Melvin looked at his girlfriend and smiled. She smiled back and licked her lips. From across the tables, they nodded at each other. Tonight was the night. They had their scores. The leaving feast was tomorrow night. They were even packed. It was time. Melvin looked at his cousin, who was smiling at him. Iggy nodded. So it was on. He hurried up with his dinner and headed up to shower and change. He wouldn't elope while he smelled or in grass-stained clothing. His father would throw fits if he disrespected his new wife that way. When he came out, he found Denver sitting on his bed. "Which one should I wear?"
"This one," Denver said, handing over a package. "Simone and I bought you guys one each. She's got Andrea's." He settled in to wait while his cousin got dressed. "Slick back your hair as well."
Melvin slicked back his hair, then grabbed his glasses. "I'm ready."
"To throw up or to go do this?" Denver asked with a grin.
"To do this. I want her. She's finally mine and I am so happy." He sat down beside his cousin, looking at his hands. "Do you have the rings?"
"Iggy has them. It'll be you two, me, him, and Simone. Unless you want Ronnie and Ravena or Ana."
"I don't care. Oh, I have to tell Father, I promised him."
"Then let's head so we can retrieve the family members." Denver took his hand as soon as they had stood up. "Off we go," he said as they disappeared.
When Melvin's roommates came in, they were confused by the wrapping paper and the packed trunks. Where had Melvin gone?
Iggy strolled into the Ministry reception with a wink for the door guard. "Have to steal my grandfather and Uncle," he told him. "Family meeting for an hour." He walked up to where his Grandfather was standing, leaning against his side. "Hi," he said, shaking the foreign Minister's hand. "Grandfather, I need a short word once you're done," he said at the lull he had created.
"Because Melvin's finally found the end of his patience. We're waiting on you and his parents."
Arthur smiled. "They have such wonderful timing."
"It'll be a short one. We promise."
The Minister cleared his throat. "What is going on?"
"My grandson has decided to elope tonight," Arthur told him.
"Then go and come back quickly, my friend. Family is important to us."
Arthur smiled. "Thank you. It shouldn't be more than a half-hour. They're so desperate."
"We're graduating tomorrow," Iggy confided. "They couldn't wait."
The Minister laughed. "I remember feeling that way. Give them my well wishes."
"I will." Iggy slipped off, going to bother his Uncle and Aunt. "It's time," he told them as he walked up behind Arabelle. She smiled at him. "Short, sweet, and then you can come back." He ran a hand over her bulging stomach. "Well, aren't you calm," he told her. She kicked his hand. "Hello, Tallia." Percy cleared his throat. "Your son requests your presence at his wedding. Now if you wouldn't mind."
Percy rolled his eyes. "That boy has bad timing."
"Half-hour tops and Grandfather's coming as well." He smiled at Arabelle and held out his hand. "If you want?"
She took it. "Please." He took them both and she smiled at her stepson. "You are so handsome," she told him, fussing over some lint on his collar. "Come along, let's do this. We're at a function tonight." She grunted and grabbed her stomach. "Behave, Tallia, it's not time for that yet."
Iggy frowned and touched her stomach. "That's not false labor, Auntie. You might want to sit down at least." He led her to a seat and sat her down as Percy walked in. "It'll be tonight, Uncle Percy. You need to get her to the hospital after this." Arthur walked in and he grinned at him. "Okay, we're all here. I promised a half-hour or less."
Melvin led Andrea up to the officiate and knelt in front of him. "Please," he requested.
"All right." He opened his book. "Melvin Kincaid Weasley, do you take Andrea Lorri Reams to be your wife?"
"Andrea Lorri Reams, do you take this man, Melvin Kincaid Weasley, to be your husband?"
"Hurry it up so I can greet my new sister," Melvin said with a smile. The officiate nodded. "I do swear to protect, to love, and to honor my wife, for she is my light and reason."
"I do swear to protect, to love, and to honor my husband for he is my light and my reason," Andrea repeated.
Arabelle moaned louder and fell onto the floor, clutching her stomach.
"Arabelle!" Percy said, moving to her side.
Iggy handed off the rings and knelt beside her, touching her stomach gently. "I need a sheet to cover her, a knife, and some water," he said quietly. No movement. "Now, Uncle Percy. Before she gives birth in her clothes."
Percy hurried off to get things for his wife. He came back with two of the three.
"Simone, I need your sharpest knife," Iggy called. She pulled one out of her bosom and handed it over with a smile. "Thanks. Hold her hands. Melvin, finish this!"
"Yes, Iggy." He turned back to finish getting married.
Iggy got Arabelle uncovered and settled in her husband's lap, letting Simone help him. "All right, Arabelle, I see a head," he said happily. "Would you mind pushing?"
She grunted and pushed, sending out the head a little more.
Arthur walked into the meeting and smiled. "Arabelle had a boy and a girl," he announced. The others clapped and cheered. "Plus, Percy is celebrating his son's marriage to a very nice girl. They've just finished up. Ignatius delivered both twins and Percy didn't even pass out." That got more cheering. The foreign minister led the cheer. "Not your average meeting," he said with a fond smile.
Albus Dumbledore floated into the Gryffindor seventh year girls' room and smiled at the paper pinned to the outside of the bed. "Well," he said fondly. "Someone has no patience."
"No, we don't," Andrea called. "We're also not done yet, sir. Please give us another six hours or so."
The ghost laughed and stuck his head through the parting of the curtains. "My dears, you know better."
"With all due respect, Headmaster, we are married. Legally, we can not only do this, I can do many wicked things to her," Melvin told him with a grin, and a not-so-subtle rub of his new wife's stomach. "The other girls don't mind and actually cheered us on earlier. So please, let us be. You let Iggy and Raena do this, along with the new Slytherin top couple."
"Yes, well.... You see, they told us before hand."
"Sir, you're all knowing, you knew we had snuck out," Andrea pointed out with a smile. "We'll be announcing it at breakfast." She kissed her husband gently. "Your table or mine, love?"
"Mine," he said happily. "Plus we can bother my roomies tomorrow."
"As long as you keep it down," Dumbledore told them. "You woke me with all that yelling and stuff."
"Sorry, sir, but I promised her mother I wouldn't buy any sort of gag or sex toy until after we'd been married for a year," Melvin said with a rampant blush. It went all the way down his chest and under the sheet. "Please, sir, I was in the middle of something."
"Oh, let them go at it already," one of the girls on the other side of Simone called. "It's cute that they're so in love."
"Besides," Simone added, "if she gets stuffed up now, I get to name the baby."
"Middle name only, unless we like it," Andrea corrected.
"A worthy goal," Melvin said, kissing her again. They got so involved they forgot about the ghost, didn't even see him when he left them alone.
Simone laid back on her pillows and got a vicarious thrill from listening to her best friend find real happiness.
Iggy stood up and clapped as Melvin and Andrea walked in, joined by the rest of the family, the seventh year girls, and the few others who had already heard. Andrea blushed. "Iggy!"
"Iggy, stop it, you're embarrassing my wife," Melvin told him, wrapping a protective arm around her waist as he led her to her seat beside him. "There, dear, you're eating right here all night long."
"All right, if you say so," she said with a smile.
"Traditionally, the leaving feast is eaten at your own table, even if you're married into another house," their lead Prefect told them. "Not that we mind, we love Andrea, Melvin, but it is tradition. You can shag her senseless after dinner."
"She'll be coming back to my room tonight so her roommates can get some sleep," Melvin said, starting to blush again.
"Not that we minded," one of the seventh year girls called.
They were both blushing now. "Gee, thanks," Andrea called back. "Good to know you had a wonderful time as well."
"Andrea!" Melvin said, turning nearly orange now in his embarrassment.
"Yes, dear?" she asked sweetly, leaning over to kiss him on the cheek.
"Oh, do more," Xander called down. "Young love is so cute."
"Then why do we put up with you and George?" Ron asked. Xander hit him with a sticky bun. "Hey! Meanie. All I was pointing out was you and he were just as cute."
"Just for that, I'm going to have my husband do target practice on you tonight, Ron."
"Sorry." He glanced around. "Draco, are you still going to teach Mary to fly?"
"I had planned on starting next week. Is she anxious?"
"A bit. She thinks you're putting it off because she got sick."
"Well, I was waiting until she was healthy, but more for my own ability to have a week off as well. I can't imagine who was thinking up our schedule this year. We nearly went from one game straight into another. If we had went too much longer, we'd have had to forfeit."
"Thankfully, you caught the snitch and the day was saved," Xander said soothingly.
"Yes, it was. I was rather brilliant in those two days, wasn't I?" Draco stated. He smirked at Xander. "Too bad I play pro, or we could really show the other teams how it's done."
"Yeah, well, I've been thinking," Xander admitted. Ron gasped so he threw another sticky bun at his head. "We've won for the last few years straight. It's not fun. It's like I'm giving my team some sort of special advantage by being who and what I am."
"More like the backrubs are so good that the women will kill anyone who tries to take them away," Ron snorted. He ducked another roll sent at his head, this one with butter on it. "Are you going to cheer if you're not coaching?" Oliver choked, he was seated on the other side of the table and hadn't heard the earlier conversation apparently. "He thinks he's being mean to the other teams by being so good."
"That's their problem," Oliver told him. "Let them get their own planners if they don't like you."
"Madam Rosemerta said I was the reason why our team might have to sit out a season, to give the other teams a chance to win."
"No way in hell!" Oliver told him. Everyone looked at him. "Sorry, didn't mean to say that out loud," he admitted, frowning at Xander. "I'll be talking with her tonight. We might have to set up a third tier to the league, but you'll be coaching that team."
"If it's only the rubs, I'll still give them out," Xander told him. "It's not like much changes over on the other sides. They don't need me every game."
"The other teams can suffer. If they don't like it, they can get their own planners," Oliver said stubbornly.
"Yes, Oliver," Xander said meekly. He was fierce about the game. He would listen to him. Draco looked at him. "Oliver plays like I coach, I listen to him about this stuff." Oliver grinned at him. "How's the arm?"
"Sore. Still. A bit tense. Can I have ten minutes of your time later?"
"Sure." Xander grinned and looked at Severus. "What are you going to do next year, when you don't have the Iggy around to fill in for you when you want to sleep in?"
"Get up," Snape told him simply. "I've done it before, I can do it now."
"We could arrange for him to come in and fill in every once in a while," Dumbledore suggested. "He'll be living close by since he won't be going to college full time." Xander stared at him in shock. "It's a commuting program. He'll be working from home."
"Oh. But he lives...." He looked at his son. "Something else you wanted to share with the school, son?"
"Yup. I'm thinking about renting a place up here as well. That way I can have my horse and ride it around."
Raena patted his hand. "If you buy a horse, you're cleaning up after it. I do not clean up horse stuff for you, dear."
"Not even if I got a unicorn crossbreed?" he asked. Her mouth opened and she shook her head. "Someone wants to get rid of theirs. Very pretty. It's even a bronze color."
"If you're willing to clean up after it," Raena repeated. He pouted at her but she shook her head, giving him a kiss on the cheek. "It won't work."
"If you won't help me, I won't give you rides." She blushed. "Or those sort either," he agreed.
"Son, withholding sex only makes you miserable," Xander advised. Iggy looked at him. "Trust me, it does."
"Since when do you know that by personal experience?" Ron asked, amused to say the least. Those two never quit going at it.
"About four years ago. Back when we were fighting the last time."
"Oh. Sorry." Ron grinned. "How long did you last?"
"Three days," Draco moaned. "Three long, whining, miserable days for those of us having to watch them." He looked out among his students and straightened up. "Ms. Goyle, kindly remove that hand from that dagger now." She dropped it onto the table. "Thank you. If there is a problem, you will come to me in an hour and we will discuss it. You do not stab people in the Great Hall."
"Yeah, you do it where people won't know it was you, and since you've just blown that you're pretty well screwed in that department," Xander added. She frowned at him. "You didn't think that we'd see you or you didn't think that if something happened to the intended victim ever that we'd blame you?"
"Sir, with all due respect, this is my life and you aren't one of us."
"He's my uncle and he looks out for us as well," Ravena told her. "Father, I will take care of this." The whole table looked at her. So she stood up. "Yes, me, morons. Why do you think the hat put me here instead of in opposition to Ronnie?" They all leaned away from her. "Ms. Goyle, hallway, now." She picked up the dagger and walked out, expecting the girl to follow her, which she did. She kicked the door shut and looked the girl over. "First, who and why?"
"Menderson and because he's an arse. He snuck in and tried to cop a feel this morning."
"Then the proper response was to either: a, yell and scream to attract attention, b, hurt him then, or c, tell one of us this morning so we can do something horrible to him." She stepped closer. "Were you able to fend him off?" The younger girl nodded. "Excellent. Why didn't you hurt him then?"
"Because of his girlfriend, who was standing there watching him try to get me," the younger girl said quietly.
"Then the proper course of action was to tell me first thing this morning." She touched a lock of the girl's brown hair. "You are very pretty and the dolts which seem to inhabit our house tend to want that which won't go willingly to them. Leave it to me, Amanda." The girl nodded, smiling at her. "No more daggers in the Great Hall. My uncle was correct, you would have ended up protecting them because everyone would suspect you had done it if they ever got hurt." The girl nodded again, looking happier now. "Thank you. Now, we shall go back and eat. Hide that in your bra or something." She walked in and tapped the couple on the back of the head. "Expelled, the both of you." Snape gave her a look. "Sir, I regret to inform you that your last official day here this year will be tied up with a disciplinary board. It seems *someone* has been sneaking males into the dorms."
Snape smiled at her. "Very well. We shall call all of that year's girls down for questioning."
"For further reference, you cannot expel then," Dumbledore told her.
"Sir, I was talking about their lives. I did catch him standing at my room's door this morning and had no idea why he was doing so. Now that I've learned something, I start to wonder why else he was standing there watch me sleep."
"We shall discuss that as well," Snape agreed. He didn't look at Draco, but he knew he was fuming.
"Daughter, I will be talking with you after this as well," Draco told her. "Remember, I am the mentor for that house. Any actions reflect on not only yourselves, but myself and Professor Snape as well. We will not put up with such behavior."
"You can do many things, but that is not one of them," Ron agreed. "Not even my kids get away with that stuff." He looked at his table. "For those of you returning next year, there will be a list drawn up and posted of acceptable Common Room behavior since we seem to have a problem with that issue. Expect to see it and read it your first night back."
"I would like to see it as well," Snape told them. "It seems that some are trying to stick to the letter of the law and not the intent." Dumbledore looked at him. "Last Thursday?"
"Oh, that," Dumbledore said, shooting a glare at the Slytherin table. "Yes, I believe we should make the rules more plain. We'll work on that this summer, once the requisite paperwork is filed."
"I sent it all with Fawkes last night," Xander told him. "OWL and NEWT results both went at the same time."
"Thank you, Xander. You're a very capable helper when it comes to the dry banalities of this job." The ghost smiled at him. "How are your classes for next year?"
"The same as they were this year. Nothing new or exciting is popping up. I'll have all next year to find a new publisher or a new textbook."
"Very good. Tell me which you decide upon." Xander nodded.
"Thankfully I don't have to go through that," Ron said happily. "There's enough people who write Dark Arts textbooks for me to skip that problem entirely."
"Thankfully most of them also work in the field so you don't have to," Sirius noted. Lupin glared at him. "What? That way he doesn't have to be flying off to take care of all those emergency creature sightings."
"That's very true," Ron agreed. "Though I wouldn't mind doing some now and again to keep my hand in. Right now, I only take on about six creatures a year and one of those is a regular infestation."
"Plus the demons that keeps popping up in your mother's washer and dryer," Draco added.
"Oh, I hadn't forgotten about them," Ron said with a smirk. "I wasn't counting family emergencies. Did you know Charlie had a dragon who got possessed?" Draco shook his head. "Yeah, one of the big Ridgebacks. Really nasty creature too. Even more grumpy than you in the mornings."
"How would one possess a dragon?" Black asked.
"Easy, it decided to inhabit the dragon's body. Apparently it was tired of being puny," Ron told him. "Grumpy git of a former human."
"Did you have to do an exorcism?" Lupin asked.
"He only told me as an afterthought, thought it'd be an interesting note for future classes. They had one of the local priests come in and work on it. Said he didn't believe him until he saw it for himself, but they managed to get the ghost out after an hour and a half of work."
Snape cleared his throat. "Your nephew has worked out something that may help in that area," he announced. "He's made a different form of holy ....thing that can be eaten."
"Instead of the Communion Wafers?" Xander asked. Snape nodded. "Interesting. You could sneak it past the spirit and attack it without it knowing. How hard was it to make?"
"The most problematic ingredient would be unicorn's blood. He's also created a formula for an anti-holy treat as well."
"Hmm. Interesting. Can I send one of those to Wesley?"
"I could have him make you a batch," Snape told him with a slight smirk.
"Xander, don't poison the Watchers with darkness," Dumbledore told him. "No matter how aggravating they can be your niece might need them some day."
"By that time, my niece had better know better than to go near them unless the world is ending," Xander retorted. "I won't have her corrupted by the brainwashing people over there."
"If they were in trouble, would you send someone to help them?" Lupin asked.
Xander opened his mouth then shook his head. "I seriously don't know. I would automatically say yes, but then I get to thinking about how many magic users they have over there and how any problem was probably of their own making. I'd take in Willow's daughter and protect any of the kids for them, but they can handle most anything else. This is one of those gray situations where I would probably be a little bit torn."
"If the Watchers unbent enough to call for help," Ron added.
"Yes, I hadn't thought of that," Lupin said, smiling at them. "They wouldn't be likely to send off the children, would they?" Xander and Ron shook their heads.
"That is one of the faults of having such an organization," Snape put in. Tara looked at him. "Their secrecy and insulation against the rest of the world, even against the other people with magic, would make sure that they had no one to turn to. The ones who left would mostly be like Xander."
"Ethan," Xander corrected.
"All right, like him then," Snape agreed with a nod for him. "They wouldn't want much to do with them. Some would probably even be the problem of the moment. If they had opened themselves up more to the other people who do the same job, people like Professor Weasley, then they might have more help."
"I'm not sure I'd be willing to run and help the adults either," Ron admitted. "Not after how they tried to convince me to hand over Minnie to their supposedly loving and gentle care."
"When was that?" Xander asked in his sweet and nice voice. Ron shuddered. "When, Ron?"
"Last week when I getting that new book I wanted to look over. In Diagon." He looked at him. "One of them walked up to me in the bookstore and started talking up their programs and training methods."
"I think I'll have a ... discussion with Wesley this summer then." He smiled at everyone who looked at him. "What? I could spread word of the shop to the other magical types."
"Xander, don't blow them up. They won't try to steal her," Ron soothed, putting a hand on his arm. Draco, who was on Xander's other side, as usual, did the same. "We can handle them, I promise. They're not taking my daughter and you don't have to hurt them. It was only a mild suggestion."
"They might have done something, but they failed because of your wards," Draco put in. "Don't destroy them yet, watch what they try next. I promise, she won't go to them. If I have to, I'll bring her to my house and protect her there." Xander nodded and slowly relaxed. "Though if you wanted to send a warning, I would send that new toy, or possibly one of the talking ones, to them."
Xander smiled. "That's a very good idea," he purred.
Everyone at the head table shivered. They knew that voice. Something *bad* was going to happen to the Watchers.
"What do you mean you're holding them back!" Dumbledore shouted. "You can't do that to them! They did pass everything! We didn't even have a failing mark this term!"
"I'm sorry, Albus, but my decision is final," the Minister of Education and Training told him. "I'll be sending official announcements out next week, once I have them typed up."
"We'll see about this," Dumbledore threatened. He cut off the floo connection and called an emergency staff meeting. Everyone came running as he floated down to the staff room. "I have horrible news," he said as soon as the door was closed. "The Minister over the school has made a decision."
"Surely we're not being closed down," Poppy said with disgust.
"Worse. He's decided to keep the seventh years here. He's said that he won't sign off on anyone's graduation and they won't be officially listed if he doesn't. Xander, I need you or Ron to talk to your father."
"Can I talk to Percy and have him show up on the man's doorstep in the middle of the night?" Ron mumbled. Dumbledore smiled at him. "Fine, I'll hit Dad. Xander, get the rest of the family involved. Draco, the Board of Regents."
"They won't like this at all," Draco agreed. He looked at the Headmaster. "Will you be telling the students?"
"If we can't reach a compromise in the next few hours, we'll have to. Please, don't panic."
"What will we teach?" Lupin asked.
"We all have things that we've been holding back," Xander pointed out. "Little tricks we've learned. Another layer to our specialities. We can run the advanced classes if we have to." Everyone nodded so he looked at the Headmaster. "I jinxed us this morning, didn't I?" he asked wryly.
"No, Xander, you didn't jinx us. He's been planning something for the last few months to prove how powerful he is," Draco told him. "None of us expected this level of stupidity. We've been thinking he was going to hold back a few students in prominent families." He stood up. "I'd best start calling around. Everyone should be getting up by now." He ignored the pointed looks at the clock as he walked out. This was horrible. He went back to the house and used the floo to head to the meeting area. The secretary was always there, it was his house. "Andrew!" he yelled as soon as he stepped out on the other side. The secretary came running. "The idiot held back the entire seventh year class," he said.
"Blast!" He hurried off to call everyone in.
Arthur walked into the staffroom, giving them an apologetic smile. "I can't get him to change his mind. I tried. I had him explain his reasons to me. They were flimsy and I pointed this out. That leaves me with two options. Firing or putting up with it and moving around him."
"Who'd take over if you fired him?" Tara asked.
"Henderson. His personally trained assistant who would follow his orders anyway. He'd have shadow powers and it would set a very bad precedent." They all groaned. "Even if I wanted to go outside of him, I'd have to have a new nominee at hand to put in his place and I don't have anybody. I'm sorry. Short of taking out the whole department I can't do this. I can stop it from happening next time. I can even announce that it was his fault so he'll be buried by owls and that might change his mind." He smoothed back what little hair he had left. It had been sticking up every which way. "I tried, I really did. I feel like my job is nothing more than a figurehead most of the time, this proved it."
"Would a threat to close the school help?" Xander asked. Everyone looked at him. "He can't do it without our cooperation."
"That's a wonderful thought, but the Board wouldn't go for it," Draco pointed out. "Not without advanced warning." He looked at Arthur. "Someone jokingly suggested an assassination."
"Henderson would still take over," Arthur pointed out. "It could take months for us to fix this suitably. By then, school would have started."
"What about those kids who already have jobs?" Lupin asked. "I know at least two of my top students have internships and another has college admittance."
"Letters would be written for them by my own hand, explaining what had went on. Hopefully anyone would understand. It isn't like their grades weren't good. I've seen them and I was very happy with how well everyone did."
"The problem then becomes how do we stop this from happening again," Madam Pomfrey sighed.
Snape shook his head. "This isn't right."
"No, it's not," Arthur agreed. "Unfortunately, unless you can put him under a curse to control him, it won't matter." He looked at Xander. "By the way, someone's pushing for your control spell to be counted as an Unforgivable as well."
"Mine's harmless," Xander protested. "I can't make anyone hurt another person. The most mine can do is make you walk or run."
"Still, what you did to the judge scared a lot of people, son. So be very careful where you use it."
"Can I use it on him?"
"No. That would look bad. You can't even threaten him, you or Ron, because of this."
"Bet me! My son's being harmed by this," Xander pointed out. "As a father and a teacher I have the right to throw a bloody fit!"
"You can come with me when I throw mine," Draco soothed. Xander was too upset, he'd end up blowing up something soon.
Arthur smiled at him. "Take pictures of it, I want to see that one going on." He looked at the rest of the room. "I can't do anything to stop him. I'm the Minister of Magic, but each department has a lot of autonomy. In this case, too much. I'm putting in a rule change, but again it could take a few months since it will leech some power away from Percy and Arabelle's departments. Their people will complain as well because they need it to do the work they do."
Dumbledore stood up. "Then we'll announce it to the students tonight. We'll say that we're working on the problem but that it may not be fixed in time. If it is, we will send out immediate owls to every family with the good news. Can you make it retroactive to cover this event?"
"I can make it retroactive and cover an event earlier this year, which also pissed me off, and was done by the same person. You don't need competency tests, that's what your NEWTs are. We've managed to put that one on hold so far." He slumped a little. "I'm working on it, I'll do my best."
"Thank you, Arthur. Come to any of the Board if you need our help," Draco told him. Arthur nodded and left them alone. "What about housing?"
"The towers will expand," Xander told him. He looked around. "Okay, so we'll have to make plans, just in case. That means we'll need to put at least another car onto the train. We'll have to work on the team situation, and I'll have to make sure that the castle expands properly this year. Classes can be however, we might not even need to order extra textbooks if we make most of them practical application." A few teachers looked happier, but not Binns and Ron. "Sorry, you guys may end up doing even more." He looked at the Headmaster. "Can we work it in that the students might be able to take other electives? Maybe put them in with the third years so we don't have to expand the days any?"
"The schedule isn't flexible enough to add anything else," Albus agreed. "Advanced classes would be harder to work in."
"Not if they're practical application ones," Snape agreed. "I could schedule them independently to a research term or to work as assistants and tutors in my other classes." He looked at Xander. "I'm assuming that your son will be with me all year."
"So am I, you and Poppy," Xander agreed. "Did you hear, he's going for his MD since everyone keeps getting him confused with a healer and then frowning when they find out he's only a potion's prodigy with healing skills. He got his letter of acceptance to double major yesterday." Or at least Iggy had only shown him the letter yesterday he decided when he saw the look in Severus' eyes. He had known his son was hiding something big, but he didn't know this was it.
"That's wonderful," Poppy said. "I'll work with his school so we can do the practical application things here. He might even be able to test out of some of it." She looked at Albus. "If you give the seventh years a choice, to take other electives or to do advanced classes, it might not be so bad. You could have each teacher do their own advanced schedules."
"I could take mine and Hagrid out into the woods," Ron pointed out. "Count it as a double class?" Hagrid grunted an assenting noise. "That way they could see more dark creatures and more other sort of odd creatures living out there."
Dumbledore nodded. "That wouldn't be so hard. If you schedule them with the other advanced classes it might be easier."
"Some of them have already had those," Xander pointed out. "Short of me doing odd weapons training, I'm not sure I can puff up my advanced class to give them something new."
"We'll figure that out tonight," Draco assured him. "For right now, let's focus on how we're going to tell them so we don't get killed by the parents."
"I'm telling them that it's this Minister's fault," Dumbledore said very plainly. "I had nothing to do with this and neither did the board. We've been fighting it all day." Draco nodded. "Needless to say, this summer will be stressful for all of us. We will go about this in a practical manner. Give me your proposals for the new classes in two weeks." Everyone nodded. "Xander, I want you to work on the castle as well." He looked at him. "By the way, I'm going to have to turn down your proposal to take the children to a cemetery to watch a vampire rise. It's much too dangerous." Xander shrugged. "All right then, go and spread the word that there will be an announcement tonight and it's not a pleasant one." They stood up to leave.
"Head Boy and Girl?" Oliver asked before anyone could leave.
"We'll have two sets I suppose," Dumbledore agreed.
"Can we tell the seventh years separately?" Tara asked. "That way they don't burst into tears in front of everyone else?"
"Excellent idea. Gather them up for a meeting an hour before dinner," Dumbledore told her. They left to do that.
Xander and Ron walked into their house together and grimaced. "We need the seventh years, now!" Xander yelled. "All of you." The kids came running, including a few sixth years. "Not you guys, the departing seventh years," he told them. "Go find the others."
"There's a few out on the grounds, sir," Simone said, frowning as she sat down. "This looks like bad news."
"That's because it is," Ron agreed. "Do you want to hear it from us or from the Headmaster in a few hours?"
"I'd rather have the time to plan so we can put forward ideas," Denver said carefully. He patted his sister on the shoulder. "How bad is it?"
"It's bad," Ron told him. "The Minister of Education and Training has decided not to accept any of the grades or NEWTs from this year." The kids looked stunned.
"And there's nothing Arthur can do about it," Xander added. "Short of destroying that whole department. We're working on it, but as of this moment, you've basically all flunked according to the Ministry. No matter how excellently you did." He smiled at them. "We're sorry, guys, we're working on it. Short of killing everyone over there, there's nothing we can do at this moment. We're waiting on the politics to settle down."
"What can we do to help?" Iggy asked, clutching his wife's hand.
"Have your parents send letters. Lots of letters," Ron told him. "To the Minister over Education. That's who's pulling this shit."
"It's a power play and you guys got caught in the middle."
"Well, fuck them!" Simone said, standing up. "Fuck them and their bollocks of a plan and their fucking ancestors, who obviously ate shit, that's why they're so bloody stupid now! I want to kill them! Bollocks that, I want to castrate the stupid plonker and make his life a living hell!"
"Simone, sit," Ron said calmly. "You losing your temper won't help anything." She glared at him.
"Sit," Xander said a little more firmly. "I'll take you down to the shop later so you can swear all you like without us having to take points tonight. Though, ten points for the nice phrasing. I think you restrained your vocabulary very well." Ron looked at him. "She did. Think about all the things she could have shouted."
"Good point," Ron agreed. He smiled at his family. "We're working on it, but definitely gather support to bury the arsehole in letters. It will be announced to the whole year tonight in a meeting an hour before dinner. Make sure everyone's there, Simone." She nodded, looking furious. "Then everyone else will be told at dinner. Hopefully their parents will help us as well."
"I'm still for an assassination," Xander put in.
Iggy nodded. "You're not the only one. What will we do for classes?"
"An extra layer of advanced or taking any electives with the third and fourth years," Ron told him. "That's all that's been suggested. Severus and Poppy are both expecting to have most of your day."
"Fine with me. I can read in either one." Iggy shook his head. "Can I kill this person? Or better yet, make him feel like an exposed nerve in a high-wind sand storm?"
"Not yet. Get with Severus though, he might let you do something like that," Xander offered.
"My mother won't stand for this," one boy said. "She'll destroy the Ministry herself."
"The Minister of Magic is trying to get around him," Ron told him. "My dad's trying his best, but the Ministers each have a lot of power in their own area."
"Then fire the git!" one girl said.
"The next in line is a person who will follow the old one's orders and there's no one else who can be put in place instead," Xander told him. "The Minister of Magic is considering that at the moment as well. Like I said, we're working on it. We need constructive ideas and your parents to send owls of outrage to the idiot doing this. Not to the Minister of Magic and not to Dumbledore. Dumbledore nearly let me call a demon to eat the person earlier he's so pissed."
The girl settled down. "May we use your floo? My mother's a reporter."
"Go for it," Ron told her. "Make sure she knows it's not us."
"Oh, sir, I'm sure she's going to get you all, but at least she'll note you're trying to fix this."
"At least they told us now instead of waiting until most of us tried to get jobs," Denver put in. "If he doesn't give us credit, we aren't officially wizards and witches, correct? We won't be able to do magic?"
"No, you won't," Ron agreed. "That's another problem that'll have to be brought up. Bring it up tonight, nephew." Denver nodded. "That and the other problem of the people who already have jobs or school coming up. Dad's said he'll write you each letters explaining that it wasn't your grades and that it wasn't your fault. Hopefully most employers will respect that and know what a power play like this is about."
"Being an ass to prove they can?" Simone offered.
Xander nodded. "Basically. He's proving how much power he has." He shrugged. "We'll keep you guys informed, but for now, come over and use our floo. Samantha, call your mother first so she can make the deadline."
"Yes, sir," she said as she stood up, hurrying over to do that now.
"The fireplace in here is set up for a floo as well," Simone offered. "You'll have to charge it to the other end's account though."
"That's fine," Xander told her. "Your father's..." He looked up. "Sitting on the broomshed roof trying to calm down. He's going to have to tell his former classmates." He waved and left, watching as most of the kids followed him over to his house. He sent himself down to the store. "We've got big problems, guys, and we'll need to help with the shop's stock," he announced. George and Fred both looked at him in alarm. "The Minister over Education is being an ass and has decided to hold back the *entire* seventh year class. Just because he can."
"Dad?" Fred asked.
"Can't fix this. We're working on it."
"Let me get some of the frustration things," George said, heading for the back.
Fred nodded. "Let me get some of the exploding things. Shit, I'll put in the money for whatever we destroy ourselves." They hurried to pack a few boxes.
Xander went back to the school after helping for a while, carrying boxes of stuff. He walked into the meeting and saw all the stunned looks. "The twins have offered some of their methods of wearing out anger and frustration for the class tonight," he said quietly. "This way you can blow up something and think clearly. We'll be doing it right after dinner." The kids looked at him and a few of them let out some hysterical laughter. "We'll wear it out until you're calm. That way we can all think of how best to help." All but the Ravenclaws nodded. They glared at him as a group. "It beats hitting your familiars."
Dumbledore laughed. "That is an excellent idea. A bonding ceremony in a way. We'll do it after dinner." He smiled at him. "Thank you for organizing your students to call their parents. I've only gotten one owl of confirmation."
"One of our girls is the daughter of a reporter. We gave her all that we could and she said she'd do her best to say that we're fighting it. Hopefully more people will lash out at that idiot." He patted the boxes. "Stuff to blow up and frustration gear. Where would you like them?"
"The pitch," Draco told him from the corner. "Less chance of hurting anyone out there and the other students could watch if they wanted to." Xander nodded and heaved the boxes up again, taking them out there. Draco stood up. "The Board of Regents does not support this action," he said quietly. "We're also working on fixing this problem."
Denver stood up. "Sir, something occurred to me when we heard earlier. We won't be able to use magic this summer, even if we're of legal age."
"No, you won't," Snape agreed. Everyone slumped a little more. "It would be the same as being a seventh year again. No magic, no obvious potions. None of it."
"Well, fuck!" Simone sighed.
"Young lady, your language is inappropriate for the room. Vent in peace or go use some of the things your uncle had," Snape told her. She nodded and stomped out, a number of the students going with her. "The rest of you go blow something up as well. It will help." He led Draco away to inform their sort of people about this.
Dumbledore looked at the two girls crying in the corner. "It's not that bad," he told them. "Your marriages can be held off for a year." They shook their heads. "I promise, if not, you can take your equivalences since you won't need to work. It would still be acceptable to your husbands."
"My mother's going to blame this on me," one girl wailed. "My fiancé will cancel the wedding because I can't graduate."
"There, there, dear, let's call her and make sure she knows it's not you," he soothed, leading them up to his office so they could use the floo in private. He was sure that a few more students were in Xander's house using his.
Draco looked up as the others walked into the clearing, their cloak hoods drawn over their faces to shadow them. "We need to have a serious discussion," he announced. "If you didn't already know, the Minister of Education and Training has decided to hold back the *entire* seventh year." There were a few hisses. "As you know, this will affect some of you more than others. For others, this is simply a request to pull whatever strings you have. The Board of Regents knows, we had to send one of our members to the hospital earlier when he had a stroke over this." He put his book in his pocket and stepped forward. "There is nothing that says this man won't try this again next year, when six of you will have children graduating. Or how it will affect those students. For those of you with younger children, this man is trying to force a number of changes that are not appropriate. He's trying to force a set of classes for witches who are going to be in arranged marriages. Classes on how to please their husbands." A female voice gasped. "Indeed. I don't think my own daughter needs that sort of help and I feel that most of you can teach your children the proper way to treat their future spouses. He was trying to make it mandatory for all witches though, and this is what is very disturbing to me. Not only sexual education, which I wouldn't care to have, but also lessons in humility, placating, and how to throw a dinner party," he sneered. "This man was one of you until a few years ago. We ask that you police your own member."
"The man was an imbecile," a male said, stepping forward. "You have some valid concerns. Aren't two of yours in this year's group?"
"My two eldest, the two potion's prodigies, plus the Minister of Magic's other grandson. The Unmentionable's Minister must be ready to be hospitalized by now since it's his son. Not to mention the Fregnis girl and her cousin, Margot." A man shook his head. "It's not even their faults. The girls were talked out of slashing their throats earlier so they wouldn't be an embarrassment to their families."
"I'll pop around and talk to them tomorrow," the man who had shaken his head noted. "Thank you for the warning. How can we help you, Malfoy?"
"In this situation I know I'm not powerful enough to stop him myself. Were this my father's days, he would have had him killed horribly and then taken the next person's family hostage. In this case, I feel like doing the same and know I can't. As I said earlier, I need your help to punish this man. If you decide to harm him physically, that's up to you. If not, then that's also up to you."
"We will discuss this matter in private," a woman said. "Thank you for bringing it to our attention. How are our children?"
"The house prospers. Your cousin's boy is being expelled, as is his girlfriend for trying to harm some of the other females. As always, I am a mentor and give the children *both* sides of any argument. I can only guide them to their decisions."
"You're not promoting the old ways?"
"I'm not promoting anything. I'm like the father of the house, the way Harris-Weasley is for Gryffindor."
"Not surprising since he taught you."
"True," Draco agreed, lifting his chin. "Would you inform your father of this situation as well? I think my father's friends could still help some. I really am trying very hard not to harm the man so much he begs for the right to commit suicide in front of me to end this problem of his."
"His next in line?"
"Personally trained and married into his family," Draco noted bitterly. "With no real person under him. The department is small, there's only six people in it. The rest are third level people and can't be jumped up that way by Ministry rules. We're looking for a candidate but we haven't found one yet."
"Shit," the woman told him. "We will discuss this. It's a moronic move and he knew it. Do your best and we'll be sending inquiries around as well."
"Thank you. Remember the train is coming in tomorrow and the children won't be very happy to be home."
"If it had happened to our class, I would have hurt the school," the woman pointed out.
"Harris-Weasley thoughtfully went down to his mate's shop and brought up some of the aggravation merchandise. The seventh year class blew up a lot of it on the pitch. Thank you for your indulgence. I'd best get back to the leaving feast." He backed away then turned and walked away. He was stopped in the shadows by a hand on his arm. "Yes, Flint?"
"Is doing well. He's managed to make the transition fairly well. He's in the middle of the pack as far as power and influence go. I'm more worried about Goyle's daughter. She refuses to come to myself or my daughter, or even Ravettena or Potter, to solve her problems. She nearly killed someone earlier in the Great Hall for daring to touch her in the middle of the night. Your son will be fine and you'll be mostly pleased with his marks."
"Thank you. Can you pick him up and send him to my mother's?"
"Of course. I know she's housebound. I had every intention of bringing him home with my own." He got free. "You really should find a way to set the record straight. Goyle did what you're accused of."
"Thank you." Flint disappeared back into the shadows.
Draco sent himself back to the school, going to change clothes. He felt dirty now.
Severus looked at the group of men gathered around the table; these were the last of the original death eaters, all six of them.. Without their masks and hoods, they looked so much less deadly or scary. "There's been a matter that we'll have to push about." The men looked at him. "The Minister of Education was one of the younger versions of the group." That got some grunting and confusion. "He's decided to hold back all the seventh years." One man spluttered. "Indeed. Not only has he dared to touch the Malfoy heirs, he's managed to touch my own apprentices and the Minister of Magic's other grandson. We'll need some weight pulled on our side."
"Were this the old days, I'd consider Crucio'ing him," one man said bitterly.
"Were this the old days, we'd all be dead from that curse ourselves," Snape reminded him. "He wasn't stable. He killed many of us for daring to show up. He could have gotten so many more followers if he hadn't been demented."
The man across from him snorted. "Is that why you turned?"
"No, I turned because I could not stand some of what he was doing. Muggles were fine, even the occasional mudblood, but the reason I turned was to protect my own family. He was going to branch out." Only one of them nodded. "He was going to move over to America and start over there. It would have caused a war that none of us could have won." He sipped his drink. "He had forgotten why he was doing this, to get rid of his own heritage." A few of them looked confused so he laughed. "You didn't know he was a halfling himself? That's why he was after the mudbloods." He finished his drink and stood up. "If you would deign to write letters of protest, it might bear more weight than the average parent. No matter how much Salazar might want Ignatius around to corrupt him for another year, it is not right to do it this way."
"Would he deign to talk to the rest of us?"
"I don't see why not, he talks to Harris," another of them noted.
Snape smirked. "He finds Xander amusing. He finds Ignatius to be the son he always wanted, though a bit too good for his tastes."
"What can we get in reward for this help?" the man at the other end of the table asked.
"What did you want in return?"
"Your apprentice has a new anti-holy charm. We'd like that."
"I'll suggest it to him, even though he hates what you stand for."
"Us, Severus, we all stood for the same thing."
Severus rolled up his sleeves. "Mine disappeared. I've repented for everything I've done and have moved on to form my own opinions." He rolled his sleeves back down. "I'm sorry I can't say the same for you." He walked away. "I have to get back to the school. The leaving feast is in an hour." He disappeared.
Another man looked at the one at the end of the table. "How did he get rid of his?"
"His wife helped him. That's all I've been able to find out. She may have been able to cut the magic with her odd skills." He finished his drink and stood up. "We probably should help this situation. My grandson is a sixth year and he'll never get any acclaim if he has to share the class with people who have already passed." He walked away, letting the plebeians talk among themselves.
Dumbledore looked out across the not-so-happy faces as he stood up. "Quiet please," he called. Everyone looked at him and a few groaned. "It's not an announcement like the one I gave to certain students when they were children," he soothed. "Voldemort is not coming back." That got a few sighs of relief. "Unfortunately, the seventh years may be." That got a mass shocked look. "The Minister of Education has decided to hold back the entire seventh year class for ...."
"Basically no reason," Ron put in. "He's being petty."
"Yes, well, I was going to use some gentler language," Dumbledore told him, shaking his head. "You haven't changed much since you were a student here, Professor Weasley. You still jump into things."
"Hey, I was dragged," Ron reminded him. "I only wanted to make friends. Harry dragged me into everything."
"You still went willingly," Draco pointed out. He waved a hand. "Proceed, I'm hungry."
"Very well, Professor Malfoy." He turned back to the class. "We ask that your parents share our outrage over this situation with the Minister of Education. There's no reason for this action and next year may be a bit stressful for us all. Please, write letters to spare the seventh years from coming back again."
"We love you, sir, but I personally don't want to be a student any longer," Simone told him. "If we have to come back, do we have to wear uniforms?"
"If you want to wear other clothes, you may, but you have to wear a uniform to play quidditch, dear."
"You mean they'll still get to play?" a fourth year wanting Melvin's spot asked.
"You can have mine," Melvin assured him. "I'll stay second string."
"Oh, thank you," the boy said with a grin for him. "Sir?"
"As far as we know at this moment, if we can't stop this the students shall be treated just like every other seventh year, only they'll get some extra options for classes. We wouldn't think about making them retake all their other classes."
"Then what can we do?" a seventh year Slytherin asked.
"The two suggestions are that you take other electives with the third and fourth years, thereby getting a full education in a few subjects, or that we run special advanced classes for you," Draco told her. She nodded. "We will be keeping you and your parents informed this summer. I will personally be here all summer working on this as will Professor Harris-Weasley and Professor Weasley. Expect to see a few owls from us and think about what you want to do."
"As for the more practical matters, there is an option for some of you," Dumbledore finished. "There is an equivalency exam. It will not allow you to work in the Ministry or most other places, but it is available for those who don't foresee themselves working." A few of the females brightened up.
"I have also spread word around to certain parents of my social class for those children who were expected to be married this coming year," Draco added gently. "For those students, it is not the tragedy it appears. You can send your parents to me if they're troubled over it and think it's your fault." A few of the children in his house nodded.
"I believe that covers everything," Dumbledore told him, sitting back down. "I didn't know that arranged marriages were that popular," he noted.
"A third of my house is being married off this next year," Draco told him. "Whether or not they like it by tradition. A great many of the Ravenclaws will also be married off to form good alliances."
"Which is why I was so very happy when my son married," Xander put in. He smiled at Draco. "What can I do to help you with that situation?"
"We'll discuss that later, Xander." He glared at him. "Behave."
"I don't want to. I need to expend some energy and you need me as well."
"Oh, go have sex or something already," Black grunted, just loud enough to be heard by the nearby students.
"Um, eww," Xander said. "First, I think of him like a son. Second, if I wanted to do that, I'd have already done it. After all, I did spend all summer a few years ago at his house being his captive." Draco coughed. "So, please keep your dirty mind to yourself, Professor Black, before I have to kick your white, skanky ass again."
"Xander," Dumbledore warned. "I know you need to wear out some aggression. Please don't do it on the other teachers." He glared at Sirius. "Enough from you as well. Professor Harris- Weasley and Professor Malfoy are not together. I know everything that goes on in this castle and they've never been even close to that predicament."
"I'm not the one you need to apologize to."
"Don't make him," Xander told him. He looked at Ron. "Where is my husband?"
"He's working on that idea of yours," Ron told him. "He thought it was a brilliant idea overall and he even had someone to send it for you." He scraped his plate and reached for some more meat. "I have to head home tonight, but I'll be back in the morning."
"How is Sarajane?" Snape asked. "I've noticed that you haven't come in oddly colored since that one time."
"She's good," Ron said with a smile. "She's got some news for me," he admitted with a sappy smile.
"The Weasley curse strikes again," Draco told him.
"I'm not sure that's what this is," Ron told him. "I am a faithful user of the anti-fertility charms."
"So was Percy, and yet they had twins this time," Xander said happily. "Hey, Iggy, if Sarajane is preggers, are you going to ask to deliver them as well?"
"No!" Iggy said, shaking his head. "Doing the twins was more than enough. Oh, dad, I'm going to be late for dinner tomorrow. I'm meeting with my advisor and expect to need a few rounds with your punching bag."
"That would be fine, son."
"Do you think they'll have a problem with this?" Melvin called.
"I called over and told her earlier. My advisor is checking around for me. The Royal Academy has taken in a few other of our hopeful alumni." He nodded at the Ravenclaw and Slytherin who would be joining him there. "She's checking for all of us, so I was told to suggest you get in touch with your departments as soon as possible. Mine is trying to get some of my credits waived and done here if we have to come back."
The Slytherin looked at him. "I'll consider that," she told him. "Professor Snape, could that be worked out?"
"If at all possible. We'd be giving you a research term and letting you have the time to do your work. We will make all efforts to encourage you to move on."
"Thank you, sir. I'll be sending you my advisor's suggestions as soon as I find out what they are," the Slytherin told him.
"That would be acceptable," Snape agreed. "I would encourage all of you heading to further education to do the same."
"It would suck otherwise," Xander agreed. He grinned at him. "Can you please make Draco not make me wear that outfit tomorrow?"
"No." He smirked. "I think you'll be smashing in it."
"He'll look like a younger version of you," Tara told him. "With different hair."
A few of the kids cracked up.
Xander trudged down to the train station the next morning, dressed in his Snape-like outfit, which was all that had been in his closet this morning. He was stopped by Draco and had his vest adjusted. "I'm putting you in lavender for this." He walked over to where the students were trying to get on. "Do it orderly or else!" he yelled.
Snape and Tara looked at her, she shaking her head, but Snape smiled at him. "Very nice," Snape told him. "You look good in that outfit."
"I look like a cleaner version of you, Severus. You'll get rumors spread that I'm your long-lost love child." Xander groaned as he saw the camera. "Leave me out of it." The kids moved over to keep him out of the picture.
"Damn! You look like you're his kid," Ron said as he walked up to him with Remus Lupin and Sirius Black.
"He's too clean," Black said. "He'd need to shower less to be his."
"Keep it up," Xander warned. "This outfit will hide blood."
"Calm down," Draco said as he walked past them. "Xander, the baggage car could use your help. Severus, would you please break up the snogging. You scare them so well that they might behave on the train." He looked at Black. "You, stand there and look desperate." He strolled away to help Xander, who was handing out peppermints. "Bribery won't work this time. We'll need the second baggage car."
"It coming," one of the elves told him. "Was stuck, is coming." It hurried to stack more of the trunks in the back of the space, hoping to get most of it on.
Xander left the bag of peppermints on the inside of the compartment. "For when you guys get done."
"You do know peppermints make them high?" Lupin asked as he walked past with the Potter/Malfoy/Weasley clan. He locked them into the biggest compartment, making sure none of them could get out.
"Actually, it's more drunk than high," Draco admitted. He turned to watch the students scurrying off. "Get back here!" he yelled, going after one of them heading for town. "You don't live down there!"
Fred came up with their cart and set it up, catching the kid to help him. "Come on, kids. Let's lower the stock so we can create new stuff," he called. Kids flocked to them, grabbing up everything that they could. Treats for siblings. Treats for parents. Treats to help them drive their parents mad. Everything was sold out long before the train was filled. George came up with more boxes and those were practically stolen from his hands. They waved as the train left. Fred looked at his twin. "Was that Xander?"
George nodded. "Draco made him wear the outfit once. He did look like a younger Snape." He helped fold up the cart so it could be taken back to the shop. They looked at all the empty shelves and grinned. "Stocking or lab?" George asked.
"I want the lab, you stock since you do it so much neater." He headed back there to start on some of their traditional stock. Plus to start something new for the new school year.
George headed for the storage closet and opened it, then frowned. "Fred, it's empty," he called. "All we have is that cage of balls."
"What?" Fred came out to look in the closet, then frowned. "I know we had stuff in there last night."
George looked at him. "Stolen you think?"
"Xander most likely."
They shook their heads. "Mary," they said in unison.
"She might as well be one of us. She's just as destructive and fun," Fred pointed out.
"True, but we'll have to train her to the best Weasley of Destruction she can be. She has raw talent."
"She's the perfect training age."
"Do you want to call Ron or Sarajane?"
"I'll take Sarajane," Fred offered.
"Fine, I'll take Ron. Xander has his portable floo device." They headed for separate floos, going to call in the family, and to warn Sarajane about her daughter's newest toys.
Xander's cellphone-like device beeped and he pulled it out of his pocket. "Yes, dear?" he answered. George's head popped up. "What can I do for your lovely self?"
"Mary stole most of our store of stock. Give me to Ron."
"Don't yell at him. I'll help you make more stuff."
"I'm not. We're going to train the girl! Her and Percy's twins."
Xander giggled and went to find Ron, handing him the phone as he walked past him. "George."
"What's wrong now?" Ron asked as he walked down to the teacher's compartment. He sat down as the train lurched, settling himself in. "What did she do?"
"She got into the stored stuff we had in the closet. It's all gone," George told him. "Can we train her?"
"Ask her mother," Ron said with a grin. "I don't mind, it'll have to be one of our kids to follow in your footsteps. If her mother agrees, I'll bring her around and help you this summer."
"Thank you, Ron. Do you think Maeve and Lucien would like to help? They're about old enough to train as well."
"It'd keep them out of trouble," Ron noted. "Hold on, Draco's coming." He waved at him, making him walk faster. "George," he said as he handed over the phone.
Draco sat down and looked at the little head. "What's happened?"
"We wanted to train Lucien and Maeve this summer as well as Mary. Would you allow us to do that?"
"I'd like to know what you're going to be teaching him first. I was working on getting them all flying this summer."
"Hmm. I think we could work that in," George agreed. "Is my husband there?" Draco shook his head. "Then please keep him as our coach. I know Oliver's trying but Madam Rosemerta wants us to give the other teams a chance. She is open to us starting a third tier, but we'd have to get permission."
"I'll talk with him about it," Draco assured him. "I know he doesn't want to quit, it's that blasted streak of fairness. How much did Mary steal?"
"All of it but the balls."
Ron choked. "Excuse me? All of it?" George's head nodded. "I think I'll have to talk to her."
"I found a note," Fred's head said as it popped up. "In her handwriting." He held it up.
Thank you, I like these.
Ron groaned. Draco read it and smiled. "It's grammatically correct. Good work, Weasley."
"Thanks. Not what I want to note about it though." He looked over as Xander walked in. "Mary stole all of the stored stock."
"George had said most," Xander admitted. "What did she leave?"
"The ball cage."
"Ah!" Xander grinned. "Can I release a few this summer?"
"We'll see, Xander," one of the heads said. "We'll let you go, but be prepared to help us tonight."
"I'll call over to get us an order of supplies if you'll bring it back."
"Sure, Fred. Have a good day." Xander shut the phone. "Who else is getting taught?"
"Maeve and Lucien," Ron said with a grin.
"Cool. It'll give them something to do this summer, besides pestering each other, William, or Zach."
"And learning to fly," Draco pointed out.
"Yup, that too." Xander sat himself again. "Do you still have the kids' balls?" Draco nodded. "Cool. Then we'll teach them how to deal with those as well."
"I've got a game in three days," Draco pointed out.
"Don't you have one today?" Ron asked. Draco shook his head. "Alternate?"
"The team was suspended for a game." Xander's phone chirped again. "If it's for me, toss it over."
Xander answered it. "Hi, Harry's coach," he said with a wave. "Did you need Draco?"
"No, I need Potter. He's not here."
"Well, the train's going out today." The coach groaned. "Game?"
"Practice, game tonight," the coach told him. "When will you be seeing him?"
"Not for about four hours."
"Can you please swat him and make sure he knows he's supposed to be here? I've tried his house and didn't get an answer."
"Sure. Let me call mum and let her go check his house." He waved and signed off, calling Molly. "Burrow," he said. Molly's head popped up. "Did Harry stop by there this morning? He's supposed to be at practice and isn't."
"I'll pop over and check on him," she said with a smile. "Xander, dear, would you like to explain why I have a fifty foot garden gnome in my backyard?"
"Probably ever-grow potion and Mary?" he suggested. "The twins are back at the shop."
"She stole some stuff, Mum," Ron called.
"Wonderful," she said with a tight smile. "I'll call them after I check on poor Harry. He looked so tired yesterday." She signed off.
Xander put the phone back into his pocket. "A fifty foot garden gnome?"
"Lots of ever-grow potion?" Ron suggested.
"Must have been the whole vat," Draco pointed out. "How did she move such a thing?"
Xander shrugged. "Ron?"
"Training wand?" Ron suggested.
"More like stolen wand," Lupin snorted. "Just like Ignatius turned someone purple at about the same age."
"Dirt." Ron held out a hand and the phone was tossed to him. "Sarajane?" he called, smiling when her head popped up. "Mum's got a fifty foot garden gnome in her yard."
"I've heard," she said with a smile. "She stole your second one."
"Oh, crap," Ron sighed. "Can they turn it back?"
"George probably can," Xander told him. "Ask her if she's got all the stock."
"Oh, yeah, the twins wanted to know if she stole all the stored stock," Ron told her.
She laughed. "It's locked in our room, dear. I was about to call them. I wasn't sure they were up yet."
"They brought a cart up to the train and ...." The head disappeared. "Sarajane?"
Xander frowned at the phone. "Dead battery," he announced. "Sorry, I thought I had charged it."
"I think I'll apparate over from our next stop," Ron said, scrunching down in his seat. "I don't want to be paranoid, but I'll meet you all at King's Cross."
Iggy walked in, frowning. "Why did Mary just yell for me?"
Ron pulled the emergency string. "I don't know, but I'm going to find out. The floo connection was cut as well." He stood up as the train slowed. "Give me ten minutes, just in case," he told the conductor. "My floo connection home was just cut and my daughter yelled." He walked off the train and disappeared.
Draco, Iggy, and Xander all listened. Ron shouted something incomprehensible and they hurried off to head there. Xander kicked in the door and found Ron holding Mary. "What happened?"
"Sarajane's missing," Ron said, stunned. "Mary said something glisteny happened around her and she disappeared.
"We can track that," Draco assured him. "Where was she standing, Mary?"
Mary got off her stepfather and walked over, pointing at a spot. "Here," she said, tears still leaking down her cheek. "I didn't mean to."
"I'm sure you didn't do anything, sweetness," Xander assured her. "Give Ron the wand, all right?" She handed it over. "Ron, do a last spell check." He watched as Draco did the tracking spell, his wand pointing at the back yard. "What's back there?"
"A river," Ron said, scrubbing at his face. "Stonehenge is that way as well." Xander looked at him. "We're about twenty miles from there." He did the last spell check and frowned. "It's a growing spell."
"Mary, was that with the gnome?" Xander asked. She nodded. "All right. You head to the Burrow and wait on everyone there. We'll be there soon," he assured her. Ron sent her on her way and stood up, scrubbing his face. "Ron, you take rear guard. We'll kick whomever's asses for you." Ron nodded, his face set. "Let's go," he told Draco.
They activated the spell, heading after her. They landed in the front yard of a familiar building. "Gee," Draco said, smirking. "What a bloody shock. Knock or knock in?"
"Knock in," Xander said. "Was Minnie at home?"
"No," Ron whispered. "She's at mum's."
Draco blew the door in and followed the tugging on his wand. He blew in the library door as well, startling the occupants. "Excuse us, but you seem to have kidnaped a member of the family."
Xander glared at the people in there. "You're not getting Minnie, Wesley. Never. Now kindly give me back my sister-in-law before I knock down your building."
"Xander, calm down," Sarajane said, standing up. "They didn't hurt me."
"They scared your daughter to death," Draco told her. "They don't do this to our family. It's not allowed."
"The flock and clan will be protected against *all* comers," Xander agreed. She was passed back to Ron. "Make sure she's not under any coercion curses. Then we'll leave." The younger men left him alone. "I'm disappointed," he announced, glaring at them. "How dare you try and harm Minnie's family. She's finally got a decent female rolemodel in her life that loves her more than anything and you're trying to harm that bond. For that matter, you teleported a pregnant woman." Wesley blanched. "Didn't realize that? You'd better *pray* that nothing happens to Ron's future child. Otherwise, you'll be needing a contractor more than Hogwarts will this summer. Oh, and leave Minnie alone. She's my niece and I'm training her with Ethan's help. If you don't like the fact that she's not going to be some mindless little creature, fuck yourselves. I could care less. Leave me and mine alone, Wes, or there will be a war and I will win."
"Xander, that's not fair."
"Wesley, you're attacking my family. I may have fought beside you, but not over this. My family!" he growled. "NEVER touch them again!" He stormed out and part of the gardens caught on fire. The few Watchers in the hallways got out of his way, pressing themselves against the walls as he passed by. He sent himself back to the platform that would be the next stop, leaning against the ancient structure to calm himself down. Fortunately, the earth absorbed the anger and fears, leaving him calm and at peace with himself. So by the time the train pulled up, he was able to get back on and make sure there wasn't an accident. "Small problem," he said with a fake smile as he sat down. "Watchers. Again."
Tara sighed. "What now?"
"They teleported Sarajane. She's pregnant."
"Is she all right?" Snape asked quietly.
"Iggy's with her now," Xander said, a little more calm down. "Mary's fine and Minnie wasn't at home." He slumped. "Ron will meet us at the station. So will Draco."
Draco strolled on. "Me? I wasn't needed there. Ignatius said she should be looked at. He felt something odd but it wasn't a problem. He's taken her to the hospital himself. Ron was right behind him." He sat down again. "I'm proud, you only blew up part of their gardens."
Xander gave him a thin smile. "So am I. I made it clear there was going to be real damage the next thing they tried."
"But we like Wesley, he's a good guy," Tara pointed out.
"Yes, he usually is, but his calling is showing. He wants Minnie for them to train her. Apparently I'm not good enough," he said bitterly.
"I know you are," Tara assured him. He was going to sulk for days. "Call George?"
"My battery's still dead," Xander told her. He grabbed his chair's arms as the train started forward. "Do I need to check cabins?"
"No. I'll do it next," Snape told him. "You'd hurt someone."
"As long as that someone isn't me," Agatha said as she walked in. "Sir, I hate to inform you that Ravena is beating the shit out of someone. I don't know why, but she's fairly impressive." She looked at Xander. "Your training shows."
"Thank you for trying to cheer me up," Xander told her. "Draco?"
"Have fun. Send my daughter up here after you're done."
"Sure." Xander followed Agatha back, smiling at the children pinned to their seats. "Ravena, explanation?"
"He just touched me!" she growled.
"All right then." He looked at the boy, who had red fingers. He looked at his niece again. "Are you bleeding?"
"Yes, sir. May I please get up to do something about that?"
Agatha released her and walked her to the bathroom. "I'm taking her to her father," she called as they walked past a few minutes later.
Xander looked at the boy, who was sneering. "Do you know what sort of day I've had?" he sneered, closing the door. "Do you *know* what sort of trouble you're in?"
The boy started to screaming. "No! Leave me alone! You freak! Don't hurt me!"
"You'll wish I hurt you by the time I'm done with you," he growled.
Snape walked in and removed Xander, walking him back to the teacher's compartment. "I believe you should handle this, Professor Maclay," he suggested drolly.
Tara stood up and went back to deal with the boy. His screams started again but no one paid him any mind. Tara was one of those *nice* people.
Tara walked up to one mother, dragging the mother's son behind her. "Yours?" she asked. The mother nodded slowly. "Good, then perhaps we should have a discussion." She let the boy go and froze him in place, lifting his fingers. "Do you know what this is?"
"Blood?" she asked hesitantly.
"Menstrual blood from a fourth year he touched against her will." The mother opened her mouth and Tara pointed at Draco. "His younger daughter Ravena to be exact." The mother blanched. "You might want to have a talk with him. I managed to save him from Professors Snape, Malfoy, and Harris-Weasley, but I can't guarantee that he'll live much longer if you don't correct his problems."
"She didn't want it?" the mother asked.
"She's in a committed relationship. Why would she need your son?" Tara asked. "She and Ron Potter are very close and connected together. He's the one who taught her to be how she is. He's her favorite plaything after their snitches." The mother swallowed. "Your son is trying to make sure Ravena leaves the school and transfers somewhere else. I'm sure you don't want to do that to the house team or the house."
The mother shook her head. "If I may have him, I'll be handing him to his father tonight." The boy whimpered. "Shut it, you," she snapped. "How dare you do this to our family name!" Tara unfroze him and she grabbed him by the ear, dragging him over to where his father was talking to a few other Slytherin fathers. "Do you know what your son did on the train *this* year?" she screeched. "He touched a girl who didn't want him near her!"
The father looked at the boy. "Streaking was bad enough," he noted.
"He touched Ravena Malfoy-Weasley!" she screamed, pointing at her son. "He still has her blood on his fingers! Do something before we need a new heir. Because I'm not carrying the next one!" She stormed off to get his things while his father talked to him.
The father looked at the boy. "Is this true?" The boy shook his head, looking scared to death. "Hands!" he snapped. The boy lifted his hands. "What is that?"
"Not hers," the boy said quickly.
The father slapped him hard. "How dare you endanger all our lives by touching a *Malfoy*," he sneered. "Do you know what you've done? He can have us all driven out of the country!"
"I'm not that mean," Draco said as he walked over. "Simply teach him better and I won't hold it against your family." He smiled at the boy, making him wet himself. "Do you realize that I'm not the one you have to watch out for? Her boyfriend's father is Potter. Harry Potter." The boy wailed and fell to his knees. "He encourages this relationship and I tolerate it. I would encourage you to apologize to not only my daughter, but also to Ron Potter for daring to touch his girl." The boy nodded. "Good boy." He looked at the father. "It's fine. As long as he's learned." Then he walked away, taking all his charges back to his house. The Flint boy went through the floo to his grandmother's house. His own children went upstairs. Ron snuck through the floo and up to Ravena's room. Draco shook his head when he saw his back before it turned the corner. They were an amusing couple. He found Big Ron waiting in his office. "How is she?"
"Fine. It unbalanced her. She'll be fine with a small treatment. An overnight or two." He finished his drink. "You had the good stuff. Sorry to have broken in."
"I don't mind." Draco sat behind his desk. "I just scared some boy into wetting himself," he said with a smirk. Ron chuckled. "He touched Ravena. Still had her blood on his fingers." Ron raised an eyebrow. "Her cycle. He tried to catch a grope."
"Ah. Stupid of him. Who caught him?"
"Ravena beat him senseless and Agatha stopped it," Draco said with a grin. "Snape had to move Xander away from him. Tara got him."
Ron shuddered. "The boy is still living?"
Draco smirked. "Until his father gets hold of him. It was last year's streaker."
Ron giggled, falling onto his side. "Oh, I wanted to see that!"
"It was amusing," Draco agreed. He waited until Ron had calmed down. "When should we start the training?"
"This week," Xander said as he walked in with Iggy. "Here, he's pouting at his grandmother over not getting sex tonight."
"Molly's still on that?" Draco asked.
Iggy nodded. "Still. It's not like we're being naughty. I was kissing her!"
"You had your hand under her shirt and was coping a feel of her breast," Xander reminded him. "Can they stick with you for a few days until she calms down? Or pretend that they're here when they're really at their own place?"
"That would be fine," Draco agreed. "Have fun with her."
"She's talking with our advisor. My appointment is tomorrow since I'll have more problems," Iggy said dejectedly. "No news?"
"Not yet." Draco settled himself. "I'm expecting my children to threaten him tomorrow." He pointed at the bottle of brandy that Ron had gotten out. "Want some?"
"Maybe," Xander agreed, licking his lips.
"Do it, Daddy, it's not a bad thing. We all know you rarely drink and why," Iggy assured him, sitting down beside Ron. "What can I do to help this tragedy in the making?"
"Simply hold tight and get yourself arranged in case we can't fix it in time," Draco told him.
"Work with Poppy to see if anything you have or will do will count toward credits," Ron suggested. "It might get you out of some classes for your MD." He hugged Iggy. "I'm proud of you, nephew. Very proud of you."
Iggy blushed. "Thanks, Uncle Ron. It's a bit more work, but I already have to have a base in it anyway. Besides, it'll give me more respect." He shifted uncomfortably. "Does anyone know what's wrong with Grandmother?"
"No, but I'm sure we can figure it out," Xander told him.
"Maybe she's been reading her cards again and saw something she doesn't like," Draco offered. "Xander, run tonight?"
"Yeah, I could use one," Xander agreed. He slugged back the shot of brandy and winced. "I hate brandy," he said. "Remind me next time."
"It'll keep both of us from drinking more," Ron pointed out. "I hate brandy just as much as you do."
"Brandy's an acquired taste," Draco agreed. He smiled at Iggy. "Go pounce your wife."
Iggy stood up and hurried away, using the floo.
"Run now?" Draco suggested.
"Yeah, let's go. Ron, we'll see you tomorrow." They headed out to the backyard and changed to their animagus forms, running off into the woods. A game of tag quickly became a long chase and they both felt better by the time they came in for dinner.
Simone strolled into the Sports office and smiled at the man sitting there. "Come with me," she said, beckoning him with a finger. He stood up and followed her, along with the head of the League. She walked them down the hall to the Education department. "I know you offered myself, my brother," she nodded at where he was standing beside the door, "and a few other students shots to play. We'd like to." She opened the door and pointed at the office. "Unfortunately, we got caught in that stupid power play by that plonker," she told them. The League head hissed. "He's trying to hold us back so we can't play next year. If you would help us fix it, we'd *love* to play. Shit, we'd move to a faraway team if we had to, but we can't because he's holding back our *entire* year."
The League head stormed into the Minister's office, everyone else behind him. "Do you know what you're doing to our national past-time!" he screamed at the top of his lungs. "You're holding back our best future players because of some stupidity! How dare you do this to my people!"
"Or my department," the head over Sports offered just a little bit more calmly. "You're holding back the two of the most spectacular players ever in history!"
"The Malfoy heirs?" the head over Education whimpered. Simone and Denver wiggled their fingers from the door. He swallowed. "Another year of school will do them good."
"Bet me! What are we supposed to study? Hello, I got one point off perfect on my NEWTs," Simone said in a disgusted voice.
"We never got them."
"You *LIAR*!" Simone shouted. "I tied the scores to Fawkes myself! And since I *know* you got the OWL scores, I *know* you got the NEWTs as well since they came with the same phoenix!" She made a move toward him but her brother stopped her. "Let me go! I can kill him if I want to!"
"Dear, if you do, you won't be able to play," the Minister over Sports told her.
She snorted. "My brother won't tell on me. My father would help me cover it up. And I doubt he," she pointed at the League head, "will tell on me over this shit! That leaves you."
The Sports Minister laughed. "I understand your frustration, young lady." He patted her on the shoulder. "I can't wait until you start playing professionally. A female player is rare in the pros but I think you're the one who might change all that. You and your younger sister of course."
The League head nodded. "We can wait a year. If we can't make him change his mind. If we can, we'll take you all anytime you want. You know that." He smiled at them. "Hell, I'm still willing to start a semi-pro second string team just for your other family members."
"Put them in the fun league," Denver suggested. "Uncle Xander's team is about to be asked to sit out next season because they keep winning. They could use a challenge of a nearly pro team."
"Hopefully not like the last one we played," Simone added. "I don't need to be that sore again for a while."
The Sports Minister smiled at her. "What an excellent idea, you two. Thank you." He looked at the Education Minister. "If you're the reason that Arthur has been in a murderous rage, I'd watch out. Their father might end up being the calm and decent one." He put an arm around the children's shoulders. "Come tell us all about it and we'll discuss your idea since I'm over the fun league."
The League head glared at the Education Minister. "I wouldn't sleep if I were you. Do you know how many people have bets in on which team they go to? How much money is about to be lost because of your stupidity and arrogance." He straightened up. "You'd better hope Malfoy gets you first." He stormed off, going to tell the coaches waiting on him about this. Maybe they could come up with an idea about this situation. They had waited seven years for these kids and one more might kill them all.
Draco walked into the Education Minister's office with most of the Board of Regents. He put a piece of paper down on the man's desk. The Minister jumped and looked very scared, like he hadn't slept in weeks. He was shaking and moving his hands like he was trying to get the feeling back into them. "Read and sign it," Draco said in a deathly calm voice. "We want you gone. You're hurting the school that we hold sway over, which makes us ...angry."
The Minister picked up the paper and read it, then swallowed. He looked at them. "I won't." He stood up. "I won't change my mind. They will repeat. The economy isn't strong enough to give them jobs right now and we can't have indigent wizards."
"That's so much shite," one of the older Regents told him. "It hasn't mattered before and it doesn't matter now. This is all about your ego. You've lost. If we have to, we can close the school for a few months until this is resolved."
The Minister started to shake harder. "It won't be solved. They're staying!" He dropped the paper and turned around. He calmly walked over to the window and opened it, stepping out on the edge.
"No!" Draco shouted, moving forward. "If you do that, nothing will stop us from taking over your next person."
The Minister laughed. "Bet me. He has more reason to keep my orders alive." Then he stepped off.
Draco looked struck. "Oh, damn," he whispered. He looked at his fellow board members. Only one of them wasn't looking shocked. "We should probably report this," he said after clearing his throat. He blinked a few times and picked up the paper. "I want information on the next person, this Henderson," he said quietly. "I want this solved." They nodded and followed him out, Draco stopping to talk to the secretary out front. "He jumped," he told her. "You'll have to inform someone. I'll be at home if they need a report about it." She started to cry. "Do that later," he snapped. "Your boss just jumped out his window."
She pushed a button on her intercom, speaking quickly into it. "My boss just jumped," she wailed.
Draco nodded at her and walked away, going to have a drink. He really needed a drink. He was still there when Percy and an officer walked up to him. "We were trying to get him to change his mind," he said between sips.
Percy sat beside him and took the paper out of Draco's pocket. "Is that what you handed him?" Draco nodded, finishing his glass of wine. "Did he say anything?"
"He was shaking, he looked horrible. Apparently we snapped him."
"We?" the officer asked.
"I and most of the Regents went in to talk to him." Draco pulled himself together. "I put the paper on the desk. Told him he was going to change his mind. Then he got up and said that Henderson had more reason to uphold his orders. Then he stepped off the ledge."
"Draco, this is important, I need you to do one of those portals for us." Draco nodded. "Come back to my office and we'll do it there." He handed off the letter. "Do you think this will solve it?"
Draco shrugged. "I don't know much about Henderson. I know he's married into the old Minister's family. His wife was the asshole's cousin or something. He trained him directly to take over if anything happened to him." He swallowed. "I don't like this."
"Neither do I, but if he jumped you have nothing to worry about," the officer assured him.
Percy glared at him. "He just watched a man commit suicide, Phelps, show some support for him. He's not as heartless as everyone thinks."
"No, but Andrew didn't show anything," Draco told him. He stopped and looked at Percy. "He looked like he had been plagued."
"That's because he had been," Percy agreed. "We found more than one of the twins' toys in his house. His wife said the first had been sent five days ago and had stopped later that night. She also said he'd gotten death threats, hate mail, and that there were people who suggested she kill him to get out from under his influence. She even got an offer from someone to do it for her."
Draco snorted. "I have no doubt she needed the help, with how he was, but my family was more subtle. Simone got the League head onto him." He opened the door for Percy, letting the officer catch it himself. "I sent a letter of protest in addition to the one the Board sent." He let Percy get his own office door and followed him inside. He noticed Adrian Maclay and stopped to look at him. "Are you taking back up with my daughter, young man?"
"I'm leaving that up to her, Mr. Malfoy. She knows her own mind on this matter and I'm waiting on word about it." He faced Draco down. "Thank you for supporting her position against her mother."
"Her mother couldn't have objected too much, she's the one who taught Simone to pick up men like you." He walked into Percy's office and pulled his wand. "Where do you want it and how far back? The farther back the harder it becomes."
"Just to this morning if you wouldn't mind," Percy said calmly. He pointed at a blank wall. "There if you wouldn't mind."
Draco focused and created the portal back through time, letting them see what had been going on. He sat down after the Minister had walked off the ledge, looking at his brother-in-law. "Well?"
"It's apparent that you're not the only one who had bothered him today," the officer noted. "Could this portal thingy be felt by him? Be a reason he was so jumpy?"
"Not from anything I've read," Draco assured him, looking over at him. "He shouldn't have been able to feel it or sense it. Not even with a discerning spell since it's technically not in that space and time." The officer looked confused. "It's a theoretical application that's part of the flood, which holds all of the memories of time."
"In other words, not admissible in court?" the officer asked.
Draco nodded. "That's putting it mildly."
"Thank you, Mr Malfoy. We shouldn't need anything else from you."
Percy waited until they were alone. "Are you all right?"
"A bit shaken up. I've never had anyone commit suicide instead of face me before. I've had people who wished that they had afterwards, but never before or instead of."
"I don't think your father did either," Percy soothed. Draco gave him a grateful smile. "Did you hear what your children did?"
"I did," he admitted with a smile. "It was an ingenious plan, getting so much more visible support." He stood up. "I'm going to do a few laps in my pool. Do you think Henderson can be swayed to change his mind?"
Percy considered it, then shook his head. "I don't. Minister Alister put a death warning in his will. If Henderson changes his plans any, even a word in them, then his wife will be killed. There's a one year limit on it, but he loves her quite a lot from what I've noticed."
"Can't you protect her?"
"I'm sure she's already left town and he doesn't know where." He smiled. "I overheard him in the commissary on graduation day. He was worried about where she was going."
Draco stood up. "Thank you, Percy."
"Whatever we can do to help this tragedy," Percy agreed, shaking his hand. "Shall I bring Liz up tonight? Maeve wanted to watch her for a bit."
"After dinner. Let me have time to calm down and think about our options."
"Of course. Have a nice nap." He watched the younger man leave and shrugged. "It wasn't that bad. He didn't have to see the body. I suppose he has a weak stomach," he noted, sitting down to write up his report and send it upstairs. When his wife and daughter were brought in, he smiled at them. "Would you like to play with Maeve tonight, Liz?"
She clapped. "Play!" she said happily.
"You have that dinner meeting so I'll bring her over," Arabelle said, kissing his cheek. "He really jumped?"
"He really jumped," he agreed. "Now we have a new problem. Henderson wouldn't mind changing it, but his wife's life is threatened and he knows it."
"Still, it's easier than an ego that won't quit," Arabelle reminded him. She smiled down at him. "You behave and I'll give you a reward tonight, Percy."
"Why, Arabelle, so soon?" he teased.
"Yes, dear, so soon." She let their daughter steal a kiss. "Are we eating lunch?"
"Yes, let me get my robe," Percy said, standing up and grabbing it. He took his daughter's hand as he walked her out of his office. "What would you like to eat today, Liz?"
"Poof?" she asked.
Percy blushed because his employees were looking at them and snickering.
"She had disappearing ice cream this weekend," Arabelle said to stop the laughter. "No, dear, no ice cream. Possibly a burger if you want." She nodded, giving her mother a happy look. "Good, we'll eat downstairs."
"Of course we'll stop up there and see if he can eat with us," Percy agreed, looking at his wife, who shrugged and smiled. "Let's head up there first." His daughter slipped his hand and went running for the stairs, going up on all fours. "Wait for us, Elizabeth." She laughed and climbed faster.
"Elizabeth," Arabelle called quietly. The daughter stopped on the top stair and waited for her.
"Watch out, little one," a man said as he walked past her. "Where are your parents?"
"Going slower," Arabelle said as she turned the corner. "She got overly excited to see her Grandfather."
"Ah." He smiled at her. "You are adorable, Elizabeth Weasley. You should come brighten up my office some day. We keep a bowl of candy around."
Liz smiled at him. "I think we'll wait on that," Percy told him. They shared a look. "Thank you for keeping an eye on her for us."
"Not a problem, Minister Weasley. She's adorable." He walked away, going to turn in his reports.
"I didn't think the species department and you had such a close working relationship," Arabelle noted as they walked toward the head office.
"We met over Xander and his early problems," Percy told her. "They're fairly nice. Very understanding about certain types of problems."
"Percy!" a woman yelled, jogging to catch up to them.
"Arabelle, this is Maria DeSurtes, Under-Minister over the Species Department."
"Hello." They shook hands. "Percy, you've got a problem in your family. We've just heard from Misuse and there's been one hell of a magical explosion near Malfoy Mansion. We think it might be Xander."
"It could be Mary," Arabelle said thoughtfully. "Her mother was taken by the Watchers this morning and Xander went to help take her back. She's in the hospital."
"I don't know which one it was, but Misuse said that their instruments went off the scale. It might have even been Draco with what happened this morning, or one of his children. All we know is it was by Malfoy Mansion, a few miles off to the North and West of it."
"Draco doesn't own that land," Percy said thoughtfully. "There's a small town that way."
Arabelle shook her head. "There's nothing there that would account for that sort of surge. Is someone going over?" Maria nodded. "Then tell us what's going on. If it was Xander, he probably had a good excuse at least."
"I'd say. Though, if it was that close, it could be the Malfoys or Ignatius."
"It could also be your oldest," Maria reminded him. "We can't be sure it was a gryphon born, it was just the most plausible reason."
Percy shook his head. "Melvin's snogging on the couch at home. Andrea's mother sent her over this morning. She was happy that the pressure had been taken off their official wedding." He shrugged. "Keep us informed if you might, or have them do it. I can't shield Xander from them if he did something like that."
"Percy," Arabelle said as they walked away. "You usually guard him fiercely. Surely this can't be about him not registering."
"Arabelle, I tutored him for his citizenship exams, he did know he was supposed to register."
"There's nothing in the old books about self-transformations spells."
He looked at her, then glanced around. "Liz, run ahead," he told her. She ran off, struggling to get the door open. He looked at his wife again. "He's both, Arabelle," he said quietly. "As is Draco. As are Ignatius and Raena. Somehow they figured out how to do both." She opened her mouth. "They won't follow the rules and I won't shield them from them."
"Percy, they're family," she said, sounding disappointed in him. He frowned so she kissed him on the cheek. "You can't hold it against him. People would say mean things and he wanted something to make his life more fun. He was missing causing trouble. Besides, that's a really stupid rule and we both know it." He shook his head. "It is. It's not like he's going to break into things or get captured and trapped. It's a bad rule and even they realize it, Percy. If you ask him, he might tell you why he won't register."
"Because it would cause more problems for him," Arthur said as he joined them. Percy frowned at him. "You and I both know that Xander does this so he can get out and run. He doesn't limp in his other form, Percy. He gets to play and run again. That's all this is. That and a bonding moment with Draco. Don't be upset with him for not telling you."
"How is he doing this?"
"Believe it or not, it was in the main library. I asked Bill, their elder friend." He winked and picked up Liz. "Come, let's eat. We'll have a busy afternoon with that position open."
Percy nodded, shelving his thoughts until later, when he only had paperwork to do. Any background checks could be done by his people.
Xander swum up next to Draco and attached himself next to him. "Hey."
"I can't believe he did that," Draco announced. "It's shocking and so very rude." Xander snorted. "He could have waited until we were gone. I think he did it on purpose to rattle us."
"That could be," Xander agreed. He nudged him. "Tell me what you want in a mate. I'm tired of watching you give Sarajane looks like she betrayed you."
Draco flipped over and turned to look at him. "I want someone who can keep up with me. An equal in my life, but someone I can spoil. She has to be my equal and able to keep up with my busy schedule. Liking to watch me play would be a bonus," he added as an afterthought.
"So, you want a female me?" Xander asked. He grinned. "The next time I get split in half, I'll ask that one of them be made female."
"Funny," Draco noted dryly.
"Sorry, couldn't resist. You really want someone like me?"
"Basically, but someone who doesn't whine when I spoil them," Draco agreed. "You complain half the time when I try to spoil you."
"I'm making noise, Draco, and we both know it."
"I know. Complain less. It makes me happy to spoil. That's the one thing I always hated about Ginny. She *loathed* it when I tried to give her things. Always complaining and reminding me that I didn't have to try and buy her love. She didn't understand it at all. You at least try not to hurt my feelings. It still annoys me though." He pinched him.
"I know it does. I'm sorry I complain so much."
"Good. Then you'll help me do some shopping this afternoon?"
"If you want," Xander agreed. He grinned. "Jewelry or clothes?"
"Jewelry," Draco said, grinning. "Anastasia needs some for her upcoming wedding. Plus, I need a new cloak pin and you haven't spoiled George with anything in a while."
"I know," Xander said with a grin. "I was thinking about getting him one of those enchanted living pendants."
Draco snorted. "Those are fairly cheap."
"Yeah, but he likes odd things as presents. Plus, I think I have to buy him a good anniversary present. It's been nearly twenty years."
"Eighteen years," Draco pointed out.
"I know, but I want to get him better things each year to our twentieth. Our last one was kind of cheap because of the lawsuit thing, but this time I want something worthy of massive smiles and an 'aw' from Fred and Katie."
"We can do that," Draco agreed, forcing himself out of the pool. "Get out and come shower. We'll head over now."
"All right." Xander heaved himself out and let himself be helped over to where his cane was. He grabbed that and his towel, heading back to the house.
Draco looked down at the case, smiling as he pointed something out. "There's your trinket," he told Xander. Xander bent closer and the salesman took it out for him. "Thank you." He moved away to look at pendants. He pointed at a blood red ruby. "That one." It was pulled out so he could look at it in the light. "It's light."
"She won't want red," Xander pointed out. "It'll clash with her hair. Blue, silver, jade. Maybe an emerald." He smiled and nodded. "I want that one. Put it on a man's chain, about twenty-five inches please." The pendant was taken to be wrapped for him. Xander walked over and gasped, pointing at one necklace. "How much is that?"
"That's really more of a man's piece, sir," the salesman offered.
"It's for my husband," Xander told him. It was pulled out and he held it up. "Draco?"
"I like it," Draco told him. "It would suit George very well." He nudged Xander. "How are you going to top it next year and the year after next?"
"I don't know," Xander admitted, looking at the necklace. "But this is perfect. He'll squeal and dance."
"Or he'll be in awe and protest the cost," Draco offered. Xander glared at him. "Sorry. Didn't mean to burst your happy bubble." He looked at the salesman, pulling out a picture. "This daughter needs it," he told him. The salesman's face lit up and he went into the back, coming out with three boxes, opening them to show him. "That's a perfect trousseau for a young girl," he agreed. "Pearls, a few diamonds, something a bit more showy. Even the wedding set," he said, touching the tasteful pendant and earrings. "How much?" The tag was shown to him and he held in his wince. "Hold it for me while I get a slip from the bank. Xander?"
"I want this," Xander said, handing the necklace back. "Give me ten minutes, we'll be right back." He hurried off, making Draco catch up to him. He found Bill in the bank so he gave him a hug. "I found his anniversary present," he said happily, walking up to the goblin who did the slips. "I need this much," he said, writing down a figure, then he handed over his key.
"Very well," he said, checking his books. He smiled. "From that vault?"
Xander checked the key and frowned. "Sorry, wrong key." He dug around and Draco handed him another one. "I have that one," he noted. "I need one of the other ones."
The goblin looked at him. "You have enough, but that one is listed in your husband's name, not yours."
"Well, fuck. I had forgotten I did that," Xander muttered. He pulled his pendant from around his neck and handed it over. "Try that one. I know it's in my name."
The goblin pulled out another book and checked that number. He nodded and wrote out the slip, filing their copy. "It will be posted tonight after business."
Xander took his key back. "Thank you." He took his slip and turned around, finding both men looking at him. "What?"
"Which account was that?" Bill asked. He looked at the number on the key. "That's not even the code for country."
"It's one of the hidden accounts from the paper settlement," Xander said quietly, glancing around. "I don't want it to get around that I have it."
"It's not like the goblins will tell," Bill pointed out. The goblin behind the counter looked at him. "I quit working for you guys." He waved his pension check. "Getting this cashed." He walked over to that desk and had the goblin grunt in annoyance at him. "Get over it already. I could care less about you not liking my quitting. You guys nearly killed me, I could have sued you instead." He got his check cashed very quickly. Then he walked back down t the jewelry shop with the boys, going to see what had them so interested. He whistled at the stuff Draco was buying his daughter, and then smiled at what Xander was getting George. "That is cute," he agreed. "Can you line each box with a different spell?"
"I can," Xander said happily, looking at the chain made up of gold boxes. Each one had a small emerald in the center and each opened to store something. It looked like the necklace version of Batman's belt. "I think he'll be very happy with it." He accepted the wrapped boxes and handed over his slip. The salesman signed it and handed it to their register person. "Thank you." He followed Draco back to his house, going to put them in the safe until their anniversary. It was still a week away and George hunted presents at home. Xander flopped down. "Now what should we do?"
"I was thinking an early dinner and then another run. I still have some frustration to wear out."
Simone walked in with Lucien under her arm. "Don't leave us with the kids. Mary nearly got us all arrested earlier. She got so frustrated she blew up a park in the village nearby." She handed her baby brother over. "He wants to help polish but I know he'll get it on him."
"We could start flying lessons tonight," Xander offered.
"Yes, that would be calming," Draco agreed. "Simone, gather the older brooms and Maeve. Mary should be following the brooms by now."
"She is. Are we teaching them how to fly?"
"Yes, so you'll need to come help. You, Denver, and Ravena."
"I claim rights on Morgana."
"Yes, Xander, you may take my youngest daughter for a fly. She is very calming and would probably adore to fly with you."
"Oh, the triplets are in the nursery," Simone told him, eyes wide. "Shall we bring them down as well?"
"Sure. They've got to be better than Buffy on a broom," Xander snorted. "She couldn't get more than a few feet up before she started to wobble." He stood up and stole Lucien. "Come on, little man. Let's grab my broom and we'll teach you how to fly." Lucien cheered and wiggled to get down, running upstairs to tell everyone. "I take it you don't want to go to the shop?"
"The shop's basically up in the nursery," Simone assured him. "It's got to be empty."
Xander shook his head and teleported home, landing in the middle of the angry crowd. "Fred, Mary's taken her ill-gotten gains to Malfoy Manor," he called over the crowd.
"Thank you!" Fred called. "Please, let us see what she hasn't been destroyed and we'll gladly fill all the orders," he told the crowd. He and George disappeared as fast as they could, going to steal back their stock. They hadn't counted on the kids being so angry that they were out of most everything.
Xander smiled as he went back to get his broom. He found Oliver lounging on his bed. "You can't have George."
"I'm hiding from the mob," Oliver said with a grin. "How is Harry?"
"I didn't get to see Harry yet," Xander admitted. "Didn't he show up?"
"Oh, yeah, Molly woke him up." Oliver waved a hand. "I thought he'd be hiding there by now."
"No. We're going to teach the kids how to fly tonight. Want to help? It's the triplets, Mary, Lucien, and Maeve. Plus William and Zach if they're over."
"You could probably use the help," he agreed, sliding off the bed. He grabbed his backup broom and followed Xander back to the front. "Should we leave them?"
Xander nodded. "They're on their way back via apparation. Draco lowered the shields and they've got boxes of stuff." He smiled at the parents looking his way. "Between the kids and a niece, we've been cleaned out," he explained. "They were working on getting things back up." He had a sudden thought and pushed his way back to the lab, going to take the burbling, smoking thing off the fire. "Eww," he muttered, heading out the back door. He could feel one of the twins was back. Oliver met him and he took them both, having to come back for their brooms.
Raena squinted her eyes closed. "I don't feel well," she admitted.
Iggy raised his head from her shoulder and gave her a worried look. "Is there anything you want me to make you? Can I do something to help?"
"Keep your dick to yourself for a few days," she said dryly. She opened her eyes and looked at him. "I think we may have run afoul of an insidious curse. The fertility one on your family."
"But...ten years! You haven't had a cycle."
"I did. Back in March, right before Tara took us to the Beltane celebration. It was only for a few hours but I guess it was a sign."
Iggy grinned. "Well, we did promise to have a Beltane baby to fulfill that prophecy."
"I'm guessing that's why Salazar kept giving me those smirking looks."
"He's always given you them, dear." He kissed her gently. "Do you want to do this the muggle way, our way, or the witchly way?"
"Witchly please. That way we're sure." She watched as he picked up his wand and waved it over her stomach, muttering the complicated but short charm. Her stomach glowed. "Well." She sighed. "I guess we'll have to spread that around."
"You might get with Andrea, I think she is as well," Iggy noted, kissing her again. "I'm happy." He gave her a pleading look.
"Iggy, why aren't you sure?"
"Because there's a lot of things we haven't planned for and you never really sounded happy about having kids. Please be happy?"
"I'm happy enough," she soothed, stroking over his back. "How are we going to announce it?"
"I'm going to go find a card and owl it to the grandparents. Let them freak before we get there. Then we'll go visit Percy and Melvin while we're waiting. I'm pretty sure Andrea is preggers. I got that same feeling I did off Arabelle the morning that they announced it." She rolled her eyes. "I know you're more advanced, but you can be the one she looks toward to get ideas of what's going to happen to her." He kissed her stomach. "I guess that's why I've been thinking you're smelling more intriguing."
"You've always thought that."
"But recently I've been more intrigued by your scent. It turns me on in so many ways." He licked across her navel and weathered her loving swat. "It's amazing. Mine." He looked up at her. "This is so cool!" he said with the brightest grin.
"Does this mean I'm going to wake up to the wolf sniffing me? Again?"
"Maybe, but I try not to get caught," he offered. He shifted up until she was in his arms, resting against his chest. "Boy, we're going to cause Bill no end of noise," he said happily.
"Iggy, we carry for ten months, not nine; the baby will be born around Yule. We'll have to raise the kid for the first six months in the school."
"Like Albus will mind," he snorted. "Do I get to deliver it?"
"No, dear. You'll drop it. Anybody's but mine." She patted him on the chest. "Let's find that card and send it with one of the phoenixes. That way we can tell everyone at once."
"Deal," he agreed. He let her go. "You shower and eat something, I'll go find the card." He grabbed some of their stash of muggle money and headed out to the neighborhood. There was a nice card shop on the corner. He walked in and gave the woman a pitiful look. "I need to find a card telling my grandparents they're going to be great-grandparents."
"Congratulations," the older woman said with a fond smile. "Are they active?"
"Fairly," Iggy agreed. "They adore my wife and I together."
She laughed. "Couldn't wait?"
"No, not at all," he said with a sappy grin. "Do you have anything?"
"Not specifically, but we do have one that's blank on the inside. You can write on it." He nodded so she led him over to the section. "All these say is congratulations. Are you mailing it?"
"Yeah, we won't be seeing them for a few days probably." He shrugged. "This way it'll get there before us. They can get the fit over first." She laughed. "They warned us that we were moving too fast, I guess they'll be gloating a little bit as soon as they find out. Overall, they'll be happy for us." He picked out the one he liked and paid for it, hurrying home. "I'm back," he called.
"Wonderful, I'm cooking," she called back. "Bill's here."
Iggy walked in and hugged his uncle. "Did she tell you?"
"No, I was waiting for a family meal," she said dryly. "Go ahead if you want."
Iggy looked at him. "I'm going to get to change diapers," he said with a goofy grin.
Bill clapped him on the back. "Tell mum and dad now, so we don't have to hear the explosion," he advised with a smile. Iggy held out the card, making him laugh. "Remember to tell your partners in crime tonight." He looked at Raena. "What about that spell you did last summer?"
"We think it was the Beltane celebration Tara brought us to," she admitted.
"Then how did you get past the ten year limit?"
"Time turner, spot aging of potions, redoing some days," Iggy told him.
"No wonder you're always so tired. Ten years in three and a half." She grimaced. "You'll have to see someone, you know that, correct?" She nodded. "Good. Iggy has one he likes a lot."
"Yup, I've got to call and make you an appointment. He delivered Morgana, Lucien, and Maeve."
"I remember him with Morgana," Raena told him. "I liked him well enough."
"It's either him or the family one," Bill told her. "You can't break that tradition."
"We might need to pass on the names to Andrea then," Iggy told him. Bill burst out laughing. "You think Percy's going to be pissed?"
"I think Melvin might need to hide for a few days at least," Bill agreed. "Hurry up and write this out while we eat. Then we'll head to Malfoy Manor. They're teaching the littles how to fly today."
"Wonderful," Iggy said as he pulled over a pen to write on the card. He handed it to his wife, who giggled, then to his uncle, who shook his head and smiled. "Hurry up and let's go." They finished dinner quickly and all flooed over there, surprising Simone when they landed underneath her. "I need to use the gloomy one," Iggy told her.
Simone looked down at them. "By Merlin, you glow," she said drolly. Iggy laughed. "Fine. She's on the balcony." She whistled, bringing her phoenix. "Want to go see Grandmother? I'm sure she'll have cookies."
Glinda perked up at that and swatted at the snitch coming over to bother her. She hated the gold bugs. She took the card and took off, heading for the nice lady who made good banana bread. As soon as she landed, Percy took the card from her beak. She squeaked at him and he pushed over his plate of cookies, letting her nibble.
"Mum, letter," Percy called.
She walked in and took it on her way to the laundry room. Then she screamed. "Those children!"
"Mum?" He got up and came to look at the card, smiling. "I wonder how they did that," he said thoughtfully. "Surely they haven't bent time that much." He grimaced. "Probably whatever they did to become animagus."
She swatted at him. "Drag your niece here so I can talk to her," she told him. "And your son as well since I noticed Andrea didn't want breakfast this morning." He blanched and hurried off, going to his son's side first. "Those children!" she sighed, going to tell her husband. "They're pregnant," she announced.
"Molly, love, I'm in a meeting," he said with a smile. "Which one?"
"Iggy and Raena. Possibly Melvin and Andrea."
"What?" Arabelle shouted. "He had better not have!"
"Again, which one?" Arthur asked, but he was smiling. "I'm sure it will be fine. They're both fine, strong girls and they are mated for life, dear. Arabelle, calm yourself please." Her head disappeared. "Give me a few moments to get home, dear."
"Percy went to gather them. They sent us a card, Arthur!"
"They were probably scared of this outburst, love. I'm sure they'll be up soon."
She nodded. "They offered to help cook a family dinner tomorrow."
"Let them, it should make them all feel better." He signed off with a blown kiss.
Percy walked out of the floo at Draco's house and headed outside, grabbing his niece by her hair, gently though. "Come along, your grandmother wants to see you. You as well, Ignatius."
"Fine," he sighed, following his wife. "Let go of her before I have to hit you, Uncle Percy. I will defend my mate."
Percy stopped and looked at them. "My God, it's true." Iggy nodded. So he got hugged. Hard. Squished even. "I'm sorry, Raena, but this was a bit of a shock. You did promise."
"I didn't have any intention of breaking it either," she agreed. "Come on, let's face the music."
"At least you won't be doing it alone," Percy sighed, taking them back with him. Melvin and Andrea were holding hands on the couch, facing their grandparents. "Here are the other two." He sat beside his parents. "Tell me how this happened."
"Um, well," Andrea said, looking at Melvin.
"I got really caught up on our wedding night?" he suggested. "It was probably one of those five times, dad." She smacked him on the thigh. "Sorry, didn't mean to say that," he said with a blush.
Arthur laughed. "At least you can pinpoint it. Ignatius? Would you like to answer that?"
"I asked Uncle Draco and he said that we probably hadn't run out the ten year limit yet, but that it was probably a side-effect of having our auras cleaned this February. Remember that potion and sickness we had to work on?" Everyone nodded. "Well, we had ourselves cleaned by the healers at the colony and I guess they removed all the spells on us." He squeezed his wife's hand. "We're pretty sure when it was. Aunt Tara took us to a Beltane ceremony and we think it was then."
"So, you'll be due just before Yule break," Percy said. Andrea nodded. "Iggy, please test my daughter-in-law."
"She feels the same as Arabelle does whenever she gets stuffed up," Iggy offered as he knelt in front of the other couple. "No pain," he assured her when he saw her nibbling on her lip. He did the same spell and smiled. "She is. Just a few weeks along at that." Melvin let out a deep breath and kissed her. "Andrea, you'll have to get a lot of care before birth, both because of anything that the sight spell has done and also because you can become that bunny." He moved back to sit beside his own mate. "Melvin, her smell will drive you insane in a few weeks," he advised. "You'll want nothing more than to bury your head in her lap and take long sniffs of her."
"That is so very true," Arthur agreed, still smiling. "I felt the same way about all of ours but Ginny."
Percy nodded. "As did I," he admitted. "I think I might have even realized it was twins since I was more insane the last time for her. Wait until the urge to have sex kicks in."
"Too late," Raena told him. "I had to take a safe pain potion yesterday because of him."
Iggy beamed. "But it was nice."
"It was," she agreed. She looked at her best friend. "How are we going to do the wedding clothes if it's in a month? You won't be showing but I will."
"We'll have them tailored the week before," Andrea decided. "Simone's gained muscle in the last month, you'll be gaining stomach and breast weight." Iggy purred loudly. "Was that you?" He nodded. "Well! Melvin, dear, don't purr at me."
"I'd never purr, love, I'd nibble," he assured her, giving her another kiss. "Can we please hurry this up? I think I want to celebrate."
"I think you've done enough of that already," Molly told them. "Iggy, do your parents know?"
"Not yet," he admitted. "Uncle Draco does so he's either told dad or he's teasing him about it."
"It's odd to think that we'll be suggesting you go to him for advice on symptoms," Percy said with a smirk.
"Let's tell them now," Melvin said, hopping up. "I can't wait much longer."
"You can have our room at the shop," Iggy assured him. "We'll take the nest." He winked and they linked hands, sending themselves to the now-empty shop. "Daddies? Uncle Fred?" he called. "It's time for news."
Fred and George popped their heads out of the lab. "What sort of news?" one of them asked.
"That depends on whether or not we have to run for our lives," Melvin told him.
"Oh, you didn't," George said as he walked out. He was George because he had the massive hickey on his neck, Katie didn't like giving them since Fred had started to retaliate. He looked at both couples. "Both of you!" he shouted.
"We thought we had graduated," Andrea told him.
Fred groaned and leaned against the wall. "No!" He thumped his head a few times.
"Want to join the Royal Theatre company?" Iggy suggested. Fred glared at him. "Not even the grandparents did that much noise."
"You told mum already?" Fred asked, moving closer. "How soon?"
"Yule," Raena told him.
"January or so," Melvin admitted. "I got lost on our wedding night."
"It was our first time," Andrea said with a blush. "Should we tell Simone and them?"
"Yes, you should, but make sure Draco's holding your other father." George ran his hands across his hair. "When is the family dinner?"
"You'd have to ask Grandmother," Raena told him. "We offered to help cook it."
"I'll meet you at Draco's," George told him. "Ask your father what the black tar in the back room is."
Iggy looked toward Malfoy Manor. "He said he pulled it off the fire and you might as well come over now. Draco's giving him smug looks so he wants a hug." They all sent themselves there, most of them landing in the back yard. Fred was a little late because he had to get their helper to come in. "Attention, family!" Iggy called up. "Come down here!"
Everyone floated down, looking at them. "What now?" Oliver asked.
Melvin cleared his throat. "We both have announcements to make."
"Really?" Draco asked, smirking at him. "How far?"
"Wedding night. We kept our promise, Uncle Draco."
"Wait, let me send for Ron so he can come hear it too," Xander told him. "He's with Harry getting a bit drunk but they're both fine for now." He thought at his little brother and heard the grumble, but they showed up a moment later. "Okay, now go ahead."
"We're pregnant," Andrea and Raena said together.
Harry sat down. "How?"
"We had a spell cleaned off us," Iggy told him. "We think that's how the infertility charm got broken."
Draco nodded. "It's the only reason I could find. You couldn't have done ten years in three and a half."
"You knew?" Xander accused. "That's why you've been smirking!"
"Definitely," Draco said with a new smirk.
"Well, shit!" Ron said, giving them each hugs.
"Uncle Ron, you smell like a brewery," Raena told him, then she went to get sick. "Sorry," she called.
"It's all right, you're allowed to do that," Xander assured her. He shook his head at Ron. "Not your fault. She's got that wonderful sickness."
Ron snickered. "No sex for someone then."
"Bet me! I made her bloody well sore the other morning," Iggy told him. Simone snickered. "Are you happy for us, Si?"
"Ecstatic that it's not me," she said happily, hugging them all. "I'll hug you when you're done," she told Raena.
Oliver looked at George. "What is it with you guys and Yule babies?"
"Less presents to buy," Fred said dryly.
"I'm not doing baby showers," Simone announced. "I can't plan parties at all."
"I'll do them," Anastasia assured her. "It'll be fine." She smiled at Raena. "Would that be fine with you?"
"Yup." She accepted the glass of water from the house elf. "Thank you. I buried it."
"Welcome, Misses Iggy." The elf hurried back into the house.
Raena looked around. "Who else do we have to tell before I can collapse into bed?"
"Bill," Xander told her.
"Uncle Bill already knows," Iggy told him.
"Wrong species of Bill."
"Oh." Iggy nodded. "Forgot about him." He looked at his wife. "One more hop then home?"
"Two more, dear, I'll have to tell my family."
"Good point." Iggy waited until she had drank the water, accepting the congratulations of his family. Then they took off, landing in the audience chamber during a fight. "Shut up!" he yelled. "I outrank you all and we're going to bed so we're doing this quickly." They bowed to Bill, then to the female head of the colony, Delilah. "You took off our anti-fertility charm," he told her.
She burst out laughing. "I'm sorry. I didn't even realize. Should we prepare another?"
"She's glowing," Bill noted. "I doubt it'd be worth it." He nudged Raena, making her turn around. "Ah! A Beltane baby," he said with a grin. "Congratulations, young ones."
"Thanks. The only problem is that the whole seventh year may have to repeat," Raena told him. Bill frowned. "Politics and ego."
"Oh, dear," Delilah said. She nudged Raena as well. "You're strong, it shouldn't be too hard. After all, your mate was raised there."
"Very true," Iggy agreed. "We're going to go nap now. She just got sick. We'll pop up for official stuff in a few days?" Bill and Delilah both nodded. "Thanks all. Please, go back to your regularly scheduled fighting." They disappeared, heading to his marker at the Gryphon library. They walked in together and her mother squealed, coming over to give her hugs. "Mom, you might not be so happy with us in a few minutes."
She looked her daughter over then glared at him. "I thought you were being careful!"
"We were, mother, but the spell was removed by accident and we didn't know. So I'm due at the holidays."
She hugged her daughter again. "We'll head home for a dinner."
"Can we do it tomorrow? I just got sick, mom."
"It'll give you time to call in all her brothers and sisters," Iggy agreed. "We're having one of those with my family as well."
"Unless you really want to go tell Charlie, I think we've told everyone. Simone would tell Ginny," Raena offered.
"I can do that while you rest, love. Uncle Bill should still be there." He held up a special thumbtack, with their mixed energies. "It's both of us, it'll be in our secret hiding spot. Pop around soon and we'll have dinner this weekend with this side of the family?"
Her mother smiled. "That would be fine. It will give her father time to calm down."
"I wasn't expecting it, but I'm really happy," Iggy told her, stroking his wife's stomach. "Come on, let's get you to bed," he told her. "You can hog your mom all weekend." They hugged again and Iggy took her home, putting her into bed. Then he went to tell his only non-told uncle. He landed in the office, like he was supposed to. "May I please talk to my uncle for a moment?" he asked politely.
Bo looked at him. "You're grinning. Good news for once?"
"Excellent news," Iggy admitted, his smile getting wider.
"Well now," Bo said, getting up to give him a clap on the back. "Congrats. How far along is she?"
"Just a bit. We're due at Yule." He beamed. "I'm so happy. She's kind of sick, but I'm really happy." Bo laughed. "Can I tell Uncle Charlie so he doesn't have a bad reaction over the dinner he'll be called home to in a few days?"
"Sure, go ahead. Stop in the infirmary also. Simone's been wanting something that the doc has." Iggy nodded and headed that way first. He picked up the packet of pictures with a smile and some more congratulations, then went to find his Uncle. He could feel him so he was in the field, but somewhere in the woods. He tracked the feeling to a small rise, sitting down beside him. "Hey."
"What's wrong now?" Charlie asked. "By the way, I felt you when you popped in."
"That's okay, it's not bad news and I wasn't trying to hide." Charlie looked at him. "Melvin and I are both going to be fathers by the end of January."
Charlie smiled. "That's wonderful. Which father are you hiding from?"
"Neither yet, just spreading around the news." He beamed. "Did you want more of the family gossip?"
"I heard about the twins and how you delivered them. Good work."
"Did you hear it was while Melvin and Andrea got married? They couldn't wait that last month."
"No, hadn't heard about that," Charlie admitted. "I heard about you being held back."
Iggy snorted. "Try the entire class. All the seventh years," he said when his uncle looked at him. "It was a power play. The asshole took a dive off his window ledge this morning from what I heard in Percy's mind. We may still have to go back through, all of us."
"But...but... that's not possible."
"He decided to show how much of an asshole he could be by holding us all back," Iggy told him. "Want a copy of the paper?"
"I only got part of it because that one," he said pointing at the Chinese dragon below him, "smoked it."
"Ah." Iggy called to his father and sent the pictures to him, getting a few of them back with the paper. "Here, read, I'll be right back." He put down a thumbtack and traveled the same route, picking up another one. "I thought I had gotten it right," he said with a sheepish look for Simone's benefit.
"You're too excited and forgot to travel with all the contents," Xander explained. "Is that all of them?"
"No, there's a few missing. He wrote how many there were."
Iggy searched and came up with six more, but not the last one. "I'm sorry, Simone, I'll work on finding it later."
Draco held up his time turner. "Go. Fix it. Before she pouts."
"But I'm not supposed to...." He snatched it and went back to fix it, hand-delivering it this time. The small paradox wasn't so bad. He had created a few more minute ones. His uncle looked at him. "It's not bad. Those are non-harmful paradox. You taught me that yourself."
"Good point. Be a good boy." He took the time turner back and watched as Iggy disappeared. Hopefully Charlie would ream him a new one later.
Iggy landed back beside Charlie. "They're expecting you to yell at me."
"I got mine in before you did it," Charlie reminded him. He handed back the paper. "That's dumb."
"Tell me about it. If this wasn't a major changing event, I'd ask permission to fix this one as well."
Charlie ruffled his hair. "I'd do the same. Have you told your lord and master yet?"
"Oops. Forgot him as well," Iggy admitted, smiling now. "I guess I should probably go do that. Expect a call to the family dinner soon. Oh, daddy wants to know if you know a woman named Bertha Hennesley?"
"Can't remember her. Why?"
"Because she's an expert in the same field, she lectures, and she's really cute, according to daddy." He winked and teleported to the school, landing in the office. "Hi, Uncle Albus."
"I heard," he said with a smile. "I can't fault either of you for moving on, I'm sure it wasn't planned this way."
"Not at all. Will this cause a problem?"
"A few. You're not supposed to use magic when you're pregnant. Or else the child might turn out like Ryan." Iggy snickered. "Severus might be downstairs. He had the shields up earlier and I haven't heard from him since."
"Thank you, sir. I'm sure we'll be talking more about how to manage all this." He waved and jogged away, heading down to the dungeons. The caretaker glared at him. "Needing the lord and master," he said as he moved past him. "Not a real emergency, just news." He tapped on the door to the classroom and walked in, noticing the note on the desk. "Went home huh?" He walked over to the floo and tossed some of his personal stash from the cabinet in, heading over there. He walked out of the floo and coughed loudly. "Severus, a word?" he called. Severus came out of the dining area and closed the door behind him. "Congratulate me. Someone removed our anti-fertility charm and we didn't know. We're due at Yule."
Severus Snape had to sit down he was in such great shock. "When did this happen?"
"Beltane with Aunt Tara," Iggy said with a grin. "Melvin is presently having the same problem due to his wedding night."
Severus smiled as he stood up, hugging the boy hard. "Congratulations, Ignatius. I hope you are happy with your future child."
"I hope there'll be more of them," he noted. "Being an only child was lonely." He grinned. "You're not upset?"
"Shocked, not mad," he agreed. "Yule?"
"Or so. Andrea's due in January sometime. I just found out a few hours ago, I am so *stoked*! I'm going to be a wonderful father."
"I think you will as well," Severus agreed. "Bring her by soon for tea."
"All right. After all the family stuff for the next week. One week from today?"
"Would be fine. Do you want to tell Tara and Emily yourself or should I?"
"Either's good with me. I'm going to go nap with my honey."
Severus nodded. "Have a good nap then, Ignatius. I'll see you in a week."
"Oh, I heard some news," Iggy told him. "Not necessarily good though. Uncle Percy's mind said that the idiot causing us all these problems jumped to his death today. Which means that the guy after him's wife is now under death threat if he changes any orders. Or so he was thinking."
"Interesting," he agreed. "Thank you, Ignatius."
"You're welcome." He tipped his head to the side. "You still think of me as the eight-year-old you rescued off the side of the astronomy tower?"
"I still think of your father as a boy as well. It's all that bouncing about you do." He gave him a light shove. "Don't read minds and share things, it's impolite." He gave the boy another pat before sending him on his way. Then he walked back into the dining room and sat down, picking up his utensils. "That was Ignatius."
"It usually is," Tara agreed with a smile. "What did he need so desperately?"
"To share some news. Melvin is expecting his first child after the new year." He ate a bite of steak. "Raena is due around the holidays." Tara dropped her fork. "Apparently their spells had been cut when you took them to the Beltane celebration."
"I wonder if Iggy will deliver his own," Emily said thoughtfully.
"Hopefully not, he panics in crisis situations," Severus told her. "Any word from your mother?"
"Only bad ones," she quipped. "I'm still hiding here from her idea of a perfect mate. I don't want to marry a wizard twice my age and then some." Zach looked at her. "How much is forty plus eighteen?"
"Fifty-eight?" he asked. She smiled and handed over part of her croissant. There weren't any left and he loved them. "Thank you." He looked at his father. "Where do babies come from?"
Severus paused then came up with the perfect answer. "Ask your Uncle Xander. I'm sure he's going to be explaining it to your best friend soon so he might as well get you at the same time."
Tara smirked. "Can't handle that one?"
"I can't imagine having to put it into words he'd understand."
"Mum had a book," Emily told him.
"Draco has one of those," Tara agreed.
Severus shook his head. "He's sworn not to have anymore. They're coming for tea in a week."
"I'll go shopping that morning then" Tara told him.
He nodded. "Get cookies, she's always liked cookies."
Simone stood up at the family dinner and everyone looked at her. "I'm not pregnant," she said, and everyone relaxed. "But I do have an announcement." They looked at her. "Ignatius, my brother and I have decided. You're going to have to tone down the touching. It's bad enough Denver is wanting a honey because you two are so gropey, but now I'm seriously looking at Adrian and it's freaky. So please, quit."
Iggy grinned at her. "Don't go for Adrian. I like the guy, but I don't think you two could handle being together. It'd be like you and a younger Uncle Percy, back when Aunt Kandy was alive and we were about five." She shuddered. "Let my father pick you someone and it'll be fine."
"Actually," Xander said. Simone and Draco both opened their mouth. "Kidding."
Draco tossed a napkin at him. "Let's work on me before my daughter or son."
Denver coughed. "Actually, dad, we might need to talk to some girl soon."
"You did what?" Draco asked. Denver flinched. "Tell me you didn't stuff someone up."
"I don't think I did, but this girl is getting persistent. She thinks I've promised something to her. I didn't, but she won't leave me alone. It was only a few hours of fun but she's stalking me!" he complained.
"Give me the letters," Draco told him. "I'll see what I can do about her."
"Thank you, father." He gave him a hug. "I don't like her that much."
"There must have been something there if you spent time having relations with her," Molly pointed out.
"A set of tits the size of my head," Denver told her. She gave him a look and he shrunk down some. "Sorry, Grandmother. I didn't mean to say that out loud, but I really can't find another reason to spend time with her. She wasn't even good. It was like she was letting me do it. Besides, I wasn't the first or the last."
"Then she did it to try and trap a mate," Draco agreed. "Which one?" His son whispered in his ear, so he smacked him gently. "Son, you have better taste than that. I should know, I taught you to be the man you are."
"Sorry, father, I was desperate and women at Hogwarts were slim."
"Still, son. That's extremely icky."
"Which one is this?" Simone asked. Denver whispered in his ear. "I've got to agree with daddy, that's nasty, Denver. Desperate is one thing, slumming for trolls is another."
"I bet there were times when Uncle Bill had to make due, and that goblins started to look good."
Bill was blushing slightly. "No, there's more one-person methods for that."
"I tried that, it's not satisfying," Denver admitted.
"No more sex talk at the table," Arthur told them. Bill ducked his head, shooting him a grateful look. Denver gave him a frown. "You as well. There are other methods of fixing that. Talk to your father."
Zachariah Snape looked at his favorite Uncles. "Uncle Xander, my father said to ask you." Xander put down his fork and looked at him. "Where do babies come from?"
"Didn't I get to answer that the last time?" Xander asked.
"No, I did," Draco told him. "Go for it."
Xander looked at the little boy. "Well, Zach, babies come from people getting together in a special way."
"Yes, Zach, sex," Draco agreed. "Mostly between boys and girls when they're older. Like Iggy and Raena."
Iggy nodded. "There's more intricate things as you get older, but that's the basics of it."
"But where do they *come* from?" Zach asked again.
"The mommy's belly," Xander said. "Raena?" She stood up and he put a hand on her stomach. "Babies are carried in here for about nine months for normal wizards."
"Oh." Zach grinned. "Then where did Iggy come from?"
"A spell," Xander told him, smiling at Raena so she could sit down. "Since he has two daddies, a spell had to help bring him into being. The same as a spell helped bring Maeve and Lucien into being."
Zach nodded. "Thank you."
"You're welcome, Zach. Is there anything else you wanted to know?"
He nodded. "Why is unicorn blood silver?"
"Because it reacts with the air to turn that color from blue," Iggy told him. "It's a chemical reaction."
"Oh." Zach beamed at him. "Do you know why that sort of thing happens?"
"Not the most technical aspects," Iggy admitted. "All I know is that it's a reaction to the air. Everything reacts with everything else in different ways. The way we react to each item makes us what we are."
Zach gave him a look of awe. "You're very smart."
"Thank you." Iggy smiled at him. "As you grow up, you'll be just as smart I'm sure."
"Yes, he will," Xander agreed. Zach beamed at him as well. "I know your father is very proud of how smart you are, Zach."
The boy let out some happy wiggles and dug back into his dinner. "Thank you for having me over."
"You're welcome," Molly assured him. "You're a very good boy, Zachariah. We like having you over."
The boy grinned at her. "Thank you. You're a nice Grandmother."
"Thank you, dear." Molly looked at the pregnant women. "Eat, dears, you'll need it soon enough. All that nasty morning sickness will soon crop up and you won't eat for a few weeks."
"I've got a potion recipe for that," Draco assured them.
Fred nodded. "It worked well for Katie."
"Where is Katie?" George asked, handing him the potatoes.
"Working," he sighed. "They can't find a new helper for the shop and this is their busy season. The son is presently attached to her back."
"I could help for a day or so," Simone offered. Her father looked at her. "It's not like I don't know my way around a broom, father, and it would let her get cuddles. They're important you know."
"If you want," Draco agreed. "You can pop around tomorrow and offer it to her." She nodded. "I don't want you to have to work, but if you want to work then that is your choice."
"I'm not offering to work all summer for her, but I'll gladly fill in every now and then," Simone told him. "Who knows, maybe I'll find someone like me while I'm there."
"You might," Xander agreed. "I met George by coming halfway around the world from my normal environment and liked it so much I stayed." He coughed. "Speaking of, George, dear, it is our anniversary." George smiled at him. "Would you like your present now or later?"
"Now," George decided.
Xander looked at Draco, who pulled the packages out of his pocket. He handed the smaller one over first. "They're both for you but I want to see your face individually."
George opened the first box and laughed. "This is great." He showed off the small pendant that mimicked lifelike behavior of the animal on it. "This is so cute!" he squealed, putting it on. The dog on it wagged its tail. "What's the other one?"
Xander pushed it over. "The one that made me squeal." He watched as George opened it and paused. "Each box has a separate spell on it and I put a small mark on the back about what each one is. They're single use and can be reloaded once you've gone through them all."
George lifted up the chain of boxes, looking at the back. "They've got colored dots." He looked at his mate. "A key?"
"Nope," Xander said with a grin. "That's half the fun of the gift."
"Don't open them around me," Fred requested. "There's no telling what sort of funky sex spells Xander put in there."
"Are you going to have another baby?" Zach asked George.
George looked down at him. "We hadn't planned on it, but if it happens we'll make sure you're one of the first told. All right?" Zach nodded. "Good boy." He looked at the dots, deciding to touch one of the green ones.
"Not at the table," Arthur warned before he could open the box.
George stood up and walked a few feet away, then opened his chosen box. He was surrounded by a cloud of smoke, which consolidated into strands of ivy. "Cool," he breathed. "Can we use this?"
Fred nodded. "I think that might go over well, especially for the holidays." He looked at Xander. "How did you do it?"
Xander grinned. "I might let George tickle it out of me later. I did write down each of the spells. Don't open the pink ones or the black ones near anybody."
William got up and helped unwind his father, letting his cousin Melvin take the plants from him so the could be planted. "There you are, all free," he told him. He helped his father put on the necklace then went back to his seat. "You don't play with it, Maeve." She stuck her tongue out at him. "Meany," he accused.
"She can stroke it, just like you can," Xander told him. "Don't pick on your sister."
William smiled at him. "Okay. Can we visit the lake monsters?"
"Later next week, son," George told him, sitting back down. "This is so great," he said, kissing his husband gently. "I love you. I only got you fudge." He pointed at the box on the counter. "You can have it after dinner, it was a little frozen. We need a new freezer."
"We can shop for one this weekend," Xander said, stealing another kiss.
"Not at the table," Molly told him. They broke apart with smoky looks for each other. "You have a home to do that in."
"Very true," Xander said, licking his lips clean. George pounced him, climbing into his lap for more kisses. "Home?"
"Home," George ground out, bending to suck on his mate's neck. They disappeared from that spot.
Fred shook his head. "I want that sort of relationship for all you kids, but if you find it, please don't share."
Iggy laughed. "I try not to, Uncle Fred."
"Us too," Melvin agreed.
"Both of you are tame compared to their first year," Ron assured them. "Even Iggy and his amazing water on fire trick has *nothing* on George and Xander's first year. Those two nearly brought down the school at one point in time."
"More than once," Draco countered. "I thought it was going to fall in a good number of times from the shaking Xander did."
"His wedding night felt like an earthquake," Fred agreed.
"Ha!" Draco snorted. "I used to live across the hall from them. They made dust fall from the stones in that hallway so often the house elves used to keep one posted down there to clean up the debris." He sipped his water. "Those two were horrible! Noisy, thumping, gropey lovers who couldn't wait most of the time. In the halls!"
"In the Great Hall," Ron reminded him.
"Outside in the greenhouses," Draco put in. "They were like sixth years."
Molly snorted. "You mean they were worse?"
"They were worse," Ron agreed. "George got a number of hickeys while we were in our Advanced class. We used to walk in on them all the time."
"And they only *really* got together right before the holidays," Draco reminded them. "By March, it was worse."
"All the Gryffs decided that knocking was pretty much useless when we went to bug them," Ron remembered with a grin. "They never heard it when we knocked so we walked in without warning."
Charlie looked at him. "Saw some things you shouldn't have?"
"I saw more of George and Xander during those months than I ever wanted to know. Did you know George has a large white scar on his left cheek?"
"Ron!" Arthur said sharply.
Molly frowned. "How did he get that?"
"Bad prank," Fred told her. "Mine's on my lower back." He looked at his little brother. "You walked in on them?"
"Every few hours," Ron agreed. "All those times that you got frustrated with him being missing, he was getting some."
"Some what?" Maeve asked.
"Some sex," Lucien said helpfully, making her giggle.
"Then why isn't Iggy older?" Zach asked.
"Because they hadn't done the spell yet," Iggy told him. "They had to use a spell to have us kids. Your parents don't need one, but same-sex couples would."
"Oh." Zach nodded. "Thank you."
Xander and George came back through the floo, looking a little more tired. Xander sat down with a moan and grabbed his glass of water. Ron filled his plate while Draco added more water to his glass when it was lowered. "Thank you," he whispered hoarsely.
George gave the younger men a smug smile. "Don't worry, he'll be fine."
Xander screamed in frustration. It wasn't working! He stormed out of his working room and up to the Headmaster's office. "It won't work!" he shouted as he stormed up the stairs.
"What won't?" Snape asked from his seat. He moved his chess piece. "Check."
Xander paced around the office. "The school is sentient, you know that right?" Both leaders nodded. "Well, the school has decided that the new floors don't need more than four beds. Except for yours, Severus, you got six beds. Total. In one room. The school won't give up any more." He stopped to kick a wall. "It even teased me, increasing Gryff's new floor to five beds, then took it back with a laugh!"
"Calm down, Xander," Dumbledore said calmly. "We'll figure it out."
"It won't. It refuses to add anymore." He flopped down into a free chair. "We are so screwed."
"Could it know something we don't?" Snape asked. "Could we only need that many beds?" Dumbledore shook his head. "Then what will we do?"
"We might need to assign more married quarters," Dumbledore suggested.
"Sixty couples, Albus?" Xander said dryly.
"We know about five or so."
"One of them between a graduate this year and next year's," Snape offered.
"There's one between one of this year's seventh years and one of this year's fourth years as well," Xander reminded him. "We might want to ask if they want married quarters or not. I'm pretty sure it was arranged."
Albus nodded. "It was. I've sent a letter of inquiry to the older student since they're living at his house." He cleared his throat. "We'll fix the room situation, Xander. Don't worry. We won't have to warehouse them in a storage room again."
"We aren't expected to have that sort of heat again?" Snape asked.
"No, not as far as I've been told," Albus assured him.
"Thankfully," Xander sighed. "I don't think I could take another few weeks like that." He slumped down a little more. "Albus, we'll have to do something. I offered it more stones, I offered it anything it wanted, and it only teased me with that one extra bed." He looked at Snape. "Apparently it expected your house to need more since it gave you six beds instead of one."
"It probably expected it to be needed for newly married couples," Snape noted. "It's traditional that many of my students get betrothed officially before their seventh year."
"Didn't Mr. Malfoy come in with a fiancé that year?" Dumbledore asked.
Snape nodded. "A pasty-faced little whiny creature from France. Two years his junior. His father told him as he dropped him off at the station. He stormed into my office and ranted about it before the feast. Fortunately, her parents were harmed by Voldemort. He thought the boy had promise as well," he said with a smirk. "He wanted him to have a *suitable* mate. One who would help him raise an heir for the Dark Lord."
"If Lucius had played him differently, Draco might have been the perfect heir for him," Xander pointed out.
"Yes, but he wanted one he could have more of a hand raising. He wanted most of Mr. Malfoy's sterling qualities and none of the mouth on him. The Imperious was considered a few times in that case to give him an heir worthy of him. He tried to get one of the sixth year daughters of his most loyal people to seduce Draco so she could bear the future heir."
"Did she?" Xander asked.
"Mr. Malfoy was warned and avoided her. It may have been the only lover he avoided, but he didn't give Voldemort an heir."
"Instead he gave himself one." Xander smiled at him. "Could you see Voldemort dealing with Simone?"
Snape burst out in laughter. "I can actually. I can see his face turning red the first time she called him a bitch and Draco having to protect her."
Dumbledore laughed. "It would seem that her five-year-old self might have been enough to have killed him all by herself."
"Her and Iggy together would have done it faster," Xander offered.
Snape nodded. "Definitely. I couldn't imagine him having to deal with that whole group. Those two and Denver would have driven him more insane. Their very natures were enough to do the rest of us in, those who were already insane would have died by their own hands."
"What about this new Dark Lord wannabe?" Xander asked. "Are they going to be trouble?"
"Hopefully not. They don't have the support to gain that sort of power."
Snape cleared his throat. "She does have some support, but not from the former Death Eaters. We should probably warn Mr. Malfoy though, as it's his half-sister." Xander snorted. "She has some support for her position because she's against people like you."
"Then I'll let Simone handle her," Xander said with a wry grin.
"Oh, dear, no," Albus told him. "She doesn't need to destroy someone so greatly this summer. It would harm her psyche."
Snape looked at him. "Are we talking about the same girl?"
"She is just a girl, Severus."
"She's not just a girl, Albus. She's more than capable of taking out that woman with a snide remark and a dagger. She is very well trained."
Xander lifted his head. "The aurors wanted to steal her," he agreed. Both men looked at him. "Arabelle told me. She had to convince them not to go near the girl, for their own health of course."
"That is a scary mental image," Albus agreed. "If you must tell her, do so gently so she doesn't feel like it's her duty to deal with this new woman."
"Sure," Xander agreed. "Castle?"
"Let me talk to it, Xander. Go to your house for a few weeks. I have everything from you."
"We want Andrea to be near a hospital. She's been having bad expansion pains." He stood up. "But I will go down to the shop. George has figured out how to make one of the spells that I put on his anniversary present." He strolled away to get cuddles.
Snape shook his head. "It's your move."
Albus looked at the board and shifted one of his pieces, swatting Severus' knight.
Severus moved his next piece. "Check."
Simone leaned on the counter, watching the people walk past. No one had come in all morning and she really wanted a book, but she hadn't brought one and no one would be up at home yet so she couldn't call for one. The door opened and she straightened up. "Welcome to...."
"Where is the owner of this questionable establishment?" the man sneered. He looked her over. "Go find her now, girl."
"First, she's off with her husband. I graciously agreed to fill in for her, Mr. Brandt. Secondly, the other owner is off at an appointment. If you want, you can come back in an hour and speak to Alicia, but Aunt Katie won't be back until tomorrow."
"Get them here now!" he demanded. "My son got a splinter from one of their shoddy brooms."
"We're only a retailer, we don't make them," she said patiently. "As I said, you can come back in an hour, or you can come back tomorrow. Or, you know, you could teach him how to take care of his broom correctly. That might help." She looked at the boy. "How many times have you used your cleaning kit?"
"Cleaning kit?" the father demanded. "Why should he have to!"
"Because all brooms need maintenance, sir. Normal usage does wear on the finish. Now, either sit and wait, come back later, or teach him how to properly care for his broom. I've had the same one now for six years and I haven't gotten a splinter yet because I take care of mine."
"Yes, you *Weasley's* are like that, aren't you?" he sneered. He turned and headed for the door. "I'll be back."
Simone had had enough. She didn't have patience on the best of days and this idiot was upsetting her happy mood. "Mr. Brandt, it's *Malfoy*-Weasley," she said with a sneer. "Katie is still my aunt through my mother." He blanched. "As I said, taking proper care of one's broom is the best option for those who *know* what they're about. Anyone who can't care for a broom properly shouldn't be allowed on one." She patted the top of a cleaning kit. "If you son wants, the owners run a care clinic once a month in Hogsmeade before the fun league games. Your son would do well to show up to one to learn how to polish and unbend his twigs." The man bustled his son out. "Wow, I've still got it," she said, smiling at herself as she leaned on the counter again. Her father would love that one. The door opened and a young boy walked in. "Hi. Browsing or wishing?"
"Hoping," he admitted with a smile. "Can I look?"
"Go for it," Simone agreed, pointing at the brooms in his size class. "Think about the one with the red handle for your weight. It should do you well."
"Simone Malfoy-Weasley," she said, shaking his hand. He got a look of awe. "My aunt needed a day off so I'm graciously filling in." The boy drooled. "Go look. I'll support you to your parents if you want."
"I'll have to try it out," he offered.
"Once they get there. That way you can show them how good you are." The boy nodded and moved to drool over the brooms, reading all the descriptions. "The red one," she encouraged. "My cousin Raena plays on one."
"What does she play?"
"Backup beater for the house team. She's Iggy's wife."
"Oh, wow," he breathed. He lifted it down, weighing it carefully. "Can I try it out before they get here?"
"Sure." She put up the bell and came over to take off the security spell. She walked him into the back, watching as he zoomed around. Not much real skill, but the desire. "You need some practice, kid, but you want it bad enough to possibly be good." The bell rang so she stepped back to see the new people. "Looking for your son?" The parents nodded and walked back there. "He's got some skill, but he needs practice," she told them. The boy did a fast turn and nearly fell. "Easy, kid."
"Yes, Simone." He grinned at her. "That's the beater for Gryffindor," he told them.
The parents looked at her and she nodded. "I'm filling in for my aunt, she needed some time off." The bell rang again so she looked out there. "Back here, Aunt Alicia." She walked back to join them. "He wants that one."
"I *really* want the newest Dreammaker."
"It's for seekers," Simone told him. "That and it's for tinier people, like my sister Ravena. If you wanted a seeker-quality broom, then you'd be better off going for the new Nimbus."
The boy grinned at her. "See, she does know."
Simone looked at the parents. "He needs practice, but he might make the house team with it." She left them in Alicia's hands, going back to the front. She waved at a classmate as they walked past, getting a smile and wave in return. Alicia came out with the parents, who bought the broom, and then waited until they were alone. "I was right, huh?" she asked with a smile.
"Very. He'll need a lot of practice to make his house team."
"I think he'll be Hufflepuff, but I could be wrong. They'll need a few people year after next. If he asks to train with the team, it might help." She leaned on the counter again. "I scared off a whiny bastard."
"Brandt. His son got a splinter. I informed them of your broom care clinic once a month in Hogsmeade." Alicia looked at her. "I hated him. He sneered at me. So I told him *exactly* who he was dealing with."
Alicia groaned. "Simone, stores need customers. You can't drive them off, not even the whiny ones."
"I know, but I wasn't about to be threatened by a fake death eater wannabe either. I told him you'd be back in about another half-hour and that he could come bitch to you then."
She laughed. "Thank you. Did you sell a polishing kit?"
"No, I suggested it. He called me a Weasley and I corrected him, pointing out that I was a Malfoy-Weasley. He looked a little bit ill when he ran out of here." The door opened and admitted the boy in question. "Came back for a polishing kit?"
The boy nodded, chewing on his bottom lip. "Would you please teach me how to care for my broom, Ms. Malfoy-Weasley? I would be most appreciative. I like my broom and I had no idea I was treating it so badly."
"That's fine," Simone said with a small smile. "Come into the back. Do you have money for a polishing kit?" He held out some change. "More than enough. Pay for one and I'll show you how to do a full care routine for the broom." Alicia rang him up and she took him into the back, sitting them on benches with a vise to hold the brooms. "This isn't necessary, but you'll want to prop it up so you can reach all the sides at once, that way you don't get build-up where you overlap." He nodded, carefully putting his broom in the vise under her watchful eye. "Aunt Alicia, do you have one that needs some care?"
"Take one of the worst of the used ones," she called back. "Our stuff is in the large metal drums."
Simone hurried to get one, coming back with a poor broom. It was good, heavy, and felt wonderful in her hand, but it was obviously not loved. She put hers in her vise and picked up the first thing. "This is a twig cutter. You trim any extra branches with it and any broken ones. We'll show you how to do it well enough that you won't need all the twigs replaced. For those of us who play hard, we only have them replaced once every one to two years." The boy nodded and she showed him how to snip at the twigs and keep the correct shape.
Simone walked into her house and flopped down in her father's study. "Did you get a complaint from Mr. or Mrs. Brandt?" she asked.
He smiled at her. "She said you were very strong willed and quite correct to teach her son how to care for his broom. It was time for him to learn such skills if he wanted to use it. Apparently her husband got the point as well." She grinned. "Did you have fun?"
"I did," she admitted. "It was wonderful how he went pale and shaky upon hearing my name. His son was a quick learner though. His broom was fixed and back in fine condition within an hour. He bought a second kit to take home with him. Alicia was very pleased with that. I not only sold two kits, but helped a boy buy his first new broom and advised him to spend a lot of time practicing."
"Very well done," he praised. "Are you going to go back?"
"I left word that either of them could call on me for some help. I have to remember to bring a book next time."
"I'll remind you," he assured her. He put his feet up. "Simone, we have to have a discussion." She raised an eyebrow. "Not about your men or your memberships, though I don't like the second place you've chosen. It isn't a good, high-quality place like your first one."
"Yes, father, but I feel icky sharing my lovers with you," Simone offered.
He chuckled. "I feel the same way, dear. We'll figure that part out later this week." She nodded. "For right now, I feel like I should warn you about someone." His daughter nodded again. "You know I have a few bastard siblings?" She grimaced. "Well, your half-aunt has decided to take off where Voldemort left off, starting with us."
"That absolute bitch!" she said firmly. "You can't follow her, father! I won't lose Uncle Xander in my life, or even Uncle Ron, because you feel the need to be naughty! Sign up to do work for Uncle Percy if you feel that sort of need to torture and maim."
He laughed. "I don't feel the need to follow her, daughter. Calm yourself." Simone calmed herself. "Thank you." He picked up a letter and played with it before tossing it over. "It came for you while you were gone. It's from her. I wasn't about to open your mail, but I wanted to be here when you opened it, just in case."
Simone used her thumb nail to slit open the envelope, pulling out the enclosed letter and piece of colored paper. "She wants to talk to me." Her father nodded. "It doesn't say about what."
"I want you to know that you have the right to make any decision you feel like, and I won't be terribly disappointed. I might attribute it to your brief possession by my father, but I won't stop you if you want to go to her and see what she wants."
Simone looked at him, then smiled. "If I go to her and kick her ass?"
"That would be dangerous, dear. I don't want you in danger. You're much too valuable to me to want you in danger." He smiled sadly. "I'd miss you if you were gone."
"Daddy," she said, getting up to hug him. "I won't get in trouble. I can even bring Denver with me. Or Uncle Xander." He shook his head. "Not even with a transformation spell? Or an illusion?"
"No, dear, she'll have wards set against him. She knows him and is in a crusade against him."
"Fine. Then can I take Uncle Spike? I've been wanting to meet him."
He chuckled. "Really?" She nodded. "You can ask him if he wants to go." She yelped as he patted her on the back, he had hit her sunburn. "Go change and calm yourself. I'll have his address written out for you." She hurried off, leaving the letter and paper there. He sniffed. His daughter was so special. He was so proud of her. He got up to tell her that, making sure she knew. He knew she wasn't going to be in trouble, there shouldn't be any danger at that meeting.
Simone walked up to Ethan's front door and knocked, smiling when the dark-haired chaos sorcerer answered. "Is Spike in?" she asked, stepping inside.
He closed the door and looked at her. "You look slightly familiar."
"I'm Simone Malfoy-Weasley, Draco's eldest daughter. I was going to offer Spike a chance to come beat up on the bad guys with me. My father didn't want me to go alone and he thought that my half-aunt might have wards set against Uncle Xander."
Ethan looked her over. "You've obviously been trained, but I'm not sure you're up to that." He found himself pressed against the wall with her knife against his chest. "Never mind," he said easily. "Please let me go."
"Of course." She stepped back. "Is Spike not here?"
"He's still in bed, Simone. Have tea with me? I'd love to hear some more about what Xander taught you. How is Minnie by the way?"
"Very well. She's taken to the training like it's a big game." She followed him into the sitting room, accepting the cup of tea. She took a deep sniff, using the skills her cousin had taught her. "Meadowgrass?"
"A slight nerve tonic," he admitted with a smile. "That's a good skill to have."
"My father's godfather is a master of poisons and Iggy is my cousin," she said, putting the cup down. "I don't need my reflexes dulled during the upcoming battle."
"Do you think it will be one?"
She nodded. "I do. She's very much like my former grandfather and I remember how stubborn he was from when he possessed me." Ethan looked shocked. "It was only for a day or so. Nothing too horrible. Though he did decide I wasn't good for more than breeding. Dressed me in this horrid outfit," she said lightly. "I looked quite the tramp."
He chuckled, sipping his tea. "My own father thought the same about me as well." He smiled at her. "Did your Uncle send any pictures with you?"
"A few for Uncle Spike," she admitted. "Including one of my youngest sister, Morgana. She'll be the next guardian of the school you know."
"No, I hadn't," he told her. He accepted the pictures and smiled at the children waving at him. "Minnie doesn't look much like her mother."
"No, Grandmother noted that she didn't either. Gwen does, but Minnie actually looks more like my Uncle Bill as a child."
"It must be nice to have a large family," he said, handing the pictures back. He checked the time. "Spike is usually up by now," he noted. "I'm sorry to keep you waiting."
"I had nothing better to do tonight. I called off practice."
"Oh? What do you play?"
He smiled again. "I noticed how well muscled you were earlier. You must be very good."
"I've been offered a place on a pro team. Less than one percent of the pro leagues are women," she told him. "Unfortunately, my year is having a slight problem with the Ministry. They decided to hold back my entire year for shits and giggles."
Ethan hissed. "Are they living?"
"The original one committed suicide to get away from my father," she said proudly. "The next person is under death threat by prepaid assassin if he changes any of his former boss' orders. We're at a standstill waiting for information." She checked her own watch. "Do you think he'd mind if I went to wake him up? I don't want to miss out on movie time tonight with my cousins."
"He's in the second bedroom on the left from the top of the hall. I won't tell anyone if you go wake him up."
She snorted as she stood up. "Ethan, I am every bit my father's daughter. My reputation is already sullied enough to allow me to be here without anyone saying a thing. Well, other than asking if I was taking him on as my latest love slave," she said with a smirk as she strolled away. Her leather pants squeaked as she walked. They were her favorite set and she knew that he was drooling. She tapped on the bedroom door before walking in. "Spike?" She didn't get an answer so she walked in and sat beside him on the bed. She poked him on the bare stomach, making him scream and flail. "Good morning, sleepyhead," she said with a smile. "Uncle Xander offered you to escort me to beat up on someone tonight."
Spike regained his composure and looked her over. "Which one are you?"
"Simone, Draco's eldest." She handed over the pictures. "Daddy set these for you."
He looked through the pictures, smiling at the little children in them. He came to the last one. "Who's that?"
"Morgana, my youngest sister. She's to be the next guardian for the school so we've coopted your help to train her as well," she said with a smile. "We were sure you wouldn't mind."
Spike snorted, but he kept the picture. He reached for his cigarettes and lit one, but she took it from him and put it out. "Oi!"
"Do not do such filthy things in front of me," she chided with a smile. "I'm a pure and innocent little creature. I don't need smoke inhalation."
He snickered. "Innocent, you?"
"Well, of drugs and smoking," she admitted with a smile. "Get up already. I don't want to miss movie night with my cousins because you're too shy to stand up naked in front of me." He raised an eyebrow. "I have seen them before. Many of them, up close even. You have nothing I haven't seen or touched before."
He slid out of the bed, back turned toward her. "Thought you were innocent," he told her.
"Of drugs and smoking, not of sex. My father had me taught when I was sixteen." He turned to look at her, looking shocked. "What? I enjoyed it," she admitted with a smile. She looked him over. "I can see why people would be attracted to you, once they got past the whole 'dead' thing. Not my thing personally, I go for men with a desire to be topped and an intense desire for oral play for my pleasure." She crossed her legs. "Put clothes on. Going like that might ruin your reputation. Portkey can make things shrivel."
He grabbed his jeans and pulled them on. "You're a cheeky bint."
"I'm not that young," she said dryly. "I'm more than old enough to walk into any sex store and buy toys which are bigger than you to use on my lovers."
His mouth hung open. Then he laughed. "Damn, you are Draco's aren't you?" he said between guffaws. She nodded. "Got your mouth from him or your Uncle Xander?"
"Both. He taught me my fifth and sixth word. Bitch and whorehouse."
He continued to laugh as he grabbed a shirt off a chair. "I bet we'll have lots of fun when I come check Minnie this summer."
"Of course," she said as she stood up. "She's taken to the fighting like it's a large game and loves to beat up on Xander." She saw the look given to her leather pants and long t-shirt. "I'm comfortable. It's my favorite outfit. My half-aunt will have to accept me as I am before I kick her lily white ass through a wall. Of course, you can get in a few hits of your own if you want." He put an arm around her shoulders and walked her back downstairs. "Did you need to feed before we leave?"
"Nah, I'm fine," he assured her. He smiled at Ethan. "She's a kicker."
"I noticed." He handed the envelope she had left on the couch. "Are you bringing him back tonight or do I get a few days free of him?"
"I'll take him to check on Minnie," Simone told him. She took out the portkey and took his hand, activating it. They landed in a small drawing room, lavishly but gaudily appointed. "Someone needs taste," she said dryly.
"Simone," the woman waiting on them said, then she saw Spike. "Your chaperone?"
"You know that a young woman my age shouldn't be about without one," Simone agreed. "Spike, this is my half-aunt. My father's whore of a father had her as a future sacrifice and never got around to killing her." The woman glared at her. "It's the truth. He set up father as the only heir for a reason." She took a seat and looked at her. "Your letter didn't say anything. What do you want? I and my chaperone have other things to do tonight."
"I want you to join my cause," she said. "We have no need of the sort that has infected your family. They're quite obscene. Your own upbringing wasn't properly done and it shows." She waved a hand at the leather pants. "Had you been raised right...."
"I would have been bored," Simone put in. "The same as I am now." She smiled coldly at her. "You do know that there's gryphon in *our* background? From my grandfather's side?"
"There is not!" the aunt retorted coldly.
Simone pulled something out of her too-tight pocket and handed it over. "That's the official family tree. Perhaps you should look it over before you do much more. After all, people are still laughing at Voldemort for trying to kill mudbloods since he was one of them." She stood up. "I'd hate for you to reflect badly on the rest of the family. My sister might have to marry a less decent wizard." She crossed her arms. "Now then," she said with a cold smile as soon as her aunt had turned completely pale. "Was there anything else you wanted to talk about? You're damaging my reputation by being near me." She smiled at Spike. "Can I take care of her now or should I play some more?"
"Oh, play," he encouraged, going to game face.
The woman shrieked and raised her wand, but Simone threw her dagger, pinning her wrist to the wall behind her. "Naughty, you," Simone chided in her best patronizing voice. She looked over the woman. "Not only can you not dress yourself, you have no idea what you're doing. For a future Dark Lord, you are pathetic." She grabbed her dagger and wiped it off on the woman's robes. "Listen, dear, my family is snubbing you for a very good reason. Do not contact us again. My father had been worried about what sort of problems you would cause my sister, but I don't think you're going to be problematic at all. Are you?" she sneered. The woman started to shake. "Thank you for your future cooperation." She smiled at Spike. "One more stop and then we'll go play with the triplets and Mary?"
"The dark haired one in the pictures. Uncle Ron married her mum. She is such a Weasley of Destruction. Stole part of the store's contents the other day," she said as she took his hand. She fixed and reactivated the portkey, sending them back to the Leaky Cauldron. "Hello, Tom," she said with a smile. "Can we get a pint before we head home? I should probably sit in the open since my half-aunt just tried to get me to join her pitiful and pathetic cause." He handed over two pints and waved off her money. "You're sure?"
"I'm sure," he said with a smile. "Your Uncle and Aunt are in the corner over there. They said something about expecting your father to come in bloody."
"How very tedious that would be," she told him. "Words can be so much more painful. Blood is for more serious threats, which she was not." She strolled that way, enjoying all the stares her leather-clad ass was getting. "Hello, Uncle Percy, Aunt Arabelle," she said, kissing each of their cheeks. "Spike, sit with us," she said as she sat down.
Percy looked at him. "You were her chaperone?"
"Daddy said I had to have someone competent who could get my back if it came to a fight," Simone told him. "Besides, I'm taking him to check up on Minnie and Morgana." She sipped her butterbeer. "Aunt Arabelle, I don't think she's going to be much of a problem any longer. She didn't know much about her family heritage at all."
"Between that and the knife to her wrist, I'm sure she's either in a rage or shaking," Spike agreed. Arabelle opened her mouth. "All her," he told her. "Very nice throw by the way. Xander?"
She nodded. "He taught me when I was ten. Taught Uncle Percy's son Melvin as well. He's too nice to use it, but he's just as excellent at it as I am."
"Melvin knows how to throw knives?" Percy asked.
Simone looked at him. "He also taught him the same weapons lessons as I and Denver got. He can even use a bow better than I can."
"You see, dear, it wasn't your job," Arabelle said dryly. She looked at Simone. "Are you willing to see your name in the paper tomorrow?"
"I figure it's too late for that," Simone told her. "Not only did I fill in for Aunt Katie earlier and verbally bitchslap someone, but I was seen walking into Ethan's house. Short of a bout of drinking and whoring with Spike, I don't think it'll hurt my reputation too badly." Spike again raised an eyebrow. "Love, I'd adore taking you with me, but you'd have to promise not to eat any of my lovers at my favorite places. They wouldn't let you in otherwise."
Percy spluttered. "Simone!" The people around them looked at him, making him glare. "Restrain your language, young lady."
"She's being honest," Spike assured him. "The spots she goes wouldn't let me in unless they thought I was harmless." He grinned at her. "Anytime you want to go on that rip through town, yell my way, ducks. Sounds like a bit of fun."
Simone grinned. "More fun than talking babies with Raena and Andrea. I'm storing it all for possible future reference, but I can't really share in the whole morning sickness thing."
"Iggy's skirt's preggers?" Spike asked. Simone nodded. "Well," he said with a proud smile. "Wonderful for him."
"He's over the moon," Arabelle agreed. Her husband gave her a funny look. "It'd be rude not to join in, no matter how surreal the conversation seems to be, Percy. He seems like a decent sort, for a vampire." The people nearest them shifted away.
"He's Uncle Xander's buddy," Simone told them. They relaxed. She smiled at them. "See, not a problem." Tom walked over to them. "Hi. Problems?" she asked with a smile.
"Is he really a vampire?" Spike let his game face slip, making the bartender jump. "Why're you with him, girl?"
"Because father said he was a suitable accompaniment to beat up on the new Dark Lord wannabe," she said honestly. "My half-aunt summoned me earlier tonight and I couldn't very well bring my father or my Uncles, could I?" He shook his head slowly. "It's all right, Spike knows how to behave in mixed company. Madam Rosemerta offered him an invitation to come back and tell her how his phoenixes are doing."
"Baby's fine," Spike told her. "Bit uptight. Must be ready to mate again." He sipped his butterbeer. "I won't eat anyone. I'd not get to see the kiddies if I did. You can ask Xander if you want."
"He's out at the new house," Percy told him.
"Heard about that," Spike said with a grin. "Sounds great."
"It is, it's very calming up there," Simone offered. "But you'd need to bring a few books. There's not even a tv up there yet. Uncle Xander sneaks back home to watch anything he wants."
"Sounds great," Spike noted. "I'll bug him to be let up tonight."
Simone checked her watch. "We should probably head back to the house. Everyone should be there and I did promise Ethan he'd have a night free of you." Spike laughed. "Come on, blond boy, let's head home for real food." She kissed her family again and left through the floo with Spike. They came out the other side a little warmer than when they started. Xander gave her a knowing look. "We're done," she announced. "The bitch is suitably chastised and will leave this part of the family alone under penalty of me finishing what I started." She pulled her hair up. "Where's Daddy?"
"Bathroom," Ana said, looking at their guest. "You brought a vampire home, sister? I thought you had better taste than that."
Xander snorted. "Ana, this is Spike." She waved, looking bored. "You'll have to excuse her, she's having doubts about her future marriage." He shifted and patted the cushion beside him. "Come sit. Hear everyone's news."
"I fly," Gwen told him, grinning at him. "Oh, you not know Mary!" She poked her big sister until she woke up. "This is Spike. He watches us."
Mary smiled at him. "Hi," she said shyly. She stood up and walked over to look up at him. "You're scary," she said with joy, hugging his legs. "Teach me how to be scary!"
Spike got free and sat down, looking at her. "You're an odd little one, aren't you?" he asked with a smile. She nodded.
"She likes to blow up things," Ron said from his seat. "Minnie." He poked the kid on his lap. She yawned and stretched, pushing his head out of the way. "Uncle Spike is here."
Her eyes popped open and she grinned at him. "Uncle Spike!" she said, scrambling across everyone, ignoring their grunts of pain, to get to her favorite uncle of all time. He said neat stuff. He 'eeped' when she squeezed his neck for her hug. "Mary, this is Spike. He's a vampire," she said happily. "He go 'grr'."
"Go grr!" Mary said happily, bouncing and clapping.
Spike went to game face, making the kids giggle. He looked at Xander. "These really are odd because of you, aren't they?"
Xander nodded. "Mostly." He waved as Draco walked past. "Your daughter's back."
"Let me get a drink," Draco called. He backtracked and looked at Spike. "Simone, you brought home a vampire."
"Yeah, because he needs to play with Minnie and Morgana," she said, waving a hand. "The bitch is sorry. I made sure of it."
"Thank you, Simone." He dropped a kiss on her head. "Spike, no game face." He went to get his drink, coming back to wield the remote control. "What are we watching tonight?"
"NeverEnding Story," Xander said firmly. Draco sighed but turned on the DVD player.
Spike looked down when he felt someone tugging on his pants. "Who're you?" he asked, reaching down to pat the boy on the head.
"Zach. My daddy's a potion's master."
"That's professor Snape's son," Iggy said from his corner with his wife. Spike smiled at him. "You heard?"
"I told him," Simone admitted. "We managed to shock Uncle Percy as well. He and Aunt Arabelle were eating at the Leaky Cauldron."
"Must have been another long night in the office," Xander put in.
Spike relaxed, letting the kids crawl into his lap. They were so neat it didn't bother him too much. Mary kept sneaking looks at him so he went to game face, making her chuckle and snuggle in as hard as she could, which moved Minnie, which started a small fight. He settled it by getting onto the floor and letting everyone pick a part of him to lean against. Minnie took his back, snuggling against him to fall back asleep.
Xander grinned down at him. "Feels good, doesn't it?" he said quietly. Spike glared at him. "You can be squishy around here. You're allowed to play the favorite uncle." He went back to watching one of his favorite movies.
Sarajane walked in and slid into her husband's lap, looking around for her children. "Hello," she told Spike. "I haven't met you yet. Another Malfoy relative?"
"Long lost Weasley actually," Xander said absently. Anastasia choked. He paused the movie. "What? Distant cousin over two generations ago. His father was a squib, an accountant, so he was raised muggle. His father kept him from going to the school and so he didn't know either until he was turned. Now can we please get back to the movie?" Everyone nodded so he restarted the DVD. "Thank you." He leaned against Simone, his buddy.
Ron looked at his wife. "That's Spike, dear," he said quietly. Her face lit up. "Mary adores him already, as you can see. She asked him to teach her how to be scary." Xander shot him a glare. "Sorry."
"Xander, dear, you need laid," Simone noted, patting him on the arm. "Why haven't you pounced Uncle George today?"
"He's sick in bed with a cold," Xander pouted. "Said it'd make his head hurt worse."
"You poor thing," Spike mocked.
"It's been two days," Xander said miserably.
Spike stared at him. "Two days? You get like this after *two* days?"
Simone looked down at him. "No, usually he's worse after two days. He's only sulking right now. Last time he pouted."
Spike shook his head. "I never want to be cursed with a relationship that strong." Mary gave him another hug, making him feel better. "You be good," he told her. She shook her head. "Well, try for now and I'll teach you how to fight dirty as you get older." She settled in, happy with that compromise for now.
Xander looked at the letter in his hand, frowning at the American postmark. It had come through the regular mail. He shrugged and opened it, not expecting the news he was getting. "Well, fuck!" he said bitterly.
"What happened?" Draco called.
"My only remaining sister died. My niece is coming."
"I didn't know you had any siblings."
"Half-sister," Xander admitted. "It's a bit incestuous but my father slept with one of his cousins to get her." He handed over the letter. "My niece is ...." He stopped to think about it. "The last time I saw her she was almost exactly like me, only five years younger." He shrugged. "Anyway, Myan's coming over here to live."
"Is she a witch?" Draco asked, handing back the letter.
"Wiccan. I'm guessing Willow forwarded this on or she put some sort of charm to make sure it made it here. How did it get here?" he asked, looking around the manor.
"The muggle postman delivered it. I had to oblivate him because one of the house elves answered the door." He sat down and put his feet up. "What's she like?"
"Me, only female and five years younger," Xander told him. "I haven't seen her since .... damn, high school maybe?" He shrugged. "I'll pick her up tomorrow and bring her here."
"You might want to check the date again. It is Thursday," Draco noted dryly.
Xander hopped up, patting himself down for money. "Shit, I need to get to the airport then. What time is it?"
"She was due in two hours ago."
"Even more wonderful," Xander said dryly. He looked at the letter. "Phone?" It was picked up and tossed over. Xander called information, which connected him with the airport. "Hi. I'm supposed to be picking up my niece today and I just found out. Can you page her? Myan Harris?" He paused, then slumped. "Thanks. No, I'll have to search her out. No, I'm sure she went to a friend's." He hung up. "She didn't answer the page. That means she's probably wandering around London somewhere." He headed for the floo, tossing the phone back. "I'll be back later with her if that's all right?"
"Only if you think it's wise," Draco called after him. He slumped down a little bit. "A wiccan, here?" he snorted. "My father would shit bricks."
Xander hurried into the Leaky Cauldron, pausing when he saw his beloved cousin. "How did you get here?" he said angrily.
"Easy. I followed the trail I put on my letter, Xander." She grinned at him, making him relax. "Calm down. It's all right. We're copacetic." He sat down across from her. "Would you please let me into Diagon? I have an appointment down there."
"How did you know about that?" Xander asked. She put a familiar letter on the table. "I'll kill Albus again!" A few of the patrons laughed, including one big man in the corner. "Hagrid, come meet my cousin Myan." He stood up and walked over, shaking her hand. "Myan, this is Hagrid, he teaches Magical Creatures and is the groundskeeper at the school." He opened her letter and read it. "Oh, well, you're going to be helping." He looked at Hagrid, who was smiling. "Did you know?"
"Not a bit, but Albus did say there'd be a surprise. Never said it'd be a pretty one though."
Myan laughed. "I'm not that pretty." She finished off her drink and stood up. "It's been nice meeting you, Hagrid, I'm sure we'll be having lunch soon enough. Did my animal get up there yet?"
"Got there this morning," he agreed. "Lucky thing too, Professor Snape saw it first. He made sure the caretaker didn't shoo it away."
"He'd better not shoo away my raven." She linked her arm through Xander's. "If you'll excuse us, he's going to take me shopping now. I don't think anyone wants me to run around in this." She waved a hand at her outfit of hawaiian shirt, tank top, and jeans. "Tomorrow?"
"Would be wonderful," Hagrid agreed. He watched as Xander walked her away, waiting until they were gone to laugh. "They're so alike," he said happily.
"Only the girl's a bit more cynical," Tom noted, handing him another beer. "Think I should send her bag on to the shop?"
"George is down sick. He sent Xander to Malfoy's." Hagrid sipped off the foam. "Can't wait to see those two meet." He winked and went back to his companion, Professor Flitwick. "Guess he didn't see you."
Flitwick smiled at him. "I've seen her about before. She's every bit Rosenberg's equal in magic. I wonder if she'll end up taking over for Tara if she decided to do research this year."
"Maybe. Might be interesting to see them clash."
Xander took his cousin into Diagon. "Let's head to the bank first since I have almost nothing on me, then I'll introduce you to the in-laws. There's at least one down here at all times because she works down here." After going through the bank, which left her impressed and saddened by how he had so much money - and she vowed to destroy that doctor if she ever met him - he let her look over the map. "I need to ask, do you want to try and get a wand? I heard you were Wiccan and most of them can't use one, but I figure you're so much like me that it might work."
She linked her arm through his again. "Xander, calm down. We need to have a long discussion about why I'm here."
"I read your letter."
"Yeah, well, something a bit more happened than you know. The house burned because of me. I didn't do it," she said at the opening mouth, "someone was trying to get me. Remember Willow and her magic?"
"She's a Watcher now. Did you have the same sort of breakthrough?"
"I did," she agreed. "Nana was there with us at the time and I pretty muchly blinded my whole coven with my rage. They called Willow, who suggested I come over here and spend some time with you since you're the last of the family."
"Not really," Xander said quietly. "George and I have kids. One of them's getting ready to be a father."
"Wow." She grinned at him. "You should have told me. I only knew you were married because of Willow."
"I sent you letters every six months," he said with a shrug. "I figured your mom got them first." She nodded. "So, how powerful are you on the Rosenberg scale of destruction?"
"More than strong enough to not only be here, but she *demanded* that I be fitted for a wand. She decided I needed a regulator. Hence me getting a plane ticket so quickly and getting here before my letter."
"I got it today," he admitted, leading her to the wand shop. He walked her inside and smiled at the old man waiting on them. "Let me guess, Albus called?"
"He did," Ollivander agreed. "He said this one was most special and very much like you. Only with more problems."
"Only of the female sort," she admitted. "How do wands work?"
"They're focuses and filters, young lady. Your sort use them to siphon your energy into a single beam instead of multiple ones from every pore of your body." She nodded and he patted a small stack of boxes. "I took the liberty of pulling down ones like your cousin's."
She took the first one and it made her hand itch so she immediately handed it back. "That felt odd," she said as she scratched her palm. The next one was pretty. It was oak with an obsidian handle, with a phoenix tail feather. That one reacted, but it blew Ollivander back against his shelves. "Sorry, sir."
"It's not a problem, he's used to it," Xander assured her. He touched the silver box. "What's that one?"
"You and your son both seem to have that odd gift," Ollivander said with some fondness. He let her hold that one but it didn't react. "I didn't think so. The next box is usually the one they mean, but their perception gets bent somewhere in their heads." He handed over the box from the bottom of the stack. She waved it and he smiled at the silver glow from the end. "Ah, yes. Willow with an ash core. Very unusual for a gryphon-born."
"Ash of what?" Xander asked, looking at the plain wand.
"Ash from a salamander burnt in offering a few years back," Ollivander admitted. "Very powerful, young lady."
"Thank you, Mr. Ollivander. How much do we owe you?"
"Seven galleons, five sickles," he told her. Xander handed it over. "I believe your mate's twin is down at the broom shop. She should do well in that area as well."
"You guys fly?" she asked Xander as they walked out. She stopped to wave at the nice older man.
"I do, I fly all the time," he agreed. "We'll stop there next." He led her into the broom shop. "Ah, my lovely ladies of pain," he said with a smirk. "Any news on our own tier?"
"It's coming along," Katie told him. "We'll have a game in about a month." She smiled at the young woman, then looked from her to Xander and back. "Sister?"
"Cousin. Her mother was my half-sister," he said, leaning on the counter. "I heard Fred was over."
"He's in the back lifting down a large box for me because he said I can't," Katie told him. The boy on her back kicked her. "Ow, Keivgn."
Myan looked and smiled at the baby, wiggling her fingers. "Good morning, little creature. How are you?" He kicked his mother some more and made honking noises at her. "That well, huh?"
Fred came out with the box, dropping it when he saw the woman. "Xander, is she like William?"
"No, she's not another me from another dimension. She's my cousin Myan." He waved a hand. "This is my husband's twin brother, Fred. The one with the baby is Katie, his wife, and their son Keivgn. Alicia is the other lovely lady. I give them battle strategies for games."
"Wow." Myan looked at the brooms. "My wiccan coven said brooms were a myth," she pouted.
"We'll want to make sure she can fly and get her one. Albus is expecting her to help up at the school."
"Oh, really?" Fred asked, smiling at them. "Doing what?"
"I don't know. Hagrid told me." Xander grinned at him. "If the ghost comes running down to the shop to hide, send him back."
Fred nodded. "Of course. So, Myan?" She nodded. "Your cousin can fly. How much like him are you?"
"I have better grace and can dance," she offered. "I took martial arts when I was younger. I can ride a horse. I don't swim as well."
Xander looked at him. "If someone had said 'make a more graceful, female version of Xander', they'd have created her. Even though she hates that distinction." The doorbell jingled. "Hey, Ron. This is my cousin Myan. She'll be joining us at the school. This is George's younger brother Ron and I believe the little lump on his back is Mary?" She poked her head up. "Hi, Gwen." He smiled at her. "I was wrong, that is Gwen, one of his three triplets with my friend Buffy."
"What happened to her?" Myan asked, leaning against the counter. "Willow introduced her that one summer I visited."
"She died shortly after the triplets were born. Someone she trusted killed her," Xander told her.
"Oh, I'm sorry." She put a hand on the side of Ron's face. "She seemed pretty nice from the little I talked with her. I'm sorry you lost her."
"It's okay. It's been a while now. I found new happiness," he said with a grin. "You really are like him, aren't you?" She nodded, grimacing. "Sorry. We all know Xander."
"True. I'm well known to some people," Xander said with a grin. He heard the shouting outside and held up a finger. "That sounds like the kids. Let me go check." He walked out and found one born standing behind Simone and her beating up on an adult male. "What the fuck are you doing to my niece!" he shouted. The man flinched and backed away from them. "An explanation, Simone?"
"This man was picking on him," Simone told him, turning to look at the boy. She smiled at him. "It's all right, Elbert. I'll protect you while you're shopping." He nodded, slumping against her in a dead faint. "I'm going to take him to the broom shop."
"Fred and Ron are in there," Xander told her. She walked away with the boy in a fireman's carry. "So, you're beating up on kids now?" he sneered at the adult. "Why don't you pick on someone your own size, you bastard offspring of a skewrt and donkey." The man lunged and Xander punched him once, sending him to the ground. "*NEVER* pick on another child, especially not one of the born. I will find you and deal with you," he warned. Then he walked away, pushing through the crowd. He found his cousin standing on the edge. "All taken care of. You'll find there are some narrow minded bastards in these parts about gryphon-borns. Ignore them if possible."
"Gryphon-born?" she asked.
"Oh, you don't know," he said fondly, putting an arm around her shoulders. "We'll get to that later tonight." She nodded and relaxed. "Come on, let's let Fred pick you a broom. He helped me find the style I like." He led her back into the shop. "Is Elbert all right?"
"Just fine," Simone told him. "Still out cold but the guy didn't get more than verbal with him." She smiled at the woman. "Wow. You've got to be family. I'm Simone."
"This is my acknowledged son's oldest daughter Simone," he said. "Her mother is George's younger sister. The only girl in that level of the family."
Myan waved. "Hi, I'm Myan. I noticed you had an excellent style."
"Uncle Xander taught me," Simone told her. "Do you know about fighting styles?"
"I'm a second degree blackbelt in Karate and Judo," Myan told her.
"Wow. Uncle Xander, can we take her back to Daddy?"
"In a bit, let's finish shopping for her," Xander said patiently. He noticed the cop heading their way. "Law Enforcement."
"Oooh, Harassment Are Us," Simone said with mock-fondness. The officer walked in and she pointed at the boy. "The git started with him and I stepped in. Uncle Xander saved his life before I could take it."
The officer looked from Xander to her, then to Myan. "All right," he said finally. "He started it?" They nodded. "Thank you. That's all I need to know. Professor Harris-Weasley, will you be at the shop tomorrow in case my boss wants to talk to you about this?"
"My husband sent me to Malfoy Manor because he's sick with a cold," Xander told him. "We'll be there. Oh, spread it around, this is my cousin Myan. She's just like me," he said with a smile and a pat on her back.
"Nice to meet you, ma'am. Hopefully we don't have to know you like we do your cousin." He backed out of the store and went to make his report. He didn't mess with that family. If his boss wanted them questioned, he could damn well do it himself! But he would pass around the warning about the new cousin. She even carried herself like a fighter.
Myan looked at her favorite cousin. "You scared him," she said with a grin.
"I do that sometimes," he agreed. "Fred, she needs a broom. I'm trusting you to get her something she can use. She's very graceful."
"Follow me," Fred agreed, helping her over the box to the ladies brooms. "You dance and you're light on your feet. How do you feel about thin wood instead of thick?"
"I have no idea," she admitted. "My coven said these were myths."
Fred chuckled. "You get that a lot from them. They're jealous." He pulled down a middle of the road broom and took her into the back. "Try that out." She took it and looked at it, then at him. "Swing across the handle and hold on tightly," he told her. She did so and it gently rose under her. "Does that feel too light, too heavy, or just about right?"
"I feel like I'm sitting on a piece of dental floss," she admitted. "I also feel like I'm going to fall. How do I land?" she asked, starting to panic as she rose higher.
"Push the handle down," he said patiently. She did so and landed. "Okay, let's try a heavier handle. "Your cousin flies a Russian broom, maybe one of theirs." He led her out and let her pick out one that appealed to her, bringing her back. This time she rose a little easier. "It takes some getting used to."
"But it's a great feeling," she agreed. "I can see why Xander was adamant that I get a broom of my own. He probably won't let me steal his."
"That's right," Xander called. He strolled back. "Relax, Myan. It won't hurt you."
"It's this little stick though," she told him.
"I think we'll have to head for one like yours," Fred told him. "Land, Myan, and we'll try for something thicker." Alicia walked back and handed him one of the biggest they had. "Ooh, Greek," he said with a smile. She climbed on that one and took off, zipping around the room. "Yeah, I think that's the one for her."
Xander handed Alicia his bag of money. "However much it costs," he told her. She hugged him and went to ring him up. "Come on down. We can fly some more later tonight. We're staying with a pro player so we'll both help you later." Fred looked at him. "I think she and Draco will get along very well," he noted.
"Possibly," Fred agreed, starting to chuckle. "I can see him getting flustered so easily by her."
"Why? I'm a *nice* girl," she said with an evil smirk as she landed. "This one?"
"That one's yours," Xander agreed. He led her out to the front, letting Katie put it in a carrying case for her. He took back his greatly diminished bag of money and waved. "We're off to do the clothes thing, then we're heading back to Draco's. I'll see the rest of you tomorrow. Simone?"
"In a few," she agreed.
Xander shrugged and walked his cousin out, going down the alley. "Did you want to borrow Iggy's books for now?"
"If he wouldn't mind." She nudged him. "Iggy?"
"Our son, Ignatius Caramel Harris-Weasley. He's a potion's prodigy," he said proudly. He led her into Madam Malkin's. "This is my cousin Myan," he told the nice older lady. "She's newly arrived and will apparently be teaching with us. Would you mind terribly getting her spiffed up so she can meet the adopted son?"
Madam Malkin chuckled. "I'd adore dressing her in a wonderful outfit, Xander. Slinky or not?"
"Practical, but get her something slinky so we can go out to dinner tonight." He sat down, putting his cane against his chest while he watched her be measured. "And get her something fun as well. She'll have to meet Snape and Tara tomorrow."
Madam Malkin smiled at him. "I'll get her something tasteful then. I'm sure he'd appreciate not being blinded tomorrow." She bustled away to get the young lady some new clothes, coming back with a few wonderful outfits in the latest styles. Xander shook his head over two of them so she exchanged them for what she knew Xander would choose for himself. Myan nodded and let herself be dressed and fitted. She walked out in a royal blue outfit that emphasized all the right points. Too bad she had pulled her hair back into a ponytail. She put up her 'be right back' sign and went to gossip with the shopkeeper on her left.
To part two of these epilogues: