue on because it's considered a defect by those who don't understand."
Snape nodded. "It is known about. I've seen entries as well. Most of the parents have gotten told scary tales of evil creatures who could touch the magic. The guardians are usually more subtle or they're born into a family that understands."
"That means that the child is normal, but I'm not?" Draco asked.
"No, this is normal for the child and for you," Snape assured him.
Draco's doctor walked in, smiling at him. "I see Iggy put up another shield. What happened?"
"The baby's reaching for the pure magic around it," Helena said as she walked in. "It's common among us. Nearly as common as your kind going magically active."
"Is that because you have a greater feel for the deeper magics?" the doctor asked. He noticed Iggy peeking in. "Remove the shield."
"I'm trying to think happy but neutral thoughts," Iggy admitted. "She's been reaching for my mind. And Denver's, but mostly mine." He walked in and lowered the shield, turning it so it was like a comfortable blanket that could be pulled back up. "How's that?"
"At least I can feel her again," Draco told him. "Go fidget in the hallway." Iggy nodded and left. "And don't call your fathers!"
"Too late," Iggy called back. "Daddy already heard but he was knocked out before he could make it out the door."
"Fucking bloody hell," Draco whined. "Why me?" He looked at Snape. "Why didn't one of the people with the sight foresee this and warn me?"
"Because this child is too important to not be born," Helena assured him.
"Did I have to have it?"
She shook her head. "Not at all. It was a predetermined number, not your line specifically. There are two lines that it could have happened in besides yours. They didn't get pregnant in time though." She laid her wand on his stomach and smiled. "Yes, you're a beautiful young lady, but you can't do that," she said, looking down. The baby shifted.
The doctor looked at her like she was insane. "You can *hear* the baby?"
"It's more emotions. She's been reading Anastasia's mind," Iggy called.
"You might as well come back in here," Madam Pomfrey snapped. He slunk back in and hid behind her. "It's emotions?" He nodded. "Stand up and be yelled at. You should be used to it by now."
Iggy peered around her. "It's like the baby's putting out warm and fuzzy thoughts at the moment. I'm happy, I'm comfy, I'm warm. I want..." His face scrunched up. "Nuts." He shrugged. "It happens to us, that's why I made your shields so thick."
"You make them thick most of the time," Helena assured him. "It's a sign of inexperience. We'll be curing that this summer."
Draco's doctor looked at him. "It's a good thing I am afraid of what you'd do to me and respect you for it, otherwise I might have to start writing up a case study or a book about all this."
Draco thumped his head on the bed. "I'm fine. She's fine." He felt something brush against his mind. "Is that her?"
"No, that's Melvin. He's got actual thoughts and he's just checking in," Iggy assured him. "Do you feel the warm, fuzzy feelings?"
"I'm not exactly familiar with those," Draco admitted.
"Here, touch me," Helena told him. He did so and she let him see what she was seeing. "That's the baby."
"That 'everything's all right with the world' feeling?" he asked. She nodded and he let go. "Wonderful. I had wondered why I was feeling content when I was being fussed over."
"She's only been doing it now for three days," Iggy pointed out. Draco glared at him. "Sorry." He hid behind the nurse again. "Dad can hear her as well. I caught him a few days ago while you were asleep."
"He called me," Helena admitted. "I was going to let it rest until Draco was better." She patted him on the stomach and then pulled back up the shield blanket. "There. Can you feel her now?" Draco shook his head. "Physically I mean."
"Not a bit." She poked him and the baby shifted, you could see it but he couldn't feel it. "Not even that."
"Hmm. Iggy, remove three layers." He looked at her, looking slightly clueless. "How many layers is that?"
"It's all woven together," he told her. "Just like daddy does with the blocks."
"Oh!" She smacked herself on the head. "I never thought about you learning that way. That makes sense. We'll be fixing that this summer as well. That's for *major* shields, like for rooms and houses. For people, you gently layer the magic over top to give the baby something run into. Like this." She took his hand and unwove his shield, giving him a smack on the shoulder for having attached it to the placenta, then she slowly built up another one.
"Okay, I can do that," he agreed.
"You'll get to try all you want on some eggs," Helena assured him. "Do you feel her now, Draco?"
"Yes, thank you. It was a bit worrying to say the least."
"I understand," his doctor said with a smile for both of them. "Now what do we do?"
"Now, you treat him like any other magically active baby, but we'll be watching over him as well. Ignatius has done very well with my orders so far, but it's time for a more hands-on approach from me. Would that be all right, Mr. Malfoy?"
He shrugged. "As long as he quits freaking out," he said, pointing at Iggy. "It's worrying."
"I get like this. That's why I do healing *potions*," Iggy reminded him.
"Sit down," Snape told him. Iggy nodded and went to lay on one of the back beds. "His anxiety is that he'll do something to harm you, or the child you carry, and not be able to fix it."
"No, it's the fact that he doesn't handle stress very well," Helena corrected. "The worry about doing harm is all well and good, but it's smaller than the stress issue, a secondary concern that he has after he's done."
"He went for a drink after treating my daughter," Draco told her.
"I heard about that game," she said with a smile. "Is she all right?" Draco nodded. "Did he throw up? His father seems to do that a lot during stressful times." Draco nodded. "Did the alcohol help?"
"He fell asleep on the bar," Snape told her, a little coolly. "I'd rather he be able to handle the stress. There will be times when his skills will be related to some emergency, especially with his specialty."
"You're his mentor," Helena pointed out. "The only cure for that is experience and knowledge, and even then it doesn't always take away the anxiety. How does Raena calm him down?"
"She kisses him stupid and then gives him an assignment," Snape admitted.
"Then let her be his crutch. She's got the stress problems cured within herself and is good to be his guiding light. Not too forceful and not too light when he needs her to be," Helena told him. "Pull your mentoring back and set them up as a working set to rely on each other."
"I've already started that," Snape told her. "There's still some clinging going on."
"You've been the only mentor he's known for his entire life," Draco pointed out. "It's like being adopted by a new set of parents I'd imagine. I got clingy when I switched from my father to Xander."
"It is," Helena agreed. "I had to switch teachers because mine died when I was twelve. That's a very good analogy. I'll have to remember that." She laid a hand on his stomach and smiled. "Are you getting the craving?"
"For nuts?" He nodded. "Though I imagine a thick steak would work as well." He heaved himself up into a sitting position once her hand was moved. "How has everything else went?"
"Ignatius and Raena have filled out so many forms their arms have cramped," Snape assured him. "They're officially listed at the hospitals and at the Ministry as well as here. We're to send a curriculum to them from now on. It's been so long since they dealt with a prodigy that they forgot how to. One of them upset Ignatius so much he stormed out and not even she could catch up to him and force him to calm down." He laid a hand on Draco's stomach. "This is much different from what Tara went through."
"Thankfully. I doubt I'd like the constant orgasm feeling," he noted with a slight smirk and a smile.
"With your nature, you'd enjoy it, boy," Snape retorted, starting to smile as well. "We've managed to keep all the students out of here. Except for the few that admire you so much that they've hurt themselves to gain entrance to the infirmary. I believe Xander did that once as well," he said dryly.
"His wasn't intentional, he was searching and ran into a wall," Madam Pomfrey corrected. "His nose bleed was spectacular though. I haven't seen one gush like that since Fred Weasley broke someone's."
"Why isn't he here now?" Draco asked, looking around.
"George sedated him when we told him that we were going to try to wake your daughter up again," Snape informed him. "I figured you'd want a few hours without someone clinging to you." He saw the hurt look. "It was done purely in your defense and we'll be able to wake him up in two hours, even if they did give him more a few minutes ago." Iggy yelled and started to thrash. Another nightmare. "I want to know what he's seeing."
"Someone attacking the colony and him losing his wife," Madam Pomfrey told him. "Some sort of disease attack that's so fast-acting that the cure takes too long to brew. He ends up slapping her into a static state before she can die, but the antidote is too strong to work on her. He's had it for the last few days. I think Raena's been having it and she's been broadcasting it."
"Does she see the future?" Draco asked. Madam Pomfrey shook her head. "Then she's just a worrier?"
"That and an old article of hers was just published more widely than she had anticipated. It was a theoretical paper on a new strain of the wizard flu. Fast acting, deadly if not cured. She included a hypothetical healing potion she was working on as well since she needed them to be together. She's worried that the people in Diagon who want all of you dead are going to see it and come after everybody. She sees the colony falling around her. He sees her falling and then his slide into depression." Iggy woke up panting and crying. She hurried over to soothe him.
"He's slept in here the last few nights so we could sedate him enough to get past this," Snape said quietly. Helena left to go soothe him as well so he put back up the privacy barrier. "It's a valid worry. It was covered in the Prophet last week. Without the name of the article or what publication, but someone will see it."
"The Prophet needs to be beaten," Draco told him. Snape agreed. "Can you stop that one?"
"No. There's nothing they could do to ease that worry. They were kind and said it was a theoretical formula on both sides, one that wasn't meant to get out. The healing potion looked very promising, though a bit too strong. The formula to make the wizard's flu stronger wasn't divulged in the second article since it was in a healing journal." He looked over then drew the curtains around them to give the boy even more privacy. "This is one of the worst problems with the field. Anything you do people can take and warp to their own ends, and it comes back on you."
"Can they make the antidote ahead of time?" Snape shook his head. "No vaccinations or anything?"
"The antidote can't be administered before you get sick, it could kill whoever took it. It also only has a six-hour shelf life. He'll calm down about it in a few months."
"Unless someone does something about that group."
Snape shrugged. "They're vocal and known about; you usually have to worry about those who would do it without the help of a group. They're the dangerous ones." He called over a stool and sat on it.
"I think I'll pop around to the colony soon and check on their guardian. It's so old it's gotten weak and it could use updating."
"Ignatius suggested that to Salazar. He said that the guardian creation spell was lost by his time. Even with the libraries of two ancient colonies at his disposal he couldn't find one when he wanted to put one around the school. Though he did point out that the guardian was probably as sentient as a ghost, if not more so, so you couldn't ethically kill it without a very good reason for Iggy's good side. His bad side was screaming at him to kill it anyway."
"There's a dark spell my father used to talk about. It would have allowed him to find Voldemort's ghost and merge with it for a bit to learn everything that it knew. He said he had a copy but it made no sense."
"Someone like Melvin or Albus could do that," Snape agreed, smiling slightly. "The boy might if he was approached properly. It is a bit dangerous."
"You've heard of it?"
"Your father mentioned it a time or two during his three-year obsession with it, yes," Snape said, smiling more. "It's not something that I'd feel comfortable dealing with personally, even if I had the gift of the sight and the ability to touch pure magic like would be necessary. It's basically a reverse possession."
"Hmm, then my father knows quite a lot more about my life than I'm comfortable with," Draco noted sarcastically. The potions master laughed. "Think about what Simone knows of my life," he pointed out.
"Did you ever talk to your half-sister?"
"Long enough to know that I don't like her," he noted. "She's not pushing a claim on the family name or money. She has enough of her own and knows she wouldn't win anyway since both wills were very specific about me being the only heir my father had or wanted. There's even a clause saying that no other heirs would be accepted by him. Why he had her, I don't know, he hated sex."
"To gain some power. He was originally going to have her sacrificed for power. Her mother got in the way when she got so sick and the girl's grandmother butted in. He couldn't fight against the old hag so he gave up and claimed she wasn't his anyway. You also had a half-brother but he's a squib and your father nearly killed that whole family because of it. He thought about it, but the woman's husband was Asdar's brother-in-law so he figured that wouldn't be very life- affirming for him." Draco snorted and rolled his eyes. "That was back when you were still very young and Asdar was an auror. The boy did finally die. A hunting accident if I heard right. Fell off his horse and broke his neck."
"Wonderful for father," Draco said dryly. "Was their family pure-bloods?"
Snape looked down at him. "Would he have associated with anyone else willingly?"
"Probably not, but I've seen his diary. He liked to go out and attack women every now and then to make them see how pitiful they really were."
"I had heard," Snape agreed. "Fortunately you got free of that mindset, or else you'd have spread your genes about a bit further than he did."
"That stupid botched infertility spell," he agreed with a smile. "It gave me the best things in my life though. I can't be pissed at her because of that."
"Where is Granger now?"
"The Ministry set her up in a small house in the country with a minder, told her it was her brother and that she didn't remember anything due to a muggle car accident. It's a retired auror and he's making sure she's fine while he teaches her to handle life again. She's never coming back. Her avenues to power were all stripped from her."
"Unless she has another child," Snape said quietly.
Draco shook his head. "They think that even that one won't work. If she does, they might have to take the child for it's own best interests. There was a discussion about what to do if that happened and it was suggested that it go to Potter anyway." He looked at Snape and saw the reassurance. "You know something," he accused.
"I know many things that you don't."
"I meant about Granger," Draco said dryly. Snape gave a slight shrug. "Is she?"
"The auror you mentioned was nearly castrated. They've taken up together and the Prophet found out about it. Potter's going after them and we were all ordered to keep the news away from the students. All copies of the paper were confiscated that day."
"Wonderful," Draco sighed, rubbing his head. "I don't want to know."
"She's gone back to her old self. Loving and caring," Snape told him gently. "It might work out fine."
"Or it could be a total disaster," Draco pointed out. "The Ministry will likely act before they know if the child's one of us or not."
"The auror is muggle-born," Snape agreed. "There is a chance it won't be but he'll be watching out for it." He smiled. "I was wondering how they got around the whole brother story."
"It might not be his," Draco pointed out. "He could have brought over a friend. "
Madam Pomfrey brought down their shield and walked in with a steaming cup. "For the headache, Draco. Drink it all and lay back down." He obediently drank the grape-flavored potion and laid back down.
"Did that boy flavor it again?" Snape demanded, glaring at his student's semi-unconscious form.
"He did. It's a great help, especially with the younger students. I don't get argued at any longer." She smiled at him. "We knocked him out with a dream suppressant this time. Raena as well. They're spending part of the holidays at the colony to discuss what might happen and how best to deal with it. Helena assured him that it couldn't happen but Iggy pointed out that the guardian at the portal couldn't tell something like that. We're going to have to wait and see I'm afraid." She tucked Draco back in. "You should be asleep before Xander wakes up. Do you want him to come in and hold you for a bit?"
"If it makes him feel better," he told her.
"It would. He's been very worried about you."
"Don't you mean about the baby?"
She glared at him, making him flinch. "If it was a worry about the baby, he wouldn't have nearly killed the doctor who suggested you be put into a coma for the health of the baby." He looked stunned. "You are his son," she pointed out more gently. She patted him on the head. "You may stay and talk to him until he falls asleep, Severus, no longer." She left to collect Ravena and put her back into bed now that Iggy wouldn't scare her into sudden movement. She had probably had more than enough time to deal with her mother's fears. She found Ginny crying on her daughter. "Did you want a few more minutes?" Ravena nodded so she closed the door and left them alone. Perhaps her mother was wising up after all. Children were amazing for bringing reality to a screeching halt and making you deal with it.
Draco woke up still in the infirmary, and his hand was being stroked. "I'm fine," he said, looking at the person holding his hand. "George?"
George nodded. "I was checking on you. You still feel so weak."
"It's the shields."
"It's not, Draco. You nearly died in the hospital." He grimaced and looked around. "No one was going to tell you, but one doctor tried to take the baby from you at one point, after he had knocked you out. Your own doctor beat his ass thoroughly with the help of the doctor that originally treated you that day."
"Because you're upsetting his view of the natural order. He decided to right the world. Percy was there by then and he chewed the guy a new one before calling for his arrest. He then sat in your room until Xander and I got there. He was a bit pissed as well," he said with a smile.
"Is the baby fine?"
"Perfectly so. A nurse caught him with a syringe and demanded to know what he was doing since he was a surgeon and not in on your case. He tried to knock her out, which brought everyone running. It was the drug that was used to knock you out, he was giving you more of it." He released the hand he had been holding. "So you're going to be in here for a few more days."
"Is that why everyone was so worried about me?"
"No, that's why we sedated Xander. He can get a bit clingy when he's upset and all of you children aren't fine. Snape doesn't know, and Pomfrey only knows that you were given too much sedative. Your doctor is protecting you as best he can. Not even the Daily Prophet has found out yet."
"That's probably a good thing," Draco agreed. He patted his stomach and his daughter shifted for him, letting him pat her on the back. "We're both fine?"
George nodded. "Definitely. You've had a number of exams before you were allowed to wake up. Your own doctor wasn't sure how to tell you so he asked Xander to do it, and my man got a bit ...hysterical about it," he finished with a grin. "I got elected."
"Thank you, George."
"I'd want to know if it were me," George reminded him. He gave him a short hug. "Ravena's still asleep. Want me to open the curtains between you two?"
"No. Not yet. I like watching her sleep but I'm sure someone's over there with her." Gorge nodded. "The younger Ron?"
"Simone. Clinging like there's no tomorrow." He smiled and glanced around. "Your youngest girl has managed to do something amazing. She got through to Ginny and made her see how bloody terrible she's been. She's hiding somewhere to think, but she promised to be back by the holidays. Even mum was impressed when she begged for forgiveness. Ravena reamed her good."
"What did she say?"
"Something about how her mother saw her as an accessory and a convenient way to carry on her line and have a little fun when they were younger, but now that they weren't so much fun and such cute infants how she had abandoned them to the mercies of everyone else. But that thankfully you had rescued them before they had been molested, harmed, or killed by one of her boyfriends." Draco winced. "She didn't try to soften it and even Dumbledore was impressed with the vocabulary she has, mostly because she doesn't use it," he finished on a lighter note. "Agatha's been interviewed six different times and they're releasing her tomorrow. The students are being warned tonight and assured that she can't hurt them because she got stripped of some of her powers. She's been smart enough to agree to act like she's more helpless than she is. The others won't come near her but she accepts that. Her life is on track for what she wants and that's what's important to her. Xander made sure she knew what her punishments would be if she fucked up again. Oh, Ryan's out of the hospital. He's due back tomorrow as well. His mother said they were bound now and that they have to stay together. His face is mostly the same as it had been. A few scars here and there. The one from the left side of his mouth is still very vivid. He'll never lose that one."
"Will he be her minion?"
"Possibly. No one's sure what Agatha will do when she sees him. They're remeeting in a closed room before breakfast. Xander and Ron have volunteered to stand there and watch them to make sure she doesn't hurt him again."
"She won't. She punished him and now he's properly chastised. She'll be watching for another slip, but she won't continue to hurt him."
"That's what Xander said," George agreed. "Snape will be watching via portal." He glanced to the back of the infirmary.
"Is still sedated. We had to take away the dream suppressant and he's not had so many violent nightmares. Neither has Raena. Telling people about them has helped a little bit. Not much, but enough to let them start to fade now that more qualified people are seeing the problems. There's a small review going on of her published works by Severus and one of the elders, via floo since Bill can't really walk into the school. Did you know she had six published articles and seventeen papers officially in the library at Braun, the school one?" Draco shook his head. "Neither did I. She never mentioned it."
"It's probably hard on her to do so. Either that or it's expected. Severus probably has a few as well," Draco noted. He shifted, trying to find a more comfortable position than on his back.
"Hold still, let me help and you can roll onto your side," George told him, steadying his stomach while Draco turned to face him. "How's that?" he asked, putting a pillow between his knees.
"Better," Draco agreed with a faint smile. "You're being very nice."
"I'm like that to our children, Draco. Get used to it." He smiled at the shocked look. "Yeah, even I can admit that you're a good son. Especially since I realize that you'll be the one looking out for Xander if something happens to me."
"What happened in the lab this time?"
"We got picketers today, anti-gryphon born ones. Madam Rosemerta banned the group from her tavern and the rest of the shops refused to sell anything to them, but they still made a nuisance until mum walked out there and threatened them with imminent death. Tore a few verbal chunks out of them about how they couldn't be sure about their own families and if they didn't like the world to leave it and let the rest of them live in peace." Draco chuckled, he had experienced that sharp tongue more than once. "She was in fine form. Ron asked her if she had been drinking. She did admit to having brewed a fermented bruise potion earlier, but that she was simply pissed at the stupidity of some people. Then she handed out brownies and suggested I come up here and sit with you while they worked on our birthdays this year."
"We need to do something for Xander's."
"Do you remember last year, when he forbid us to *ever* celebrate his birthday?" George said, starting to smile.
"Yay," Draco said flatly, then he smiled. "I think a small and tasteful party would go over well enough."
"He didn't even want presents last year." George knew he was goading Draco into doing something, that was half the fun. Draco stared at him, then smiled. "Caught me?"
"Definitely. He does deserve it though."
"He does," George agreed. "You can't have clowns, he hates them."
"I wouldn't do that for him anyway." Draco shifted then let out a tremendous belch. "Sorry. She keeps doing that to me."
"You've got dinner coming soon. The rest of the fruit is here if you want it." He handed over a bag, watching as the younger man dug through it and came up with the grapes. "Do they soothe the heartburn?"
"And the little beast that gives it to me," he agreed lightly. "I'm never doing this again."
George snickered. "I'm sure you're not. Even though you love the kids you're never going to have another child."
"I'll have grandchildren before this one is in school," Draco pointed out, popping a grape into his mouth. He started to cough and George helpfully patted him on the back. "Thank you. I inhaled when she kicked." He wiped the forming tears off his cheeks. Then he patted his stomach. "I'm eating, calm down." He ate another grape. "She'll weigh a ton when she comes out if she keeps this up."
"At least it's healthy for you," George said with a shrug. "Do you want help up to go to the bathroom?"
"Oh, please," he begged. He ate another grape as he was levering himself up and allowed George to help him off the bed and walk him over to the bathroom. He nearly sighed in relief. "Thank Merlin for practical people," he called through the shut door.
Madam Pomfrey came out of her office. "Is he out of bed?"
"He had to go to the bathroom. Being pregnant is like that from what I understand." She smiled at him. "I'll resettle him soon enough." Draco called out pitifully for some toilet paper. "Where would that be?"
"Under the sink." She tried to walk in but he stopped her. "Look under the sink," she called, frowning at him. "I've seen it all before, Mr. Weasley."
"Yes, but he doesn't like it when people see his. I'm protecting my stepson's modesty."
"Stepson?" Draco called. "It's out."
"I'll get you some. Hold on." She rolled her eyes as she walked over to the supply closet, pulling him out some and handing it through the partially open door. "Put the rest under the sink once you're done."
"Yes, ma'am," he said, then he closed and locked the door.
"Of course you're my stepson. I was much too young to have you when you were born, so you must be Xander's. After all, if you were mine, you'd like pranks," George reminded him.
"Good point," Draco agreed. "I can accept that. Just don't turn into the wicked stepmother."
"Bugger off," George said with affection.
"I'm not sure it's allowed in my condition," Draco said as he came out of the bathroom. "I'm afraid I stopped it up a bit," he told the nurse, looking miserable.
"I'll see to that in a moment," she said, watching as George led him back to his bed. As soon as he was comfortably back in his bed, she went to clean up his mess. Really, didn't the boy know how to use a plunger?
Xander walked into Quality Quidditch Supplies in his tightest jeans and a tight t-shirt. It was laundry day, definitely. He smiled at the woman behind the counter and cracked his knuckles. "Ready?"
Alicia smiled and pointed at the kids. "We've still got to help them."
Katie looked over her shoulder, then looked over Xander. "Awww, did you dress up for us, Xander?"
He beamed. "It's the most appropriate outfit I have. Everything else is sort of naughty." She laughed. "Can I steal Alicia into the office and let you join us later?"
"Sure, go ahead and get started on her. How is Ravena?"
"Sleeping a lot. They're keeping her knocked out because she's having a lot of headaches."
Alicia snorted. "With the back of her head having been caved in, I'm not surprised." She took Xander's outstretched hand and walked around to join him. "I'll try not to be so loud this time."
"Tease," Katie said with a smile. One of the boys pointed at a broom and she lifted it down for him. "This one? It's really fast, are you sure you want to try a fast one?"
"Yes," he said confidently. "I can handle it." He let himself be led back to the practice section. "Does he really know the girl who got hit in the head with a bludger at the last Hogwarts' game?" he asked her as they walked.
Katie nodded. "That's his niece. His husband and the girl's mother are siblings. Ravena's a very nice girl, when she wants to be."
"Wow," he breathed. "Does he know Harry Potter too?"
"Oh, yeah. Harry and all his kids have been adopted by Xander and his family. Besides, I used to play with Harry, kid. A lot of us who're my age know him."
"What did you play?" he asked, gulping hard.
She smiled at him. "Relax, kid, I was one of the marvelous chasers he played with his first five years." He beamed at her. "No hero worship, but if the broom fits you well enough I'll tell your parents for you." He nodded and took the broom, taking off on it. "What do you want to play, kid?"
"I want to be Iggy and Denver's backup chaser," he said happily.
"Honey, that was Iggy's father." He landed and gave the closed door a worshipful look. "You'll be seeing a lot of Professor Harris next year, trust me."
"Isn't he one of those born people?" he asked.
"Sweetie, we're all born, some of us are just born a little differently." She patted him on the head. "Always make your own decisions. Even if you don't like them, you can always change your mind." He nodded, smiling at her. "You looked good, take it around for another spin." He took off again, zipping around. Yeah, he had the potential and they were losing a chaser. Though he'd probably fill in the keeper role better. "Kid, you ever think about being a keeper? I think you've got the makings of a good one."
He giggled. "So does my father." He landed and handed her back the broom. "I want that one. Hold it for me?"
"Sure. Let's go back to the front so you can find your parents." She walked him back there and let him write his name out on a ticket, then stuck the marked broom under the counter. She only sold half of the ones that were saved this way, but the kid wanted it so much that his family might agree. She smiled at the woman he dragged in with him. "Hi. He did look exceptional."
"He wants to play so badly," the mother said with a smile. "May I?" Katie pulled the broom up and let her see it. "It's very new."
"It's a good broom, wonderful for his age and weight." She leaned on the counter. "If he wants to play, then he needs to pounce the flying teacher after the first class and ask him to teach him how to be a keeper. Oliver has been looking for someone to pass on his brilliance to." The mother looked at her, giving her a 'get real' look. "I used to play with Oliver, and Harry. I know talent. He's got enough to play on a house team, but probably not professionally as more than a second string," she admitted.
"Hmm." The mother looked down at her son. "I'd like to see him ride it."
"Of course. Right this way." She took off the tag and led her back to the practice room. "You'll have to excuse any noises from the office. My partner called in someone to work on her stiff shoulders after our game on Saturday."
"You play in the fun league?" the boy asked. She nodded. "What position?"
"I'm filling in as keeper until I get my butt back into shape to be a chaser again," she told him. Alicia's moan floated through the door.
The boy nudged his mother. "That's *Iggy's* daddy, mummy."
"Yup, he coaches our for-fun team." She smiled at the mother. "It's our incentive to win."
The mother looked at the closed door, then at her. "If someone made me make that noise, I'd win games too," she said with a smile. She handed her son the broom and watched as he took off. "It's very fast."
"It is, but it's a steady and safe broom. It's got an A-plus rating in safety."
"None of the kids brooms have a two plus rating," Katie said sadly. "The people who make them have decided that adults will keep them safe." The mother shook her head. "It's the best that there is, barring one, and that's a special broom for those who are sight-impaired."
The mother looked at her. "They make brooms for the blind?" Katie nodded. "I had no idea."
"They're voice-guided and have programable destinations. It's a new muggle/witch crossover project. They're close to two hundred galleons, but I've seen one girl with one. I'm one of the ones who helped fit it to her when the Defense teacher at Hogwarts mentioned it to her mother. She's able to fly about to places she knows and not run into things."
"Hmm. Interesting. Is that Ms. Reams?" Katie nodded. "I'd like to see those in operation."
"It's really cute," Katie said with a grin. "She squeaks each time she lifts off. It goes a little faster than she's comfortable with after not flying for long periods of time." She smiled as the boy landed. "How did it feel?"
"Like it's tilting to the left," the boy told her. "Is that fixable?"
"It is, or it's compensatable. My first one had a fifty percent tilt to the right. It was like flying it sideways some days." Both of them laughed and Alicia moaned again. "Keep it down!" she yelled.
"Sorry, I'm getting the cramp out of her legs," Xander called back. He opened the door and walked out, smiling at them as he wiped the oil off his hands. "She's in a puddle and said she'd accept the other ten minutes some other time. Hi." The kid looked at him like he was God. "Let me guess, you know my son?"
The boy nodded. "Yeah! I want to play with him when I get up there."
"Wonderful! Next year the team's losing a beater, a keeper, and their other chaser. They could use you." The boy beamed. "Hopefully you'll get sorted into Gryffindor. If not, Iggy still likes to talk to people. We scrimmage with some of the other players now and then because they want to pick his mind about things and don't want to do it openly." The mother chuckled. "Xander Harris-Weasley," he said, shaking her hand.
"My, you do have a strong grip," she noted with a smile. "Flying?"
"That, and sword practice. Katie, my dear, do you want to wait for an hour or until tonight for your backrub?"
"Give me an hour," she said with a smile. He nodded and walked out, and she forced herself not to look at the tight butt. She walked over and closed the office door, smiling at the mother. "The fun league can be quite fun."
The mother laughed. "I'm sure. How much for this one?"
"That's a bit steep," the mother said gently.
"Hmm. True. And I do like to see future good players on good brooms. Forty-five? That's almost at cost for us."
"That would be wonderful," the mother agreed, digging into her purse. "Come, Sebastian." He followed her, clutching his broom. "His father used to play for his house as well," she said with a smile.
"My parents never did, my father was always dizzy on a broom. Oh, if he gets sorted into Ravenclaw instead, they've been without a decent keeper for two years now, so either way it's all good." The mother looked at her and Katie pointed at her necklace. "I saw the emblem."
"I can only hope," the mother said with a smile. She noticed the pictures in the case behind the counter. "Which one are you?"
Katie pulled one over. "I'm that one," she said, pointing at herself among her fellow chasers.
"That's Angelina Johnson," the mother said with a smile. "I know her mother. Such a nice little girl."
"She's still a nice little girl, now her own daughter wants to fly."
The mother laughed and paid her, but her son nudged her again. "What?"
"Look at the other pictures, mummy. Look at who's in them."
Katie pulled down her favorite team picture. The twins were hugging them and laughing at something Oliver had just ordered them to do: behave. Harry was leaning against Angelina's side and they all looked so happy and carefree back then. "This is my team picture from my fourth year."
The mother gasped. "You played with Oliver Wood?"
Katie nodded. "Yup, and he's still slated to teach flying next year at Hogwarts. His coach agreed he could."
The boy giggled. "I'm going to ask him to teach me then!" he said happily. "I'll tell him you said so."
"You do that, kid. I'm sure he'd love that." She smiled at him. "Oliver loves to get kids up in the air and off to play, especially if he can relive his days as captain of our team."
"Is he going to be able to play again?"
"Oh, yeah, his shoulder's fully back to normal," Katie told him. "Barring another injury, he's in great shape. He refereed the fun-league's game on Saturday before he went up to deal with the kids' game."
"Who took over?"
"Madam Rosemerta is the other official we have at the moment. He takes over when she has to play and Oliver can't play so it works out all right." She touched team picture. "I'm back to playing with most of them. It's wonderful, I feel like a kid again." The mother smiled and left with her son and his new broom.
Katie scooped the money into the drawer and looked around, going to clean up the little messes. The pictures were carefully put back and the cabinet was locked. She would close early today. She deserved a treat and she wanted to think about the return of the fluttery feelings she had on Saturday. In the back room, Alicia was stumbling around. "Want to put up the bell and close early?" she called.
"Yes!" Alicia said, leaning through the doorway. "I want a treat. Either that or a muggle cigarette." Her partner laughed. "What's wrong?" She walked out and looked at her best friend. "Fluttery feelings?" Katie sighed and nodded. "It's appropriate you know. He's still single."
"I know, but then there's you and all."
Alicia tipped her face up. "Honey, I can share." Katie smiled at her. "Really. We'll share that man together if we have to. Either that, or I'll go after Oliver or Harry." She winked. "He could use some excitement in his day."
"He'd probably want you to help him practice," Katie teased.
"Hmm, naked flying. I like the way you think." She put out the call bell and gathered up her coat. It was starting to get cool. "Xander will find you."
"I know he will. He's probably getting his cane fixed again."
"Retipped. He said it was time. That and he's looking for a present for George's birthday."
"Oohh! I forgot that was coming up. What should we get them?"
"Polishing kits?" Katie nudged her. "Sorry, couldn't resist. We'll look this afternoon." They walked out and locked the door, tapping it with their wands to start the anti-theft spells. "There, all done. I need ice cream because I can't have that man."
"George would hurt you. He told me so when he caught me looking at his bum."
"Oooh, and those *pants* he's wearing today," Alicia sighed. "So tight!"
"Must be laundry day," the said together. They cracked up laughing and walked into Flourestcu's together.
Xander looked up as something landed on his plate. He pushed the present away. "Thanks, but I don't need anything." Draco threw a grape at him and smiled at Fred before he could sit down. "I really don't, Fred. You didn't have to buy me anything."
"It's not going to eat you," Fred said, pulling over some toast for himself. It was Saturday, there wasn't a game, and it was Xander's birthday. "Don't they have birthday gifts in America?"
Tara came skipping through the door and gave Xander a tight hug. "Happy Birthday!" she said happily.
"Eww, happy people," he groaned, getting away from her. She gave him a sloppy kiss on the cheek. "He's going to get you, Tara."
"He's behind me somewhere and has your present." She kissed him again. "You never told me when your birthday was, naught boy. Otherwise I would have gotten you something for the last eighteen years that I've known you." She sat down on his lap, making him look at her. "Why don't you like birthdays?"
"I like them just fine," he assured her, giving her a pat on the back. Snape walked in. "She sat down, I am not encouraging it," he told him.
Severus shook his head. "I know she'd never cheat with you. She seems to think we're too much alike." He sat at the table and handed over a small wrapped present. "From the both of us."
"He doesn't like his birthday," Fred informed him. Snape raised an eyebrow. "He won't tell us why."
"I don't ever remember celebrating his birthday," Tara said. Xander put her down and walked off. "Xander!" She hurried after him, locking them in the room he headed for. "Tell me. They won't hear."
He shook his head. "It's stupid."
"It's not stupid, it's emotional. It's different." She moved closer, giving him a hug. "Tell me?" she pleaded.
"Every time I have a birthday party, something bad happens."
"Xanny, we've had bad thing happen in the years that you haven't had one," she pointed out. He shook his head and got free of her, walking over to stare out a window. "When was the last time you had a birthday celebration?"
"Tenth grade." She gasped. "What?" He turned to look at her and found a hand inside her. "Get off her, you slimy prat." Slytherin moved away from her. "Don't touch her again or I'll rip your soul apart."
"I was merely stunning her. Tell *me*, boy. This I don't understand and I've seen all your memories."
Xander shook his head. "You wouldn't understand. Let her go." He turned and looked back out the window. "I want to sulk in peace and worry about what's going to happen this time."
Slytherin released Tara and she started to shiver. "Go get warm. I'll deal with him." She walked away and Draco came in. "I said I'd do it."
"Dead people can't give hugs," Draco pointed out. Slytherin smiled at him. "Now, give. What is this about?"
Xander sighed. "Bad things happen when I have birthday parties or even celebrate it. There, are you happy now?"
"Xander, if being sulky instead of reasonable is your way of putting us off, it won't work. Many bad things have happened in the years you never celebrated it." He walked over and forced Xander to turn and look at him. "Really. They did. Did you celebrate it the year Voldemort finally died?" Xander shook his head. "Then what about Simone's first year?" Xander shook his head again. "Then what are you worrying about?"
"People tend to die."
"Ah. How very logical of you. The world revolves around your birthday now." Xander glared at him. "Then explain it to me."
"Draco, listen to the words I am speaking. People die when I celebrate my birthday. They always have. Within two weeks usually, though one hung on in a coma for an extra week and a half. People *die*! I don't have a birthday."
"Hogwash. You have one, those were coincidences."
"Really?" he snorted. "Prove it."
"Did your parents do this to you?" Slytherin asked. Both men glared at him. "I'll go peek in on your son then, shall I?" He floated through a wall and left.
Draco led Xander over to a seat and forced him to sit. "Stay." He looked down at him, then reached over to smooth down some of the dark hair with white streaks. "Tell me, Xander. It can't be that bad."
"Really? You mean watching a different member of your family or friends die each year you've celebrated isn't bad?"
"Did you have anything to do with them?"
"Not all of them, they only happened in coincidence with my birthday," he snorted. "All but two were free of me at the scene of the death, the first vampire I killed and at my first birthday celebration." Draco winced, he had heard that story before. Xander stood up and put him into the chair. "I'm sorry, I shouldn't snipe at you."
"It's fine, Xander. I want to understand. George doesn't." He smiled. "It's too late anyway. Shouldn't you enjoy it?" Xander shook his head. "No?"
"It's not too late. I'm not celebrating it."
"Our children are." Xander groaned. "What?"
"That means it'll be one of them," Xander said angrily. "Damn, I've got to ...." He was pounced and held. "Let me go! This is dangerous and I have to get away from them."
"No. This is irrational in the extreme," Draco told him firmly. "No one will die because you had a birthday. Who was the first?" Xander continued to struggle. "Tell me, who died first?"
"My grandmother," he said, but he wasn't getting free. "She died after having a heart attack on my birthday. Right in front of everyone." He finally managed to get the bands around him to loosen up and got free, looking at him. "After that, it was an uncle, and then an aunt and her whole family. And then, the next one I killed directly. Even Willow took the hint eventually, Draco. Take it now before it happens again."
"That's only five birthdays. You've had more than that," Draco pointed out gently. Xander shook his head. "You didn't celebrate those other years?"
"No, I didn't. I didn't want one after that clown incident and my grandmother died. Every once in a while someone would push, but it was usually a relief not to have to worry about other people dying for a while."
"Did anyone die in other years?" Draco asked. Xander shook his head. "When did your parents die?"
"I reminded myself that it was my birthday," he said quietly, looking out the window again. "Just drop it. Hopefully it's not too late."
"It is, and we'll prove it this year. There is no birthday curse on you. Trust me, I've looked for curses on you over the years to try and figure out why you're like you are." He stepped closer. "None of us will die and you'll see." Xander shook his head. "Fine, then we'll have to celebrate without you. My children were determined to celebrate your birthday." He took another step closer and grabbed Xander again, this time simply holding him.
"Don't say it."
"Then I won't. Tara already did." He groaned. "She's not dying either, Xander. No one is." He let him rest against his side for a few moments, then slowly let him go. "Come. You have to put on a happy face for the rest of us, or else we'll tease you mercilessly." He led Xander out and found just them and Tara. "Everyone else left?"
She smiled. "I sent them for some milk from the kitchens." She held her arms out. "Come here, Xander. Give me a hug." He gave her a hug. "Test me for yourself, am I fine?" He nodded. "Then what are you worried about?"
"You'll be next and it's always an accident," he told her.
"I'm not dying, Xander. It's not you, it's fate biting you on the ass. None of this has been your fault." She gave him a squeeze as the door opened. "Good morning, Simone."
Simone walked in and looked at her uncle. "You don't look happy."
"He has a superstition about his birthday," her father told her.
"His birthday is about at the start of the holiday death season," Tara told her. "Some of his family have died in accidents and the like near his birthday so he doesn't celebrate it. As a matter of fact, he even told Buffy the wrong date so she wouldn't celebrate it if I remember right. She always said it in March."
Simone snorted. "That's stupid." Xander glared at her. "It is. Did you kill any of them?" Xander nodded. "You did?" she asked in disbelief.
"Two of them. My screaming startled my grandmother so much she died of a heart attack on my fifth birthday and I made my first kill when I was in tenth grade not even a week after my birthday."
Tara gave him a squeeze. "Willow never mentioned any of that."
"Willow stopped celebrating my birthday after that. She knew and understood."
"Well, this year will be different," Simone said forcefully. "None of us will die. We don't even have a game in the next two weeks and neither does your team."
"That leaves, Harry, Oliver, and Melvin," Tara put in.
"And Percy, Bill, Charlie, Molly, and Arthur, plus any of the children not in school," Draco reminded her. Xander looked at him. "Look at it reasonably, Xander. Who has the most likely risk of dying? Charlie?"
"If it depends on celebrating it, Melvin because he's celebrating with us," Simone told him. Xander frowned. "Melvin's got a game in two weeks exactly. His girlfriend saw him falling last year and hurting himself badly, she'll see it this time as well. There's been no hint of even a minor sprain for him all year long. Nothing. Not a single injury and he's back on the second string anyway. So, next would probably be Uncle Charlie or Bill. Both of them do stupid and dangerous stuff."
"Bill's in London and Charlie sent a letter, but no birthday card," Draco told her. "Percy sent one." Xander's breath caught. "As did Potter, and Ron bought you a present but Vinnie was screaming with an earache so he's already headed for the infirmary." He nibbled on a piece of toast. "That leaves Wood, who might fall off his broom, but that's normal for him apparently."
"You're taking this too lightly," Xander warned.
"Xander, no one's going to die," Tara said firmly. "No one. Not even someone you know."
"Statistically speaking, that's more likely, but certainly not a member of your family or someone that you care about," Draco assured him. "Simone, you can tell them to come back in and finish breakfast." She gave him a hug.
"Don't tell George."
"I won't," Simone told him. "But you'd better. He'll help you see that it won't happen." She walked away, going to get everyone. They all trickled back in, including the kids. "So, the party tonight? Is it still on?"
"Yes," Draco told her. "Go get ready."
"Yes, father." She hurried away. Then she came and frowned at him. "It's not for hours. I don't need that long to fuss with my hair."
Draco looked at him. "We're having a party for you, and you may come if you like, but we won't force you."
"Bet me," Iggy told him, arms already crossed in an unconscious imitation of his mentor and his father both. "He's attending. None of us are going to die. We can even check on your future, see if you're going to be attending a funeral sometime in the future," he offered. Tara nodded, smiling at him. "Now, let's move on with our day, before I call Grandma and sic her on you." Xander frowned at him. "I mean it."
"He's not had that many birthday celebrations so he ran afoul of the standard law of problems in life," Draco told him. "This is firmly stuck in his mind and we'll have to show him it's not correct. We can't do anything else at this time."
"Bet me," Iggy snorted. "I can get Grandma and Grandpa into the act as well. I'm sure they'd like to know when daddy's birthday is. I know Grandpa's wondered since his birthday seems to disappear from every form that asks for it once it's filed."
"I coded them so no one would see it," Xander admitted.
"You went this far to uphold a silly superstition?" Denver asked him. He looked at his father. "This isn't contagious, correct?"
"Indeed it's not," Snape assured him. "This is simply something strange that most humans fall prey to if they're not careful to analyze the major events in their life." Xander tried to stand up but Tara had him too tightly. "If you thought about it, did bad things happen in the years you didn't celebrate, but acknowledged it?"
Xander nodded. "The last time I acknowledged it was their first year," Xander said, pointing at his son.
"And that was the most calm month we had all year," Iggy reminded him. "Nothing for a month on either side of your birthday, daddy." Xander looked stunned. "You didn't realize that?" Xander shook his head.
"Happy birthday!" Sirius said as he walked in. "Where is he? Oh-ho, getting special treatment from Tara?" he teased.
"Finally got laid?" Simone suggested. He glared at her. "Personal interest, the rest of the students would like your dry spell to end as well." She smiled sweetly. "Should daddy hook you up with someone? He knows a great many people who'd probably sleep with you." Draco choked.
"Simone, tact is a wonderful invention, study the science behind it," Tara told her, but she was smiling as well. "It's good to see you in such a chipper mood, Sirius. Is there good news?"
"I got invited to Switzerland for the holidays," he announced.
"Good, you can take train duty," Draco assured him. Sirius stared down at him in shock. "What? Leaving earlier? We've all done it in the last two years and you didn't get to see the wonders of patrolling for yourself so I'll gladly give you my spot."
"Yes, you'll be here," Xander reminded him. "Hopefully on bed rest."
"Raena and I are spending the first week at the colony and then snuggling the rest of the time at the Burrow to play with the little creatures," Iggy told everyone. "We're doing a literature review."
"I heard about your nightmares," Draco told him, looking at him. "Are you growing again?"
Iggy nodded. "That's why I was going to come over and beg cutely. Daddy, I've started another growth spurt. All my shirts and robes are too small now. My shoulders are getting wider and I'm going to have chimp arms."
"Do we need to buy you clown shoes as well?" Xander asked, allowing himself to smile slightly.
"Daddy, if it's true what they say about shoe size and its relation to other body parts, and my feet grow more, Raena will yell at you for cursing me." Everyone looked at him. "She says I have more than enough, thank you all for wanting to know."
"How big are you?" Simone asked, looking mystified. "And what is it about dick size?"
"Daughter, appropriate table conversations, please," Draco reminded her gently.
"Sorry, but I've always wondered. Brag about your brains. Most guys don't have much of a clue what to do with a big one anyway."
Xander snickered, truly smiling now. Plus, Sirius and Snape were both blushing.
"Sev, don't worry, she wasn't talking about you. You have more than enough talent for three Draco's."
Draco looked at her, smirking. "Did you want to put that to the test?" he asked, then he popped his last bite of toast into his mouth.
"Daddy, eww. Professor Snape would get really pissed if you knocked up his wife," Denver told him.
Snape groaned. "There will be no testing of that hypothesis," he said firmly. Tara grinned naughtily at him. "You will pay for that remark later."
"Shit, I'd love a compliment like that," Sirius muttered.
"That's another difference between us," Severus said coolly.
Agatha walked in with a morose Ryan behind her. "Sit." She walked over and smiled at Xander. "Ravena woke me up sinfully early to come wish you a happy birthday, Uncle Xander. She'll be over once her hair is perfect and she can find clothes she wants to wear today."
Simone smirked. "The correct phrase is 'sit, stay, good dog', Aggie."
Agatha looked from her, to Ryan, then back. "I only put his leash on him in non-public situations," she said, looking like she was dead serious.
Ryan groaned. "Agatha!"
Emily smiled from her position near Melvin. "That's almost as good as you asking if Raena beat Iggy when we said he was whipped, Uncle Severus."
Severus groaned and Tara laughed. "Oh, Emily, that must have been cute. I wanted to see that conversation."
"It was cute," Iggy agreed, nodding happily. "And I liked my whipped status, thank you. If she's got me pussywhipped then at least it's touching me some time in the near future."
Xander spluttered. "Iggy!"
He grinned. "What?" he asked innocently. "I was joining in on the dominant conversation of the group," he assured him.
"No more sexual innuendos," Snape ordered. "Or I'll have to start taking off house points." Agatha made a derisive sound. "Including from you. You should have lost many of them for your recent behavioral problems."
"So take them. Like I give a shit if we win the house cup," Agatha noted. Everyone looked at her. "It's a house award, I could care less, people. I'm in this for me, not for my house."
"You'd do well in the American education system then," Emily told her. "Salem didn't have sorting into houses, only into dormitories and you never did things as a group outside of so-called bonding activities. If I *ever* see another game of dodgeball I'm going to fry the ball."
Xander laughed. "I remember that game," he said fondly, looking down at Tara. "Don't you?"
She nodded. "My school said we couldn't play it anymore, it was too dangerous. We stopped it while I was in sixth grade, just as the guys were starting to get beefy and hurt us girls."
"Another advantage of an all-girls school," Emily put in. "That game really is an excuse to pick on the weaker students. A bully must have thought it up."
"What is this dodge ball?" Severus asked, though he wasn't sure he wanted to know.
"You take a group of kids, divide them into two groups, hand out five balls if there's over twenty of them. You throw balls at the other team, if you hit them they're out, if they catch them they're okay. You're allowed to dodge the balls, it's the point of the game."
"It's the first American game kids learn where the whole intention is to pick on the smaller and less forceful kids," Tara added. "You really do aim for the ones who can't catch, can't duck fast enough, or the ones who you think are poor little creatures. I've seen some kids who aimed at other kid's faces to break their noses. And we used nerf balls."
"Sunnydale used volleyballs," Xander told her. She winced. "Yeah. Needless to say, the last time I played dodge ball, I was possessed and instead of picking on Buffy the whole pack turned on the kid on our own side."
"Ow," she winced in sympathy. "I never did well in that game, I didn't want to hurt the other picked-on kids, I was in with them."
"That's about the only game where someone actually picked me to be on their side, because over short distances I can throw really hard," Xander told her.
Now Severus was sure Americans were odd and dangerous creatures who should be watched at every turn for deviant behavior, though he had helped calm Xander and Tara down into appropriate behavior more often than not. Or at least he hoped they no longer attacked each other with hard balls. "Get off my wife's lap if you're feeling better," Snape told him, sitting down himself. "What are you doing the rest of the day?"
"Hiding from the imminent lightening strike?" Xander suggested.
Agatha looked up him, then out the window. "I don't even see a cloud."
"Someone always dies around my birthday if someone celebrates it," Xander told her frankly. "And you still can't tell George."
"Fine," they murmured.
Though Iggy was going to break that order very quickly. His father looked at him and he smiled innocently. "Since it's your birthday, can I have gropes and snuggles in celebration?"
Xander shook his head. "How many more months do you have, Iggy?"
"Seven," he sighed. "We recounted. We have one-hundred-ninety days left until the day after my birthday. She thought mine was farther back in the year than it was and that I had started school at nine because I'm such a brain."
Snape looked at him. "I do not want to see her up on a worktable with your hand up her skirt again, young man. You're much too young. You should have waited."
"I'd still be trying to snuggle and grope her," Iggy pointed out. His father smirked. "I know, my dick ran my brain. I told you this was going to happen and that's why I didn't want one in the first place."
"Are you happier with having one now?" Draco asked, smirking at him.
"Only when she's thinking smutty thoughts. Otherwise, it still gets in my way. Humans should have detachable ones." Denver winced and cupped his crotch. "What?"
"That's a nasty thought," Denver whined. "Make them shrink back into you, don't cut them off!"
"Whatever." Iggy rolled his eyes. "We should have mutually compatible systems around our navels anyway. It'd cause less problems with the reproductive systems." Snape smiled at him, it was a very logical assumption and all due to his input of course. "Think about all the things that can go wrong down there. Having it around the belly button would be perfect. A direct line back, and one on the back to give birth from since most babies seem to like to kick back there anyway. It'd hurt less as well."
"I'd like that," Draco agreed. His kids snickered. "And we're not having any more. I'll expect you to give me many grandchildren to fuss over when I'm missing holding one of you."
"Talk to Ana," Denver and Simone said in unison. Then they stuck their tongues out at each other.
"Or Ravena and Ron," Iggy pointed out helpfully.
Tara snorted. "With their luck, they'll have beaters and won't know what to do to train them."
Snape looked at her. "Don't wish that on the world."
"Hey, Harry's a very nice guy," Xander defended. "He's going to make a wonderful grandfather, if only because he'll be one of those who'll make cookies all day long if the kids beg nicely."
"At least I won't have to worry about that," Agatha noted. She cleared her throat. "Since neither of my siblings are here and I've heard some news, would someone like to explain to me what's going on with my mother?"
"No one's sure yet," Draco told her. She nodded for him to go on. "There's a thought that she might be pregnant. She's being closely watched by the people she's living with. There's also talk of removing her from his care and moving her to a more secure facility, especially if she is pregnant. No one's sure what's going to happen to the child if there is one."
"Could it be muggle?" Agatha asked. He nodded. "Could it not be muggle?" He nodded again. "When will we know?"
"When the baby manifests. Anywhere from age three to age eight," Iggy told her seriously. "I'm sure they've got a doctor looking over her." Draco and Snape both nodded. "Then we'll hear, Aggie. Don't tell the others."
"I wasn't. I only know because my new mentor gave me a heads-up. He wanted me to be prepared in case it did happen and they gave it to Father."
"Which is an option," Draco agreed. He looked around and a sudden thought came to him. He had six children. Hadn't he used to pick on the Weasleys for having seven? Of course, he could afford them, but still. He shook his head. What an odd thought. Iggy frowned at him. "What?"
"For the record, I heard that, and no, it's not an odd thought. Sometimes the mind goes odd places when you're not using it. It's like traveling to remember the road you've been down." He smiled. "Uncle Ron's coming, I can hear Vinnie."
"I'm sure you'll keep it to yourself," Draco suggested.
"Yes, you can do that while he takes you shopping," Xander said happily. Draco looked at him. "You're the one who likes it. I loathe shopping and I'm going to spend all day in the closet hoping the building doesn't fall on all of us."
"If I have to waddle through Diagon, so do you," Draco said firmly. He looked at his children. "Do any of you need anything?"
"Ravena does," Denver said helpfully. "She's shot up a few inches. Her skirts are drawing some attention."
"They're looking at her legs," Simone pointed out. "Boys do that to girls, they even do it to me." She smiled at him. "Can you please pick me up something special for Glinda? She's being cranky because her man-buddy is gone again."
"Of course," Draco agreed. "Anything else?" No one said anything. "Then someone get Ravena up and we'll go shopping. Iggy, don't you have to ask for an allowance?"
"Yup. Be right back." He used the floo, heading for the colony and his mate, who was already over there. He looked up at the big bird standing in front of him. "Hi, I don't know you."
"The elders are busy with the healing prodigy," the gryphon said stiffly.
"Um, perhaps you should look again, I'm the prodigy and she's my wife, recently deaged. Get out of my way." The gryphon blocked his path, but he was faster. He darted into the room and looked up at the elders. "Did he just arrive?" he asked.
Raena smiled at him. "The Main Council sent him," she said, waving him over. "Come see, love."
"All right, but Uncle Draco's taking me to fix my shirt problems soon." He looked at the forms in front of him. "Your application to the Royal Academy?" She nodded, beaming at him. "Congratulations." He picked her up and swung her around. "I'm so happy!"
"Me too. I've been pre-accepted, I have to finish doing the paperwork. They even said that I'm good enough in my own right, not just as your spouse."
The gryphon guardian plucked Iggy up. "Don't grope her."
"Put him down," Bill said patiently, and the gryphon dropped Iggy. "That is Ignatius Harris- Weasley, *the* potion's prodigy. This is his wife, *the other* potion's prodigy. There's two of them you know." The guardian shook his head. "Well, now you do. Memorize him, his father looks very much like him and he tends to barge in as well." He looked down at Ignatius. "Your shoulders are getting bigger," he said in appreciation. "It looks like you'll have your father's build."
"Hopefully I'll end up with Uncle Fred and Daddy George's shoulders. Theirs don't square off at the end the way Daddy Xander's does." Iggy smiled up at the guardian. "Trust me, I'm allowed to be in here. I'm allowed many places. I tend to go most of them, even when I'm not wanted. I'm fifteen, I'm like that." The guardian nodded stiffly, looking like he expected to be hit. "Hey, misunderstanding, guy, relax. I'm not that mean. Only to those who hurt my wonderful woman." He smiled at Raena. "We need ice cream to celebrate."
"Is that all you can think of?" she teased.
"Well, I did ask for gropes and cuddles in honor of my father's birthday since he's being apocalyptic again. But we can't tell Daddy George why."
She rolled her eyes. "By now he should already know." She smiled up at Bill. "May we be excused until tonight or did you want to finish filling out my credentials first?"
"Either would be fine, dear, or you could have that somber Professor Snape help you if you wanted. He has most of the stack of your work at the moment for review."
"Good point." She gathered everything together and gave the big elder a hug. "Thank you for supporting me in this."
"You deserve it and it makes your nest a happy one. I can't wait to see your children."
"Nine more years," Iggy reminded him.
"I'm only three-hundred-twelve," Bill snorted. "I have time."
"I thought you'd be older," Raena told him.
"It was scandalous. I was chosen to be an elder before I turned three-hundred. Everyone doubted I had any sense at all, especially after they met Xander, which was right after his amazing lightening trick." Iggy shook his head and groaned. "Did the healing potion work at all?"
"Some. It's reduced some of the scarring. It's strengthened the knee as well. I'm more worried about the warning about the losing a day of life for every dose that I found in one book. I've never seen it repeated."
"We can get a mouse and test it," she assured him. "Run a small study in the lab."
"Okay." He helped her back to the floo. "Cover those or they'll get sooty." She put them under her shirt, but one page fell out and landed in the fire so he quickly pulled it out and stomped on it. "Here you go, only a little singed," he said with a faint smile. "I'll get you another one or we'll finish filling it out and take it over tomorrow." He let her go first, just in case she dropped any more.
Bill looked at their new guardian, and then at the guardian's new mate. "A word of advice. Never upset him about his mate. He tends to attack first and then she had to calm him down later. That's the only thing that he attacks over, his family." The guardian relaxed and Bill smiled. "He was also right, he tends to wander around a lot. Even in places he's not supposed to go. We learned long ago to simply watch him. The boy absorbs knowledge like one of those muggle vacuums."
The guardian nodded. "He is young."
"He's fifteen," his wife pointed out. "Not that young. I first met him when he was five and bounding around in the back while his father worked on something." The guardian looked pained. "I think we all had that expression that day." She looked at the elder. "Any news on the human guardian?"
"She's on track. Helena made a report that she was reaching out for the flood already, so she's definitely on track. Apparently Mr. Malfoy-Harris-Weasley is a bit pissed at us because we never warned him and at Ignatius and his family because they fuss greatly."
"He's adopted as one of us?" the guardian asked. The elder nodded. "Is he naturally one of us otherwise?" Bill nodded again. "Then was he taken as a secondary mate?"
"Not that I know of," Bill said thoughtfully. "I should probably talk to Xander about that. He probably has no idea what he's doing again. He seems to muddle through a great many things. It was funny, Slytherin's ghost had Mr. Malfoy-Harris-Weasley take his adoptive father captive so Xander would have to slow down and accept being pampered. It was an attempt to get him to follow the codes of an elder. It was only marginally successful from what I understand. Now Xander does his exercising and training in private." The other elders laughed. "Truly, the boy is stubborn."
"We do have that protocol book," the female elder pointed out.
"Xander?" Bill said, looking doubtful.
"Good point," she agreed, starting to laugh again. "His upbringing had made him stubborn, he won't take the hint at all. Perhaps we should bring him up for the lectures we give those young who are forming their own nests." The couple smiled at each other.
"He's got a colony of his own," Bill reminded her. "Mr. Malfoy-Harris-Weasley is kin, but not of his blood. He's also adopted a few non-borns as well. One named Wood is very entertaining. I talked with him the last time I was up. He's a keeper."
"Wonderful!" the other male elder said happily. He looked at the back cavern. "Maybe we could get him to come fly with the littles."
"We can only ask," Bill agreed. "Shall I call Xander and have him pass on the request?"
"Send it to Ignatius, he can hear across the flood. Did you hear what he did the last time?" the female asked. Bill shook his head. "When his cousin got her head bashed in, he teleported her and *missed*." The gryphons all smiled. "Landed in front of a very nice priest named Philip, and a nun who is so pure that she outshone Tara."
"Wonderful, he's making mistakes again," Bill said happily. "That boy has always hated making them, but he needs to do so soon."
"He doesn't make mistakes?" the guardian gryphon asked.
Bill shook his head. "His mentor, Severus, taught him to be methodical and think everything through first. The first impulsive thing he ever did was fall in love with Raena. I've always thought the boy was too serious for his own good. He doesn't even like a good argument or a good prank."
The guardian shook his head. "That poor boy. Hopefully she'll make him loosen up."
"The day after his sixteenth birthday so they're legal by wizard standards," Bill said with as much of a smirk as he could manage with a beak. "We've got the day marked on the calendar and will be pushing the shields as high as they can go. Just in case."
"First times can often be traumatizing," the female elder agreed with a smile. "Your whole world seems to reorder itself." She tipped her head to the right. "Didn't that boy have a problem with gaining adult status?"
"He didn't like his reproductive organs," the other male agreed. "Said it was too large and trying to control his life. I'm sure he likes it more now." Bill chuckled. "No?"
"Only when she's teasing him. I caught a thought earlier from him, he wanted to make everyone's detachable, but his cousin suggested making it retractable instead."
"It is easier to manage that way," the other male agreed. "Why humans have permanently external ones I have no idea. It's so inconvenient and messy."
"Iggy suggested one around the human navel. With a pass through to the back for easy delivery."
"It'd suit their bodies," the female agreed. "If we have any input into the future of the human race, we can suggest it." She smiled at Bill. "Any word on Slytherin's libraries? I heard him teasing you the other day."
"He's promised to show Ignatius where they all were. Or at least hint enough so the boy could go looking." He winked. "I'm sure he'll like it. He likes the hunt."
"His wife understands that as well. She's intentionally drawing it out for him to tease and make him hunt," the female elder pointed out.
"Yes, Raena is a brilliant woman and very well suited to our young, impatient one."
"I'm hoping our shields are enough to hold against him if he loses control," the second male elder pointed out.
"There are things she knows which will help bleed off the power since she's not fertile," Bill told him.
"They made her not fertile?"
"No, they made both themselves not fertile," Bill told her. "For another nine years. Then it might snap and she might become very fertile." He shrugged. "We'll have to see." He settled back into his nest. "In the future, Iggy's allowed unless we tell you it's a closed discussion or an emergency meeting, and even then he might push his way past you. Don't worry about it, young man." The guardian nodded and took his mate back to their nest. She was egg heavy and didn't need to be up and about right then. "Children," Bill said with a smile.
"Yes, they do liven things up," the female elder agreed. "Shouldn't we send them money for clothes?" Bill unsettled himself and went to send them some money, and she smiled. "Or should they hit the vault?" she called after them.
"I'll tell them to hit the vault," he called back. "I'm not flying up there today, my wings ache from playing with the children last night."
She laughed. He was good with the littles. Now if only he had a nestmate of his own. She would have to find one for him.
Ginny looked up from her snack, watching the people walk down the alley. She smiled when she saw Iggy bouncing around happily, not in his school clothes since he was wearing jeans and a t- shirt. Make his day indeed. She smiled sadly as she saw Draco, recognizing all she had messed up in her life. He seemed to glow in the muted sunlight of the fall day. She had definitely screwed up.
The waitress put down her check and looked out the window. "Going to crawl back and beg?" she asked snidely.
"Maybe," Ginny agreed. "I miss him. He was good to me through everything." She finished up her snack and paid her tab, but she wouldn't go to him today. She wasn't worthy of him yet. She had more things to straighten out still. She headed the opposite direction, hoping she didn't run into more of the family. Some of them were barely talking to her, even though she had apologized. It was better though, Bill hadn't talked to her at all for the last few months. She headed up to her room and settled herself in to consider her past mistakes. Damn, she had majorly screwed up everything good in her life.
Draco followed the children into the bank, smiling at the goblin to unsettle it. "They need into theirs and I need into mine," he said, presenting his key. He hadn't been able to find where Xander was hiding so he was on his own this trip.
"Mr. Malfoy," the goblin greeted. He looked at the children. "None of your own today?"
"Not yet. Ravena will be joining us," Raena told him, presenting both of their keys. "We need into both please."
He checked her against the picture given to them by the gryphons. "Very well then." He waved someone over, letting them be taken down. How very odd. She seemed so much older. He heard one of the younger ones gossiping behind him and looked at them. They shut up their nonsense quickly. Going after a deaging potion for love, what blarney.
Iggy smiled at Madam Malkin when she looked up, but it fell when he saw her. "What happened to you?" he asked, coming over to look at her bruised face. "Do you need to go to the hospital? That's a small fracture. I can't smooth it across yet, I'm not allowed, but I know some excellent doctors who can."
"Iggy," Raena said gently, breaking into his fast babble. "Are you all right?"
Madam Malkin nodded. "Just fine, dear. How are you today?" Draco looked around the store. "A small break-in last night. It was reported and nothing significant was taken since I had made a bank drop early in the afternoon. Stupid boys on muggle drugs." She sighed as she stood up, holding her back.
"Let me look at that," Iggy said firmly, settling her back onto her stool. "My father taught me how to give killer backrubs. My hands aren't as strong, but I might be able to ease some of the ache." He slowly felt around her back, finding the knot of tension in her lower back, then started to gently work on it. The seamstress smiled in relief. "I wish I had a pain potion on me. I'd give you one."
"I had one at noon," she assured him. She saw the look at the clock on the wall. "I know, but I can't take one for another six hours. The muscle relaxer wore off in the last hour."
"All this stress can't be good for you," Iggy told her. "You're a wonderful woman and if I find out who did this they're going to be sorry before the aurors can get to them." Draco stifled a laugh. "I'm serious! She's a wonderful woman who puts up with masses of us kids every year. She deserves better than this crap!"
"I'm fine, Ignatius. Don't fret so, you'll work yourself up into a fit," she soothed, patting his hands before removing them from her back. She did feel better, maybe she would ask the boy's father for a few minutes of his time. "Don't worry a bit about me. They've hit a few other shops recently as well. Magical Law Enforcement is working with the aurors to stop them from exposing us all."
"Is that who took Uncle Harry's broom?" Raena asked. Madam Malkin nodded. "I thought it had been another World Cup incident."
"No, that was his kidnaping and beating," Madam Malkin said, standing up. "What did you two need today? Mr. Malfoy that looks a bit tight. I can fix that as well."
Iggy held up his arms. "I'm growing chimp arms and my shoulders have started to spread." She smiled at him. "Can you compensate for that?"
"Of course, dear, almost all boys have that problem sometime in their formative years." She smiled at Raena. "What about for you, dear? Another few outfits?"
"I was thinking that I could use some undergarments."
"We do bra shopping at the mall," Iggy told her. "There's a great place where you can get all sorts of stuff and touch it and everything." Madam Malkin laughed at him. "What?" he asked, sounding slightly hurt.
"The look on your face, Ignatius. Do you like playing with the lingerie?"
"Hell, yeah. And I can see all sorts of practical uses for them too. I saw this fishnet one that would look wonderful on my wife. Absolutely spiffing and totally mind-bending if I might say so. Very elegant and none of those uncomfortable wires that I could see."
"We'll see, Iggy. I've gained some weight recently and I'm not as sleek as I used to be."
"You look wonderful," Draco told her. "Especially to him. It's a byproduct of his lusty feelings for you."
She nodded. "I can see that. Then I guess I need some new skirts and pants."
"Dear, the weight gain has affected your chest as well," Madam Malkin said delicately. The door rang and she flinched but it was only Ravena. "Wandering about?"
"No, I got sprung, it took a few pieces of paperwork and I had to be found," Ravena said, looking around. Then she looked at the shopkeeper. "Should we hunt someone down and harm them?"
"It's probably the same group that tried to get into the joke shop and when they couldn't tried to threaten Madam Rosemerta," Raena said thoughtfully.
"Wasn't there a muggle among that pack of idiots?" Ravena asked, starting to scowl. "I thought they had been in a muggle jail together."
"What a wonderful outcome for wizards," Draco noted dryly. "Stored in a muggle jail. Why?"
"Shoplifting for kicks," Iggy told him. "I heard the same story. They met and became friends on the inside and there wasn't anything the Ministry could do to get them into our system because of the amount of paperwork that muggles use for criminals. Sixty days in a juvenile detention center."
"If it was anything like the prison my father took me on a tour of to prove to me what animals muggles were, I'm sorry for them," Draco told them. "Horrible smelly places. No privacy, even for necessary functions. You share a cell with at least one other person, but the cell is about the size of the shower stalls put together from your dorm rooms." He shuddered. "He forced us to stay there for hours under an invisibility cloak, watching them. Then he pointed out that those people were common criminals. Thieves. Smugglers. People like that. The worse offenders go somewhere much worse. It was his way of showing me how bad muggles were to each other, so therefor they didn't deserve our protection."
"Is Azkaban so much better?" Iggy asked.
Draco shook his head. "No, it's worse. It's a torture of a different sort. That's all."
Madam Malkin nodded. "It is. Our Muggle Studies class got arrested on our outing in London for some of us shoplifting. They set us in our own cell, but it was still horrible. In a way, Azkaban is worse, in some ways it's better. They're all inhumane in their own way and most people say it's necessary and right. I try hard not to think about it either way."
"Me also," Draco agreed. He shuddered again and his daughter hugged him. "Thank you, dear."
"I won't let the bad muggles get you, father. Or the bad wizards either."
"Thank you, Ravena. I'm sure you'll be a wonderful guardian of the family, including your own." She looked up at him. "Surely you're going to find someone and settle down someday."
"If you say so, but I'm going through what Anastasia did. I'm not sure I like boys. They're smelly and nasty. Girls are much more clean and nice."
"Very true, and you can like both," Iggy assured her. She grinned at him. "What about Ronnie?"
"He's clean at least, but I'm mad at him. He doesn't see me as a girl."
"I think we can cure that," Madam Malkin said, smiling at her. "Sometimes boys can be very clueless unless they're hit upside the head with it."
"I wore two stunning bathing suits in front of him," she told her. "He noticed I was a girl then, but now he's back to not seeing me as a girl."
"It's probably a reaction to your fall," Draco told her. "He's scared he'll get hurt. Kiss him senseless, he'll come around quickly enough or I'll have a discussion with young Mr. Potter." She beamed up at him. "You may have whatever wicked outfit Madam Malkin wants to put you in if you want." She nodded and let the seamstress find that outfit for her. "What is that?" he asked.
"Ancient Arabic design. It's very comfortable. I wear them upstairs," Madam Malkin assured him. "Not quite a tease, but very effective and you can move in them."
"I'll need shoes, father," Ravena said before disappearing into the changing rooms.
"Low heeled mules," Madam Malkin told him. "Nothing too high, but nothing too daring." She wiggled a finger at Raena, making her walk over. "Try this one, dear," she said with a wink. "I'm in a naughty mood." Raena went to try it on. "Ignatius, just shirts and robes?"
"Please. Unless you can find something naughty for me as well. She teases me and I'd like to tease her back."
She laughed and showed him to a special covered rack, letting him see what was on it. He blushed bright red. "You don't like?"
"I'm not sure I want to wear something that tiny," he said, blushing brighter. "She might pounce me and then we'd get in trouble."
Draco walked over and looked at the underwear. "I put your father into something similar to make him and your other father quit fighting. They jumped each other and forgot I was swimming next to them." He patted Iggy on the back and pulled out a dark red one. "Try that one."
Iggy looked up at him. "We're not allowed to get down to that little clothes," he said, scandalized.
"You will be eventually," Madam Malkin told him. "Use it for your birthday celebration."
"Oh, that's a wonderful idea," he said, hurrying to try them on. "They're too tight," he wailed a few minutes later.
"What are?" Raena called. She came out of the dressing room and her Uncle's mouth fell open. "Do I look nice?" she asked, looking in the mirror. The material softly clung to each inch of her body, accentuating each curve and indent. She did look hot, even if she did say so herself. She walked over to where her husband was trying those on, walking in. "Absolutely not," she shouted. "I won't have anyone else seeing you in those. They're microscopic, Ignatius Caramel. You're no more wearing that on a daily basis than Anastasia can wear her tanning bathing suit."
"Not even if I only wear it for you?" he asked pitifully. "In the right size of course."
"No! You'd still get seen by the other boys and I don't want them drooling after what's mine." She came out of the dressing room. "Absolutely not. Give him something to tease me with. Something cute yet practical." She looked at herself in the mirror. "Maybe in a delicate pink for this one?"
"I have it, and I'll send it in to you," Madam Malkin assured her.
Draco leaned closer. "Get him three pairs, in a size larger since he was so outraged."
The seamstress laughed but pulled some out for him. She'd slip them into his package later.
Raena looked around the underwear store and nodded. She could get used to a place with this much selection. The insistent tugging on her hand made her follow her husband and she giggled when she saw what he wanted to put her in. A slightly filmy nightie. "Not something like that?" she teased, pointing out a corset.
Iggy whimpered and put his head on her shoulder. "I'd beg," he whispered, "but I'm about to lose control if you say things like that, love." A salesclerk cleared her throat. "Go away. We can figure out what I want her to wear without help, thank you." The older woman laughed and separated them. "Sorry, but I'll be right back." He hurried out.
Draco shook his head, watching as he disappeared around a corner. Then he walked over to her choice. "That would be uncomfortable, try the red one below it instead," he told her. She blushed and whimpered. He smiled at the sales clerk. "They're all but married and planning for their honeymoon night. Until then, they've agreed to wait."
The saleswoman smiled. "I remember how hard that was. My own husband couldn't wait that long, we lasted until nearly our wedding night, but fell two weeks short." She pulled down a delicate light pink bag and handed it over. "Go try that on, dear, it should fit you very well." Raena walked to the marked dressing rooms. "Anything for you today?"
Draco shrugged. "If I could find a decent lover, I might be buying most of the stock, but at the moment I'm bereft of love."
Ravena came over, holding out a few hangers. "Father, may I try these on?"
Draco looked them over, then looked at her. "You're a bit too young for lingerie. Not even Anastasia gets that yet."
"I need it for under my uniforms. My present bras aren't harnessing me well enough and I'm getting a little tummy bulge that needs to be flattened."
Draco looked at the satin corselettes and shook his head. "Not until you're fifteen, daughter."
"Father, I have an allowance," she pointed out.
Draco shook his head. "I'm having a moment of deja-vu." He looked down at her and she looked the most pitiful she could. "No."
"Daddy, I'm the baby daughter, you should be able to let me have stuff that the older girls didn't get. Besides, I look good in it, unlike my sister who looks more like a prostitute in what she's picked out. I have taste."
"No." The saleswoman snickered. "She's only thirteen."
"I doubt she'd wear them on a daily basis." Ravenna nodded. "You would? Even though they're not exactly comfortable."
"Maybe not daily, but I do need more bras. I've had two with straps that snapped on me. Please, daddy?" she asked, begging as cutely as she could. "I'll get some white ones for the days that I don't wear my school vest."
Raena 'eeped' loud enough to be heard so he walked back there, trying to ignore his daughter. "You don't look good in white," he reminded her.
"But we wear white shirts," Ravena reminded him.
Draco tapped on Raena's dressing room door. The store was nearly empty and all the other ones were open. "Let me see."
"I'm not coming out in this," she announced. She opened the door. "There's not a chance in hell he's going to see me in this."
Draco walked in and looked her over, and felt himself react no matter how much he didn't want to. A bra/panties/garter/stocking/wrap set in the lightest shade of pink so it made her skin glow. "The bra's a bit too big," he told her. "Turn about." She turned around and he had to stifle a moan. "You're getting it because he'll adore you in it that first night." She grimaced. "Trust me, he will."
"He won't be able to last, he'll blow himself off," she protested.
Draco patted her on the head. "Trust me, it only makes the other times go slower." He walked out and looked at the saleswoman, who giggled naughtily. "She's taking that one but the bra's a bit too big."
Raena peeked out. "Ravena, I need a tasteful opinion." Ravena trotted over and she stepped into the doorway. She looked around. "He's not back yet?"
"He is, he's in the silky stuff." She looked her over. "I agree, the bra's a little big, but if you gain another five pounds it should fit right. Iggy?"
"No!" she squeaked, ducking back into the dressing room. Her husband worked his way in past Ravena, who was trying to keep the door open. "Iggy!" she complained, trying to cover herself.
"Oh, my, God," he whispered, removing her hands. "You're buying that," he said with a hard swallow. She shook her head, looking stern so he pinned her against the wall, kissing her into submission. "I want to see you in that again. It's like one of your hour-long teases in potions without the mental pictures. Oh, God, I'm going ...." He pulled back and panted, trying to back off but his hands wouldn't let her go.
"Iggy, let her go," Draco said patiently. He removed Iggy when he noticed he couldn't seem to let go by himself. "Go back to the bathroom. I'll make sure she gets that one." Iggy whimpered and looked up at him. "And some other suitable things that will make your mind explode with images." Iggy whispered in his ear and jogged away. Draco looked at her, watching her touch her swollen lips. "You doubted?"
"It turned him into an animal," she said with amazement. "I've never had a lover who wanted me that much." She looked up at him. "Is he always going to be like that?"
Draco nodded, smirking. "It runs in his family. Or haven't you seen the amazing Xander and George show?" She giggled. "Get that one. I'll pick out some more for you to try on. Wait here. What size are those?"
"Size medium, or I'm a size 36-C."
"You were," he corrected. "The recent weight gain has affected your chest." He walked out, heading for the lingerie section. He found her every outfit he had ever wanted to see on someone and handed them over, and it made him give in to his daughter as well since she was so cute. "Get bras as well," he admonished. "We'll stop at the house and let you pick up your sister's lingerie that she has stored." Iggy came back in and gave him a hopeful look. "She's trying it on, go wait by the register so you're not completely spoiled." Iggy went to sit on the 'guy' couch near the register, it was for husbands whose wives were picking out naughty things and he certainly fit at the moment.
Draco helped Raena pick out six outfits, then she did the traditional bra shopping buying spree. He spent a lot, but it made him happy. And after he dropped everyone off, he went to make himself even more happy. He stepped out of the floo at his favorite house of pleasure and gave the madam a pitiful look. "Do you think there's someone who won't make fun of me?" he asked pitifully, using his daughter's trick on her.
"Of course, dear. Right this way." She showed him into an elegant waiting room and all the ladies looked up, a few of them smiling at him. "He hasn't had anyone in months, ladies, because everyone sees his new daughter. Would one of you want to delight him this afternoon?"
One woman, a tall, amazing looking raven haired beauty stood up and strolled up to him, running the tip of her polished nail over his protruding bottom lip. "Did you need it badly?" she teased.
He nodded. "I helped my nephew and his wife pick out lingerie. They've got seven months before they can consummate the relationship." A few of the women giggled. "Please, I'll even tip very well."
"Yes, you will," the raven haired beauty assured him, leading him away by the hand. "Come, let's see what I can do for you today," she told him as she led them into her room. She pushed him gently onto the bed and undid his robe, then his shirt. She smiled at the little movements she could see. "I remember feeling like that," she purred in his ear. "My twins always made me horny."
He moaned. "Thank you, Merlin. Please, dear, more. I'm a very considerate lover." She giggled and moved to lay beside him, slowly stroking over the baby's back, which made him shiver. "Don't tease her, she'll kick."
"She'll do it anyway by the time I'm done with you," she whispered in his ear.
Draco walked out of the floo, smiling much more than he had been when he left. He found his son and eldest daughter waiting on him. "Come." They hopped up and walked over, following him back through the floo, this time to a different house, the one he had taken Ron to. "Madam, may I present my eldest daughter Simone and my eldest son Denver." She shook their hands and kissed them on the cheek. "I know we had discussed this, but they're nearly sixteen and I think it's time for them to know all that they possibly can."
The Madam looked them over, then looked up at him. "What about her? Virginity is very revered among us."
"Yay," Simone told her. "Anyone I end up with should expect to not be my first." The Madam laughed. "Father, can I learn a lot here or is this just a single trip?"
"Dear, I have people who can take a few hours and teach you everything," the Madam assured her. Denver started to breathe hard. "You as well, dear." She clapped and a few girls came running. "Yes, you," she said, pointing at the dark-haired one, basing it on the boy's father's tastes, "and get Steffan." The other girl nodded and hurried off to find him. "Come along, children, let us show you how good it can be." She led them to separate rooms and let the nice young woman take over Denver's training, and the handsome young Italian man take over Simone's. "Their first times, dears, so do be careful with them," she told both workers before heading down to talk to the father. She found a few of her girls gathered around, cooing at his stomach. "Did you need some relief as well?" she asked.
He smiled slowly at her. "I did just get some of that worn out, but I wouldn't say no." A few of the woman volunteered immediately. "You just want to touch my stomach," he teased one.
She giggled. "I think you look so cute like that. Pregnant tummies turn me on." She kissed him slowly, making him accept her. "Please, Draco?" she begged prettily. "I'll even let you take on Holly as well." She pointed at the dancer he had worn out the last time. "Between us, we can make you wish you could take us home."
"There are days when I wish I had someone as beautiful and willing as you waiting on me anyway," he assured her, letting himself be led away by the pretty women. He'd be broke by the end of the day, but that's why he had a few vaults and the bag of cash at home and at the tower.
Denver stumbled into his house and fell onto a couch, staring up at the ceiling. "Wow," he said finally. He looked around, but Simone wasn't there yet. "Si?" he called.
"I'll find her," Anastasia told him, heading out to find her sister, who was napping against a wall. "Come on. You can nap with Denver," she soothed, walking Simone in and putting her next to her brother on the couch. "Where were you two? The party's in an hour."
"Daddy had us broken in," he said with a sleepy smile. "Wake us up." He grabbed Simone and clung to her as he drifted off again. He was sore in places he hadn't known were sexual, but it was a pleasant ache. And Simone had said the same thing so life was goooooooddddddddddd.
Anastasia shook her head and walked over to where Raena was doing her homework. "Father took them to be broken in," she said as she sat down.
"He offered to do the same thing for Iggy so I didn't have to train him." Iggy gulped and started to whimper again. "Take care of that for me," she said with a smile and a kiss. He hurried away. "Your father took us lingerie shopping. Have you gotten yours back yet?"
"No." She got up and headed over, finding her bag sitting on the couch. She looked inside, all the things that she had kept, plus a small bag from the lingerie store. "Father?" she called.
"He's napping," Xander said from his napping chair. He opened an eye. "Ravena got you that and she's the reason you got yours back. Don't wear it where others can see it." She smiled. "Now go away."
"Yes, Uncle Xander. Why don't you nap on the couch? Simone and Denver are." She hurried away, interrupting nap times was a bad thing. She pulled Raena up to show off her favorite outfits, earning appreciation for her good taste. They both squealed at the outfit Ravena had picked out for her, it was so cool!
Iggy joined them and saw that outfit and went back to his own room and bathroom. "They're doing lingerie," he complained as he walked through the room. The boys rushed out, heading over to see if they could bug Anastasia into showing them what they looked like, she didn't even have to model any of it and they'd still be happy.
Xander looked around at his birthday party and smiled at everyone. He still wasn't happy but he was not going to share any more bad thoughts. They would be okay and he'd take it one day at a time.
George gave him a kiss, distracting his mind. "Stop it," George whispered. "No one's going to get hurt. It's a silly superstition. If anyone gets hurt, it's going to be you for thinking so hard." He gave him another kiss, leading him outside for a moment. He held him while Draco forcefully blocked the thought from his mind. "There, now let's go have fun, dear," he said, leading him back inside. He saw the worried looks and smiled. "His last birthday celebration was Simone's first year," he announced. Everyone nodded, understanding that stress. "Have fun and put on some music!" The music started and he led Xander onto the dance floor, swaying with him. "Relax or you'll scare the kids."
Xander smiled at him. "What's my present from you?"
George gave him a grin. "I'm going to turn you into the same state that Draco came home in today, Xander." His mate shivered. "All night, I'm going to tease you like Raena does to our son, and you're not going to be able to think about anything else." He sent an inflammatory picture across their bond, just of them kissing. He was going to slowly work his way up the peak, and then back down and start up again all night long. Xander wouldn't have time to worry. "I want you in that bathing suit again, even if it is green." Xander whimpered. "I've got it on our bed and I'm going to see you in it before you get more than kisses." Xander pressed against him and the music changed to something slower and more decadent. "Aren't you glad this is the older kids?"
"Yes," he groaned. "More? I could use some teasing."
"When you least expect it, my mate. When you least expect it." He gave him another kiss and the kids clapped and cheered. When he pulled back, he smiled at them. "And the other kids get to come when?"
The fifth year and up party got a little funkier, and even Draco was forced to dance by some of the seventh year girls, and one sixth year girl who blushed a lot but wanted to pat his stomach because it made him cute.
By the time the younger kids were allowed down, everyone had worn out their tension and even Xander was relaxed and happy. This had been a brilliant idea of Iggy's.
Dumbledore looked up as the kids filed in the next morning at brunch, then at the couples who were running a bit late. He smiled. "Have a good birthday party, Xander?" Xander nodded and slowly fell asleep in his breakfast while they watched.
"We had a wonderful birthday, though not as great as mine," George said with a smile. Tara giggled. "It wasn't. Mine was more fun. His was more a tension breaker." He patted his husband lovingly. "Didn't Draco make it down yet?"
"He fell asleep earlier and we put him in one of the nooks in the back hallway," Snape told him. "What did you do to him?"
George stood up and walked over, squatting down beside his chair so no one would hear. "He took the oldest two to get broken in yesterday," he whispered. "And got a lot himself from the condition he came home in twice."
"Twice?" Tara asked. "He went *two* places?" George nodded, smiling at her. "Damn, I want to know how."
Snape looked at his wife. "Don't even think about it."
She smacked him on the arm. "Don't start."
George smiled at her. "Can you see Simone?" Tara smiled down at him. "Doesn't she look sweet, innocent, and calm again?" Both of that couple laughed. "We'll need to remember this." He got up and went back to his seat.
"If it controls her mouth, I'll certainly remember it," Snape muttered. His wife smiled at him. "I'm not asking how he does it."
"I know how he does it, he's got phenomenal stamina. So do you, but you never use it except to tease me."
"You like it when I do that," he pointed out quietly.
"Hmm-hmm," she agreed. "And I'd like it today since we don't have a thing to do after breakfast."
He smiled. "That might be arranged." He finished buttering his scone and took a bite. "Eat, Tara, I'm sure you'll need it." Lupin walked in the back door with a sleepy Draco and Ron. "He's finally awake?"
"Yes, he rolled off the couch he fell asleep on. Pregnant people are so cute when they do that. Just nodding off wherever they're sitting." He took his seat and dished himself out some food. "How was Xander's birthday party?" Tara pointed at where Xander was face down in his hotcakes. "Ah, another one of those. Sorry I missed it now." He smiled at George. "Aren't those his favorite things?"
"He'll be awake as soon as he snorts some syrup," George said with a content looking smile. Dumbledore looked down at him. "He will. I still have more of his birthday present for him." He shot another image at Xander, making him moan and wake up with a quiet plea for food. "Dear, you're resting on it," George said gently, helping him clean off his face. He noticed the other tables talking and smiled at the Headmaster. "You were invited."
"I nearly came down until I heard what your present was," Albus told him. George blushed. "I'll be teaching you how to broadcast only at him as a present." The rest of the table who understood laughed, which woke Draco up more.
Draco looked at Xander, then wet his napkin and helped scrub off some of the syrup. "You can't play with your food down here," he admonished. "The children don't need to see that."
George picked up their plates, and the stack of hotcakes near them, and led his husband back up to their room. "Very good point, stepson, thank you for that."
"I wanted some of those," Ron called after him. The plate from the middle of the table was handed down. "Thank you. Draco, have you noticed that Simone isn't grumpy this morning? Whatever you had done to her yesterday apparently worked wonders."
Draco smiled at him. "Yes, it did, for many of us." He accepted the plate back and filled his own plate. "Are those the non-spicy sausages?" he asked. They were handed over as well, with the fruit bowl and the milk. "Thank you." He smiled at everybody.
Tara looked at her husband. "It did them all a lot of good." He choked. "Are you all right?" she asked, patting him on the back. "Sev?"
"I'm fine, infernal woman." She grinned at him. "Finish eating, Tara, you will definitely need it." She happily dug into her breakfast. "Headmaster, I don't think I'll make our chess game this afternoon. Forgive me, but I'll gladly play you next weekend instead." He watched his wife inhale the food and decided to give her something for the heartburn before it could break the mood. A belch at the wrong time really did upset him.
Andrea sat down on Simone's bed and nudged her. "What happened to you, you haven't sworn all day."
"You didn't hear me in the shower this morning," she said with a smile. "Daddy took me to have me taught."
"Taught what? Manners?" Andrea teased. Simone gave her a light nudge, nothing at all like her usual forceful shoves. "I heard one fourth year say you were scarier now than you usually are. Said he didn't know what could give you that look on your face but he wanted some."
She giggled. "He'll get some eventually. Maybe. If he's lucky."
"He didn't!" Andrea squealed, blushing brightly.
"Oh, yes, he did," she purred. "Steffan. Hot, young, *tight* Italian studmuffin." She purred again. "I liked it."
"Oooooh, someone looks well-done," another girl, the girl on Simone's right, noted as she sat on her bed. "What happened to you yesterday? You've been placid and calm all morning and it's scary, dear."
"Her daddy had her taught by a Steffan," Andrea said smugly.
The other girl giggled. "Really?" Simone nodded, still with that 'everything's all right with the world/I'm content' look on her face. "How was it?"
"Three hours of him doing everything imaginable and showing me where everything is and how it works," Simone told her, starting to purr again. "There was a reason I napped so long yesterday, it's called five orgasms." They tittered. "Seriously. I don't think I could beat up even an asshole today. Damn, I am good." She put her head back down.
Andrea laughed. "No wonder Denver had that look on his face as he watched the little fourth year Slytherin this morning."
"Had your sight spell on?" the other girl asked. Andrea nodded. "How often do you do that?"
"I try to have it on for at least two hours a day. Any longer than that and the colors give me raging headaches." She laid down next to Simone. "Give, what was it like!"
Simone smiled at her. "Soft, and velvety and kinda long," she said smugly. Andrea slapped her on the butt. "Didn't want to know that?"
"No! I'm looking for information for my future fantasy life until Melvin and I can touch more than each other's backs."
"Even with the special room he won't?" Simone asked. Andrea shook her head. "What's his problem?"
"We made a promise," Andrea reminded her.
"Ah, man! Percyisms. He can't break the promise?" Andrea shook her head. "Well, then I'm really sorry for you and you're more than welcome to come back with me the next time I go."
"You're going again?" the other girl asked, scandalized. She looked around to make sure they were alone. "Why don't you get a boyfriend and teach him now?"
"Because they're too scared to get near me," Simone reminded her. "If they weren't, daddy wouldn't have had to take us there." She smirked. "Trust me, if one of the boys gets off his ass and asks me to do more than walk with him, I'll be showing him where everything is and how it works. I'm apparently a very demanding lover." The girls laughed, no that wasn't like her at all.
Denver looked over at Iggy. "You should go with us next time, Iggy. It was incredible," he sighed.
"One-hundred-eight-nine more days and I'll have some of my own," Iggy pointed out.
"Why wait? Would Raena really mind?" Iggy nodded. "You're so sure?"
"She said so. You can ask her if you want."
Denver hopped off his bed and headed over to the girl's side, but she was in the common area. "Raena, can we drag Iggy with us to give him some relief the next time we go?"
"Come upstairs," she said, "well discuss this proposition further." She walked him up to their room. "It's only Denver," she called. The three girls waved at him so she kicked open her trunk, reaching down to grab her riding crop. "Do you know what this is?" she asked, looking at it as she ran it across her hand. When she looked at him, he nodded, eyes wide. "If you dare to touch my innocent, naughty little Iggy before I get to break him in, I'll be using it on you." He started to pant and react very blatantly to her casual, velvet smooth voice. "I will chain you up against one of the cool outer walls so you're facing it and beat you until you beg for mercy." She stepped closer and he moaned. "And I'll make sure you're not going to enjoy it like you think you would," she whispered in his face. "Are we clear, Denver? Ignatius is mine and the only hands on him had better be mine as well, or had better be put there by me." Denver nodded rapidly, then turned tail and ran. Simone and Andrea clapped. "It's true. He's mine. The only genitals that touch him had better belong to me."
Iggy walked in and smiled at her, giving her a shy little smile. "Were you really going to spank him?" he asked nicely.
She whapped him on the chest with the riding crop. "I was going to beat him in unfun ways until he decided not to corrupt you permanently onto the slutty side I know is hiding in you." He stepped closer and grabbed her, kissing her hard. She dropped the riding crop and let herself be pushed back onto her bed, enjoying what he was doing immensely. This was the longest she had went without sex since she had started having it. She was ready to crawl for him if he'd ask.
"Hands!" Simone called.
Iggy put his behind his back and Raena put hers flat on the bed. "What do I need hands for?" he asked between kisses. "I have teeth for most things." To prove it he moved down and was nibbling on her neck, gently undulating against her firm body.
Ron strolled in, and shook his head. He took the direct approach because Iggy wasn't about to give her up, and lifted him off, putting him on the floor. "Three days without cuddling her." Iggy groaned and whimpered pitifully. "You knew better than to be doing that to her."
"But I wasn't touching her," Iggy pointed out. "The rules didn't say I couldn't kiss, I just can't grope. Which I wasn't. My hands were behind my back and hers were on the bed. No matter how much I wanted them on my butt again."
Ron bent down and picked up the riding crop, tossing it back to Raena. "Do I have to go through your things and confiscate anything that will put him in this state?" he asked her.
"Would taking everything of mine and leaving me naked really be a help?" she asked. "Because if it is, then go ahead and take his as well. There's no way in hell I'm waiting another seven months. I've already waited two years since we met. I have no intention of letting him go." Iggy pounced her happily, starting to kiss her again.
"Yes, you do love me. I swear, I'll make it as good as I can," he breathed against her lips between kisses, a few words at a time. "I will do anything you ask me to, no matter how icky I think it might be, I'm willing to try it as long as I don't end up dead by your hand. Even that I might allow right now." He groaned and pulled back. "I can't believe I just said that."
She pulled him back down and kissed him again. "Neither can I, but I won't force you to do anything you don't want, Iggy. You're mine, I'll have plenty of time to talk you into doing everything and anything with my body."
Ron lifted the boy off again, keeping hold of him. "Raena, stop it. He can't take much more of this."
"Fuck him! What about me! Do you know what it's like to go three *years* without having any?" Ron nodded. "Since when?"
"Since, until about last March, I had went without as soon as Buffy hit five months. Do it for yourself, dear, it works well enough for now."
Raena shook her head. "No it doesn't! I want him. Give him back! My Iggy!" She grabbed Iggy from him and rolled him under her, kissing him more.
"Whoo-hoo!" Simone yelled. They broke apart to glare at her. "Hey, free floor show and I'm in the mood for it after yesterday."
"You're not helping," Ron said dryly, but he smiled at her. "What did you do yesterday, Simone?" he asked as he tried to get Iggy free of his wife.
"Daddy took Denver and I to get broken in," she said with the brightest grin she could.
Ron groaned. "No wonder you were in such a good mood. Let him go!" Raena beat at him but he was stronger and a little bit taller. "Simone, I could use Xander or someone strong."
"I don't think it'll help," she said, but she obediently went to get him. The crowd at the bottom of the stairs gave her an expectant look. "They broke!" Money exchanged hands, going mainly to a few people. Everyone had a much earlier date in the pool on when they were going to finally snap. "Uncle Xander!" she yelled as she walked out of the house and over to the tower. Draco met her at the door. "Uncle Ron needs help. Iggy and Raena finally broke. Ron can't keep them apart. You can't help," she told him, putting a hand on his chest. "I'm not having one of them kick the baby accidentally while they struggle to go back to their lip-locked state."
"I won't be hurt, daughter," he assured her. He followed her back and pulled his wand as he walked up the stairs, dousing them both with icy water. No luck, so he put the freezing charm on them. "Stop it." They chattered at him, then shrugged and went back to groping. "Dear Merlin, they did break, didn't they?"
Fred strode in with Bill and together they grabbed Iggy, carrying him off, one on each arm. "We'll give him back after we lock him in a bathroom for a few hours," Fred announced. "Raena, you might want to warm up." The other two held her while they carried Iggy off. The other students stood there in awe. "Nothing to worry about, just an excess of hormones rampaging. Girls, make sure Raena settles down before you try and soothe her." They met Percy outside the door and he stunned Iggy so he would quit fighting, then they carried him back to the shop. "One son," Fred announced, handing him to George. "The blue parts are courtesy of your stepson." He went to go shower, it was not only sweaty, but those two had looked *good* together writhing on the bed.
Percy unstunned Iggy and Xander used his command spell. "Go play in your bathroom alone," Xander ordered. Iggy had to comply, it couldn't be broken. "And no teleporting. Stay in there until you're done then go to bed." Iggy whined but he had to do it.
George patted Xander on the knee. "He gets that from you, dear."
"Me? Am I the one who was the merciless tease all night?" Xander demanded. "Am I the reason that I fell asleep on the table at brunch again?"
"Yes," George said with a smile. "How astute of you to notice that."
Bill ran his hands through his hair. "Those two were hot," he admitted. "Your boy needs some better instruction, he was all hands and jump."
"She liked it," Iggy yelled. Then he moaned and smiled stupidly. Raena was sharing it with him and she had liked it. He could feel it now. He locked his bathroom door and helped her along, letting her tell him when he was going to get off. It was the best this way, until he could touch her.
Bill shook his head. "Maybe you should let Draco have him be taught."
"She threatened to beat Denver if he tried to bring him along," George told him. Xander looked at him. "You didn't hear that?"
"I did, I was wondering how you did."
"Through your head. You haven't let me go yet."
"Sorry." Xander blushed and George jumped him, pinning him against the counter to kiss him stupid. "Or not," he gasped as the lips moved to *that* spot on his throat.
Percy pulled George off. "Xander, run for your room," he ordered gently. Xander hurried that way and he released George, watching as his brother headed to follow his mate.
"Not in my room!" Fred yelled in outrage. He stomped out, glaring at Percy.
"I told him to head for his room," Percy defended, but he was smiling.
"They do it to make sure you feel loved," Bill said with a grin. He looked at Percy. "They do that often?" Both younger brothers nodded. "Well. Haven't seen that in a while."
"And Xander leaves him lying around stunned too," Fred protested. "He could drown in his own drool if the boy isn't careful."
"I'm sure he always puts George onto his side so it drains off," Bill said with a smirk. "Is it getting hot in here?"
"Iggy! NO!" Fred yelled, heading back to stop him. The heat from his room made him stop and grab a spray bottle, hosing the older couple down first. "Outside if you're going to start fires!" He went back to stop Iggy before they had to build a third shop. He had never seen a puddle of water on fire before, but it wasn't welcome right now. "Outside!" Iggy finished off and the fire extinguished. "Out!" Iggy stood up and walked out, getting only as far as his bed before he collapsed face down on it and started to snore. Fred went to check on Xander and George, and they were asleep as well, both looking very satisfied with the other. He walked out and slammed the squirt bottle on the counter. "I will fix that situation."
Bill chuckled. "Feel lucky it only happens sometimes, Fred. It could be worse, they could start one whenever they kiss."
"I'd have them put into masks and shut away from decent people," Fred noted, glaring at them. "Don't encourage this! Iggy just set fire to the puddle of water in his bathtub!"
"That takes talent," Dumbledore said as he walked in. "How are they? Did the sleeping spell work?"
"Thankfully before the building burned down," Fred said dryly. "Thank you. Can you repossess two of them? Or I'll take one of the older couple and Iggy."
"They can do it mentally, Fred, I'm not sure it'd help," Percy said with a smirk. He looked at the Headmaster. "Are you taking special precautions their first night alone?"
"We tried that on Xander's wedding night and the castle still nearly came down around us because they had moved the bed away from the wall."
The three boys laughed, they remembered that earthquake.
The door expanded as high as it could go and the gryphon walked in. "We felt the tremors. Who died?"
"It was sex," Percy told him with a smile. "Ignatius and Raena had to be separated and he still started a small fire, then Xander and George got into the act as well."
Bill the gryphon shook his head. "They all need work on their shields. I felt it back at home!" He heard a sleepy mumble from the back and glared. "Kindly send them all to us next weekend. We'll teach them how to shield better."
"I don't think Iggy can hold on much longer," Fred told him. "It took four of us to pull them apart."
"Four?" Percy asked.
"Draco did the freezing and water spells," Bill told him. "Ron was trying to grab and keep one of them."
Dumbledore shook his head. "I don't know what to do about them anymore. They can dream walk so physical separation won't work."
"I know what will," Bill the gryphon assured him. "Send them down next week. I've got the cure for all of that." He backed out, then came back in and nodded at a case. "What're those? Xander hasn't shown us those."
"They're ever-bouncing balls," Fred told him, starting one off. "They'll bounce just out of range if you whistle, and the only way to stop them is to put them in a confined space." He pulled out the largest one they made, which the twin to had been a present for Hagrid. "Here, play with it. It's free if you can stop those four."
"Thank you." Bill carefully backed back out and headed home to report. The other elders were going to get a kick out of them. As soon as he landed, he let the ball go, watching as it continued to bounce. "He did name it correctly," he said in appreciation. One of the children stole it and steered it into the back room. "Fred gave it to us if we could stop Xander and George, and Ignatius and Raena. That was both couples." The other elders laughed. "Two fires," he said happily. "They're coming up next weekend to help them tone it down."
"Are we changing them so they can have a mating flight?" the female teased.
"No, we're going to separate them and force them to watch the other play with themselves, it will relieve some of the tension from the younger two and hopefully from the older ones."
"She is sixteen," the female elder agreed. "More than legal by our standards and their's."
"Iggy's not," Bill reminded her. "They did promise but it took four people to separate them."
"A lust abatement spell? Something to hold off the mating urge?" the female elder suggested.
"If it would work, I'm all for it. Portalling up there isn't fun." He sighed as he sat down in his nest. "I'll let you deal with them, Delilah. They can be your pet project until they're old enough."
"I'll add that to my list, along with getting some more females up here to help our male population." She gave him a look and he turned his head. "Ah, do you have one in mind?" she asked gently, coming over to face him down. "If you tell me, I'll call for her to come see you for courting."
"She's taken," he told her. "I could never play second nestmate."
"We'll see. Who is she?"
"The female gryphon living at Braun," he sighed. He smiled. "She's wonderful."
"She said she wasn't."
"I will talk to her on your behalf," Delilah assured him, giving him a pat with a wing. "You rest and dream of her." He settled down and she wove the magic around him, making him dream of her. She looked at the other elder. "Since when is she taken?"
"Since she's got her sights set too high and doesn't realize it," the old gryphon said gently. She climbed back into her nest and settled down. "What about your mate? How is he?"
"Happier where he is than here," she said prosaically
He nodded. "It does happen." The cave started to tremble and he held on. "Those children," he sighed.
"That was Xander," she said smugly. "Hardly a child."
"We need to transform them for a weekend. Give them wings and distract them."
"They'd only mate in midair," she said with a smile.
"Yes, but it wouldn't be here, or as powerful. I would accept that." The cave trembled again. "Again?"
"That was Ignatius and Raena. Powerful together, aren't they?"
He groaned and made sure his nest was firmly on the raised platform. He didn't want to land on the floor.
"It's not fair," Iggy complained as he walked beside his wife out to Herbology. "I was being good."
"They're worried we won't stop and we'll get in trouble," she soothed.
"Don't touch me or I'll have to run again." She chuckled lightly. "You think I'm kidding but I'm not. My control is so shaky." He inhaled near her. "You're wearing perfume," he groaned.
"Excuse us," Simone and Denver said, picking up Iggy and walking him away.
"You two can flirt across the room," Denver told her Raena looked shocked.
"What? You want him to be totally embarrassed when he falls to his knees and begs you to touch him?" Simone asked her. She firmly planted Iggy between them, and Raena took the spot across from them. "Nope, move farther down the table. If he touches you, he's going to be very embarrassed and have to stay like that all day long."
"Fine," Raena said, moving down the table. She changed spots with one girl down there, and slumped on her stool. The plant in front of her reached out for her. "Touch me and I'm butchering you," she warned it. It shifted away, reaching for someone else instead. She understood, but it sucked! She was tired of this! Seven more months her ass!
Dumbledore looked at the couple, smiling as they sipped some tea. "It really wasn't appropriate, children. I know that you have special circumstances, but you did promise to behave until you were legal. Kissing her until she pulled you in the closet isn't behaving."
"No offense, Headmaster, but I could care less. I've gone without now for three years." Iggy patted her on the hand. "We're so close and it's not going to get any better."
"Have you thought that, if allowed to do a little bit of something that's only semi-sexual, we'd be okay?" Iggy suggested.
Dumbledore nodded. "I had assumed you were already doing that."
"We've tried, but we keep getting interrupted," Raena pointed out. "Even if we could grope, it'd be all right."
"Yes, but can you stop?" Dumbledore asked her.
"We'd be too far gone the first few times to get to that point," Iggy assured him. "I nearly came earlier when I saw her clothes because her skirt was crooked."
Dumbledore smiled at them. "That's fine. If we allow you an hour, once a week, to do no more than touch her, would that help?" Both teens nodded. "Then we'll institute that plan until you're both official."
"Or out of school," Iggy pointed out with a grin. "Can we go now?"
"You do have to attend classes, Ignatius, we settled this debate in your first year."
"Uncle Albus, I'm never going to be good in Transfiguration. Never. It's not my thing. Can't I get out of it?"
"I'm sorry, it's a mandatory class and you have to take it this year. No matter how often you fight with it."
"Then can I have a different teacher? McGonagall explained this stuff to me when I was a child so much better."
"I know, Ignatius, and I also know some of this frustration with the world will end once you two finally do consummate your relationship."
"Just look at Simone," Raena quipped. She patted Iggy on the hand. "If you have to, you could probably pay McGonagall for some private tutoring lessons. If not, I'm decent enough at it to fix most of the things you get wrong."
"It's just not my cup of tea theory-wise. It's not something I'm going to use. How many rats am I going to turn into pigeons in my life?"
"You could use the underlying theory behind it," Dumbledore suggested mildly. "Perhaps to get a badly needed component for an emergency spell?"
"That'd ruin it," Raena told him. "The components have to be pure, not magiced in any way, shape, or form. Using something from a changed creature, unless it was specifically called for, would render the potion unstable at the least and dangerous at the most because you'd actually be adding the other creature's body part instead of the one you wanted."
"Outer form changing doesn't change molecular bonds," Iggy agreed. "Even if you changed a dog's liver to a cat's liver, it's still a dog liver chemically and molecularly. Even if you do change it down at the cellular level, sir."
"I see. I hadn't realized that." He smiled. "You still have to take it though."
"Yes, sir," they both sighed.
"Can we have our hour now?" Iggy asked.
"And if it works, and works well, after the holidays can we move up to two hours a week?" Raena asked. "He is rather addicting."
"We'll see," Dumbledore told them. "Since you work so well with Severus, I'll have him monitor your behavior for the rest of us and be the one to time your hour." They both groaned. "Is that a problem?"
"He'll be exact," Iggy whined. "Not even a second longer."
"You might be surprised," Dumbledore said gently. "I'll talk to Severus tonight. Can you make it through the rest of the day?"
Iggy looked at his wife and shrugged. "I'll go do something in the dangerous potion's lab and you go work on our private space?"
"Deal," she agreed. "Meet you for dinner?"
"That would be wonderful, it will give us more than enough time to set you up a room to share for that limited time. It will remain firmly locked against you at all other times and only Severus will be able to let you inside it." They nodded and got up, heading down to their respective tasks. He shook his head. Those children were going to drive him to drink soon, or to retire again. Yes, he could do that, couldn't he. He sat back and dreamed of retirement again. Sandy warm beaches. Pretty young things in skimpy bathing suits. Some of them so skimpy not even Anastasia Malfoy-Weasley would wear them. He sighed in contentment, then the door opened and Severus walked in. "Go away, I'm imagining my retirement again."
"Where do you want to put them and how much time do they have?" he asked simply.
"One hour once a week and you can figure it out. Simply lock the door against them at all other times."
"Yes, Headmaster." He smirked at him. "You're the one who accepted and never left again." He strode out, going to find a room for those two, before they burned down the potion's dungeon.
Iggy all but pushed Raena into their appointed room and blushed when he saw how it was decorated. Long tapered candles with magically altered flames, they were burning blue. A silk sheet draped bed, with the curtains pulled back. A small carafe of juice beside it and a large goblet. And a set of handcuffs on the bed. Someone coughed and they turned to look at their mentor.
"You did agree to let only one of you touch," he said with a smirk. "Decide now and I'll lock you in."
Raena looked at Iggy, then shrugged. "You're getting tied down first. You're more randy at the moment." She efficiently got him stripped and hitched to the bed then smiled at their mentor. "Thank you, Severus."
"Keep your word, Raena, or else this privilege will disappear." He walked out, locking them inside.
Raena smirked down at her mate. "How does that feel, dear?"
"Like you'd better hurry up or I'm going to explode anyway," he said, looking pitiful. She stripped off her clothes and climbed in beside him to give him a gentle kiss, and that's all it took. "Sorry," he said against her lips.
"We've got the time, you'll work your way up in the stamina department."
"Hopefully I'll have inherited my father Xander's version of it."
She giggled. "Iggy, he worked his way up to it too. I'm sure we can get you beyond that." She gave him another kiss and he shifted, trying to pull her closer. She obediently helped him along.
Xander looked over as Iggy walked into their home and smiled at him. "Are those cuff marks?" he asked, pointing at the raw spots on his son's wrists.
"Severus demanded that one of us be strapped down so we couldn't both be touching the other. Do you have anything for scrapes? I struggled a bit too much," he said with a shy grin.
"Sure. We've got an excellent salve for scrapes," Xander agreed. He walked his son up to the bathroom, getting him the salve from the cabinet. "We used it on you guys when you used to fall down all the time."
"How did he get hurt this time?" Draco asked from behind the dividing screen hiding the tub.
"I struggled," Iggy said, walking over to show him. Draco gave him a look. "Severus demanded. That way we both couldn't grope. It was her turn to grope this time since I was more desperate." He shrugged. "It worked. I'm much calmer now." He grinned again. "Severus even let us nap in there."
"He probably couldn't get you up," Xander noted dryly, taking the salve to put on his son's wrists. "Next time don't struggle so much, son. Lay there and take it, that's half the fun."
Fred walked in to join them and saw the bruising. "Bondage, at your age?"
Iggy nodded. "Only one of us can touch the other at any given time during our hour's reprieve." Fred gave him a look and he blushed. "What? I feel better! No more fires or anything!"
"You started a fire?" Xander asked.
Fred nodded. "In his bathtub, in a puddle that hadn't drained that morning. Just like you and George nearly burnt down my room."
"Son, I think it's time for us to work on some of the more stringent control techniques. I can't master them personally because I don't have the focus, but you probably could." Xander led him away, going to get him a book to work through. "Try these exercises, Iggy, it might help all of this and make sure that you don't burn someone into a crisp."
"Yes, daddy." He gave him a hug and took the salve with him. "I'll see you in class."
"Class was today, Iggy, you'll see me at breakfast," Xander called after him. He shook his head. Maybe his son needed a dampening bracelet after all. He hadn't wanted to do that to Iggy, but if it kept them all in good health he was all for it. He should get his fixed, just in case.
Iggy smiled at the herbologist, putting his list down on the counter. "It's for a special potion this time," he told her. "Something Raena's working on."
She read down the list. "A Roaette stone?"
He nodded. "Or a kidney stone from a Unicorn. Either one you have is acceptable in this instance."
"Dear, we don't carry those," she said, giving him a pat on the arm.
"Who would, do you have any idea?" he asked, his hopes sinking. He had wanted to see her brew this one. It had ingredients he hadn't dealt with before.
"Have you checked with the shops down in Mortal Alley?" He looked confused. "Your kind all go there, Ignatius."
"I've never heard of that one," he said, starting to frown. "Where is it? Or better yet, where's the portal at?"
"I only know of the one that leads off Knocturn," she said with a shrug, heading to get the rest of the ingredients for him. "They named it Mortal Alley because they couldn't decided which sort of sentient beast it would be named after."
"But we're all mortals," Iggy said thoughtfully. "Where's the portal down in Knockturn, not that I'm allowed down there, but no one should mind too much."
"There's a little artifact shop 'bout three doors down from the new demon recruitment center. Little dusty place with grimy windows. One of the people in there, Andrew, can send you across. From what I hear, he's their portal holder here, just like Tom is for us." She handed over the large bag, already stapled down. "Sixteen sickles, Ignatius." He paid her. "Good luck finding that. I'm sure you'll at least have a fun time exploring." The door opened and admitted his father. "How do you do that?"
"Thought streams," Iggy said with a grin. He looked at his father. "Did you know we had our own shopping area?"
"No. I think I'd like to find out more before you're allowed down there though." He grinned. "Raena's down at the bookstore."
"Wonderful." Iggy slid past him. "I'll be home in time for supper." Xander looked at him. "It *is* our free weekend, daddy," he noted before running to find his wife. He walked into the bookstore and waved at the people he knew, pointing at his wife. They nodded, he would pick up his book order in a few minutes. He slid up behind her and wrapped his arms around her waist. "Mortal Alley?"
She looked up at him. "You've never been there?" He shook his head. "Why not?"
"I've never even *heard* of it," Iggy told her. "What's down there?"
"Lots of things," she said, patting him on the hand. "We'll go our next free weekend."
"Why can't we go today?"
"Because I want to start preparation work on that new potion we were assigned."
"Not the one you're showing me?"
"No, dear. Did you get everything?"
"But the kidney stone. Our favorite herbologist doesn't carry them."
"Shoot. Then why don't you go wander down that way and find one for me?" She kissed him on the cheek. "I'll even take your books home with me." She got free and took her books with her to the counter. "My husband wanted me to get his as well," she told the cashier. The older man looked clueless. "I'm Iggy's wife, Raena."
"Oh! How wonderful to meet you! He's babbled so much about you!" He leaned over and gave her a hug. "We love Ignatius. I hope you two are happy." He snapped his fingers and one of the lower people came running. "This is Iggy's wife, Raena. She's taking his book order back to the school for him. What is he looking for?"
"The born's shopping area," she said with a smile. "He's never been."
"Ah! I heard they have a rare bookstore down there."
Raena leaned on the counter. "It's not really academic texts. Some of it's more manuscripts and the like. The closest I've ever seen was an esoteric script on how to create portals."
"Then it's not in competition with us," he said happily, accepting the slip off the box the stocker had pulled out for them. "Here we are. Seventy-four galleons, five knuts." He smiled at her. "Including yours. We'll extend Iggy's discount to you as well since you're his wife." He leaned on the counter while she counted out coins. "How was the wedding? I never saw it mentioned in the paper."
"He did a very gryphon thing and captured me," she told him, sorting the coins by piles of ten.
Iggy walked up to her and handed her another fifteen and winked. "Traditionally she should have captured and marked me, but she set a wonderful trap and I slid into it with a sigh of pleasure and contentment." He held out her hand. "In the Potion's dungeon with the other kids in our class witnessing and Professor Snape standing there wondering what we were doing."
The cashier laughed. "I'm sure it was what you both wanted." He touched the stone. "Philosopher's stone?" Iggy nodded and he gave him a sly look. "Of your own making?"
"Flammel's former one," Iggy said, grinning back.
"Oh! You do know it can shatter, correct? Once the makers are dead, it will turn to dust."
"Flammel's been dead for years," Raena pointed out.
"From the rumors going around, he had some help."
Iggy looked at her and shrugged. "If it does powder, then we'll replace it with one of our own," he said quietly. She laughed and smacked him on the chest. "What? We did get that too-small stone and can have it cut to fit."
"It didn't work for you?" the cashier asked, recounting the money. "Twenty more, please."
Raena handed over the rest. "We got one, but it was too small to be used. We're trying to figure out why." A convenient lie to keep people from hunting them down. Iggy grinned at her and she pinched him on the stomach. "No buying dusty books in Mortal."
"Yes, dear." He gave her a deep kiss and strolled away, going to find the store with the gateway portal. He found the demon recruitment center easily enough. It had a succubus standing outside and he had to force himself to move on by reminding himself that Raena was more exciting than some demon ho and the energy drain he felt with her was better for him. He found the little dusty, grimy shop and walked in. Behind two separate counters were two nearly identical withered old men. "Is one of you Andrew?"
"We closed that portal and keep it closed," the man directly in front of him snapped. "Use the other one."
"If I knew where it was, I'd do that," Iggy told him, staying polite. You never knew what was working down here and he looked like a very large goblin. He smiled at the other man. "Are you Andrew?" The man nodded. "Ignatius Harris-Weasley," he said, shaking the man's hand. "If you won't let me across, can you at least tell me where the other one is?"
"It's got three other entrances: one up by your colony at a small house's back gate, one airborne gate that's difficult to find and you have to be flying, and other one here in town." He pulled a curtain open, showing a small armoire. "We keep our portal in here, Ignatius."
"I don't want to be any bother if you can't open it without problems," he told him.
"It creates a small breeze and we get a few extra customers," Andrew assured him. "No other trouble."
"Don't you dare!" the other shopkeeper warned.
"Shut it! You don't rule on this half of the store. Go ahead, Ignatius. Why haven't you been down there before? I know I've seen some of the borns from your colony."
"We hang with Bill mostly," Iggy told him with a shrug. "He never mentioned it and he never told us there was one."
"Ah! The gryphons don't usually go themselves because getting in through the air gate is so hard. They send the born for them." Andrew smiled at him. "Go ahead. It will read who you are. Only those like you, and others that are born from other sentient beings, may walk through unless one of you escort them. The other portal is framed by black marble so you can't miss it." Iggy nodded and smiled, leaving a small coin on the counter. "What's this?"
"A tip for the information. My father said it was customary down here." Iggy hurried through the gateway, making sure to close the armoire door behind him. He smiled at the man standing on the other side. "Did I mess up?"
"No, that was my twin, Andrew. I'm Anderson. Welcome to Mortal Alley, Ignatius Harris- Weasley. Maps are two knuts." Iggy paid for one. "Have fun. The bank closes in three hours."
"The one in Diagon is already closed," he said with a shrug.
"We have a branch here, it's always open, every day."
Iggy grinned. "That is so cool! I'll have to remember that." He waved and left another knut in tip before walking out. He looked around. A lot of small shops, though cleaner than in Knocturn, leading up to a main thoroughfare. He strolled up the street, looking around. Clothes. Armor. Weapons. He stopped to look in that window. "Oh, wow! A long sword. Daddy would love that." He shook himself and continued, reading the map. The herbologist was up in the main section. He walked up the few stairs and smiled at the large stores. Two large clothiers with shops three times the size of Madam Malkin's. A five-story bookstore. A stable advertising horse rentals. It was odd, it wasn't that crowded at this time of day. Diagon was always packed. And there weren't any house elves either. He shrugged off his musings and headed for his primary target, the herbologist. He walked in and took a deep sniff, then sneezed. "Damn, this is wonderful," he said. The old man behind the counter laughed. "I need a Roaette stone for my wife."
"Sure. We've got six or seven in stock. Come pick a size. Who're you anyway? Never seen you before," he noted as he led Iggy back into the stock area, where everything was in drawers and neatly bundled up.
"Ignatius Harris-Weasley." The man squealed and hugged him as hard as he could, which was about half as hard as his Uncle Fred. "I didn't even know you guys were down here before today. The nice old woman at the herbology shop in Diagon told me."
"I'll have to send her a card. Of course, you'll be shopping here from now on."
"For some things," Iggy corrected, looking down at him. He looked hurt. "Severus, our mentor, can't come down here. For the human spells, I'll still probably go over there so he can help us. But next year," he said with a grin, "we're getting more heavily into the gryphon spells and potions."
"Ah! Wonderful news!" he said, hugging him again. "Then you'll have to come back."
"Definitely. Because I *know* the one in Diagon doesn't have a lot of the stuff we'll be using, I already asked and she gave me a funny look. I guess she thought I knew about you." He looked around again then pulled out the potion list. "She said she needs six grams of Roaette or unicorn kidney stone."
"We've got both." He looked at the list then nodded. "Roaette is more pure in this case. I can chip you off that much. Do you want it powdered? It's really hard to crush."
"If it'll stay good," Iggy agreed. He checked just to make sure. She hadn't said it had to be whole. "Do you know this potion?"
"Very well," the herbologist told him, heading to grab a small axe and a light pink stone. "Stand back. This thing is horrible."
"Do you want me to chop it?" Iggy asked, stepping back. "My father occasionally makes me chop wood."
"No, I've got it." The man weighed it in his hand, then set it down and slammed the axe into the stone, making a large section fall off. "That should be about right." He handed it over and Iggy weighed it, nodding, giving him a smile. "I've been doing this for years, young man."
"I'm always respectful of professionals in their fields," Iggy assured him. He went to look around while the stone was crushed, finding a small tin of salve. "What's this for?" he called.
"For bruising and broken bones. It numbs it." The herbologist handed the piece of stone back to the giant in the back, then hurried out to help him. "What were you thinking about using it for?"
"My father and his bad knee."
"Won't cure it."
"I know, but the muscles around the replacement joint have been stressed again and it's making him hurt more." He read the indications then nodded and handed it over. "That as well if you wouldn't mind."
"Of course. Haven't seen your wife recently. How is she?"
"Pretty and wonderful," he said with a sappy grin. He heard a roar and looked toward the back. "Is your helper all right?"
"Just fine. Like I said, a little hard to pulverize. The giant should get it done soon enough." There was a crash and a small songbird brought out a little bag. "Thank you, Filch." He handed it to Iggy. "Fifteen galleons, boy."
"Sure." Iggy counted it out and tucked the precious substances into his pants pockets. "Thank you." He smiled and accepted the business card, then headed out to browse some more.
Xander strolled into the Elder's cave and looked up at Bill. "Why didn't you tell me that we had our own version of Diagon?" he asked, sounding hurt.
Bill looked down at him and shrugged. "I never thought about it, Xander. I'm sorry. I haven't been there in years and didn't even think about how you could find yourself something down there."
Delilah leaned down. "You might have some trouble taking your mate through with you since you haven't shared fluids recently. It's keyed so only those of us, and those like you, may cross over without help."
"We shared fluids this morning," Xander said smugly.
"Yes, but his scent is not changed by that minor sharing of fluids," Bill told him.
"You'll have to share blood with him, Xander. Or you'll have to help him across."
"We've got different blood types, it'll hurt him."
"Then you'll need to be physically touching him when you cross over," Bill said with a small smile. "Surely that won't be a hardship for you, will it?"
"Not in the least," Xander snorted. "How do I get there?"
"There is a bookstore in the middle of town. We have a map," Bill assured him. "Also, there is a bank branch down there. You'll be able to treat your mate to something wonderful."
"It's closed," Xander said with a frown.
"Not this one. It's open for another few hours." Delilah smiled at him. "Go find your mate and get him excited. We'll be waiting on you." Xander grinned and left, going to find his husband. "That boy. Weren't they mentioned in the paper today?"
"Yes, something about a lawsuit because of what happened when he was burned," Bill said as he settled in. "Does he have authority to get into the vaults?"
"They have money," the third elder pointed out.
"Good point." Bill grinned at them. "Perhaps George will find something pleasing down there and will change it to sell in the shop."
"Those light crystals would be wonderful," Delilah agreed. "Too bad only the sphinxes can use them. I would like one."
"I'll mention it to them when they come back for the map," Bill said smugly.
Xander landed in the center of the shop and bounced over to hug whichever twin was behind the counter. "There's a whole shopping area for us," he said happily.
Fred looked at him. "What are you going on about now, Xander?" He pulled him back into the living section. "I'm still mad at you for destroying my new toy."
"I didn't do that, I wasn't the one who let out the scream which broke it," he said with a pout. "That was George."
"Because you made him scream."
"I'm sorry, Fred." He gave him a hug. "I'll try to make it up to you when I take George to Mortal Alley."
"Where might that be?" Draco asked as he walked out of the bathroom to join them.
"It's the born and other sentient creatures shopping area," Xander told him. Draco's mouth fell open. "They never thought to tell us. Iggy is already there." He grinned at Fred. "Please? Don't be mad at me."
"Go steal George," Fred sighed, watching as he bounded off. "That boy!"
Draco laughed. "He's older than you are!"
"Not mentally, not when there's a new treat to be found." Fred grumbled as he walked back into the shop. He found a little girl staring up at him with a worried look. "What's wrong, Miss Prince?" he asked, smiling for her.
"You didn't sound happy."
"I am, it's just that Xander destroyed a new invention the other day. It broke when he yelled because George was tickling him."
"Oh." She grinned, giving him a hug. "I'm sure you'll fix it so it's not so delicate, Mr. Fred." She hurried off to her mother's side again and told her about it.
Fred smile at the mother. "She's cute."
"Thank you." She gave him a knowing look. "Tickled?"
He nodded. "Tickled. Xander likes to attack George and tickle him until he begs for mercy." He moved back behind the counter. "They hit the pitch to break glass last time."
The mother chuckled. "I'm sure you'll make it less fragile next time." She brought her daughter back over and let her put her selections up on the counter.
"Oops, one of those is for older kids," Fred told her, pointing at the hot jelly. "I can't sell you that one unless your mother says it's all right. The fires are really spectacular and some parents complained."
"Please, mum?" the girl begged, bouncing slightly. "I'll be good and eat it outside, just in case I toast myself. I won't go anywhere near the family owl or anything."
"Breathing fire," Fred told her. "We've had a few kids belch up a few spurts of flames a few hours, and even a day, later so we voluntarily agreed not to sell it to anyone who's not old enough to reason through the consequences. One of them toasted their mother's familiar."
"It's good that you listen to reason," the mother said with a teasing grin. "I think we'll hold off on that one until you can play outside all day, Penelope." Her daughter pouted. "Go get one of those flaming candybars instead, dear." Her daughter skipped off. "Thank you for the warning."
He hid it behind the counter. "We wouldn't want to inflict any real harm on any unsuspecting kids or their parents," he said with shy grin.
She leaned closer. "If I wasn't married, I'd take you in the back and punish you for being so naughty, Fred, but for now, I'm still married to the drudge." Fred handed her back the candy and she laughed. "Thank you. I'm sure he'll be very impressed with it." She paid for their purchases, making sure to include enough for her daughter's candybar. "Pick a flavor, Penelope. Your father's waiting on us in Gladrags."
"Yes, mum." She held it up and her mother nodded so she skipped back and added it to the bag. "Thank you, Mr. Fred! We'll be back in a few weeks." She took her treats with her, and her mother waved from the doorway.
George came out of the lab, wobbling heavily. "Save me," he begged, leaning on his twin's shoulder. "First he pounces me then he expects me to go shopping."
Fred patted him on the back. "The gateway is probably keyed so the rest of us can't get in there and spoil their fun."
"Yuppers," Xander said as he joined them. "Come on, honey, I want to see!" he said, bouncing as much as the little girl had been. "Please? I'll buy you treats!"
"Fine, Xander, we'll help the son shop." George forced himself to stand up and take his mate's hand, letting him teleport them to the colony to get the map, and then to the marked teleportation spot. He looked around, his mouth falling open. "Holy Merlin," he breathed. He pointed. "Gringotts?"
"Yup. And it's still open," Xander said smugly. "Come on, we'll go there then go browse." He drug his husband with him, making sure that they were going to have enough money for everything they wanted. Then they found the son, who was looking at the horses.
"Maybe when I'm older," Iggy said, patting the velvety nose gently. "You're definitely beautiful, but I couldn't keep you at the school, dear. Even if the wife would probably love you absolutely. In a few years, when we have our own house. How about that?" She nuzzled him and he handed over the rest of his apple for her. "Yes, you're a darling one. Raena will love you."
"When you have your own house or if you can talk your uncle into it," George told him. Iggy grinned at him. "You are beautiful," he agreed, patting her gently. "Come on, show us everything you've seen." He looked around but Xander had his nose pressed against a weapon's shop. "Xander, heel!" he called. Xander didn't respond, he continued to drool over whatever was in there. So they walked over to join him. "Dear?" he asked patiently.
"Look, chainmail," Xander said in awe. "I *need* that."
"You'll have problems casting offensive spells in it," George said patiently. "We'll do the weapons shops last, dear."
"Daddy, there's a leather shop," Iggy told him. Xander grinned at him. "I saw something you would *adore* down that way."
"Lead the way," Xander said, pulling himself away from the good armor. His son led him down to the other section and he beamed at him. "You deserve a raise. Dear, give him money." He headed into the leather shop and squealed in delight. "I found the outfit I want!" he called.
George handed over ten more coins. "Go to the bookstore," he said with a smile. "Meet us back here in one hour, son."
"Daddy, it's five stories tall," Iggy told him, pouting slightly.
"One hour. You can come back next time and do another floor."
"Yes, sir." Iggy headed back up to the bookstore and George went in to humor his husband. He found him drooling over some green leathers and shook his head. "Not green. I still have trouble with you in green. Get the blue set, dear, or the red."
"Ooh, the red," Xander said, pulling it down. "Hey, flowered ones!" he said happily, pulling down the black and purple leather bodysuit to show it off. "Can I?"
"Draco will steal it and hide it," he said gently, taking the red bodysuit. "Try this one for me so I can drool too," George told him, leading him to the changing areas.
"He fight a lot?" the clerk asked with a grin.
"Xander? Yeah. Not that I haven't tried to stop that."
"That's Xander? Like from Hogwarts?" the clerk asked. George nodded slowly. "Well." He broke out in a true smile. "We've been waiting for him to come to us for his next fighting outfit."
"Don't encourage him, we only brought three hundred up from the vault."
"Pfft. You can nearly buy him a new wardrobe for that. Where are his trainees?"
"One's at dinner and the other's bothering my twin. Why?"
"We expected him to bring them in to outfit them of course." He clapped George on the back. "We love stories about him! Homer, one of the borns from your colony, just loves to brag on the boy." Xander came out and he whistled. "Needs a bit of fitting, but you do look good in it."
"Yes, I do," Xander said smugly.
George nodded. "It's not bragging if it's true," he agreed. "How much for that one?"
"Did you want me to call Ron and Draco?" Xander asked happily. "Or just bring them up some other time?"
"Sure, bring 'em up. We're slow today."
"Cool," Xander breathed, thinking at his son and brother-in-law. He heard a grumble from his boss and told him all about it, even showing him the picture of him in his new outfit. Dumbledore quickly left his mind. "Draco's bringing Bill and Ron."
"Why is Bill coming?"
"He needs a new jacket and can't find one," Xander said innocently. "Plus, we need to find something for Percy's present."
"I'll look in the joke shops," George said, giving him a kiss on the cheek. "Go find more fabulous stuff, Xander." Xander hurried back to the racks. "Don't let him buy the store, all right?"
"Sure, not a problem. We don't have much in stock that's his size at the moment. Next week we'll be getting a shipment from the elven colonies off-realm. They'll have things in his size definitely." Xander looked over at him. "They're hunters."
"Oooooh," Xander said, smiling as he found a velvet and leather heavy cloak. "Honey?"
"Yes, Xander, if it fits," George agreed.
"You're his mate?" George nodded, smiling. "Well! Let me call my brother. They've been expecting you down at Zora's for a few years now." He hurried to make the call.
Xander came back with the cloak and the two pairs of pants. "These?" he begged, trying his damndest to look cute and innocent.
"Try them on," George sighed, sitting himself down. "After this, we're heading to a joke shop so I can go nuts."
"Okay." Xander walked into the changing area and the bodysuit went over the door. "Can I wear that home?"
"No, dear. Wear it tomorrow. We'll have to stop at mum's to drop Bill off, remember?"
"Oh, yeah. Okay." Xander came out in the first pair of pants, smoothing down a few of the wrinkles in the leather. "They're a size too big."
"But I like them on you," George offered. Xander beamed at him. "Nothing to draw stalkers to your butt, Xander. You promised to not draw more attention to your ass."
"Yes, dear." He went back in there and came out with the other pair of pants. "Can I still have them? I promise to wear them only when you're there to protect my virtue."
The clerk laughed. "I'm sure he'd do good with that. Those look a little loose."
"I like him in baggy pants," George said quickly. The clerk gave him a knowing look and smiled. "Thank you. Xander, try those on." Xander went back in to try those on as well. "Don't encourage him, he'll have to fight off people trying to pinch him again."
The door opened and Draco walked in with Ron and Bill, smiling at George. Draco tossed a small money pouch at George with a wink before starting his own shopping. "The bank is still open," Bill said happily. "My retirement check just came in." He headed for the jackets, finding one that he liked almost immediately, and one for his older brother. "Think Charlie'd like this one?" he asked, holding it up. Xander came out and he dropped it. "No wonder you snagged him from Fred," he said in amazement. George glared at him. "Sorry, brother, but really. Are you still wanting that skyclad ceremony? If so, I'll bring something to protect him." He took another long look. "And warn the others to bring their wands as well."
"Are you going to get him a 'for rent' sign?" Ron teased. He punched Xander on the arm. "Those are a bit tight, mate."
"But they're comfy," Xander said with a grin. "Dear, I'm wearing this one and the bodysuit is for tomorrow." George rolled his eyes. "If you let me wear this out, and someone finds me a shirt," he said, looking at his 'son', "then I'll give you the most excellent time of our married lives tonight."
"I can find the shirt," Draco said helpfully, going to do so. He found some clothes for himself as well and brought them back. The clerk looked at him. "For after the birth."
"I was wondering if you'd need them tailored," the clerk said with a bright grin. "Your butt's a little too flat for that look." He walked over and pulled down a set of pure black lace-up pants, handing them over. "Try those. And they're adjustable for the baby if you want some now."
"You can blend into the shadows with those," Ron said in appreciation. The pants Draco had wanted were handed to him. "You think?"
"Hunting in leather is wonderful," Xander told him. Draco handed him a shirt and he went to try it on, coming back out. "I don't think so. It's a little loose and fluffy for my tastes."
George stood up and backed Xander into the dressing room, slamming the door so they could have some privacy.
"Yup, many mates do that," the clerk said happily. "That's how you know you've got it right." He smiled at Ron and opened another changing room. "Go ahead and try them on. You've got on knickers, right?" Ron nodded, grimacing. "Sorry, had one of you like that the other day. Had to force him to buy the stuff." He let Draco into another changing room and went to help fit Bill. "How big's your brother?"
"'Bout my size, little taller. Works with dragons."
"Then that style should suit him very well," the clerk agreed, tugging on the shoulders. "How does that feel?"
"Great." Bill handed over some money. "I like this one. I'll wear it out."
"Yes, sir." He took the tags and hurried to ring him up. He noticed the cloak and put it over the door to Xander's changing room.
To part 6: