Note: Because someone asked about how all the kids were the same age. Oh, and the one scene was because my mind when funny places earlier when I read a commonly used line.

A Collection Of Snippets, Because Someone Asked How It Happened That Way.

Snippet 1:

Xander and George walked into the Burrow, just back from their week with the gryphons. It had been a strange honeymoon. All the gryphons had either laughed at George, or wanted to see them make out. Very strange for the great fluffy pranksters. Xander flopped down onto the couch, pulling George down beside him. Mrs. Weasley had gone out, she'd left them a note, and would be back soon. Of course, she had forbidden them to touch anything in the kitchen, but that was okay. Xander had other things to nibble. He turned his head and found his husband's neck within easy nipping range.

"Xander! Someone might see us," George complained. "I've been watched enough recently."

"Tough," Xander murmured into the warm skin. "You taste nummy." His husband wiggled but didn't pull away. "You taste like warm air and me."

"That's because your lips are continually there," Bill said as he came down the stairs. He smiled at the new couple. "Having fun?"

"I've been gaped at enough," George told him, pushing Xander away. "Home for a while?"

"Vacation. My boss insisted because I haven't taken one in a while." He sat down on Xander's other side. "So, you're George's naughty husband. Do I have to warn you about treating him right?"

"No," Xander told him with a grin. "But if you do, I'll prank you so badly you'll beg the twins to get you next time."

Bill laughed. "Good. It's good to see George has someone like him." He patted Xander on the knee. "But trust me, I'll feed you to a troll if you try and hurt him." He stood up. "Mum not back yet?"

"No and she banned us from the kitchen."

"Ahh," Bill said, grinning at his brother. "I guess she didn't want you to hex it." He laughed and walked away. He knew *exactly* why they weren't allowed in the kitchen and he was going to keep them out. After all, their mother had worked for two days on that cake. He smirked at Ginny when he found her lounging in the garden tanning. "Tired already?"

"Baby started to kick," she complained. She opened her eyes and looked up at him. "The brat likes the sun."

He nodded and sat beside her on the grass, reaching over to rub her tiny stomach. "I'm sure the child will give you a new appreciation for many things." The baby kicked him. "Damn, you're strong, little witch."

Ginny snorted. "I still think it's a boy."

"I'm sure it's a girl," he argued. "She's going to be very sweet and like me quite a lot."

"At least he calms down when you're around." Ginny closed her eyes again. "Did I hear George and Xander?"

"Yup. They were snogging on the couch. I got to tease them a little."

She snickered. "It can be quite sickening," she agreed. She shifted some. "Want to carry the baby for a while for me? It's getting heavy."

"No." He stood up. "But if you're good and help me do something mean when Percy gets here, I'll give you a foot rub."

She opened her eyes again. "Throw in a backrub and I'll even pull the prank myself."

He laughed and shook his head as he walked away.

"I wasn't joking," she called after him.

Her older brother waved at her as he walked into the house. He pushed Xander out of the refrigerator and back into the living room. "No peeking. It's a surprise."

"I just needed a soda," he whined, looking pitiful. "I need my caffeine fix, otherwise I'll get grumpy and George will pout."

"Nice try." Bill handed him back to George. "Yours I believe." The fireplace dinged and his mother stepped out of it. "I kept them out of the kitchen," he told her. "Ginny's lying in the sun."

"Good." She bustled into the kitchen, but came out and handed Xander one of the sodas her husband had picked up. Xander gave her a grin. "Poor boy. Were you without caffeine the whole time?"

"No, we brought some with us," George told her dryly. "He's horrid when he hasn't had any." He opened the soda and took a drink then handed it back. "Thank you." He stood up. "I'm going to bug Ginny. How's she doing?"

"Baby's kicking. Her ankles hurt."

"All normal things for a pregnant woman," Mrs. Weasley said as she went back to the kitchen. A few minutes later, everyone could hear her demanding Ginny put her top back on.

Xander snuggled back into George's side, content now that he had a soda and his husband. His life was good. "So, what else is going on?"

"Ron's at an interview. Fred's at work and said he'd be back tonight. Dad's gonna be back in a few hours. We're all here to meet Percy's girl. What's her name?"


"Someone named her Candy?"

"With a 'K'," Xander added.

Bill's nose wrinkled. "Parents can be mean." He clapped Xander on the shoulder. "You two behave and stay down here. Don't want to traumatize mum, now do we?" He grabbed his broom and went outside.

George stole a kiss. "Think we should behave?"

"Can I prank him?" Xander asked sweetly, trying to look cute and innocent.

"We know you better than that," Ginny said as she walked behind them. "Xander, can you give backrubs?"

"I give killer backrubs," he said proudly. "Would you like one?"

"Please?" she begged. "I'll be nice and make you a picnic tomorrow." She walked in and stood in front of the couple. "Please? The brat is really active and killing my back."

"Take a long hot bath," her mother called from the kitchen. She popped out. "That should help most of it."

"He likes to swim," she told her mother. "He gets *more* active."

Her mother smiled. "He'll calm down soon enough, though by then you'll have given birth and won't be sleeping for a bit." She looked down at Xander. "If you do submit to her desires, do be careful about her lower back. Doing it too hard could send her into early labor."

"Okay." Xander nodded, smiling at Ginny. "Go find some oil or something and I'll give you one down here."

"Put a towel on the couch or something, dear," Molly said as she disappeared.

"Yes, mom," Xander called after her. "Go," he told the girl, smacking her on the arm. "The more you stand and stare, the longer your back hurts." She walked as quickly as she could from the room, going to find what he had asked her for.

"She had better not get used to it," George whispered in Xander's ear. "I'm not sending you back here every day so she can have your hands on you." Xander shivered. He liked it when George got possessive. "We're going back to the shop tomorrow, right?" Xander nodded, shifting because of the hand on his thigh. "And you're going to be a good boy and test naughty stuff for me, right?" The hand moved and Xander nodded quicker, starting to pant. "Good." George withdrew his hand. Just in time because his mother walked back into the room with a plate of snacks. "Thanks, mum. Were you going to pounce Kandy tonight?"

"I should think that she's a wonderful girl. Percy deserves to have a wonderful girl."

"She's kinda shy," Xander told her. "She took Willow and Tara's class so I taught her for about three days while they were out sick. She was shy, but smart. She even dissed a few of the stupid idiots who took the class to watch Tara and Willow."

Molly Weasley laughed. "Good. Then she's what Percy needs. A smart girl who will worship him."

"Mum, Percy needs a *talk* before you let him loose on her," George reminded her. "You never did give him permission to have sex."

She blushed. "George Weasley, that's sick!"

"Hey, you told Ginny she couldn't have sex until you told her she could and look what happened," Xander agreed, sticking up for his mate. She swatted him, but she was smiling. "Maybe you should have a talk with him though," he said seriously.

She sighed. "I'll pull him aside and make sure he has all the spells and the like," she agreed. "And do be nice to Ginny, her hormones are a bit rampant at the moment."

"She's got very glowing skin," George told her. "She looks wonderful."

"Thank you," Ginny said as she walked in. She presented the bottle of oil to Xander. "I stole it from Ron's room, he won't mind too much."

Xander sniffed it, then wrinkled his nose. "No wonder Buffy smelled like that." He pointed at the floor. "There or the couch?"

"Couch." She waited until everyone was up and then carefully covered the cushions with a towel. "There," she said happily, flopping down on her stomach. She grunted and shifted some. "Sorry, kid."

Xander grinned as he knelt beside the couch. "Kids always get in the way. Think about how few snogging sessions your parents get because of you guys."

"Eww," George said dryly. His mother laughed. "It's nasty to think about you doing that," he complained.

"How did you think the rest of us got here?" Ginny asked. She smiled up at her big brother. "I'm sure if you thought back, you might have even heard my conception."

George shuddered and whimpered, much to his mother's delight. He made a face and grabbed his broom. "I'm going to bother Bill. You two do whatever." He quickly walked away, going to hide from the bad thoughts.

Molly giggled like a school girl then went back to her baking. "Thank you, the both of you."

Xander grinned at his little sister. "Nice work." He poured some of the oil out onto her back, starting up at her shoulders. "Kick me if it hurts."

"If it's really good, I'll carry your kids for you," she sighed as her back stopped hurting.

"I don't think we're going to have that problem," he told her. "I managed to stop the gryphon trying to convince George to have one, we shouldn't have any more problems with it." He moved further down, missing her bikini top's strings.


Fred looked over at the fireplace as it dinged and Percy stepped out. "Hello," he said quietly. "Ginny's asleep on the couch."

Percy nodded and turned to help his girlfriend out of the fireplace. He smiled at her. "You remember Fred?" he asked her.

Fred waved. "George is out back with Xander, hiding in the woods somewhere so we don't have to see them snog. Ginny's sleeping on the couch. Bill's still out for a fly. Mum's gone to get a last minute something." He stood up. "Welcome to the Burrow, watch out for Xander, he's in a mood today."

Percy smiled. "I'm sure she'll be safe from him." He nearly jumped at the explosion outside. "What was that?"

"Xander," Fred noted dryly. "Power surge. He gets them whenever they make out. I wake up every morning to a roaring fire and some sort of water boiling." He smiled at the young woman. "How are you today?"

She chuckled. "Your mother put you on your best behavior?"

Fred nodded, looking grim. "Threatened to make me watch you two snog actually. Or her and dad."

Percy made a face. "That's a rather disturbing thought."

"Ginny came up with it." Fred pointed at the garden. "Take her out there if you dare. The naked running person disappeared a few moments ago and I've got a prank to set up for dad."

Percy took Kandy's hand and led her out to the garden area. "It's best we get out of his way. There's no telling what will be exploding next." He sat her on a small seat and pulled one over to sit next to her. "Your mother was quite nice," he told her "She seemed to really like me."

"She remembers her youth and is very happy that I'm not following in her footsteps," Kandy told him with a faint grin. "She dated a muggle biker person."

"Like bicycles?"

"No, like motorcycles. Which can be quite thrilling, but she regrets most of her twenties because of him." She leaned over and kissed him on the cheek. "Relax, your mother liked me at the wedding."

"She certainly did," Molly said as she stepped out. "Your father's going to be a bit late," she told him with a smile. "I hope you don't mind if we wait dinner?"

Kandy grinned at her. "Not at all. My mother fed us a small tea to tide us over from lunch."

Molly smiled at her. "Good. I'd like to meet her one of these days. Preferably before the wedding," she added with a wink to her son.

Percy groaned and blushed. "Mum, that's getting a bit ahead of things."

Kandy patted him on the hand. "Whenever you're ready, Percy dear. I think I'd look smashing in a gown and my mother has accepted you as part of the family. She really adored you."

Percy blushed a little brighter.


Xander watched Percy and Kandy dance around each other and got a naughty idea. He pulled his wand under the table and pointed it at Percy. "Kiss," he muttered under his breath. Percy found himself drawn toward Kandy's mouth, unable to fight the urge anymore. He moaned as their lips connected.

Xander tried to put his wand away, but it wouldn't let go. He nudged George, who was on his left, and looked down at his wand. George kissed him lightly and took the wand from his hand.

The elders of the Weasley clan watched in fascinated horror as Percy pulled Kandy into his lap and his hands started to wander down her chest. The thump from George and Xander almost broke up the other couple, but not enough.

"Put a sheet over them," Bill suggested when Kandy's shirt went flying over his head. He was hit in the back of the head by Xander's underwear. "Both of them?" he begged.

Mr. Weasley cleared his throat and looked down at Xander. "Did you do anything?" he asked.

Xander pulled away from the mouth on his, panting. "No," he gasped, moaning when the mouth found *that* spot on his neck. He fumbled and grabbed George's wand, making them a tent to cover them.

Mrs. Weasley covered the other couple. "Well, it's certainly interesting," she said, trying to break into the heavy silence. It was broken again by a loud shriek. "Kandy?" she asked.

"A deflowering," Ginny said with a smile. "Very cool." She ate another bite of her pudding. "I think Xander made them kiss."

Mr. Weasley sighed. "I'm going to let Percy handle that himself." He pushed himself away from the table. "Shall we head outside? It's a nice night." He led the rest of the family away from the writhing couples. He winced when he heard the thump meaning a body had hit the table. "You're fixing anything that's broken," he called back.

Percy pulled the sheet off his head. "Xander, did you cause this?" he snarled.

Xander fought his way out from under their collapsed tent. "Just the kiss, Percy. You looked like you wanted it and you deserved a real kiss." He grinned. "I definitely didn't cause the deflowering on the table."

Kandy stuck her head out. "That's all right," she panted. "I've been meaning to corner him for a few hours now." She smiled at Percy. "Shall we get back to it? You're frightfully wonderful at all this." Her head disappeared and his eyes widened when he figured out where she was heading.

"Kandy," he gasped, covering them both back up.

Xander tossed the canvas back over them and pulled George away from his stomach to kiss him again. "I'm happy," he said, then he decided to make his mate just as happy as he was. George nearly purred when he felt where Xander was heading. His husband was very good at this for only knowing about it for a few months.


Percy found Xander reading in the garden and sat next to him. "You really didn't?"

"Only the kiss," Xander told him, looking over at him. He put aside his book and shifted to look at his buddy. "I promised, Percy," he said as he picked up one of the other man's hands. "I would never hurt you and I won't. I may give you a clue," he admitted with a grin, "but the rampant sex wasn't my fault. No lust bombs at all."

Percy withdrew his hand. "As long as you aren't manipulating me." He smiled at his friend. "So, do you like her?"

"She makes you happy and crazy. Just like George does me." Xander grinned. "I think we'll be having another wedding soon."

"Yes, we might," Percy said, looking toward the kitchen. "You really think she likes me that much?"

"Percy, she let you break her in last night on your mother's table. If she doesn't love you, I'll hurt her myself for playing with you," Xander said seriously. "Got it?" Percy smiled and relaxed. "Good. Now go get some more kissing in. I'm sure she could use some."

Percy stood up and walked into the house, going to find his girlfriend. He could definitely use a kiss, even if she couldn't. He found her reading in his room and gently closed the door behind him. His mother wouldn't approve, but then again she was shopping with Ginny. He strolled over and sat beside her, taking the book from her hands so he could kiss her senseless

"I wondered where you had gotten to," she murmured as she forced him onto his back. "I wanted to try what happened last night again, hopefully without the pain this time."

"I'm sorry it hurt you," Percy whispered. "I never meant to."

She pulled back and smiled down at him. "Dear, it always hurts the first time. Though, if it's always going to be like that, I might have to invest in a super infertility charm." He chuckled. "You would make an honest woman of me, wouldn't you?"

"Of course. There's no way I'd let you walk away from me if you got pregnant." He pulled her back down. "I'm quite against Ginny remaining single, but I can't control her life for her."

"I think they'll get together sometime," Kandy told him with a grin. "Mr. Malfoy paid her quite a bit of attention before and after the wedding."

"Maybe," he agreed, stopping all further discussion with his tongue.


It was the last night of Kandy's visit and Fred was tired of watching them give each other steamy looks. They were standing in the doorway watching the rain outside and an idea came to him. He raised his wand and shot it at her, stripping her of her robes.

Everyone stared. No one moved to cover the poor girl - not even Percy.

"Maybe someone should hand her a robe," George said finally, removing his gaze to look at his mate instead. Xander shrugged, it hadn't been him.

"Xander," Mrs. Weasley said.

Xander shook his head. "I still don't have that spell. That's a Melody thing. It wasn't me."

Mr. Weasley finally pulled off his robe and handed it to her. "Here you go, dear," he said with a faint smile.

Percy shook himself and helped her into it, pulling her tightly against his body. "Mother, I believe we'll be getting married soon." His mother smiled. "And Xander...."

"Wasn't me," Xander repeated.

Fred smiled and wiggled his fingers. "About time you shared, isn't it?"

Kandy glared at him. "I'm not sharing with the likes of you. Percy is more than man enough for me. I quite fall asleep after my fourth orgasm as it happens, I doubt I need any more."

Percy turned bright red and hurried her away to get her into some decent clothes.

Fred broke into giggles. "Quite right for Percy, I think. Quite odd but very pretty." His father cuffed him on the back of the head. "What?"

"That wasn't nice and you'll apologize," he said coolly. "Before she starts to think we're all perverts." He looked at Xander, who shook his head. "As for you."

"I only started the one kiss," Xander defended. "The whole scene on the table was all Percy. Who apparently happens to be quite good." He looked at his mate. "Must run in the family," he said with a grin. George blushed.

Murphy flew in the open half-door to the garden, squawking hard. "What's wrong?" Fred asked, holding out a hand so the bird could land on him. "Did someone pick on one of the chicks?" Murphy looked into his eyes, sending the message to him. "Oh, Glinda said Malfoy took off without telling anyone. She woke up and he was gone."

Xander reached over to stroke the noble head. "That's okay, big guy, we'll call him when it's time." Murphy cooed at him. "Did you have a good vacation with Fawkes' daddy?" Murphy sang happily. "Does that mean we're having more chicks?" The phoenix just looked smug.

Ginny walked down the stairs, frowning. "Mum, I'm craving those pickle things again."

"Oh, let me," George said, pulling Xander's wand and waving it at the jar on the counter. Pickles flew out and started crawling all over her, especially her scalp.

"Eww!" she shrieked, pulling them off and tossing them at her brother. "Nasty git!"

"Ginny!" her father said sharply. "I don't care if you are about to become a mother, you may not use that language in this house."

"But dad!" she whined. He scowled at her so she huffed and gathered up the dancing and crawling pickles, taking them back to her room.

George looked at Xander's wand. "That's rather powerful," he noted.

"Yes, it is," Mrs. Weasley told him. "Use your own next time, George."

Xander put his wand away, giving her a smile. "Sometimes the wand does a little bit more than you wanted it to," he explained.

"No, I wanted it to do that," George admitted.

"It was funny," Fred agreed.

"Bloody hell," Ron said as he walked in, trying to shake the water off. "It's a storm like in those books Hermione reads." He looked around and saw everyone staring at him. "What?"

"Well?" Xander asked.

"Are you gainfully employed?" Fred asked.

"Or are you going to continue to sponge off us for the privilege of being our tester?" George added.

"No, I got the job, but I won't start for another two months. I'll be starting with the crew added for Christmas." He sat down at the table and gave his mother his best begging look. "Mum, I'm starved. Is there any food left?"

"Ginny has some pickles," Fred told him.

Their mother glared at him, then smiled at Ron. "Of course there's food," she told him, coming over to give him a smile. "I'm happy for you, son. Very proud."

"As am I," Mr. Weasley agreed, giving him a smile. "We'll celebrate tomorrow, if you'd like."

"Okay," Ron said with a shrug. "Is that girl still here?"

"Yeah, she's presently on her knees in front of Percy," Fred told him. His father glared at him so Fred pointed into the living room, where he could see. "I'm serious."

Ron leaned back, trying to catch a glimpse. He nearly tipped his chair over. "Hey, Percy, bring her back here so she can congratulate me for getting a job," he yelled. "Besides, I've only seen her for a bit. Wanna get a good look at her."

Mrs. Weasley choked. "Ron!" she said sharply.


"She was just disrobed," Fred told him. "We all got quite an eyeful."

"Rather pretty in a girlish way," George agreed. He looked at Xander, who was biting his lip. "Problems?"

"Not a bit," Xander told him. "I was remembering when I liked girls."

"I'm glad I cured you of that," George said with a smile.

"Definitely. I'm very over girls and all things girly."

"You're holding my hand while I'm in labor," Ginny called as she walked down the stairs. She stopped to stare into the living room. "Gee, I didn't know you could do that like that." She smiled at the spluttering. "Well, you *are* in the living room you know. You should expect comments like that when you snog in public." She smiled at the young woman. "I do believe I happen to like you, Kandy. You make Percy blush like a fourth year in a changing room. I think it's wonderful." She strolled into the kitchen and hit Ron on the back of the head. "What is in that oil in your room?"

He spluttered. "You didn't!" he shouted. His face turned bright red when Xander grinned at him. His sister had gotten into the oil he used when he was having a private moment.

She nodded. "It was the only oil I found and Xander gave me a backrub with it." She pouted at him. "The baby's really heavy, Ron."

He patted her on the stomach. "Don't touch it again," he told her. "I doubt you need it." His eyes widened when his hand was kicked. "What was that?"

"The brat," she sighed. "He's active again." She lifted her shirt up enough to let everyone see the ripples moving across her stomach. "See? Never calms down."

"Don't worry, in a year or so, he'll be walking," Xander said happily.

"Yes, but he won't be doing it inside me," she reminded him.

Fred smiled at her. "You do look spiffing like that," he told her. "Quite lovely and all."

She smiled at him. "I'm still not testing that wound candy." She smiled at Ron. "Would you like to rub the baby's back?"

Ron pulled his hand back quickly. "No thanks. That's a bit more than I wanted to know about the baby." He turned and grabbed his fork, stuffing his mouth as fast as he could.

Fred and George snickered, but it was Xander that reached over to rub the baby's back so it would calm down. Ginny sighed in relief and leaned against him.

Mrs. Weasley smiled at her daughter. "He has to leave tomorrow too," she reminded her.

Ginny pouted at Xander. "You're going to come back, right?"

Xander nodded. "Of course. I can't do much at the shop without Fred pouting at me and making George entertain me so I'll come bug you a lot."

Fred nodded at Ginny. "Too true. We can't market half of what he does."

"Pity," George agreed. "It would be great for business."

Xander leaned over and whispered something in George's ear, making his eyes light up. "We'll see," he told Fred with a smirk.

Fred looked at George. "Can we?"

George told him, making his twin smile and laugh. "I'd hope we could."

Mrs. Weasley frowned at them. "As long as it's decent." Both twins laughed.

Snippet 2:

George sighed as he was led up to his new room. Xander had worked hard to add another floor to the shop, giving them not only a room to themselves, but a rather large one. He blinked a few times when he saw what was standing there. "That's a nest."

Xander pulled him closer. "It's a very comfy nest. It's my nest." He smiled gently, looking like such a little boy. "Can we at least try it?"

"How did you get a nest up here?"

"I asked Percy and he helped me." Xander pushed his mate into the nest, climbing in after him. "Remember when you told me about a natural substance against something sunk into the ground?" George nodded. "Well, we set it up with its own sink. No shaking houses."

"It's soft," George admitted. "But it's still a nest, Xander."

"But I liked sleeping in the nest," Xander said with a pout. He ran his hand over the soft sheets he had bought for it. "Please? Can we at least try it?"

George sighed and gave in. He hated it when Xander pouted. "Fine, we'll try it." He stroked the sheets. "What are these made of?"

"T-shirt material. I snuck into the muggle world and bought them." He leaned his head on his mate's shoulder. "I got others too if you don't like these." He pointed at the small pile of sheets near the other side. George shifted over and felt all the different types of sheets Xander had bought. "I'll gladly spend at least half my salary to keep us in comfy sheets if you want."

George smiled at him. "I think we could settle for these and try the nest for a while." He climbed out so he could check out the rest of the room. "You bought a normal bed too?" he called.

Xander wiggled over to the edge of the nest and grinned at him. "So we can have one when you start to get tired of the nest," he agreed. "Or in case we have visitors or stuff." He shrugged at the stunned look. "I know you can't live in a nest, but it makes me happy to have it here."

"What about in the school?" George asked as he walked back over and climbed back in. He snuggled into Xander's side. It was really comfortable. "How are we nesting up at the school?"

"Same arrangement. I had help building a small nest up there. Just enough room for the two of us." Xander smiled when he noticed George was starting to fall asleep. "Want to cuddle, babe?"

George smiled sleepily and snuggled in. "Sure. I could use a nap." He closed his eyes, settling over Xander's heart. "I'll ravish you later."

"Okay, I'll be here." Xander grinned sillily as he relaxed. He started to drift off too, but let it happen. He loved sleeping in the nest.

Fred walked up into the new couple's apartment an hour later, hoping he wasn't going to catch them going at it again. He'd caught them doing that quite too often already. He stopped when he saw the large nest in the center of the room, slowly shifting closer so he could peek inside. What he saw made him smile. They were just so cute! He snuck back out, going to tell Ginny that George was going to be late for their lunch. She'd understand, hopefully.

Snippet 3:

Xander looked around the Weasley home, wondering why it was so quiet. Everyone had gotten together and decided that Ginny couldn't be left alone for this last month of her pregnancy, just in case something happened. Today was his day to sit here. He wished he had remembered to bring a book though. He caught sight of Murphy playing outside and an idea came to him. "Yeah, I can do that. Glinda! Murphy!" Both phoenixes flew inside to perch on his legs. "Guys, I need Glinda to run an errand." The baby fluffed up proudly. "And I need Murphy to guard you, because there's bad people where you're going." Murphy squeaked at his daughter. "Cool." He pulled Glinda closer, being very careful with her. "I need you to go find your favorite person." He saw the look at the fireplace. "No, not him. The blond one." Glinda cooed. "He's somewhere very far away hiding and he needs to come home. Look at me and remember so you can give him the message." She stared at him, memorizing what he was saying. "It's time for you to come home, Draco; she's only got two weeks left and you won't get to see the baby at all if you don't come home immediately. And yes, I've decided to adopt you as my own kid because I can't do it to Harry and Ron, so you're the next best thing. So come home now or I'm coming for you." He blinked and the baby backed away. "Got it?" She cooed at him. "Good. Murphy, I need you to go with her because I think Draco's in America and you know how dangerous it can be." His phoenix cooed at him. "Thank you, now you can go."

Both phoenixes flew out the garden door, going to do their assigned tasks. Murphy told his daughter all about living in America on the way. His daddy was right, America was dangerous. There were all sorts of creatures there that would hurt them.

Xander relaxed on the couch, pulling over a magazine to read. "Hey, I'm in here," he said happily. It was actually a good piece for once.


Draco Malfoy groaned when he heard the tapping on the window. He had run into a witch that had been a year ahead of him in Slytherin in this funny muggle American town. Denver, what a name. He made himself get up and answer the window before whatever it was broke it. He frowned and blinked a few times when he saw the golden bodies. "What are you doing here?" he mumbled. He found his way to a chair because holding even the baby was a bit much when he was standing. Glinda, who might as well be his, landed on his lap and stared into his eyes, giving him the granddaddy's message. He snorted and shook his head. "Bloody prat," he sighed.

The woman on the bed lifted her head and looked blearily at him. She'd had just a bit too much to drink last night. "Why is Dumbledore's bird here?" she asked.

"It's Harris' and one of the babies," he told her. "I have to leave for home or else I won't get to see my child." He let Glinda get up, eventually moving her off his lap when he decided he had better go to the bathroom and she wouldn't cooperate. "Sorry, but I've got to go."

"You have kids?" she called after him. She sat up, looking at the bird sitting on the end of the bed. "You're a big bugger," she told Murphy. Glinda hissed at her, making her move away from the phoenix. "Whatever."

Draco came out, smiling when he saw how the baby was treating her. He didn't particularly like her, but it was nice to have a comforting body again. "She's very protective of me, and probably of my immanent heir." Glinda cooed and stretched to nuzzle his chest. "Yes, I know you'll love the baby." He smiled at the woman on the bed. "Sorry to cut this short, but Harris rightfully reminded me that I have responsibilities back at home." He waved his wand, packing his small bag and gathering all his things. His broom flew into his hand. "See you if you come to England," he said, going out the window on his broom, his bag on the handle, both phoenixes flying beside him.

"Merlin, what a waste of talent," she sighed, laying back down again. She thought better of it and got up to go be sick. She didn't know what was wrong with her, but it was rather nasty every morning.


Draco walked into the Burrow, glaring at Xander. "I'm not your bloody son, you prat, you would have been three when you had me." He smacked Xander hard on the arm. "Now, have I missed anything?"

Ron glared at him. "You know, it's very early, and you look a lot like a target," he growled.

Draco smiled at him. "I'll be out of your hair soon enough, just wanted to check on Ginny and my heir."

"The heir is being funny today," Xander told him, moving a chair so he could sit down. "Ginny's been up all night. Even sleeping in the nest didn't calm it down this time."

Draco looked at him. "You're sleeping in a *nest*? Isn't that taking the heritage thing a little far?"

"It's very comfortable," Ginny said as she walked in. She smiled shyly at Draco, not having seen him since she had woken up in the hospital. "Did you have a nice vacation?"

"It wasn't as dreary as it could have been," he admitted. "Not wholly pleasant though. Ran into a former housemate, she was a year ahead of me, and we spent some time together." She burst out crying and ran away. "What did I say?"

"It's hormones," Xander said wisely. "You might go apologize for sleeping with someone while she's carrying your child."

Draco sighed and got up, following the sound of crying to a bathroom. He tapped gently before walking in. "I'm sorry," he told her, awkwardly wrapping her in his arms. "I had no idea that you would react so badly. She was just a fling," he told her finally.

She sniffled and looked up at him. "Really?" He nodded. "You're sure?"

"I'm not going to see her again. I certainly didn't go to America looking for her, I just happened to run into her and was ...needy." She snorted, but she smiled. "She was really horrible at it too, didn't do more than lay there. I almost worried that I had lost my touch."

Ginny laughed. "I'm sure you haven't. She's just had so much that she doesn't take any happiness from the act anymore." She settled herself in his arms, hugging him tightly. "Are you home for a bit?"

"For as long as you need me. I might even be able to owl before I leave next time." He shrugged when she looked at him. "It was a feeling that came over me last time; I had to get away because I felt like I was drowning."

"Perfectly understandable," Molly Weasley said from the doorway. She smiled at them. "You made good time."

"Xander sent the baby after me," Draco said with a grimace. "He's apparently adopted me against my will."

Both women laughed. "I'm sure it will all work out for the best," Mrs. Weasley told him. "Come downstairs and eat something." She walked away.

Ginny brushed off her cheeks with the edge of his shirt. "C'mon, mum's been making big breakfasts ever since Fred banished Xander from the store." She led him down to the kitchen. "Still at war?" she asked Xander.

"Yup, still at war," he sighed.

"Why are you two at war?" Ron asked. "I asked Fred and he said something about sex toys."

"Ron!" Mrs. Weasley shouted.

"We're all adults here, mum, we all know what they are."

"I showed George how to enchant one to say things in the middle of the act," Xander admitted with a grin. "Apparently he decided to use Fred's." He noticed all the blushing. "Sorry, guess that was TMI."

"Very," Draco agreed dryly.

Ron grinned at him. "I'm sure he'll forgive you sometime." He stood up. "I'm off to Buffy's. They finally gave her a small cottage and she needs me to reach the higher things for painting." He strolled away, grabbing his broom on his way out the door.

"Those two are *so* cute together," Ginny sighed.

"If you say so," Draco said. He looked at Xander. "Did you charm it to talk in their mother's voice?"

Xander grinned. "No, in his girlfriend's. They've since broken up, which is good because she only wanted part of the store and not him."

Molly gave him a hug. "I'm sure you'll sort it out soon, Xander. Eat something."

"I already did," he said, but he took one of the pieces of toast that she had put on the table. "Any pains yet?"

Ginny shook her head. "Not a one. Some discomfort, but no pains." She grunted and hissed, rubbing her back. "Plus some kicking."

Draco dropped his fork and reached over to touch her gently. He smiled when he felt the kick. "My, you're definitely a Weasley. No one in my family has good feet." He stroked her stomach gently.

Mrs. Weasley gave him a smile. It was good that he was doing that, even if it was in her kitchen. "Why don't I pack all that up and you two go sit out in the sun. The baby seems to enjoy it quite a lot." Ginny smiled at her. She knew she was being obvious, but it would make her daughter happy. She waved her wand, packing all the remaining breakfast into a small basket. She nearly laughed when Xander got up to retrieve his half-eaten piece of toast, but held it in until the children were gone.

Xander nudged her. "He'll watch over her. It'll be okay." He took another bite of the toast. "Can I do anything?"

She patted him on the arm. "Go look over that book Giles sent you. I'm sure you'll want to get it in order."

Xander grunted but went to work on it. It was due back to Giles and Willow in three days time and it was all out of place. As soon as he had settled himself on the couch, Murphy came up and nestled into his stomach to help. "Back again?" he asked, petting him slowly. "I'm sure you can go bother Giles later." He looked down at his bird. "Were you off bothering Ethan and Spike?" Murphy gave him the pitiful, starving kitten look. "Uh-huh. I should tell Giles about that, shouldn't I?" He started reading as soon as his fingers got nipped in imitation of kisses.


Ginny moaned and grabbed her stomach. "I think it's time!" she yelled. Her mother and Xander came running, they were the only ones at home. They waited until the pain had stopped then hustled her up to one of the spare beds, Percy's as it happened. As soon as she laid down, she had another one. "I thought this was supposed to take a while!" she complained.

Xander sat behind her head, letting her rest against his stomach and lap while he held her hands. "It is, and all those rhythmic discomforts you've been having were the prior labor. We were waiting on you," he told her with a smile. She grimaced. "Squeeze my hands when it hurts really bad. Your mother's going to strip you down and cover you with a sheet." She nodded, relaxing while they worked around her. "Now, all you have to do is push."

"Not until she's ready," Mrs. Weasley corrected. She looked around. "I'm going to call your father. Can you handle this without me for a moment?" Ginny nodded so she ran out of the room.

Ginny looked up at Xander. "Is this really going to hurt?"

"You're pushing a ten pound, twenty inch baby out of something that grows to ten centimeters. You tell me," he said dryly.

She grunted in pain. "Never mind!" she complained.

"Shh, it has to hurt some, otherwise something's wrong," he assured her. "Pain is the way nature makes sure the baby breathes when it comes out." He squeezed her hands, reminding her to use him to help control the pain. "Want me to send Murphy for Draco?"

She nodded, biting her lip. "Yeah, I think so," she said as she came down. "You can switch off then and help mum not go crazy."

"Murphy!" he called. His baby was outside somewhere, and he eventually few in the door. "Go find Draco," he told the phoenix. "Get him here however you can."

Murphy stared at Ginny for a moment, then flew off. Mrs. Weasley came jogging back in. "Did you think to time them?" Both young people shook their heads. "Is Murphy going to find Draco?" Xander nodded. "Good." She checked her daughter again. "Just a bit more I think. This is the really painful part, aside from the birth itself. You're dilating right now, dear, and it has to happen, otherwise the baby's not coming out. Trust me, I've done this before."

Ginny nodded, giving her mother a weak smile. "You still have to help me name him."

"Of course." She smiled and moved to sit on her daughter's right side. "As soon as the baby's born, we'll figure out what to call it." She stroked little circles on her daughter's stomach, trying to make her feel better. "Just a few more hours and it'll all be over with."

"Until the first feeding," Xander said with a grin.

Molly nodded. "True, and the first diaper."

"Draco gets that," Ginny said, starting to climb the pain scale again. "Oww! Mommy, make it not hurt!"

"I'll do what I can," Molly told her. "But for right now, you're going to feel some of it. The pain medicine has to finish warming first." Ginny nodded, biting her lip so hard blood came out. "None of that, young lady, you'll scar yourself." She continued the gentle stroking, hoping it was helping.


Murphy flew up to the Malfoy mansion, squawking loudly because there wasn't an open door. A house elf looked out a window and squeaked, running away to get the Master.

Draco walked out of the house and held up an arm, letting the big bird land on it. "What's wrong now?" he asked. Murphy stared at him, sending him the picture of Ginny laying down, in pain. "What the deuce was that?" Murphy sent it again, starting to flap his wings. "She's what? Napping and needs help?" Murphy bit him, hard, on the neck. "Oww!" He made the bird take off and glared at it. "What? I don't understand."

"Maybe she's in labor," a male voice called from inside the house. Snape walked out and looked at Murphy. "Show me," he demanded. Murphy showed him. "Harris is holding her, she's in pain. I'd say she was in labor." He handed over a small vial. "To mark the baby with," he told his student.

Draco frowned. "What do I do with it?"

"You bath him or her with it. It will protect them." He ducked as the phoenix that had helped him eat breakfast flew over his head. "And take that one with you, she'll probably want to be there as well." He smiled. "Are you going to leave her in pain with *Harris* helping her?"

Draco ran into the house to get his broom. There was no way Xander was watching his girl give birth to his child. Not graphically. He flew off, going to do what he could. By the time he landed in front of the Burrow, both phoenixes had made it back and were inside the house making a lot of noise. He walked in and glared at both of them. "Stop it, you're not helping any." He followed the scream up the stairs, ignoring anyone else who might have been in the house.

George looked at Ron, and shrugged. "Never expected that."

"Probably going to try and molest her," Ron grumbled.

Fred reached over and pinched him. "You could always go help."

Ron snorted. "I tried that, Ginny threw a book at my head." He slumped down a little more. "How long does it take to give birth?"

"Many hours," Mr. Weasley said from his easy chair. "Your birth took nearly twelve from the first pain." He looked up at his sons. "The twins were the easiest yet, they cut you two out." He went back to his paper. "It will be done with when it is. No one can rush a child into the world."

George and Fred sighed in stereo. Fred looked at the fireplace, then at his twin. "Should we?"

"No," Mr. Weasley told him. "If you leave, she'll clobber you for it."

"Fine," George sighed. He smiled at his twin. "Have you forgiven Xander yet?"

"No." Fred glared at him. "That was mean."

"She was after your money, not your body," Ron pointed out. Fred threw a pillow at his head. "She was. And she didn't laugh at your jokes either."

"Enough," Mr. Weasley sighed. "Go find something else to do."

Ginny screamed, a high-pitched wailing noise.

"Sounds like it's about time," Mr. Weasley said calmly.

Upstairs, Ginny was being supported by Draco and Xander was trying to pull Glinda off the foot of the bed. The phoenix was in the way while trying to encourage the baby to come out faster. "Glinda, you've got to move," Xander grunted. The phoenix had her talons hooked into the footboard and wouldn't let go. "If you don't move, the baby can't come out!" Glinda moved to stand beside Ginny's stomach and continued to make encouraging noises. Xander looked at Mrs. Weasley and laughed.

She smiled and sat down to check. "You're crowning," she said happily. "Push whenever you're ready."

"I don't want to push!" Ginny screamed.

Draco brushed some of her hair out of her face. "If you don't push, you'll be like this until you both die from it," he said calmly. "Now push or I'm going to have to cut him out so I can hold him."

She glared up at him. "Bastard," she hissed.

He smiled. "You say some of the *nicest* things," he teased. She relaxed. "Now, push, Weasel, before I have to turn mean and cruel." He looked at Xander. "Or else I'm going to have to go down there and pull it out."

Ginny grunted as she pushed, trying her best. Glinda picked up the encouragement, getting louder. "Shut up!" she hissed at the bird. "There's more than enough noise in here from me." Glinda cooed at her, then went back to talking to the baby.

Ginny groaned and gave one more push, and the baby's head popped out. "Finally!"

Mrs. Weasley smiled at her. "Just one more to clear the shoulders." Ginny glared at her. "Well, you can't stay like that, with the child hanging down that way." Ginny gave another push, and a second, then the shoulders came free too. "Excellent." She held the baby up. "It's a girl."

"A girl?" Ginny asked in shock. "I thought it was a boy." Her mother held the baby so she could see for herself. "But I haven't even picked a girl's name."

"Simone," Draco told her. Everyone looked at him. "I read it in a book and it stuck." He shrugged, then pointed at the phoenix. "Look," he said quietly.

Glinda had moved over to look at the baby closely, nipping her fingers and toes, then her umbilical cord was cut by the razor-sharp beak. She continued to coo at the baby, nuzzling against the slimy skin.

"I think she's picked her human," Xander told them, nodding. "It makes sense." He stood up. "I'll go tell everyone?" Ginny nodded. "Okay. You rest, we'll pamper you today." He walked out, going to get a hug from his husband and tell them the good news. "It's a girl," he said as he slid into his mate's lap. Fred pushed him off. "Huh?"

"Me," George said with a smile. It wasn't often that it happened, but it was rather cute when Xander got them mixed up - as long as he did it on his own and they didn't try to confuse him. He patted his lap and his mate slid onto it. "A girl? I thought Ginny knew it was a boy."

Xander shrugged. "She has a vagina and no penis. As far as I know, she's a girl. Unless you guys change once you're born." Mr. Weasley shook his head, but he was smiling. "Glinda picked her as her human too. Stood there the whole time trying to get the baby to come faster. She even cut the belly-button cord."

"That's just weird," Ron complained as he stood up. "Can we see her?"

"Sure. Simone's probably in a bath by now." He grinned. "She's so tiny."

"They all are," Mr. Weasley said as he stood up. "We'll just go peek in on them." He headed up the stairs with Ron and Fred.

George gave Xander a kiss. "Let me up so I can go see too, then we'll go picnic if you want." Xander beamed at him and slid off onto the couch. He watched his husband stroll up the stairs, trying to look casual, like they did this every day.

Ron was the first one down. "They're being all gushy over it," he said as he plopped down onto the couch.

"It's cute, and the first grandchild," Xander reminded him. "It'll remain cute until she wakes you all up in the middle of the night." He put his arm around Ron's shoulders. "Are you going to tell Harry or should I send Murphy?"

"I'll go. I've been meaning to check on him." Ron got free and went to grab some floo powder. "Potterville," he called as he stepped into the fire.

"Potterville?" Fred asked as he came down the stairs. "He named his house Potterville?"

"Hermione probably did," Xander told him. He grinned. "Sorry about that."

Fred patted him on the head. "Don't do it all the time, but every once in a while is fine." He went back to his former seat, looking over his shoulder as Ron came back. "Not home?"

"No, so I left a note. I expect he'll at least owl later." He came back out and replanted himself on the couch. "Are we doing anything else today?"

"Unless you want to cook," Mrs. Weasley said as she walked down the stairs. "I'd say you should help me gather things for the baby."

"Mum, we've got everything stacked in a closet," Ron pointed out. "It's all up there."

"Not that. We've got some wash to do," she told him. She laughed at the grimace. "You don't expect me to leave those sheets there, do you? With what just came out of your sister's body?"

Draco walked down the stairs and into the living room with the baby. "Ginny's getting cleaned up," he explained at Xander's look. "Besides, she likes me."

Mrs. Weasley smiled at him. "Feel thankful. She'll be screaming soon enough." She headed into the kitchen to start the water for a load of wash. She would probably be doing quite a lot of them very soon.

Snippet 4:

Giles finished putting his journals into his bag and zipped it shut. He sat down and looked around his empty room, absently picking up his letter of resignation. He couldn't take it anymore. He just couldn't. It had all started about five months back when Willow had caught Tara staring wistfully at a little baby in Diagon Alley. They had a blazing row and a long talk, then decided to come to him. Because they were going to both be pregnant at the same time, thus speeding up the start of their family. The project had seemed preposterous at the time they had come to him, but they eventually won him over. Purely on the basis of flattery it seemed. He groaned and laid back on his bed, too tired to even think about how bad it had gotten. Not even the Willow-turning-Tara-into-a-swan episode could make him open that door yet. He could hear Willow screaming at Tara down the hall and he wasn't that brave.

As soon as the screaming stopped, he gathered his bags together, shrunk them to fit into his pocket, and headed down to Dumbledore's office. He tapped politely before walking up.

"Can't take it anymore?" Albus Dumbledore asked pleasantly. He handed over a small cup filled with strong tea.

"No, frankly I can't, and I'm afraid of Willow coming after me." He took a seat and sipped at the tea, smiling when he tasted the brandy in it. "You expected me?"

"Last week," Dumbledore agreed with an all-knowing smile.

Giles grunted. "It took me a while to regain the full working of my brain once I was changed back," Giles told him. "I really can't take this anymore. If I thought it possible I'd take Tara with me, but I have no doubt what would happen if I did. Willow's become rather scary recently."

Dumbledore nodded. "I noticed. We'll miss you and you will have a spot here whenever you're ready to rejoin the wizarding world. But I do understand. Were it me, I'd be taking a long vacation somewhere that owls couldn't find me." He smiled. "Which one did you want for your job?"

Giles handed over his letter. "Tara. The higher magics come with much temptation and I'd rather not have to come rebuild the school when Willow blows it up." That got a small laugh. "Truly, if Willow continues on this path, I believe that she will become most dangerous."

Dumbledore nodded. "I believe she could be," he agreed. "I'll watch out for the both of them, and Xander of course." Giles smiled sadly. "Was there anything else you needed to do before you left?"

"No, I think I can show up at the Watcher's Council and talk to them without dying. Thank you for letting me teach here, it was a pleasant change from the normal danger in my life." He put aside the tea cup then stood up, shaking the older man's hand. "I'll write soon and tell you how I'm getting on." He nearly walked out but turned back at the last moment. "Also, if you would keep an eye on Willow in relation to Xander's reward money? She seems to be a bit possessive of it." He nodded a goodbye and walked away from the wizarding world without a look back.

Dumbledore made a note in his Hogwarts journal. He would announce the change tonight at dinner. He might even have a world with Arthur and Molly so Xander could hear the news gently.


Draco walked into his school, taking the opportunity to look around on his way to the library. He found a very interesting picture he hadn't seen before, stopping to watch nymphs play in the stream. He laughed when one tried to splash him, restarting his short stroll to the library and the Book of Heritage. He smiled at Irma Pince as he pulled out Simone's birth certificate, watching as she carefully put it into the book which listed everyone's children. "Weasley-Malfoy," he corrected.

She smiled at him and finished writing the entry the way it was on the birth certificate. "I have to list it exactly as it is listed here, Mr. Malfoy." She snapped the book shut and handed back the certificate. "There we are, all legal."

He nodded. "Thank you. We'll be expecting her letter in eleven years." He strolled out, smiling at Professor Snape when he saw him down the hallway. "It turned her gold for a few moments," he called.

"Better that than dead," Snape called back, continuing his trek to wherever.

Draco shook his head. That man could be quite infuriating sometimes.

Snippet 5:

Xander looked at the man sleeping in his nest with worry. George hadn't woken up in nearly two days for more than a few minutes. He had decided to drag his husband up to the school for a checkup, but George had told him no the last time he had been awake. He frowned and decided to get Fred to help him out-stubborn his husband. He stomped down the stairs, waving at a person he vaguely knew browsing in the shop. "He's still not awake."

"Have you tried waking him up?" Fred asked, ringing up a small order for a birthday party.

Xander crossed his arms, moving out of the way of the traffic to lean against a nearby wall. "I tried that yesterday, he was awake all of five minutes before crashing again."

"Have you thought about talking to the big feathered creatures?" Fred suggested, glancing over at him. The look on Xander's face made him stop and stare at him. "You're really worried."

"It's been two days," Xander pointed out. "He complained about feeling nasty for a few days before he started to sleep. This is worrying material."

"Then call the big feathered creatures and ask them if they did anything. You said yourself that he was surrounded by your type of magic." Fred went back to the order. The new Minister of Magical Creatures' son was quite fond of their tricks and had requested that they do his birthday party. "You can use the fireplace in the back room if you want."

"Yeah, maybe I will," Xander said. He walked into the back room and locked the door, he needed privacy for this. He found his little bag of special floo powder and tossed it into the fire, calling out for his personal anchor of sanity when it came to his funny powers. "Fredericka," he called softly. Her head appeared in the fire. "Did one of you decide to do something to my mate? He's surrounded with true gryphon magic and he's been sleeping constantly."

She smirked at him, which made her beak look fairly odd. "We only did what we thought was best. He'll be fine soon enough."

Well, that certainly explained it then. "Um, not to point out the obvious, but he's male," Xander reminded her. "We're not exactly built for that." She laughed. "Seriously, he's worrying me. And besides, the healer there told you not to bother him."

She stopped laughing. "How long has he slept?"

"Two days without waking up longer than a quick trip to the bathroom. He can't eat, he hasn't been able to do anything for at least a week now."

She sighed. "Bring him to us and we will look at him. We really meant no harm to your mate, only to make you happy and protected."

"Yeah, well, I have a niece for that sort of happiness," he told her. "We'll be up tonight." He stepped away then picked up a lump of metal and threw it as hard as he could at a wall. "I'll get them for this," he muttered, heading out to make George wake up. He waved at Fred as he walked past him, but didn't tell him what was going on. This was a little too much even for him. As soon as he saw George, his anger cooled. His mate was carrying his child, and even though it was hurting him, it was something so magical that not even the magic world he inhabited would believe it. He gently nudged George. "Come on, babe, we've got to go see someone."

"No we don't," George complained. "I know what's wrong with me."

"So do I and it's not going well." Xander helped him sit up. "The fact that you fell asleep two days ago is a bad thing and we'd like it to stop. So we're going to see the meddlers and get them to help you out, 'kay?" George nodded and yawned, but he stumbled toward the bathroom. "I'll be right here," Xander called, using his wand to pack a bag. As soon as his husband came out of the bathroom, he led him down to the main fireplace. He had flooed to the inn near the portal before; it wasn't so long a trip. He got George into it first and sent him on his way, then looked back at Fred. "Hopefully we'll be back tonight. If you hear screaming in panic, it's us." He tossed the powder into the fire and went on his way too. On the other side, he grabbed the sleeping George to wake him up and led him out to the portal. The guardian let them in immediately, not even stopping to chat this time. "Fix it," Xander said harshly to the elder three. They looked at him in shock, but it was the snore that got the bothered looks. "Now, before I get very pissed," he suggested in his most cold voice.

"Xander, we were only trying to help you," Fredericka reminded him. "You need a grphylet to make the flock complete."

"We've only been married four months," he reminded her. "We're not ready for that yet and we could have adopted." He ran a hand through his hair. "You're killing my mate. If you don't fix it, I'll use some of the forbidden spells to do it myself. My husband is more important than some old and semi-useless rules."

Fredericka came off her nest and picked up George. "We will look him over. You will calm down." Xander stared her down until she looked away. "Go inform his family. We will probably need one of them's help." She waddled away, taking George back into the colony.

Xander walked outside, back into Britain, and sent himself to the Burrow. He couldn't apparate because of what he was, but there was a teleportation spell. It made him nauseous, but it was worth it this time. As soon as he saw Molly, he burst into tears and clung to her.

Ginny looked over the back of the couch at him, frowning. "What happened?" she asked, trying to calm the baby down. She handed her off to Draco and got up to move Xander to a chair. "What happened?" she repeated.

"They used the spell on George and he's sick," Xander told her. He looked at Molly. "They're being cranky about it too."

"Well, they won't be doing any spells to my son," she said firmly.

"Spell?" Ginny asked.

"Oh, bloody hell no," Ron whispered. Xander looked at him and nodded. "Are they fixing it?" Xander shrugged. "Then we'll go back with you and force them to make it right." He stood up. "Come on then, I don't want to leave George with them for long. He might end up with twins."

Draco looked at him. "They didn't," he said. Ron nodded so he looked at Xander. "They did *that* spell?" Xander nodded too. "Well fuck me."

"Language," Molly reminded him. He sighed. "I agree, we should all go."

"I'm going to hurt them," Xander told everyone. "They did this without either of our permission, and it's really hurting him." He stood up. "Either they fix this or they're facing my full and complete wrath."

"We'll keep you calm too," Ron told him, patting him on the arm. "Come on, let's go chew them a new one." His mother glared at him. "Coming, mum?"

"Of course I am," she snapped. She looked at Ginny, then at the baby. "No, dear."

"Bite me. I'm going too." She smiled at Draco. "She's just recently been changed and she ate not an hour ago. Have fun." She followed her brother outside. "Where are we landing?"

"There's an inn a short distance away," Xander told her. "We can land there." He disappeared.

Ron sighed and looked around. A small picture landed in front of him on the ground. "This is where we're going," he said, placing the picture in his mind so he could apparate there. Ginny and his mother followed.

On the couch, Draco looked quite put out. Why hadn't he been allowed to go too? The fireplace dinged so he stretched out to try and see it. "They just left to tear someone a new one," he called.

Harry Potter walked into the living room. His hair was longer, his clothes actually fit, and he looked like he was perpetually tired. "Potter. Come to see my daughter?"

"Yeah, I saw Ron's note." He looked around. "Family emergency?"

"The gryphons cast a spell on George so they would have a child." He carefully handed his daughter over. "That's Simone."

"Ginny's?" Harry asked, looking down at the little girl. "You're cute," he said with a faint smile.

Draco's coldness melted toward the other man. He had suffered just as much and become even more of a recluse than Draco had. This was not the same Potter that used to give back as good as he got. "You can hold her for a bit, Ginny ran out after Ron."

Harry nodded and sat down, staring at the little creature in his arms. She cooed up at him, having learned the noise from her favorite animal. "You're adorable," he told her. "Hopefully you'll end up smart too."

Draco laughed. "You'd be surprised how smart she already is. Glinda must be teaching her things." Harry looked at him. "She adopted Simone the moment of her birth. It was rather odd to watch."

The two former enemies crossed the emotional distance due to the little bundle of wiggliness that Harry was holding. Draco couldn't be all bad if this sweetheart was his daughter, and Potter wasn't such a goody-goody anymore. Maybe they were both growing up.


Molly Weasley stormed into the back cave, pushing past the large feathered creatures in her way. "Where is my son?" she demanded. One gryphon bent down to look at her. "I'd tell me before I do something completely nasty to all of you."

"He is that way," the gryphon told her, pointing with a wing. He watched as the strange party, obviously related, walked toward the healers' area followed by the halfling. The halfling was stopped and the gryphon found himself danging above the ground and unable to move. "What are you doing?" he hissed.

"You're stopping me from getting to my mate, which *one of you* hurt. Deal with it." He dropped the large creature and moved on. "This is me being pissed," he said when he couldn't get to George. "Let me in or suffer." He crossed his arms, staring down the creature in front of him.

"The healers say he can't have any stress," the gryphon said, trying to sound reasonable.

"He's having stress because one of you decided to make a decision for us. I'm the cure for that stress. Now move or be moved!" The gryphon quickly got out of his way, he wasn't going to deal with Xander when he was like this. Xander walked in and sat beside George's bed, taking his hand to hold. "And?" he asked when he heard claws approaching.

"He is not well. I tried to tell them that and they wouldn't listen."

Xander looked at the healer. "Which one?"

"It was Reynaldo, he thought you needed the stability." She bowed. "We can do three things. Stabilize and hope. Abort. Or move to another, more capable, host."

"Which would be best?" Molly asked, reaching down to test her son's forehead. "He's running a fever."

"We can't give him the medicine until we know what we're doing about the child," the healer said gently. She looked at the gathered people, stopping at Ron. "You would do."

"Bloody unlikely," Ron snorted. "I'm still male."

The healer shrugged. "The baby is used to it."

Ginny snickered. "I can see you carrying it," she told him. "If you thought I whined, I'd hate to hear you go at it."

"Stop it," Xander complained. "Pick on Ron later." He glared at the healer. "And your choice would be what?"

"Moving it. It's the safest. The baby could be attached to your mate's mind as well as his body and it could hurt him greatly."

George squeezed Xander's hand. "Please, we'll do that."

Ginny nodded. "I'll volunteer."

"You're barely free from your last one," Molly argued. "You're still bleeding from having her."

Ginny rounded on her. "It's either me or Ron, mum, which would you prefer?" Her mother grimaced but didn't say anything. "Good. Then we'll transfer the baby into me and deal with it." She looked at the healer. "Can you do that?" The healer nodded. "Will there be any side effects on my own baby?"

"Your milk might dry up," she offered.

"There's muggle solutions to that," Xander said quietly. He gave Ginny a sad smile. "I'll be there for whatever you need," he assured her.

She snorted and waved a hand at him. "I've just gone through it. We still have everything on hand. Mum?"

"It's for the best," her mother agreed. She gave George a smile. "Your father's going to be over the moon about this."

"I'm not telling him," Xander told her. Molly laughed. "I really like my heads where they are." Molly laughed harder and Ron joined in. "Can we do this quickly?"

"It shouldn't take more than an hour," the healer said, waving a hand at Xander so he was knocked out. "His energy is very disturbing right now. I can't work with him being so upset."

"Send him to Percy," Molly ordered her youngest son. "Then go home and tell everyone else what's going on. We'll be here."

Ron nodded, hefting Xander with a grunt and carrying him out to the portal. He glared at the elders sitting there before walking out. As soon as they were outside, Xander woke up. "Stop," Ron told him, grabbing him before he can go back inside. "Your anger was messing with the healer's energy."

Xander went limp. "How long do I have to wait out here?"

"Go see Percy and tell him. Mum told me to tell Fred and whomever was at home." He smiled. "Let Percy tell dad." He disappeared.

Xander concentrated, sending himself to Percy. He landed behind his brother-in-law's desk so gave him a hug.

"What's wrong?" Percy asked, signing his name on a document before putting his quill down. He turned to look at his friend. "What happened?"

"They did the spell on George," Xander said quietly. Percy's mouth opened. "They're transferring the baby to Ginny and I got kicked out." He sat on the edge of the desk. "This is such a mess."

"Indeed it is," Percy agreed. "Has anyone told Father?" Xander shook his head. "Then I'll do that while you head home."

"Ron's heading there."

Percy stood up. "You won't want to be around when I tell Father, he'll start yelling." Xander nodded and disappeared. Percy sighed and called over to his father's office. "Are you in?"

"Of course," Arthur said, sounding like he was in a good mood.

"Good, wait for me." He walked out of his office, heading down the hall. He tapped gently then walked in glaring his father's secretary. "It's a family matter, go take a powder break or some such." She hurried out of the office, leaving them alone. "Father," he said as he walked into the older man's office. He closed the door. "You know about that spell? The one to *gift* Xander and George with a family?" Arthur frowned, but he nodded. "They did it to George without his permission. That's why he's been sick."

"Where is he?" Arthur asked, standing up so fast his chair tipped over. "Is he all right?"

"I just talked to Xander, who they kicked out of the caverns. They're having to transfer the baby to Ginny." His father turned pale. "Xander's torn up about it, he was nearly crying. I sent him home to wait."

Arthur nodded. "You did the right thing, though I believe I'd be sitting outside that damn portal until they told me something." He walked around his desk. "Has anyone else been told?"

"Xander said Ron had been sent home. I'd bet he's telling everyone else." He straightened up. "Are you heading there?" Arthur nodded. "Then I'll pop in on Kandy before heading home to wait with everyone else." His father nodded again so he left him alone. Fortunately, his girlfriend was very understanding. Pregnancy was doing wonderful things for her temperament.

Arthur apparated to Stonehenge, going to find the portal. He found the guardian and glared at it. "Let me in, my son's in there."

"The healer said she can't be disturbed or the child will be pushed back," it said, sounding apologetic. "The elders are having a meeting tonight to see if something should be done about this situation."

"I'd like whomever did this to explain their reasoning to me," Arthur noted coldly.

A large, graying gryphon walked out of the portal. "As do we all," she told him, giving him their version of a smile. "All is well. Your son is not fighting the transfer and all should be fine soon." Arthur gave her a small smile. "Now, where is the young one? I've been ordered to keep him calm."

"He's back at our house, if he didn't head to school to find someone to talk to," Arthur told her. "He'll be back soon." He noticed her eyes unfocused then returned to looking down at him. "Is there some news?"

"The transfer is complete. The child will be born in about ten months." She bowed to him. "Please, tell your son everything is fine. We'll be waiting on him to come tonight." She went back into the portal.

Arthur sighed in relief. "At least no one's harmed. I'd best go inform everyone." He disappeared.


Ron landed in the house, looking around. "Hi, Harry," he said with a grim smile. "Draco, be prepared to keep Xander from killing the colony." Draco swore quietly. "Exactly."

"What happened?" Harry asked.

"The great buggers decided to stuff up George and it made him sick. They're transferring it into Ginny right about now." He sighed. "I've got to tell Fred and everyone."

"I'll tell Bill and Charlie," Harry offered. "You go tell Fred in person." He handed Simone back to her father. "Are you helping?"

"I guess," Draco said with a shrug. "Xander insists that he's adopted me." He put the baby on the floor and looked at the phoenix napping in a chair nearby. "Watch over her." He stood up and followed Ron to the fireplace. "Want company?"

"No, hold down the fort. It's going to be a mess tonight." Ron disappeared.

Harry coughed. "I'll need the fireplace."

Draco nodded. "Let me pop home and grab something. I'll be right back." He flooed home so he could find one of his house elves. There was no way Molly was going to feel like cooking tonight.

Harry tossed some floo powder into the fire. "Bill Weasley," he called out. Bill's head appeared a minute later. "Bill, it's Harry. There's bad news." Bill's smile faded. "The gryphons decided to work a spell on George and it's not sitting well with him. They're fixing it now."

"I'll be home tonight," Bill told him. "Mum and Dad?"

"Are there with him probably. Your mother went back with Xander the first time. I'm sure someone's told your father by now." Bill nodded. "We'll be here waiting." He broke the connection and waited a moment, but Draco didn't come back through so he made the other call he needed to. "Charlie Weasley."


Xander came out of the fireplace and headed directly for the old man sitting on the other side of the room for a hug. Dumbledore always understood.

"It will be fine, Xander," he said quietly. "They've done the spell and it was successful." He patted the trembling back gently. "Everything will be fine. Trust me if you don't trust them anymore."

"Why would they do it in the first place?" he complained. Xander pulled his head up. "Why even *try* this, especially since one of the healers announced that George wasn't eligible for the spell."

"Because they were trying to protect you," he said quietly. "There are rogue gryphon-born around the United Kingdom and it would be quite bad for them to attack your family." Xander frowned. "They see you as someone who would work against them and someone they have to stop. The rogues won't attack a fully formed flock, but they would be willing to attack a set of mated men." Xander relaxed a little. "I've been informed, as has Melody, that the problems could become quite severe if you were attacked, so the elders acted in what they thought was good faith."

"So they tried to protect me by nearly killing my mate?" Xander asked. Dumbledore nodded. "Bullshit. Telling me would have protected the both of us. They did what they wanted to because they want more of us around."

Dumbledore smiled. "That too probably," he agreed. "But harming George was not intentional."

"No, but it might be the end of them," Xander said coolly. "They hurt my mate!" Dumbledore nodded. "You don't think I should retaliate?"

"Personally, I would wait and see what they offered in reparation," Dumbledore said with a faint smile. "They're going to figuratively bend over backwards to heal this rift. You are the strongest of your generation and level of bornness." He stood up. "I believe you're needed back at the Burrow. I'll come check on you both tomorrow."

Xander heaved himself up and gave the older man another hug. "You make a great voice of reason."

Dumbledore stopped Xander from leaving. "I don't want to level more shocks on you, but I know you haven't been told yet. Giles left." Xander sighed. "Willow and Tara's fighting drove him away. He's gone back to his Council."

Xander nodded. "I'll go there and kick his ass later. Probably after the kids are born if he doesn't show back up. Thanks." He flooed back to the Burrow, arriving just in time to hear Arthur arguing with Draco. "Enough!" he yelled. Arthur looked at him. "Has anyone heard anything yet?"

"Where were you?" Harry asked.

Xander gave him a weak smile. "I went to find a deep hole of sanity and calmness before I attacked them for it." Harry smiled, understanding perfectly. "Dad?"

"It worked, they'll be back in about an hour," Arthur told him, giving him a pat on the back. "We can go pick up everyone then."

"Are we flying?" Xander asked. Arthur shook his head. "Then how are we getting home?"

"One of the forbidden portal spells." Arthur glared at Draco. "We don't need that sort of help."

"Your wife's going to be too busy to do much more than take care of your children. The least I can do is provide dinner for everybody. I'm sorry if you don't like my house elf, but she's very well behaved."

Xander snorted. "She's floating dancing potatoes." He pointed at where the small creature was making them dance, much to the delight of the baby. He looked at Arthur. "Is this really that big of a deal? If I had one, I would have brought it over to help too. Mom's not going to want to cook."

"She likes to cook."

"Then she can put on the finishing touches," Xander told him. "It'll still be at least an hour and Draco can get rid of the house elf before she finds out." He stepped closer. "This isn't about you not having one, this is Draco trying to be nice and helpful."

Arthur quit frowning. "Fine, she can stay, but only tonight."

"That's fine," Draco told him, giving him a smile. "I hope she cooks well enough. Your wife does a great job. Much better than my mother could have done on her own."

Arthur smiled. "I'll tell her you said so when she sees the elf." He looked back at Harry, who shifted uncomfortably. "It's good to see you out of your house, Harry." He gave the boy a hug. "Are you staying for dinner?"

"Hermione said I should."

"I'll let him have part of my room," Ron said, grinning at his friend. "It'll be like old times." Harry smiled at him. "How much longer?"

"Yes, how much longer?" Fred asked as he walked inside. He pulled Xander over, looking at him. "Did you ask?" Xander shook his head. "Then why did they do it?"

"They told Dumbledore that since I'm so strong that some of the rogue of us would want to test themselves against me. Which apparently they won't do against a whole family." He shrugged. "It seemed like a flimsy excuse to me, and personally I think they did it because they thought it'd be fun."

Fred nodded. "Then I won't harm you while you sleep." He looked at his father. "Any news?"

"Just that it's complete and we can go pick them up soon enough." He shrugged when Xander looked at his watch. "There's also an inquiry of sorts tonight. We're expected to attend."

"Oh, I'm going to be there," Xander said in his scariest voice. Arthur shuddered. "I want to hear this excuse for myself."

"Yes, so do I," Charlie said as he appeared. He smiled at Xander. "Are you going to destroy them?"

"The thought is presently crossing my mind," Xander admitted. "Fucking with my mate is something I won't tolerate and they know very well that I won't tolerate it." He smiled coldly. "They know quite well what I'm able to do because they're the ones who taught me how to control the urge to destroy and maim."

"And make miserable," Harry put in. Charlie smiled at him. "Are you running your advanced class next year?"

"Yeah, but there's only about ten kids in it this time," Xander told him. He sat down on the couch, watching his niece play on the carpet. "How much longer?"

"Not very long," Arthur assured him. He smiled at Harry for trying to change the subject and lessen the tension. "How have you been?"

"Decent enough. Hermione added a library to the house. We're getting books every few days." He grimaced. "It's rather annoying that people know where I live."

"Fans haven't tracked you down yet?" Draco asked as he walked back into the living room with his daughter. He looked down at his kid, then at Xander, then handed her over. "Here, keep calm." He flopped back down, smiling at the look his former teacher was giving him. "Best get some practice in and all that."

Xander snorted, but he cradled little Simone gently to his chest. "Yeah, I guess I probably should," he admitted quietly.

Draco noticed the proud look he was getting and grimaced at the older Weasley males. "Besides, it saves me from being puked on again."

Xander chuckled. "You shook her up too much. She never does it to me." Xander cooed at the baby. "Yeah, you can come play in the nest next week, huh."

"Yes, you can come back," Fred sighed. Xander smiled at him. "I still haven't forgiven you yet, but I won't send you away. You're good for business." He crossed his arms, staring down at the baby. "I'll even let you watch her in the store in the afternoons if Ginny needs the break."

"That's very nice of you, son," Arthur told him.

"She could come stay at my house for a while," Draco offered. Arthur frowned at him. "I'm not going to harm her."

"No, but we don't trust you enough to let you take care of the baby all by yourself," Ron told him as he strolled in. "After all, you still whine about diapers." He looked at his niece, and decided not to steal her so he could have some comfort of his own. "Those house elves are fast."

"Very," Harry agreed with a faint smile. "Hermione nearly threw a fit when six of them showed up looking for a job."

"Your house isn't that big," Ron said, looking confused.

"True," Harry agreed. "But we eventually chose one out of the six. The others she suggested go see Dumbledore because they could probably always use a few more up there." He waved at the baby, who giggled at him. "She's adorable."

"She is," Draco said proudly. "Doesn't look a bit like me, but very cute all the same."

"She's got your nose," Xander told him. He looked up. "Of course, she might have more of you as she gets older."

"She'd better not pull what he did in school," Ron said darkly, glaring at Malfoy. "We'll make sure she doesn't *entertain* like you did, Malfoy."

Draco nodded. "Please. It would be most inappropriate for my daughter to have admirers like I had."

"So, how was the United States?" Fred asked, trying to change the subject. No one needed to get between those two and their constant fighting.

"Boring. Very open once you get away from the East coast. Some fairly pretty country, but rather boring if you're not into landscapes."

"Where were you?" Xander asked.

"Denver. I ran into a former housemate and we spent some time together." Xander gave him a skeptical look. "She's from a year higher. Just left her husband. Pretty but not much else to be said about her. Though, she did try to teach me how to ski."

"Snowboard or ski?" Xander asked.

"Ski. How do people stand up on those?"

"I don't know," Xander told him. "I'm a beach baby myself."

"I saw one of those. Very interesting." Ron gave him a dirty look. "Ever seen a bikini, Weasley?"

Ron grinned. "Buffy was wearing one last week while she was painting the outside of the house."

"Imagine whole beaches full of women wearing them," Xander told him. Ron's mouth opened and a small whimper emerged. "Florida?"

"Florida," Draco said happily.

"What are these bikinis?" Arthur asked. Draco pulled his wand and created a picture of one, on a girl. "That's just underwear," he said, sounding scandalized.

"It's a bathing suit," Xander told him. He looked at the suit, then shook his head, changing it. "The more 'in' version right now."

Draco started to drool at the sight of the thong bathing suit. "My, I wish I had seen one of those."

Ron's mouth was closed for him by his older brother. "They wear that to swim in?" Charlie asked. Xander nodded. "How does it stay on?"

"You're not supposed to be athletic in it, it's for looking good," Xander told him with a grin. "It's all about how good you look on the beaches these days." He canceled the illusion. "I'm kinda glad that the class we took around London didn't get to run into any of those."

Arthur nodded. "Me also. It would have created quite a scandal." He shook himself. "Don't show that to Molly, Xander. She'll shriek about floosies and improper clothing."

"Okay." Xander moved the baby away from his chest, handing her back to her daddy. "Your turn, she's hungry."

"I can't do a thing about that," Draco reminded him.

"Are there muggle ways around that?" Arthur asked.

"Formula and bottles. Or breast pumping and bottles. Either one works."

"How would they work?" Charlie asked.

"Formula comes in a can and you mix it with water for the baby. Breast pumping is something mysterious to me, but it comes from the mother directly, just saved." Xander shrugged. "You'd have to ask Tara, she's been looking into that stuff."

"Is she really pregnant?" Harry asked. Xander nodded. "Really?"

"Yup. She and Willow decided to do it together. Willow's a raving, psychotic bitch and Tara's becoming a lot like the mother Goddess. Oh, and Giles ran away."

"Oh, dear," Arthur sighed. "Was he the father?" Xander nodded. "He left them there?"

"He left Tara at the mercy of Willow."

"Oh, dear," Harry said. "Can anyone control her?" Xander shook his head. "Then what will happen?"

"Tara's got the protection," Fred told them. "McGonagall came down for a sleeping charm. Just in case." His father smiled. "If the wind is just right, you can hear the screaming. The townspeople are starting to wonder."

"Tell them that there's two pregnant people up there," Xander suggested. "Most of them will probably understand." He yawned. "Is it time yet?"

"Not quite, son," Arthur said calmly. He watched as Xander fell asleep. "I'd say they were on their way home," he said quietly. "Let's prepare George's room for him. Draco, go do Ginny's room please." He accepted his granddaughter with a nod as people went to do things. He smiled as a portal opened in the kitchen and his remaining family walked through it. "We're all here but Bill," he told his wife. He stopped Ginny to give her a hug. "Are you all right?"

"Just a bit sore," she said with a smile. She took her daughter up to her room.

George sat beside Xander on the couch and promptly got pounced by his sleeping mate. "I'm fine," he told him. "Just needing some bedrest."

"Yes, you should head up there now," his mother said firmly. She heard a banging of a pot lid and turned to look at the creature in her kitchen. "What is that?" she shrieked.

"Draco thought you'd like to have the night off to worry over the children," Arthur told her. "He brought over one of his house elves for the night." He pulled her closer. "He was trying to be nice."

"It was rather thoughtful," Fred said as he walked down the stairs. He kissed his mother's cheek. "Our room's all set up." He looked at the couple on the couch. "Can you make it up the stairs yourself?" George nodded so Fred helped get Xander off him. It was cute how Xander followed his husband up to bed. Fred snickered, joining his mother in laughter. "They are cute."

"Yes, they are," she agreed. She looked into the kitchen. "Are you sure it knows what it's doing?"

"I'm sure she cooks at his home." Arthur looked at the still-open portal. "Should I go there now?" She nodded. "Then don't wait up. Try to keep Xander calm though. He's fighting the urge to kill them all." He walked through the portal and it closed behind him.

Molly went into the kitchen to check on the house elf's progress. "Oh," she said happily. "Dinner's nearly ready?"

The house elf looked up and smiled at her. "Yous is easy to cook for, Mrs. Grandma. The master is very happy about yous food so I try to make it like yous do. Do I do right?"

Molly tasted everything, only adding a bit of salt to the potatoes. "That's very good," she told her. "Thank you."

"The Master said yous is not wanting to cook tonight so I's is doing it instead. Very bad things happened so yous is tired and needed by yous children. It is nothing." She held up a small dish of sauce. "Does yous like?"

Molly tasted that too and nearly moaned. "That's very nice. Thank you." She smiled then walked away to go check on her children. She really didn't feel like cooking and it was a rather sweet notion from the boy, though she would discourage it in the future.


The gryphon that landed outside the Burrow five days later expected an angry halfling, though the depth of that anger astounded her. She knew that Xander's mate was going to be fine, why was he still so pissed? It had been for a good reason. She winced when the door slammed. She waited patiently and eventually Ginny walked out with her older brother Ron. Fredericka bowed to her. "I come to check on you and offer you something in return," she said quietly.

"Xander's left for the shop," Ron told her. "My mum's not really pissed at you anymore." He crossed his arms. "Can't say the same for the rest of us."

Fredericka nodded. "I understand." She looked at Ginny. "It does suit you."

"Thank you. What did you want?"

"We are in need of someone reasonable to translate a few of our spells. The elders decided together that a few of our more helpful spells could be sent around, if it was done by someone we trust."

"And you trust me because of what you did to my brother?" she asked.

Fredericka snorted. "Not quite. We trust you because we saw inside of you while we were healing you. You have the ability and the honesty to keep the harmful spells out of the general knowledge."

"And I have access to Xander's books," Ginny finished. The elder gryphon nodded. "Why me and not Hermione? She was trying to fix a few of them."

"Yes, we will allow you to work with her, but she has no desire to do this work full time." Fredericka handed over a large bag. "These are the rest of the books Xander will need. Also, you may learn whatever you desire from it. We know that you will not harm us, nor will she."

Ginny looked at the large bag, considering it. "This is blackmail," she said finally.

Fredericka gave her a gryphon smile. "Think of it more as a peace offering." She bent lower when she saw the baby in the doorway. "You're small," she noted.

"She's six months old," Ron told her. "Already crawling. Astounded our mother." He walked over and picked Simone up. "This is one of the ones that got your mommy preggers again," he told the baby. Ginny smacked him hard. "Hey!"

Fredericka leaned closer to the baby, who squeaked and squealed. "You are adorable. Very strong too." She nudged the baby gently. "You may have one of my feathers for a wand if it suits you." She straightened back up. "It is not to make you less angry. You are correct to be angry with us, though we wish it were not so. We are basing this on your abilities. You may have Hermione help you if you desire." She stepped back. "Will you do this for us?"

Ginny nodded. "Sure. I've been considering which jobs I could do while sitting at home." She smiled. "Are you going to try and make Xander unpissed? Because I doubt he's ready to even consider ending the grudge yet."

The gryphon shook her head. "I will not force it. I would be upset, even though I would get over it sooner."

"You nearly killed his mate, which is what's keeping him sane and balanced," Ron pointed out quietly. "If it were me, I'd have blown you all up by now. You might want to thank Fred and Dumbledore for being alive." He walked back into the house with the baby.

Ginny nodded. "True. George is still fairly weak. He's getting better but Xander's trying to find something to help him. Is there anything in here?"

"One of the general healing potions should help him," Fredericka said, starting to be concerned. "He won't allow it?"

"He's decided it's better if he doesn't touch his books right now," she confided. "He gets really great big bursts of anger whenever he tries to study."

"Then I will go talk to them," Fredericka decided. "It is up to me to heal this rift. The youngling was right, we are to blame." She bowed again. "Thank you. In the bag is a way of contacting us." She hopped up, taking off on a thermal.

Ginny grabbed the strap of the bag and hauled it inside, grunting with pain when she let it drop. "That is too heavy for me to carry upstairs."

"I'll get it in a few," Ron told her, handing over the baby. "I'm not doing diaper duty."

She sighed. "It's not that bad."

"That's because she's yours," Ron reminded her. "Are you going to tell mum and dad?"

"Tonight, when they come back." Ginny put the baby on the couch so she could clean the pert little butt.

Ron heaved the bag up and carried it up to her room, making sure the door was locked and all the windows were closed, just in case.


Fred looked out as a large shadow flowed across the outer window. "Oh, crap," he whispered. He smiled at the customers. "Be right back." He ran up the stairs. "Xander, visitor," he said from the doorway.

"If it's got feathers and it's not a phoenix, I don't care," he said quietly. He looked over. "Tell whichever one it is to go away." A small fire started in the brazier across the room.

"Okay." Fred jogged back down, but stopped when he saw who else had just come in. "What do you want?" he asked Snape.

"I was commissioned to bring down a healing potion," Snape told him, looking around with distaste. His teachings had led to this frivolity and he was not pleased. "Where is your brother?"

"Upstairs in bed." He watched the older man walk up the stairs then went out to talk to the big creature. "He's still angry."

"As he should be," Fredericka agreed. "What Reynaldo caused was quite wrong." She leaned down. "However, I did not do this to him and he has no reason to be angry with me."

"He's angry with your whole species," Fred told her coolly. "The same as he's hating that he's part of what caused his husband so much pain." She backed up some. "If he could, I'm sure he'd take that part of himself out and toss it away because it causes George so much pain to look at him most of the time."

"Enough," McGonagall said as she walked up to them. "Where is Xander? This should be between them, your anger is different from his."

"I'm George's twin," he reminded her.

"And George is Xander's husband, bonded to him on the same level as you two are," she finished. "It is his fight, yours needs to be taken up at a different time." Fred nodded, taking her advice. "Go get Xander."

"Snape's up there."

"Good. Xander usually trusts him not to harm people without a reason."

Xander walked out and looked up at the gryphon. "I'm still ready to kill you all because of how much pain you've caused my mate. Go away."

She bent down to get closer to him. "I did not cause him any pain."

"No, you didn't. You also didn't stop the one who did from doing it." He looked at McGonagall. "I'll be up tomorrow for the meetings." She nodded. "George wants to stay down here so I'm commuting for a few more weeks." He turned when he heard footsteps, bracing George so he could stand up. "What are you doing up?"

"Amazingly, the potion worked some," George said. He looked up at Fredericka. "I want an explanation and it had better be a good one," he demanded. "You nearly killed me and I could care less if your whole race died at the moment."

"It was necessary to protect you both," she told him. "The rogues...."

"Won't be attacking me directly," Xander butted in. "A head-on attack isn't the gryphon way. You prefer to take side attacks and wear away the defenses. Getting my husband stuffed up wouldn't have cured any of that." She shifted some. "So, I'm guessing it was a presumption of me not knowing my own mind and a direct violation of both of our bodies. In that case, it's the same as rape and I'd be killing you all for it."

"Xander," McGonagall said quietly. "There are rogues."

"Who'll be attacking either a favorite student or someone else in the family. Gryphons attack the defenses, not the front line." He looked back at the gryphon. "Don't they?"

"It is our instinctive means of attack," she agreed. McGonagall hissed. "What happened was never meant to happen. We have all come down on the errant one for his lack of permission and arrogance. He was nearly kicked out of the colony and forced to make it on his own."

George laid a hand on Xander's. "Forgive her already," he whispered. "I don't like you unhappy, I don't get the good cuddles that way."

Xander looked at his mate, the anchor for his sanity, the voice of reason when he was rampaging, and sighed. "All right. But I don't have to like it."

"That's fine," George agreed, giving him a faint smile. "We can even move the nest back if you'd like." Xander looked hopeful. "I promise, it won't bother me, Xander."

Xander hugged his mate, smiling as Snape came out of the store. "Thank you."

"It was a simple potion to make," Snape told him. "I hope that your more advanced books will have more challenging potions in them."

"Advanced books?" He looked at the big fluffy creature. "I have advanced books?"

"Of course. We left them with his sister. The Council decided she would be the one to translate some of the more useful and non-lethal spells into the common magic arena."

"She'll get to work from home," Fred said in appreciation. He looked back inside when he heard a bell. "Coming." He walked back inside to ring someone up. "Sorry about that?"

"It's okay. Is that a real fight?"

"No, it's a truce at the moment," he told her. He handed her back her change. "Thank you for shopping with us." He watched as she slid out behind Snape and disappeared down the street. He decided to go back out too. He found Xander being hugged by the gryphon and steadied his brother. "After this you go back to bed," he said firmly but quietly.

"Exceptional idea," George said with a smile. "Are we cooking tonight or heading home?"

"Home. Mum's probably going to be making real food soon." Fred looked at Xander. "Are you okay again?"

"I'll be fine," Xander assured him, pulling back. He frowned at his mate. "You still need to be in bed." He picked George up and carried him up the stairs.

Fred snickered. "How many more doses does he take?"

"Two more," Snape told him, picking some lint off his sleeve. "I'll send them down at the appropriate time." He nodded and walked away.

"That was rather nice of him," Fred told his former Head of House.

"We gave him an extensive volume on our potions," Fredericka told him. "Most useful things." She jumped up and flew off.

McGonagall smiled at him. "I do believe I had an order coming in?"

"And all but one thing is ready," he assured her, leading her into the shop. He brought out her special order. "We still have to set the lights on the snappers."

Upstairs, Xander had pulled the nest back into its former position and was cuddled into his husband's arms. He had missed this. George was smiling in his sleep. Life was good.

Snippet 6:

Note: I apologize in advance for the house elf speaking problems i seem to have. i tried my best. btw, kaiya (the ever wonderful beta who was working on things this weekend) read this and had the image of them not telling the 'master' until poor denver was at least six months old, and ginny coming the next morning only to find the house elf going 'round and 'round on a ceiling fan, pinned by the ears. she and her wicked mind. <G>

Draco looked up from playing with his eight-month-old daughter when he felt someone apparate near him. One of his house elves was standing there nervously wringing her hands. "What's wrong?" he asked quietly, not wanting to upset Simone.

"Master, there's something you have to see," she told him, nodding fiercely. "He was dropped off yesterday and wes take care of him, but he needs yous now."

Draco stood up, picking Simone up too. No one else was home at the moment. "Let me leave a note," he ordered. He quickly wrote out a note then followed his house elf home. Once there, he walked into the kitchen, stopping when he saw a small basket. "What is that?" he asked.

"She left it for yous," the elf told him. "Shoved it at us and said to have fun with it. It's funny, but screaming whole lots."

Draco put his daughter down on the table, trusting her not to fall off, so he could look at this new creature. He felt someone pop in. "Back here," he yelled. The baby looked up at him with eyes just like his, and wailed. "Shh, it's all right," he soothed, picking the poor baby up. "It's all right, you're safe," he told it. He looked over at Mrs. Weasley, who was looking a bit shocked. "Someone dropped it off here yesterday," he told her.

"Oh, dear Merlin," she sighed. "Is it yours?" Draco nodded. "Are you sure?"

"Bloody well looks like me," he said, turning the baby around. It had very thin, fine hair so blond it was nearly transparent and eyes the color of summer storm clouds. The baby kicked and gurgled at her. "I know I've slept with someone recently enough, but really."

"The woman was most sneering," the elf told him. "Not nice, not nice at all." She handed over the note. "That with the baby." She scampered off.

Mrs. Weasley walked over and took the baby from him so he could read the note. She looked it over, and eventually checked the diaper. "It's a boy," she announced.

"Wonderful," he said as he read. He blindly sought a seat and sat down. "Merlin, she abandoned him with me for good." He looked up. "Called him an inconvenience to her finding a new husband." He handed over the note and took the baby to look over. "And she gave you the most horrible name too."

Simone glared at the attention thief then started to scream. Her daddy! Her grandmother pulled her over to hold her, but it was still her daddy. He always played with her and now he had that attention thief.

"Oh, do stop it," he commanded. His daughter stopped and looked at him in shock. "I'm still your father and I'm not abandoning you to your mother's family. Now you have a brother." He held the baby out so she could see him. He blocked a particularly hard pat from her, but eventually she decided his fingers tasted good enough to suck on, making them both happy. "Thank you, Merlin," he sighed.

"At least they'll be close," Molly said, putting the note aside. "What are you going to do about this, Draco?"

"I have not a clue," he said honestly. "This is rather a lot at the moment." He looked at the baby, then at her. "Can we go back to your place? It has toys and the like." He glanced around the warm kitchen. "I've got to get some here for her."

"Once she's walking," Molly said, separating the babies. "I won't allow you to hand this one over to Ginny."

"I wouldn't think of it," he said, scowling at her. "They're both my children and I will take care of them."

"Good. As long as you're not going to abandon him like his mother did." The young man snorted. "I've seen it before," she told him.

"As much as I think Ginny is a wonderful mother, it's clear this one is thoroughly a Malfoy." He smiled. "That means he'll probably become quite attached to his sister and make her insane. Always wanted a sister of my own to protect and drive insane."

Molly snickered. "You'll have a half-sister or brother soon from your adoption by Xander." She gathered everything up. "Come on, let's go." She sent herself home, with him following a moment later, he had to give out some orders to the house elves. She smiled at her son, home for lunch. "We were just at the mansion," she told Percy.

"I see. Why ever for?"

"Because I got my son dropped on my doorstep by his worthless cunt of a mother," Draco said as soon as he appeared. His son belched and he grimaced. "First things first, you need manners, my boy." He accepted the clean cloth and cleaned up the grossness that came from his son's mouth. "Thank you." He sat down at the table, putting the baby back into his basket. "Was his birth certificate in there?"

Molly checked the envelope and handed it over. "Denver?"

"Where he was conceived." He read the pertinent details. She had left her name blank. "Well, that's wonderful," he said, showing it to his might-as-well-be mother-in-law. "She's made him an official Malfoy and made sure her family can't track him down."

Percy looked at the offending certificate. "He's only a few weeks old." He looked at the baby. "He's quite big for being so young."

"I was born eleven pounds," Draco told him. "Comes with the blond hair." He smiled at the disgruntled look. "Really, they can both come back to the mansion with me," he told Molly. "I can take care of them both."

"I'm sure you can," she agreed, "but Simone stays here except for visits."

"It's not like my father's friends come over for tea," Draco reminded her. She smiled sweetly and shook her head. "You don't want her to know about my life?"

"I'd prefer that you had a stable life before that happens."

"Give it up, mum," Ginny said as she waddled in. "Yes, he can take Simone back to the mansion with him sometimes. Especially the day I deliver this huge whale of a Harris." She sat down in front of the baby. "Who're you?"

"Remember that fling I had?" She nodded. "That's my son, Denver. He's five weeks old tomorrow."

Ginny sighed. "Coolness. I'm sure Simone will appreciate having someone to play with." Her daughter squealed and jumped in her seat, turning around to look at her best friend, Glinda. "Stop biting her or stay at the school until she's eleven," Ginny warned the phoenix. Glinda gave her a pitiful look. "Nice try. Won't work, but nice try." Glinda cooed at her, then started to sing. The baby on the table squeaked and squealed at the noise.

"Oh, dear, he likes to sing," Draco said, looking horrified. Ginny stared at him. "We're all horrible at it, every last one of us."

"Ah." She picked the baby up, checking him out. "Well, you're certainly your father's son. Let's hope you don't attract loose and stupid women like he does."

"And what does that say about you, dear?" her mother teased.

"I'm the exception that proves the rule," Ginny said firmly. Draco nodded, giving her a bright smile. "I can help you with him sometimes."

"I was going to start begging to bring Simone back to the mansion on occasion," he pointed out. "You can always come over there and work."

Ginny patted him on the hand. "Your house is big, cold, and drafty. Let us know when you redecorate and we'll see." He laughed. "You think I'm kidding?"

"No, just imagining what my mother would have said about all this. She would have huffed and walked away with her nose in the air."

"Have you heard from her family?" Molly asked. He shook his head. "Not a thing?"

"I got a birthday card from her aunt, but nothing else. Apparently their family wasn't as fortunate as some were in the stock market. They're relatively well enough off to live, but they're not flamboyantly wealthy. I guess they think that I'll start coming to them and asking them for things, but I'd really rather not see them ever again. They used to give me nightmares." Ginny laid a hand on his arm. "One can't pick their families," he sighed, taking his son to hold. "I should probably go have you registered too. With any luck, you and Simone will be in the same year."

"The birthday cutoff date would include him," Molly told him. "By a few weeks actually." She smiled. "We'll watch him long enough for you to do that."

"Thank you." He stood up and handed his son over to what might as well be his step-mother. "I'll be back soon." He disapparated.

Ginny smiled at the baby. "At least you're cute and we can make you a decent human being so you don't have to find the right path the hard way." Percy snorted. "Want to change Simone for me, Perc?"

"No, thank you. I think I'll have enough of that in my future." He smiled at his mother when she squealed. "It seems our first time together was more magical than I thought," he admitted. He hadn't been wanting to tell his mother yet but he'd be taking care of him himself until Kandy graduated.

"And will we be seeing a wedding?" Ginny asked. Percy scowled and nodded. "Good. It's about time you made it official. Though how I'm going to fit into any robe I'm not really sure."

"It'll be here in the garden if mum agrees," Percy told her. "Wear something comfortable for you." He nodded at her stomach. "How much longer?"

"Half-gryphons are carried for ten months," she said grimly. "And it's huge. We're already bigger than Simone was at birth. Less active thankfully, but still huge." She moved her robe out of the way so he could see her stomach. "With six more months to go," she told him. He clucked and reached over to touch her stomach. "It's not the same feeling as Simone was."

"Of course not, it's probably much more like Xander would have been," Molly told her. "You might ask him if he has a copy of any baby pictures or the like." Ginny shook her head. "You already asked?"

"His mother never took any. He was feeling lonely the other day and showed me all the pictures he had, most of which included Willow and another boy. He does have his birth certificate. Just over nine pounds and nineteen inches long." Her mother laughed. "I'm not sure where all the size is coming from, unless he's got wings or something."

"We can do one of those ultrasounds," Percy suggested. "Kandy's mother dragged her to St. Mungo's for one and it was quite interesting. Couldn't make out the picture myself, but the doctor said it was there."

"Those are probably very expensive," Molly reminded him.

Ginny shrugged. "I'll suggest it to Xander and George, see if they want to deal with it. If not, maybe they can find another way to check on it." She grunted and rubbed her stomach. "Little snot."

Her mother smiled. "Remember, what you call them now will influence their personalities later." She stood up. "I used to call George and Fred troublemakers and look how they turned out." She pinched Percy's cheek. "You were always my good little boy because you never kicked me once." She walked over to the sink to draw water for tea.


Draco dragged his feet as he walked into the school. Session had started only a few days earlier and all the students were still happily bouncing around the hall. Had he ever looked that hopeful and happy? He walked into the library, waving the birth certificate.

"Again?" Irma Pince, librarian, asked. "Your first can't be over seven months old."

"She's eight months and this one was handed over to me by his *adoring* mother," he said coolly. He waved a hand when she looked startled. "I'm a bit upset with her at the moment."

"I would be furious," she assured him. She pulled down the book and took the birth certificate. "Her name's not on here," she pointed out.

"She wanted it that way. I found out about him this morning when one of my house elves panicked and came to get me. They'd probably have only told me when he started walking if they knew how to take care of a child." She clucked over that and he watched her write it in. "The mother's name was Marble, Candace Marble." She wrote the name in another color of ink. "Can't make it official?"

"No, not without it being on the birth certificate." She smiled at him as she handed it back. "Congratulations, Mr. Malfoy. I'm sure your son will enjoy it here as much as your daughter will."

"Hopefully," he sighed. "As long as they get along, I'll be happy." He nodded a goodbye and left the library. He ran into Snape in the hallway and showed him the document without saying anything.

"Really?" Draco nodded. "Marble?" Draco nodded again. "Word was that she came back to find the father of her child. She didn't put her name down?"

Draco sighed. "No, according to her note, my son is an inconvenience that will only cause her trouble finding a new, richer, husband. Therefore he is my responsibility until he becomes useful to her again."

Snape sneered. "Indeed," he said coolly. "Then I will make sure that the child is protected once he gets here. Are you going to change his name?"

"She left a binding certificate with his name. She bound it to him so it can't be changed. Even with as old as he is, it would probably destroy his budding personality." He looked around. "I'd better go. Mrs. Weasley is watching him for me and she's made it quite plain that she's not helping me raise him."

Snape handed him a form. "Here, try this for a bit," he said before walking away.

"Quidditch training camp?" Draco muttered as he read. "They want me?" He stuffed it into his pocket with the birth certificate. He was going to need some things and he'd better get them now, while he had a sitter.


Xander landed in the living room, nearly tripping over Ginny. "Sorry," he said with a grin. "What's up?"

Ginny pointed at the baby on the couch. "Denver showed up yesterday." She continued using her daughter as an exercise weight, making her squeal in delight.

Xander sat down next to the baby, picking him up carefully. It was obvious who he was. The baby cooed and gurgled at him, making him laugh. "You're adorable. Girls are going to fall over you, mini him."

"Mini what?" she asked.

"Sorry, muggle movie reference." He grinned at her. "I'll rent it sometime so you can watch it." He rocked the little baby, earning a sleepy baby. "Such a cute little clone, yes, so very cute."

"My son is not a clone," Draco said as he walked out of the fireplace. He frowned at his teacher. "Are you enjoying pawing my son?"

"Yup," Xander said with a grin. Draco rolled his eyes. "Are you planning on having him rendered infertile once he hits twelve?"

"I should hope so," Draco said with a frown. Ginny laughed. "What? I'm probably fertile because of something Granger did to me."

"Hey, you interrupted the spell," Ron said as he walked down the stairs. "It worked for me." He looked at the baby, then at his arch-nemesis. "You spawned again?" he asked incredulously.

Draco glared at him. "I didn't mean to. I had no bloody idea until yesterday morning when one of the house elves came and got me. He'd been at home since day before yesterday afternoon and they never told me."

"They obviously had it under control," Ginny said with a shrug. "They seem capable enough." She put Simone down and watched as she crawled to her father and pulled herself up on his leg. "Hopefully they'll get along well enough to not start a war."

"Yes, the Weasley vs. Malfoy war should probably stop," Xander noted dryly. The baby dirtied itself and was immediately handed over to his father. "All yours," he said happily.

Ginny smiled at him. "You too shall do that soon," she reminded him.

Xander grinned. "I'm thinking a compulsion on Fred to make him want to change diapers would be wonderful," he said happily.

"No, Xander," Ron told her. "He'll get you while you sleep and you'll be horribly furry again or something."

Xander grinned. "He can try."

Snippet 7:

A fourth year ran into Xander's classroom, pointing and screaming. "What?" he asked, grabbing her to try and calm her down. "What happened?" She started to babble noise again. "Willow?" She shook her head. "Tara?" The girl nodded. "Guys, stay in here. Um, Mitchell, go find Madam Pomfrey and send her to Tara's room. The rest of you stay here!" He ran out of the room and down the hall, slamming into Tara's classroom. "Oh, shit," he said. "Dismissed, leave now!" The kids filed out quickly. "Tara, how long have you been in labor?"

"Most of the day," she sobbed. "I thought it was going to stop! Please, make it stop, Xander." She grabbed his hand. "Please make it stop."

"The nurse is on the way. Let me check you, all right?" She nodded and let him go. He lifted her skirt and groaned. He could see the head. "Tara, honey, it's too late. The baby's coming." Tara started to cry harder. "But it's okay. Shh, it's okay. The baby's almost seven months along and it'll be fine." He moved around to hug her. "I'm going to be right here, okay? We'll get through this and I'm going to kick Giles ass for this later." She sniffled and laughed. "Shh, it'll be okay." She writhed with the next pain. "Don't push if you can help it."

"I can't, it's got to come out," she told him, pushing hard.

He went back down and managed to catch the baby. "It's a boy," he said, smiling at her. He pulled out his pocket knife and cut the umbilical cord, handing her the baby. "It's okay, Tara, we'll be fine." He looked at the door, but no one was running their way. "Can I move you?" She nodded so he picked her up carefully. "Tell me if I hurt you and you keep hold of that little fella for me. Got it?" She nodded again and he walked out of the room, heading up to the infirmary. He met the nurse halfway there. "She couldn't stop," he explained at the distressed look. "She's having more contractions now, I just felt one go through her." He followed her up to the infirmary, carefully placing Tara on a bed. "Here we are." He took the baby when it was handed to him. "Doesn't he need something? Air or something?"

She turned and looked the baby over, eventually putting an oxygen mask over his face and putting him on another bed. "Go tell Dumbledore," Madam Pomfrey told him. "They're both going to have to go to St. Mungos as soon as possible." He nodded, but didn't move. "I can handle this."

"I don't want to leave her alone."

"Then I'd hurry up," the nurse ordered. He nodded and left the infirmary. "He's quite protective of you," she said conversationally. "I'm going to have to check you now, Professor Maclay. Please stay still for just a moment." She checked the young woman over and sighed. "That certainly explains it." She straightened up. "You were carrying twins and one's had problems."

"My son?" Tara cried.

"With some support, he'll be just fine," Madam Pomfrey soothed. She walked over to check on the child, making sure it was staying covered. The baby worried her, it was much too soon.


Xander ran into Dumbledore's office. "Tara gave birth in class. Madam Pomfrey said to tell you she needs to go to the real hospital."

"I've already called for them," Dumbledore said calmly, standing up. "What was it?"

"A little boy. He's okay so far but he's so tiny." Xander took a deep breath. "I'm going to go stop Willow. Did you need me to do anything else?" Dumbledore shook his head. "Then can you go hold Tara's hand? She shouldn't be alone." He jogged out of the office, making it to Willow on the long marble stairs up to the infirmary. "She's not okay, but she'll be fine," he told her quickly, making her stop. Willow frowned at him. "She delivered in the classroom.

"She's too early."

"I know, and she can't take being upset right now." Willow's frown got deeper. "If you upset her, I'm tying you to a tree until you deliver. Got it?"

"I'm not going to upset her."

"Willow, your presence upset her at breakfast. I mean it, you can't upset her now. She'll die if you upset her."

"I'll behave," Willow agreed, getting free of his arm.

"Thank you." He watched her go, frowning at her back. He pulled his wand and took her voice so she couldn't say a thing to Tara. "I meant it," he called after her. She glared back at him. "Make her suffer and it comes back to you." He turned and headed for the staffroom. He had a small side trip to make. Fortunately, Giles had convinced someone to connect the Watcher's Council to the floo network. He sent some powder into the fire and disappeared. He banged his head on the other side, the fireplace was very low. By the time he had bent down and gotten out, there were a few people looking at him. Including Giles. He walked up to his mentor and slugged him hard. "That's for leaving Tara at Willow's mercy," he snarled. "She delivered today. Two months early." Giles' mouth opened. "Not only did you run away from your responsibility, but you left her at the mercy of a psychotic raging hormone who proved that she likes to hurt her when she has a mood swing. They're going to the hospital if you're interested. I'd show up there or not at all, which might actually be better for them all." He left again, going back to check on Tara. He found Dumbledore standing in the staff room. "You sent them through the floo?"

"No, I sent them via portal. I was waiting on you." He picked up the hand Xander still had clenched. "Did you inform Rupert of the birth?" Xander nodded. "Good. I had hoped he would have stepped up and helped protect Tara when he found out how bad it was getting."

"He knew?"

"Some of it. Tara didn't confide some of it to anyone." He let Xander's hand go. "The second baby was born stillborn. That's what set off her labor." He smiled. "Nice work with Willow." He waved at the door. "I believe you have a class now?"

"I'll go in a minute. I need some time to adjust my mental rant against Giles."

"Of course. Please don't hurt the children, Xander. If you have to, let Black take them for a class." He walked away.

Xander took a few deep breaths then steeled himself to go face down children. He walked into the advanced classroom and smiled at everyone. "Go take Professor Black and Lupin and get out of my sight before I explode," he said calmly.

"Let's go, people," Black called. "He's serious."

"No, you're Sirius," Xander told him.

Black patted him on the shoulder. "Don't destroy anything," he said quietly. "We'll be out by the lake." He steered the children out of the room, following them.

Lupin stopped to look at Xander. "Will you be okay?" Xander shrugged. "Okay. Remember we can't replace anything."

Xander smiled brighter at him. "I won't destroy the equipment, but we may be missing a wall or three." Lupin nodded and left him alone. Xander shut the door after him then looked around the classroom. He pointed his hand at one wall, the external wall, and fired a blast of power at it. It wasn't often that he could push the excess energy this way, but he was more than pissed enough to force it from his body before he hurt someone. The wall exploded in a shower of rubble, giving the room a new patio-like area.

"What the bloody hell are you doing!" Snape shouted from the doorway.

Xander looked back at him. "Killing a wall instead of Giles." He shot a blast of pure energy at the remains of the wall, sending it out onto the lawn too. "Fuck him and his chicken shit problems."

Snape closed the door. "What happened now?"

Xander turned to look at him. "You mean you didn't hear how and why he left right before school started?" Snape nodded. "Tara just delivered prematurely. One of the twins was stillborn. And he never did a thing to stop Willow."

"You blame her?"

"She transformed Tara all sorts of ways and yelled at her nearly non-stop for the last five months. You tell me." He crossed his arms. "I need to destroy something and a wall is a convenient target. That's not really bearing any weight and I can always rebuild it through the semester."

Snape gave him a smile, which was rather scary. "At least you can rationalize your way out of destroying the school."

"I'm not rebuilding the entryway again," Xander said with a faint smile. "Once was enough."

"Did you see Giles yet?"

"Yup, and I'm very proud of myself, I only hit him once."

Snape laughed. "Good. I'd like to do so myself. Professor Maclay is rather in need of protection." He nodded at the wall. "You have a spell to recreate it, you might want to use it before the rain starts tonight." He opened the door and walked away, leaving the door open.

Xander stared down the student standing outside the door. "What?"

"Professor Harris? Professor McGonagall wanted to know what you were doing. She was quite upset by all the noise." She gave him a pitiful look. "Is Professor Maclay all right?"

"As far as I've been told, but she shouldn't have delivered today." He waved at the hallway. "I'll come up and explain myself to her." The student smiled and ran away. Xander calmed himself down again and walked up to two flights of stairs to the Deputy Headmaster's classroom. He stuck his head inside. "Sorry about the noise," he said with a smile. "It beats killing someone. I'll fix the wall straight away." He withdrew and went to find his textbook with the recreate spell in it. It would be handy if it worked the way he thought it would.

McGonagall walked out of her classroom and slammed the door. "Explain yourself," she ordered.

Xander turned and looked at her. "I delivered Tara's first son, the one who lived, and then robbed Willow of her voice so she couldn't hurt Tara anymore. Then I went and I hit Giles, though not as much as I wanted to. So I'm presently wearing out my anger in a non-lethal fashion that has nothing to do with a student." Her mouth opened. "As of this moment, my classroom is missing a wall and I'm on my way to find the spell to fix it. Did you want more?"

She glared at him. "Xander, that was totally uncalled for."

"No, Tara delivering two months early was uncalled for. Giles running was uncalled for. And since I'm starting to lose my temper again, I'm going to go find that spellbook so I can fix the wall and destroy it again." He turned and walked away, finishing his trek to the library. He had a few of his textbooks locked in the safe room. He glared at Willow when she stood up. "Once I'm not pissed." Irma Pince handed over both books and he gave her a smile. "I'll bring them back soon. I only need the recreate spell." He walked back to his classroom, flipping through the books to find the spell. He finally found it and pointed his wand at the wall, saying the complicated phrase. The rubble flew up and rebuilt itself. "Good," he said, tossing the books aside.


Willow cornered Xander in the hallway, holding him in place until her voice came back. "How could you think I hurt Tara?"

"Do the words 'swan', 'mouse', and 'bunny rabbit' mean anything to you?" She blanched. "Your hormones may be swinging, but if I *ever* find out that you definitely caused that one baby to die you will suffer. Tara's sweet and nice, she doesn't hurt people. You've managed to scare even my husband." She made a sound of protest. "Ask him if you don't believe me. He'll be up for dinner." He got free of her hold and walked away. "I'd figure it out now, Willow, before you lose everyone's support." He turned a corner and disappeared.

Willow leaned against the wall and pouted. The first teacher to walk past her she stopped. "Snape, do you think I'm mean and nasty?"

He looked her over. "Yes," he said, then walked away.

She started to cry and made a vow to be better to Tara and her son. If they both lived. That thought made her cry harder. She had hurt Tara. She was bad.


George walked up to Willow and grabbed her by the arm, pulling her aside. "I heard what Xander told you," he said quietly. "Frankly, he was right. You do have moments when you lose control and bad things happen around you. You scare me as much as Xander does when he loses his temper because of something like what happened today. If you want, I can help you regain control. I was very good at helping Ginny when her powers went wonky. But only if you manage to find a spot of control and calm because I'm not unleashing you on the world in the state you've been in lately." She started to sniffle. "I'm not doing this to be mean, I'm doing this because you've managed to upset my mate enough that he's crying." He stepped back. "I'll leave it up to you. It's a fairly simple technique. Fred and Percy both know it if you'd rather head to them, as does my mother and sister. But, please, ask one of us." He walked away, leaving her there.

Willow squared her shoulders and went to the staffroom. She needed someone who understood. Maybe Mrs. Weasley wouldn't look at her like she was evil. She flooed to their house, giving them a pitiful look. "George said I could come to you for help," she said quietly.

"Come along into the living room," Molly said, leading her that way and closing them in. "What happened?"

Willow sat down and looked up at her. "Tara went into early labor, one of the babies was dead." She sniffed. "Xander thinks I did it. Even Snape thinks I'm bad." She started to cry again. "It's these hormones, I can't control them and I keep breaking out and doing mean things!"

Molly pulled her closer. "I understand," she soothed. "There's a few things you can do. One of them is give up magic for the rest of your pregnancy." Willow gave her a horrified look. "It really would be better for the baby."

"But...but I can't live without my magic. It's who I am."

Molly frowned. "Willow, it's only a part of you. Your magic is an innate gift that you use, not the core of your identity. If it is, then you've got deeper problems." Willow started to cry again. Oh, dear, this was worse than she had been told by George and Dumbledore. They would have to lock her abilities away to stop all this. At least Dumbledore had given her the spell to do so. She called out to her husband and son, who came to help her.

Snippet 8:

Xander was shoved out of Ginny's room by Mrs. Weasley and the door was locked so he couldn't get back in. "But I've seen two of them before," he called.

"Not this time, Xander. Wait out there."

Xander pouted as he leaned against the wall. It was his son, he should be allowed to watch him come into the world. He had watched Draco's daughter come into the world. He brought Tara's son into this world. And now he couldn't watch his own son be born. Ginny screamed loudly and he covered his ears. Waiting sucked and it was not his strong suit. She screamed again and he nearly kicked the door open to get in there. Strong arms held him still. "I need to be in there. Something's wrong."

"No, she's just screaming," Fred told him. He smiled at his brother-in-law when he got looked at. "George is outside flying so he doesn't have to listen to it this time. You could go join him."

"Oh, good, he didn't have wings after all," Ginny said loudly.

"Ginny?" Fred called. "Are you done yet?"

"No!" Mrs. Weasley called. "Well tell you when we are, George."

"I'm Fred, oh great daft one."

"Whatever," his father said as he walked up the stairs. "Going well?"

"No," Xander moaned pitifully. "I should be in there."

Arthur patted him on the shoulder. "I'm sure you'll be helping soon enough. Won't be long now." He smiled reassuringly. "Dear, are you nearly done? Xander's about to break down the door."

"If he does, I'm sending him to Draco," Ginny called.

"Not a bad idea," Fred said in appreciation. "It'll take him a minute to get back."

"Probably won't last long enough," his father advised. He stopped Xander from lunging at the next groan of pain. "Do it anyway," he suggested. He watched as his son drug his son-in-law away.

Xander landed in Draco's fireplace with a thump. Before he could get up and grab some floo powder, a small hand was wrapped in his hair and tried to pull him out.

"You might as well come out before the fire starts to burn you," Draco told him as he picked his daughter up. "Let go of him, Simone." She giggled and wrapped her other hand in Xander's hair. He sighed and grabbed his teacher by the collar and pulled him out of the fire before his robes lit. "Why are you here now?"

"They won't let me help," Xander said pitifully. He looked down when he felt his lap be invaded by a warm body. "Hey, Denver. Are you scooting around again?"

Draco sat down and released his daughter, watching as she ran over to play with her favorite uncle too. "I'm sure she'll be done soon enough." He whistled when Denver reached for the fire. "No." Denver gave him a smile and blew a spit bubble. "Do it again and I'm putting you down for a nap, even though Xander is here." Denver clutched onto his favorite uncle, he wasn't going anywhere. "So, how long has it been?"

"She's dilated six and a half according to her mother. So at least another hour. Possibly not until tonight."

"I see." Draco pulled his wand and stunned his teacher before he could move. He stood up and strolled over, giving the older man a cocky smile. "You taught me a little too well," he said with a shit-eating grin. "Now, where to put you?" He looked at his children, who should be napping. "That's a wonderful idea, Denver," he said when he saw his son trying to use his uncle for a teddy bear. "Yes, he'll go up to the nursery." He floated Xander up with the kids, and sent them up to the nursery, him following to tuck everybody in. He smiled when both children decided to nap on Xander's chest. "Good night, children," he said, flipping off the lights. He wasn't worried about retaliation, Xander would forget all about this when his son was born.


Xander snuck up the stairs over the shop. It was nearly three in the morning and everyone else was asleep. He carefully put his son down and stripped to his boxers, then picked him back up and climbed into the nest to sleep. George snuffled them then glued himself to Xander's chest, his head right next to the baby's belly. Xander smiled as he fell asleep, his family was complete and he was content. Now if only they could name the kid.

Snippet 9:

Xander followed his husband into the family home, still arguing with him. "I don't want our son to have a name that makes people pick on him."

"No one's going to pick on him, Xan. It's a good, strong wizard's name."

"Problems?" Bill asked, giving them a smile.

"Another vacation?" Xander asked.

"Between assignments. Technical support isn't ready for me yet so I've got a long weekend." He held his arms out. "May I?"

Xander handed over his son. "Does he look like a Hurburt to you?"

"No," Bill agreed. "Maybe a Bill though." He grinned.

"Not a chance," George told him. He looked around. "Mum? Dad? Help?"

His mother and father walked down the stairs together. "What's wrong?" his mother asked. "Did he already do something you don't understand?"

"Well, yeah," Xander admitted. "We're not quite sure about the green stuff in the diaper, but this is about something else. We need you guys to name him. You gave all your kids normal, nice, non-nerdy names."

"What's been suggested so far?" Arthur asked, sitting down beside Bill to look at his grandson. He was the first grandson, though on occasion he did count Denver as holding that spot - the kid might as well with as much time as he and his father spent at the house.

"I want to name him Hurburt. A perfectly upstanding name with a long heritage," George said. "Or something like it."

"I'd like something that the other kids won't pick on him for," Xander argued. "Something nice and normal sounding."

"There's always Bill," Bill tried again. "It fits both criteria."

Molly laughed and patted him on the shoulder. "I'm sure the next one will be named after you."

Xander grimaced. "I don't want to put Ginny through that again," he told her. "It was horrible for her and it wore her out."

"You could always carry the next one," George pointed out. The healer that had treated him had suggested that Xander do it, just not with this one because his anger was just a little too high for the transfer to go right. But next time would be perfect. Xander leaned over and kissed him, making him shut up.

"No more," Xander said against his lips. "I'm not changing diapers forever." Molly laughed at that too. "And you, no dynastic plans of us having nine or ten. Get Percy to do that. Or Bill, he doesn't have any that we know about."

Bill snorted. "I'm too busy to have children, Xander. Besides, I couldn't take them to work with me. I live out of a backpack for six months out of the year and having a child isn't going to work."

"I'm sure you'll settle down sometime, Bill," his mother said, happily imagining more grandchildren that she didn't have to take care of. Children were wonderful, but it was even better when you could hand them over for the messy parts. "Have you sought a divination to see if he's going to have any particular affiliation?"

"Mum, never say that around Ron," George advised.

"Or Hermione," Xander added. "If I remember right, she threw a few fits about divination." George nodded. "But can we do that?"

"We probably could, but there is a solution. How about ...Ignatius," Arthur suggested. Both youngsters grimaced and shook their heads. "It is a very old name among wizards, with quite a few famous people attached to it. Plus, with his father's temperament and tendencies to cause fires when he gets upset, it would be perfect for him."

"True," Mrs. Weasley supported. "There was Ignatius the Earth Shaker. He started off some volcanos in Greece or Italy somewhere, back around the turning of the calendar. Then there were a few potion masters who had that name."

"One of which changed his name from a more water-meaning name when he figured out he was going to create potions," Bill put in. "His biography was interesting. I have it in my apartment somewhere. He's the one who created the waterproof fire spell."

"Ignatius?" Xander asked, looking at George.

"Iggy," George conceded.

"I could go for Iggy," Xander said carefully. "There's even some muggles with that name who're famous. A rock star and actor comes to mind right off but I know there's at least one more." He shrugged. "I'm not really *fond* of it, but if it makes you happy."

George shrugged back. "It should be fine and he can always change it if we don't magically bind him to it."

"Isn't that what the bitch did with Denver?" Xander asked. Molly coughed meaningfully. "Sorry, mom, but she is."

"I agree, but not in front of the children."

"Bitch!" Simone agreed from her hiding spot inside the old recliner.

"You'll not say that again," Arthur called, rolling his eyes. "I'll tell Draco you taught her that."

Xander grinned. "He needs to lighten up some," he said happily. Molly started to laugh and turned away so she wouldn't fall on anybody. "So, what do we do now that we've named the poor kid?"

"You finish filling out his birth certificate," Arthur told him, pointing at where it lay on the coffee table. "Then you bring it to the library a Hogwarts and have it filed in the Book of Heritage."

"He still needs a middle name," Bill pointed out.

"Chocolate?" Xander suggested with an impish grin.

"Well, the girls will certainly like it," George agreed. "He might actually see as much action as Charlie did."

"Or Draco did," Xander corrected dryly. George gave him a look. "I heard the rumors and the boy bragged. He got more on a weekly basis than most whorehouses."

"Who'house!" Simone said happily from her hiding spot.

The adults chuckled. They couldn't wait to see her father's reaction to that one.

"Ignatius Chocolate Harris-Weasley?" Xander suggested.

"Or Caramel," George offered.

"Ignatius Caramel. Sounds like a candybar that'll set you on fire." Bill nearly cringed when he saw the spark of inspiration in his brother's eyes. "Please, don't give one to me. Fire and I don't like each other."

George smiled at him. "Of course we won't. That'll have to be in the *special* collection."

"Literal or figurative fire?" Xander asked. "Fire in the veins, in the hormones, or on the skin?"

"I'm sure we can work that out with Fred later," George said happily. "Thank you, Bill, that was an excellent idea." He looked at his husband. "Chocolate or Caramel."

"Chocolate is my personal God, right up there with caffeine," Xander reminded him. "I can think of it as a tribute."

"Boys, that's an odd name and the poor child will probably be picked on."

"All he has to do is point at his father and tell them 'my daddy named me'," Bill reminded him "Though, I like caramel better."

George walked over to the fireplace and threw some floo powder in. "Fred!" Fred's head appeared. "Do you like chocolate or caramel better as a name?"

Fred blinked a few times. "You're kidding."

"Middle name," George told him. "By the way, Bill just gave me a smashing idea."

Fred started to laugh. "That poor child. I like caramel better personally, but I never thought of it as a name before. What's his first one?"

"Ignatius," Xander called. "Your father suggested it.

Fred shook his head and disappeared. He wasn't even going there. And since he was nice, he called Percy to warn him.

"Exploding snap for the middle name?" Xander suggested with a grin.

"You always win because you cheat," George protested. Bill snickered. "He does," he complained to his older brother. "He does this thing with his tongue and it distracts me."

"Not what I needed to hear," Bill said, closing his eyes. He didn't want to have that mental picture. But it wouldn't go away now that he knew. "Name him Caramel, let the next one be chocolate."

"There's no more coming from us," George told him.

"Caramello?" Xander suggested.

"What's that?" Molly asked, not sure she wanted to know.

"It's a candy bar that has caramel in the center, surrounded by good chocolate."

"It doesn't have the right ring," Arthur told him. "Stick with Caramel, it sounds the best."

"Okay," Xander sighed. "We'll name our first pet Chocolate."

George smiled at him. "Good. Now how about getting him his own bed?"

"But I like having him in the nest with us," Xander protested.

"You sleep in a nest?" Bill asked.

"Quite comfy," George told him. "I was against it at first until Xander showed me how comfortable the thing could be. The one at home is wonderful to sleep in, but the one at the school needs a bit more breaking in." His husband leered at him. "Maybe this weekend, if the baby sleeps through one night." Both parents snorted in amusement. "No?"

"Not for many months, sons," Arthur said with an amused look on his face.

"Shoot, I wanted sex tonight," Xander sighed, plopping onto the floor so he could fill out the birth certificate. He grinned up at his husband. "Want to go do this part?"

"No, I think it should be you. I'm sure everyone will be pleased. Besides, we're presenting him at dinner tonight."

"Point," Xander agreed, signing his name. He handed over the quill and the paper, watching as his husband signed his name. "Okay, I'm off. School, toys, soda, tranquilizers." Xander waved and disappeared. He was getting better at this teleportation stuff, it only made him a little queasy now.

George took his son back to hold, soothing him into a nap. "I hope he remembers diapers and formula. We're about out." His son let out a tremendous fart, making his father's nose wrinkle. "I thought only Fred did that. Are you sure you're mine?"


Xander walked into the library, waving the certificate. "What do I do with this?" he asked. A few students looked at him and shushed him. "What? It's the baby's birth certificate." That got a smile and another shush attempt.

Irma Pince pulled down the book. "I've been expecting that," she said quietly. She took it and frowned when she read it. "It's yours and George Weasley's?"

"The gryphons can do that," Xander said seriously. She looked at him. "Trust me, they can. Ask Albus if you don't believe me."

Irma 'humphed' and wrote down the information with the official ink. "All legal," she told him with a smile. "Quite an unusual name, Ignatius Caramel. Is he named after a family member?"

"No, the 'rents suggested it. It's because I start fires when I'm really pissed; they figure he's going to cause a lot of them." He grinned. "And we're hoping he's going to be smooth with the ladies like caramel." He took his certificate back. "Anything else we have to do?"

"No, he's official in the eyes of the wizarding world. Isn't he being presented tonight?" Xander nodded. "Then I look forward to seeing him." She closed the book. "Any more announcements from your family?"

"Percy's got one on the way. Fred's still single, and Bill's refusing to have one," Xander told her. He grinned again. "We haven't heard from Charlie in a few months so we don't know if he's been knocked up or not." He waved. "I'll see you at dinner. I have to go shopping." He walked away, running into McGonagall and Snape in the hallway. "Hey," he said happily, handing over the birth certificate. "We finally named him."

Snape snorted. "Remind me to get you a book about people with that name," he said, nearly laughing as he walked away.

McGonagall burst out laughing. "Oh, my, quite a name to live up to," she told him. "Are we hoping he's sweet?"

"He's very sweet, we're hoping he's smooth with the ladies," Xander told her. She laughed harder "You'll see him at dinner. We'll be back then." He strolled away, strutting like the new father he was.

McGonagall leaned against the wall, letting it support her while she laughed. That name was probably most fitting with it being his son.


Xander and George ran into Tara and her son in front of the Great Hall, and there was major huggage and showing off of the babies. The new parents walked in together, and the kids clapped and whistled. Dumbledore stood up and smiled down at the children. "I was wondering when you were going to get here," he told them, holding Tara's seat for her, letting Xander get George's since he had the baby. "Students and staff, may I present the two newest members of the Hogwart's family. Little Adrian Indra Maclay and Ignatius Caramel Harris-Weasley. Please, if you see them in the halls, do not forget your classes while you make them happy or play with them. We want them to be happy children raised within the boundaries of the school."

"And the village," Xander corrected.

"Yes, and the village," Dumbledore agreed with a smile for the odd young man. Caramel? Like the candy? And was the name in reference to Ignatius Spenser, the so-called Lord of Sobriety and Licentiousness? "I had not forgotten that you live down there part of the time." He waved his wand and banners appeared over the tables, two midnight blue ones. "Eat and rejoice with us," he finished, sitting down again.

"Caramel?" Black asked, Lupin looking like he was questioning their sanity too over Sirius' shoulder.

"It was that or Chocolate, my personal God," Xander told them. Both men laughed. "Besides, we want him to be smooth."

"And sweet," George added. "Though he is an adorable scamp already. Managed to get Percy earlier with a direct shot to the hair." A few of the teachers laughed. "So, who's next on the list of children?"

"Willow," McGonagall said. "She's the only other one pregnant that we know about."

Professor Flitwick leaned a little closer to them. "How did that spell work?"

"Not that well on me," George said with a smile. Xander patted him on the thigh.

"They said it was rather complicated and energy consuming," Xander told him. "Not to be taken lightly."

"Will it be one of the ones Ms. Weasley will be working on?"

George shook his head. "She's starting with things that we already have spells for. Light, electricity, pastries. Things like that. Then she's moving onto the Transfigurations parts. She's leaving the potions for Hermione and Professor Snape."

"I'm not allowed to give out any of the potions," Snape disagreed. "I'm sure Ms. Granger will be adequate enough at some of the simpler potions." He put his napkin across his lap.

"At least she's out in the middle of nowhere if something explodes," Xander said, trying to sound optimistic.

"Indeed," Snape agreed. "It's probably better that way." He carefully cut his dinner into precise pieces. "Did you get the message I sent you earlier?"

"Not yet. We just got back from the store. We were putting together one of the cradles."

"I thought you had one up here," Dumbledore asked.

"We do," Xander agreed, "but we didn't have one for down there. So now we have two more. One for our apartment upstairs and one for when he's lounging in the store. We couldn't decide."

"Though we are staying up here for a few days, just to give Fred a rest. Iggy seems to cry just as he's falling asleep."

"I'm sure Hagrid will be very pleased that his cradle will be used tonight." He nodded at the boy sucking on George's shirt. "Did you bring one of those bottles?"

"Right here," Xander said, searching his pockets until he found one. "Here we are. Cold, but it'll do."

"Then you're cleaning up after it," George told him. He fed it to the baby; they hadn't figured out how to heat it to the right temperature yet. It always got too hot and boiled. "We need to find the spell to heat it right."

"Does it not get hot enough?" Flitwick asked.

"No, too hot. It boils and turns nasty," Xander told him. "And it's not just me. Molly's had the same problem too."

"It's probably going to have to be done the muggle way," George told him. "Sitting it in a bath of hot water." Iggy let out a tremendous belch. "Was that you?" he asked, sounding horrified.

"Gee, he sounds like Fred," Xander said.

George nodded. "I've noticed that tendency. Was there something you wanted to tell me?"

"Draco got the baby a pacifier," Xander said with a grin. George nudged him. "You know I like your brother but not *that* much. It's probably something in the genes." He took his son, allowing George to eat. "Yes, you probably got it from the grandpa," he told his son.

Dumbledore snorted, but he was smiling. "You would have been shocked to have heard Molly when she attended here. Always a very touchy stomach."

George laughed. "I'll keep that in mind." He dug into his food, giving Tara a smile because she was being ignored. "Who was Indra?" he asked her.

"He's one of the Hindu Gods, he's a protector and warrior against the forces of evil." She smiled. "I thought that trait should be passed on within the group."

Xander shrugged. "Okay, I'll learn how to teach little people self-defense." She kicked him. "What? He'll probably need it. Denver's always trying to beat Simone up because she steals his toys. I'm sure they'll be playing together sometime while I'm watching them all."

"I'm very happy with the way you're taking to fatherhood, Xander," Dumbledore told him. "You seem quite happy with the role and it seems to suit you." He smiled at Tara. "Of course, he had practice with the phoenix chicks, but he does seem quite good with them."

She smiled. "Then I'll let him watch them both while we teach," she said happily.

Dumbledore laughed. "You have me there. I hadn't given any thought about how you two would be taking care of the children while you were teaching classes."

"We could probably hire his mom out as a babysitter," Xander said, nodding at his husband. "She's really good and she's usually there."

"You might want to ask mum about that first," George told him. "She might take it as an insult."

"Not if the school hires her. She is an excellent mother, as shown by most of you," McGonagall told him, smiling at him. "We'll need someone to watch over Professor Rosenberg's baby also when it arrives."

"Sometimes Iggy will be at the store with me," George told her.

"So we'll work it out. You can't do it all the time," Xander reminded him. "It's not fair, I'll have to play catch-up on the time thing so we stay equal." He stroked his husband's thigh. "The school needs one anyway. There's three infants who'll be here by Christmas, once Willow delivers, and next year Ginny's coming back. Plus, I've noticed a few other students who look like they've put on some weight in the knocked-up way."

"Yes, I had noticed that also," Dumbledore said, looking out across the student body. A few of the females drew his attention. "I was going to pull them in and discuss it with them tomorrow. As you said, it would be a good idea to have something like a nursery. Plus, it would give your mother something to do, a profitable sideline as it were."

"As long as *you* ask her," George told him. "I'm not that brave."

Dumbledore smiled. "Of course. It would have to come through me anyway. I am the Headmaster." All three parents chuckled. "Eat, children, you'll find you need it when they keep you up all night. Oh, and Xander, Tom wanted to know if you were all right. He missed seeing you at closing time every Sunday."

"I'll need to sneak out tonight anyway," Xander told him. "I'll pop over and say hi." He shifted so his son was in only one arm and picked up his fork. It was a juggling act he was becoming used to. Dumbledore put down his fork and picked up his wand, creating two small table-cradles. Xander smiled at him, that was so sweet. He put Iggy down to rest on the table and sighed in relief. Of course, his son spit his bottle out, but that was just like him. One of the Ravenclaws picked it up off the floor and brought it back, wiping the nipple gently with a damp napkin. "Thank you," Xander told her, stuffing his son's mouth again. George found the release on the back of the cradle and tipped it back some more so there wouldn't be any more projectile weapons.


Albus Dumbledore stepped out of Molly Weasley's fireplace and gave her a bright smile. "Ah, good, you're home," he said fondly.

"Tea?" she asked, holding up the pot she had just made. She looked at her daughter, who was nibbling on some crackers while she studied. "Why don't you go do that in the living room." Ginny shrugged and gathered up her things, going to work in the back yard. She smiled at her former Headmaster. "What can I do for you today? Is Iggy giving you problems?"

"No," he said as he sat down. "It's come to my attention that we haven't thought fully about the implications of having a child in the school." She nodded, sipping her tea. "So I'm here to offer you a part-time job." She choked. "A few of my teachers suggested you, and your son-in-law agreed, but wasn't brave enough to come to you himself."

"They want me to babysit Iggy?"

"And all the other children currently within Hogwarts," he finished with a bright smile. She burst out laughing. "It wouldn't pay much, but it would be a great help to Professor Maclay and your own daughter when she starts back."

"So, I'd be the day-nanny?" she asked, putting her tea cup aside. "Where?"

"Here if you prefer, or we could set you up in a room at the school. Whichever you decide would be fine with me."

She shook her head. "I knew that Iggy would cause problems."

Dumbledore reached over and patted her hand. "It's not just Ignatius. It's also Adrian and the children of four other girls who were found out to be pregnant this morning. You would be responsible for running a daycare for all of them."

"Just this year?"

"If it goes well enough, then I'd put you on permanently. Everyone agrees that you are a wonderful mother. Your name was the one that we all agreed on."

She sighed. "You flatter me, Albus, but I'm getting used to not having children around."

"I know. It's easy to relax once they're all in school and you don't have to wipe any more noses or baby any more scraped knees, but it would be a great help. Would you at least consider it until we can find someone permanently?"

She nodded. "I'll consider it and tell you tomorrow." He smiled. "I was really recommended?"

"Not only by Xander and George, but Hagrid seconded the motion at the pre-breakfast meeting fairly quickly. Minerva did so also. Even Severus had nothing bad to say about you. He's decided that whatever made your twins how they are wasn't *your* fault."

She laughed. "Of course it wasn't." She patted his hand. "Let me talk to my husband. I'm sure he'll have an opinion." She looked around the kitchen. "If I do help you out, I'll be doing it from here."

"That would be fine," he agreed. "You have everything here that you could ever need and floo access for worried parents." She opened her mouth. "Professor Maclay will probably show up at least four times that first day to check on him."

"It was horrible what she had to go through," Molly sighed. "How is the poor dear holding up?"

"Rather well. She started teaching again this morning, little Adrian in her arms."

"And Iggy?"

He laughed. "The poor boy is presently in Xander's advanced class, laying on a mat watching his father sweat. When I checked on him, he was cheering on some of the slower students." She laughed. "I think it's wonderful that they had children, but times are changing and we must change with them."

"I'll talk to Arthur tonight," she agreed. "He'll probably say yes, but I'll let you know for sure tomorrow." She looked toward the back yard. "What about Ginny?"

"She'll be one putting her child into daycare while she attends classes." He pulled a letter out of his pocket. "This is for her if she wants to restart at Christmas."

Molly took the heavy letter, smiling at it. "She might want to. She's been bored while recovering." She propped the letter against the tea pot. "Is there any more news?"

"Well, I did hear a rumor that your son Percy was going to marry soon," he said with a smile. She nodded, sipping her cup of tea. "His finance has spent the last few days writing his name with hers on all her parchments."

Molly snickered. "I went through the same phase," she reminded him. "If I remember right, you asked me when I had changed my name after one assignment."

Dumbledore laughed. "Yes, I remember those days quite well, Molly. By the way, Iggy has your stomach problems." She snorted. "He makes about as much noise as Fred does."

Molly had to put down her cup of tea she was laughing so hard.


Xander walked Tara around the Burrow, showing her where everything was. He knew she was nervous about leaving Adrian here, but it would be okay. He smiled when he saw the disgruntled Draco walk out of the fireplace with his daughter. "Hey. Handing her back?"

"I have a meeting today and I didn't want her to have to sit through it." He smiled at Simone's grandmother. "I'm taking Denver to the bank so I can register him." Molly opened her mouth. "I already did Simone but male heirs have to have a blood key registered. My mother's family," he explained. Molly smiled at him. "Otherwise, I'll come back for lunch and pick her back up so Ginny can go to the doctor's."

Molly took Simone from him, putting the wiggly little girl down so she could toddle around. "I'm sure she'll be a great help to me today."

"Yup, she can make Adrian and Iggy laugh," Xander agreed. He smiled down at Simone, wiggling his fingers at her. "Are you going to help watch Iggy today?"

She laughed and lifted her arms to be picked up. "Ig?" she asked, looking around. She'd met Iggy once already and liked the little guy. He didn't steal her attention from the daddy.

"Yup, Iggy, and this is Adrian," Xander said, tilting her so she could see the baby Tara was carrying. "He's very small so you have to be delicate with him too, just like you are with Iggy."

"Iggy?" Draco asked.

"Ignatius Caramel," Molly told him. She nearly laughed at the look on the poor boy's face, it was so funny. "It was a family decision."

Draco looked at Xander. "If I ever have another child, promise you won't try and name it, or give it a nickname."

Xander grinned. "But it's a good name. Ignatius is very popular apparently."

"Not among the current generation. Besides, you named your son after someone who got laid more than I ever could," Draco informed him. He smiled at Tara when he noticed her blushing. "One man by that name actually hired out a house of ill repute..."

"Ho'house!" Simone yelled.

"Yes, one of those," Draco groaned. "For a year," he finished. "And wore them out." He looked at Molly. "Who taught her that word?"

Molly pointed at Xander. "And the other one too."

Xander shrugged off the glare. "I was using it in a sentence."

Tara smacked him playfully. "My mother gave me that rule too, but you shouldn't say things like that around the babies."

"Ig Bitch!" Simone said happily, pointing at the baby.

"Or that word either," Tara said dryly.

Xander just grinned. "I'm trying to be good, but it's *hard*."

"You and good, in relation to attitudes, don't belong in the same sentence," Draco told him. He looked at his daughter. "If you say that word again, you may not have any chocolate tonight." She gave him her cutest look. "I'm still immune to that look," he told her. He looked at Molly. "You're sure it's not an inconvenience?"

She waved him off. "It's no problem. I'll let her help me with Iggy and Adrian." She accepted Adrian from Tara. "Feel free to pop in whenever you feel the need to. I remember quite well what it was like handing over your child for the first time." Tara nodded.

"C'mon, we've got to go get ready for class," Xander told her. He waved at Molly. "Iggy's cooing at the couch again." They followed Draco to the fireplace, waiting to use it.

"Caramel?" Draco asked.

Xander pinched him. "Hopefully he'll be smooth with the ladies, and most of them like caramel." He grinned, watching as Tara left first. "Don't you think he's sweet?"

"Probably very sweet," Draco said with great tact. He remembered dealing with a newborn quite well, enough to know that they were troublesome, not sweet. He flooed home to gather his son.

Xander waved again then left to go teach demonology to third years.

Molly sighed in relief and sat down to look over each of the infants, with a little bit of *help* from Simone.

Snippet 10:

Molly looked over at her sleeping charges, all five of them, and sighed. It had been a year since Albus had asked her to become the day nanny for Hogwarts, and she had to admit she enjoyed it. Though, it was tiring sometimes. At least Simone and Denver were with Draco today. Iggy had colic and had screamed non-stop since he'd been dropped off. A few of the other children had joined in whenever he interrupted their naps. It had been a hectic morning so far. She glanced around to make sure there wasn't anything she needed to do.

Outside, something caught her attention. She stared back into the garden as a dark shape moved closer.

No! NO, it couldn't be!

They were all gone!

She screamed when she saw the mask, blindly grabbing a weapon and the jar of floo powder. She blindly tossed the powder at the fire, calling on her husband. No answer. So she called the next best thing. "Draco!" His head appeared. "Death Eater!"

"Fuck me." His head disappeared and he appeared a moment later. By then, the man in the back yard had left. "What happened?" He sat her down on the couch, looking her and the children over. "Molly, what happened?"

"He was in the garden, he walked up and looked inside," she said hysterically.

Draco let it go for now, bending down to scoop up some of the powder on the floor. "Percy Weasley!" he called. Percy was always in the office. He appeared immediately. "Your house nearly got attacked. Get here now," he ordered. He broke the connection and turned to look at the children again. He didn't know all of them. Fuck! Xander didn't have a fireplace in his room and there was no telling if anyone would be in the staffroom. "Molly, get the kids back to the school," he told her. She nodded, gathering up the children to take them with her. She took some of the remaining powder from his hand and disappeared into the fireplace.

Arthur Weasley apparated in. "Molly?" he asked.

"At the school, handing the kids back." An auror appeared outside. "She'll be right back." He jogged out to talk to him. "Molly said he appeared in the garden and looked into the house," he informed him. "She's at Hogwarts giving back the kids." The auror nodded, staring at him. "She's the grandmother of my daughter," Draco growled. "You had better fix this before I have to." He turned around and found Molly hugging her husband. "It'll be okay," he told her, walking back to the living room. "Are they all safe?" She nodded from the comfort of her husband's arms. "Then let's go to my house. You'll both be safe there."

Arthur started to open his mouth, but Molly shook her head first. "We'll be fine. We'll be protected."

He snorted. "The aurors are imbeciles half the time," Draco told her. "Besides, I have both the children and better shields than even Hogwarts most of the time. You're coming with me."

"Draco, we appreciate the offer..." Arthur told him.

Draco glared at him. "I'm not leaving her here. My daughter and son would be immensely hurt." He grabbed Molly and put her over his shoulder, carrying her back to the fireplace. He scooped up some powder off the floor and took off for home.

"Put me down this instant, Draco Malfoy!" Molly shrieked. She smacked him hard on the lower back.

"Ow!" He put her down and helped her sit on the couch. "I'm not letting you get hurt. That's the end of the argument, Molly. I won't be the one to tell your sons that I couldn't protect you. So you're staying here or else I'm going to have to pull out my father's manners and force it to be so." He turned when he heard the 'ding', getting out of Arthur's way. "Good, you're here." He tossed some powder into the fireplace, calling on Dumbledore. He had a fireplace in his office. "I have Molly and Arthur," he said as soon as the old man's head appeared. "Send Xander here if he needs to do something. And tell Ginny that Simone's safe." Dumbledore nodded. "I've got the shields up again if it matters." He broke the connection and looked at the older couple. "There's a guest room right next to the nursery, I'll have it made up for you. Both the children are upstairs right now taking a nap. If you argue," he said when Molly opened her mouth, "I'll make sure that you can't leave until I say so. You can even bring the other children here. I can always go work in the study while you watch them. As I said I have the best shields money can buy and it had better hold, otherwise I might have to pull out every bit of evilness and harm them," he finished with a cold smile.

"We'll be fine at home, Draco," Arthur told him.

"No." He walked away, going to order the house elves to prepare that room for them, and to add more food for dinner. He listened to one babble about a hole in the roof. "How did that happen?" he demanded.

"Big thing thrown," one elf told him. "Tried to fix it, working on it now, Master."

Draco nodded. "I'll have a look at it in a moment. In the attic?" The elf nodded, covering her ears. "Then I'll handle it. Prepare the guest room beside the nursery, we're having Simone's grandparents over for dinner, and possibly Harris and his get." He walked away, going to check on the roof. If it had a hole in it, so did the shields. He had hired the best wizarding alarm system team to shield his house in case someone came after him because of what his father had been. As long as the shields held, it would even keep out Xander if he tried to teleport in. He jogged up the main staircase and up into the attic. He found a house elf standing up on a ladder, trying to nail a cover over the hole. "Let me," he growled, shoving it out of the way. He needed something to do. He put the make-shift cover into place with a few well-placed nails. It would do until he could have it professionally fixed. He felt the shields wrap around the spot again and nearly sighed in relief. The house would hold anything off. Even a rampaging gryphon. He walked downstairs more slowly and found Ron Weasley standing in his living room. "I've kidnaped your parents," he said in greeting. "They're staying. You can also if you want." He smirked at the sour look on the other man's face.

Xander walked out of the fireplace and hugged Molly. "You're all right," he sighed. He looked around the house, then at his former student. "Tell me."

"A death eater, being one of the stupider creatures ever given birth to, walked up to her back window and looked inside," Draco told him. He saw the rage in Xander's face. "They'll be safe here. Go find and hurt the idiots." Xander nodded and gave Molly another hug before disappearing. He shouldn't have been able to do that from inside the house.

"The shield's not set to his resonance," Ron told him, smiling at the confused look. "Melody used to do it at Hogwarts until Snape fixed the shields to her personal signature." He looked around. "What can I do?"

"Unless you want to shore up the roof, go play with the children. They're in the nursery." Draco heard someone knock on the door and went to go answer it. He waved the auror inside, slamming the door in the face of the other one. "Did you find out who it was?"

The auror, Minister of Magic Asdar, shook his head. "Not yet. Is Arthur here?"

"In here," Arthur called. He frowned at Draco. "We were just arguing about staying here."

"You're staying," Draco told him. "Argue if it amuses you, but I can force it if I have to." He looked around. "Tea!" he called. A house elf scurried in a few seconds later with a tea tray. "Thank you." He set it down and served some. "Harris is out looking for them," he said in a conversational tone, like nothing was wrong.

Ron smiled as he took his cup of tea. "I'm sure they'll be regretting it soon then."

Minister Asdar coughed. "He won't be that bad, will he?"

"They fucked with his family," Draco told him. "They'll be dead before tomorrow if Harris has his way. No threat to the flock or the family would be allowed by a real gryphon and Xander won't allow it either."

"Just don't clobber him like you did me," Ron told him. "Xander might just hit you back." He sipped his tea. "Mum, dad, you all right?" Both of them nodded. "Then I'm going to agree with the nasty smelling bundle of ferret here and tell you to stay. I'll pass word along to the rest of the family."

"Who told you?" Draco asked.

"I was in Percy's office. We were going to pick out furniture." Ron put down his cup. "What can I do to help?"

"Go fix the roof?" Draco suggested. Ron nodded. "They're shooting rocks through to break the shields. I've covered one hole already."

Asdar looked at the young men like they were insane. He remembered them very well, but this was going a little too far. "Are you going to stay here, Arthur?" he asked his underling.

Draco stared down Arthur. "They are because their own children and my children will be devastated if anything happens to them," he said firmly. He looked at Asdar. "I thought you had rounded up the rest of the nasty buggers."

"We did, most of them. We missed a few because they weren't at any meetings."

"So, this is a power move because they miss the old days?" Ron asked. Everyone looked at him. "Power can be addictive."

"Too true," Draco sighed. He finished his tea and poured himself some more, and Molly because her cup was empty too. "Most likely, they're trying to reform the old group and regain some of the fear that used to be their drug of choice. It can't be a new revolution forming, there aren't enough children of Death Eaters in England to form one."

"How would you know?" Asdar asked, sounding exasperated.

Draco stared him down. "Because I fully intend to protect myself and my children," he said dryly, but coldly. "I keep track of *everyone* I need to keep track of. There's only three children that I worry about, but two of them are in France somewhere and one is in Essex hiding from her family because she had the bad taste to sleep with a muggle." He picked back up his tea cup. "There's a spot out back you might want to check. My father used to host a few *parties* back there and I can't walk into it."

Asdar stood up. "We'll be setting up here so I'll go look over that spot myself." He glanced around. "This place is that safe?"

"As safe as Kravitz and McKennan can make it," Draco replied. He saw the look of surprise and shrugged one-sidedly. "I felt it was necessary." He watched as the Minister of Magic walked away, then looked at his guests. "Simone should be up soon," he told them. "The nursery is the second door on the right at the top of the main stairs. Their room is the first one, and you'll be on the other side of the nursery." He looked at Ron. "I suppose you can have the room across the hall from them if you want."

Ron nodded. "Thank you. I'll be back." He took some of the floo powder out of the jar next to the fireplace and left the mansion.

"Draco, we'll be perfectly safe at home."

Draco stood up and motioned them to follow him downstairs. He lit up the vault area under the living room as they passed through, coming to stop at a small door on the other side. He pulled his boot knife out and slit his palm, using the blood to open the door. He stepped out of the way so they could look inside. He had seen the body before.

Arthur walked in and looked down at the plaque above the head. He went a little paler as he turned to look at the young man. "You knew it was here?"

"Since three days before my eleventh birthday. I snuck down here and found it the hard way." He rubbed his arm where the scar was. He smiled sadly. "I nearly got killed for finding it. My father used to refuse to admit it was down here."

"I would too," Arthur said as he walked out. The door closed on its own. "Does your family guard it?"

"No, I think we stole it from the guardians in some sort of one-upmanship ritual." He pointed at the stairs. "Neither of the children are allowed down here."

"Who was it?" Molly asked.

"Slytherin's body," Arthur told her, wrapping an arm around her waist. He followed the young man up the stairs. "Do you know where the other ones are?"

"Ravenclaw's is in Scotland somewhere. Her last battle from what my father said when I asked." Draco closed the basement door tightly. "The others I never heard about. I always thought Gryffindor was buried on the grounds of the school."

"No, none of them are," Molly told him, patting him on the arm. "There's a prophecy about them getting back together again. It's said that when the four of them get together again, a great change will happen at the school."

"Maybe the gryphon-borns will get their own house," Draco said lightly. "Make Xander the founding head." He led the way back into the living room. His daughter launched himself at his legs, giving him a hug. "Look who's here to play with you," he told her, setting her aside so she could attack the grandparents.

"Grannies!" Simone yelled, pouncing on Arthur's legs. She hardly ever got to play with him these days. "You stay?"

"We'll be here for a *few* days," Molly told her, looking at Draco. He smiled his sweetest smile and sat down to have some more tea.


Minister Asdar walked out of the woods after having torn down a large stone monument and ran into half of his former department surrounding Xander Harris. "Professor," he said in greeting.

Xander hissed at him. "They took out a colony," he told him coldly. "They're mine."

"Technically," Asdar started.

"Sir, no," one of the aurors said. Almost everyone looked at him. "They attacked not only his *family* but the whole of the gryphon community. This is an innate drive for him. We're lucky to only have *him* here right now."

Asdar grimaced. "If you say so." The auror nodded. "That's fine." He pulled Xander a few feet away. "What do you know?"

"They're around here. They left their stink all around the colony. I've already informed my flock elders and they're pissed too. I'm the first one here though, feel lucky."

"That's fine. Can you control yourself?" Xander gave him another cold look, making him step back. "Remember, the aurors are not targets." He hoped it got through. He'd never been scared of another wizard before. Voldemort chilled him to his soul, but Xander scared him. He made a mental note to put around a mention of not bothering any gryphon-born's family without some backup. He hoped the rogues causing trouble weren't this bad when the aurors went for them.

Xander hissed again and walked firmly toward the clearing. He found one black robed woman standing next to the ruins of the statue and grabbed her, knocking her into it. "Call them," he demanded. "Let's see how they deal with me."

She started to scream and yell, bringing a few people out of the woods. Only one of them was an auror. "Get him!"

Xander let her go, shoving her to the ground, and spun to look at those idiots who had tried to harm his family. He didn't even think about drawing his wand, or the one that had been in his robes when he put it on. Two wands and he stepped into the fray with his fists balled up. One of the masked men disappeared, but he came back with more of them. Xander grinned happily. More idiots for him to party with. Stupid humans. He heard a few more of the aurors come running, but he was having fun now! He felt someone try to hex him, but it wasn't happening. One of the people he hit's mask went askew as he went down. A lock of white-blond hair came out from under it. "Oh, hey. It's you!" he said happily. He had thought Lucius had died during the last battle at Hogwarts. He pulled off the man's mask after pulling him up to his feet. "You'll be happy to know that I've not only corrupted your son to the side of good, but I'm helping him be a good and loving father to his brood. I'm hoping to become their godfather, and to any more that he might have!" Lucius fought his grip but he wasn't getting free. "You puny human," he sneered. "I'll feed you to my hellmouth for this." He glanced around. Everyone else was down and cuffed, only Lucius was standing. "I think we should go tell your son the good news." He dragged him back toward the house. "Oh, son," he called.

"Prat!" Draco yelled from the house. He came out onto the porch and stopped in shock. "What the hell is that?" He came closer. "You're dead."

"No, I think that was someone else." Xander let Lucius go. "Your call, can I hand him over to be torn into little, bitty, messy pieces that'll be tossed into the fire and turned into charcoal?"

Draco shuddered. "Remind me never to mess with your family." Xander hugged him. "Get off! Fluffy arsehole bastard." He shoved Xander away. "Hug later, kill and maim now." He looked at his father. "So, who was it? Polyjuice? Charm?"

"Uncle?" Xander asked.

Draco's head snapped up. "I have an uncle?"

"Yes, son, you do," Lucius spat. "He was mentally unstable and was forced to leave the family." He sneered at Xander. "And you, all your kind need to die horribly."

Xander clapped him on the back, sending him to his knees on the ground. "You first. Because I'm going to make sure it's going to be painful and last for a while. You can beg, but I'm not going to listen." He looked around, but none of the aurors were around. "Um, hello? Does that mean I get to keep him?"

An auror walked out of the woods with a prisoner. He looked at the man kneeling at Xander's feet, then at Xander. He noticed Draco Malfoy standing there about the same time as who was on the ground registered. He whistled loudly, bringing his boss, and his boss's boss, running. He pointed at the little group. "He had a question," he said, taking his prisoner away.

Asdar and the head of the Aurors walked over to where Xander and Draco were standing, both men realizing who was on the ground. "He died," the head of the Aurors noted.

"It was my uncle, he was apparently insane," Draco told them. "At least that's what *he* said." He kicked his father, making him grunt in pain. "Feel free to question him before Xander turns him over for killing a colony." He spat on his father and walked away. He stopped and turned around. "Father," he said as coldly as he could. "You'll be happy to know that I'm not only quite happy, but my children are quite the little Weasleys and very happy. Not only that, but Xander has managed to make me enjoy *muggle* things immensely. I'm not only happy, but thoroughly corrupted by the gryphons. I think I'll even build myself a nest." His father made a horrified noise. "Not only that, but I plan on knocking up Ms. Weasley again soon because we make beautiful children together. I'm hoping for at least four more little red headed spitfires." He smirked. "I'll make sure that everything they ever need is not only paid for, but everything that her mother needs is paid for and will hopefully support some of their grandchildren through school also." His father turned red. Draco walked over and squatted down to look him in the eye. "Xander is presently trying to convince me to try charity work, and I think I like it. Maybe work with those poor muggle-born who can't really find themselves in the wizarding world. Oh, and I'm having the body buried. I'll have a large, flowery, ornate statue erected for him." He stood up as soon as he heard the crying coming from the older man. He kicked him again for good measure. "I'm going to go back inside. Tell me how many pieces you got out of him."

Xander grinned at his adopted son. He was so evil. He hauled Lucius up by his hair. "Can I take him now or did you guys want him for a few days?"

Asdar's eyes opened wide. "They'll want to punish him?"

"He had a colony killed. Unless you found someone higher on the food chain?" Asdar shook his head, stunned. "Then you guys can question him and I'm going to go tell the elders that you have them all." He shook Lucius once then handed him over. "Expect at least the Ambassador by tonight." He disappeared, landing in front of the colony's main gathering fire. "We found the assholes responsible," he announced. Hisses and yells rang through the air. "The aurors have him for questioning but the Minister of Magic is highly motivated to let us help."

Fredericka looked down at him. "Are they willing to let us have them?"

"I told them you'd be coming to pick him up. I don't think he's in any position to argue." He smirked. "I told them at least you would be at the Ministry by tonight."

Fredericka smiled at him, her eyes glinting with icy coldness. "Thank you, young one. How is your family?"

"Scared. Bothered. But safe." He bowed to her. "Call me if you need me, Fredericka. For anything." He disappeared again.


Minister Asdar personally cuffed Lucius and took him away. "I want to be there when they rip you up," he told him as they walked away. "I'll bring popcorn." He shoved the bastard into the back of the wagon with the others and then climbed in after them. He saw Harris reappear so rapped on the side. "Go, now," he ordered. The cart took off, the portkey it was taking them back to the Ministry.

Xander smiled and strolled into the house. He picked up Denver when he found him in the kitchen, taking him into the living room. He handed the baby over when he noticed Draco wasn't there. "Working out?"

"He was a bit upset," Arthur told him. "Was it really him?"

"Yup, it was really the sperm donor." Xander waved. "I'll be back in a minute." He thought about what he knew of the house and headed up to the nursery. The children were the most important thing in Draco's life and the one thing that could always keep him on an even keel. He found the younger man sitting in a corner of the nursery and walked in, flopping down beside him. "He's gone."

"I know."

"If it helps, he died long ago." He looked at him. "As soon as he got that mark on his arm, he lost his right to be called a human being. He never fought against it. He never had a bout of conscience. He never even blinked when he lost his humanity."

"And I could have followed him."

Xander snorted and shoved him lightly. "No, you couldn't have. Kid, you're not the type to do that. Maybe become the next bad guy, but you'll never be the foot soldier that your father was. You wouldn't be able to take stupid orders without saying anything." Draco snorted, but he was looking better. "Besides, if you were going to go bad, you wouldn't have had either child. You wouldn't be feeding them, bathing them, or changing diapers." Draco laughed so Xander gave him a hug. "You really impressed me," he told him quietly. "You so royally broke your father."

Draco smiled at him. "I like being evil sometimes."

"Hey, evil is a state of mind until you act on it," Xander reminded him. "As long as you keep it as a state of mind, we're all good." He gave him a squeeze. "C'mon, son, let me corrupt you more. I might even let you help me get more sheets for the nest. And maybe, just maybe, I'll help you build your own." He winked at the laughter. "Come on. We've got to go check on the kids. They might have overrun Molly by now." He stood up and helped Draco up too. "Want to eat in tonight?"

"I think so," Draco told him. "I'm too tired to go anywhere." He followed his mentor down the stairs, stopping when he saw the creatures floating in the hallway. "Fuck." He patted himself, then Xander, grabbing his wand. "Expecto Patronius!" he shouted, shooting the protective spell against the Dementors. They backed away, flying out a broken window next to the door. The firebird that had manifested flew into the living room, defeating the one trying to get Denver. It screamed and went back into the wand. "Get it off," Draco hissed, trying to let the wand go. It was stuck to him and wouldn't let him drop it.

Xander grabbed his wand, making Draco's hand relax. "Nice job." He tucked the wand back into his pocket, then picked up the sniffling Simone. Draco took her from him. "Okay. Denver, want a huggie?" Denver toddled over unsteadily and hugged his legs. "You're such a good boy."

"You're making disgusting noises at my son," Draco complained. He sat down so he could cuddle his kids. They were fine. It would be fine. If his asshole of a father ever came back, he'd kill him.

Xander sighed and looked around. "Someone call George and tell him I need cuddles. I'm going to go fix the window." He walked out, going to fix the window so the shields would come back up.

Molly looked at her husband. "Was it really that easy?"

Draco smirked at her. "If you were a death eater, would you want to mess with Xander?"

She giggled. "Definitely not." Arthur groaned. "It's all right, dear, he's protecting us."

"I know, but I don't want to be the one to tell George. He'll be livid that Xander fought."

Out in the hall, Xander was holding one of his sides. It kinda hurt now that he wasn't running on adrenaline.

Snippet 11:

Draco walked into the joke shop, looking around. He hadn't been in here before, he never would have been welcome before. He nodded at whichever of the twins was standing behind the counter. "Where are the tots?"

"Upstairs taking a nap," Fred told him. "Xander's curled up with them. George put him to bed a few hours ago." He smiled. "Go up the stairs to the top. They're right inside the door."

Draco nodded. "Thank you for watching them today." He walked up the stairs, making sure to make some noise. He saw the other twin stick his head out of a room and waved at him. "Just here to gather the little creatures." The twin nodded and pulled his head back into the room. Draco found the door at the top of the stairs and opened it slowly. He saw the nest immediately and walked in to look down inside. His children, his beloved offspring, were curled up on top of Xander inside the nest. "Don't get used to it," he told them as he picked them up. Denver woke up and screamed. "Shh," he told him soothing him.

"If you wake him suddenly, he does that," Xander noted without opening his eyes. He pulled the blanket back over himself. "Denver's got a fever. Simone's cutting a tooth. Iggy's been letting Denver suck his toes again." He opened his eyes. "You might want to brush his teeth before you get a kiss."

Draco shuddered. "That's sickening. Why did you allow it?"

"Because I found it long after it started," Xander told him. He rolled onto his side. "They're more than welcome to stay for a while," he offered. "They make good napping buddies."

"I think we'd better be getting home," Draco told him. He started to turn, but Denver lunged back toward the nest, knocking him off balance. He fell into the nest sideways, hoping he wouldn't land on either child. Denver wiggled away and went back to cuddling Xander, while Simone curled up on her father's stomach. "Are you comfortable?" he asked her. She nodded and smiled. "Well, I'm not." He started to shift so he could get up, but his daughter wasn't having it. She fought against him, keeping him too off-balance to get up. He decided to give up for a few minutes to humor her. Surely she'd get tired of this soon enough.

"Want one!" Simone told him.

He stared at her. "You want what?"

"Nestie. Comfy nestie." She patted it. "Want one!"

"No. Absolutely not."

She sniffled, then started to wail.

Xander handed over a small stuffed animal. "Here, you can keep the owl tonight to remind you of the nest and you can come over whenever you want." She took it from him with a squeal of delight. Xander looked at his student. "You're going to end up giving in and building her a small one to play in," he said quietly. "Or else she'll beg George, Fred, and Ron for one."

"No way in hell," Draco told him. "We're humans, we sleep in beds." He had to admit though, it was rather comfortable. He could see the appeal of sleeping in one. He yawned. "We'll go in a minute," he told the children. Denver latched onto Xander's son's hand, sucking on it. "Denver, use a chew toy, not him."

"Shh," Xander told him. He curled around Iggy, using him as a teddy bear.

Draco sighed mentally and tried to get up, but found he couldn't. If he got to his knees to crawl out, he'd tip the nest. He was stuck in the bloody nest! He'd get Xander for this. He settled in to wait. One of the twins would come looking for him when he didn't show back up downstairs to leave. He yawned again. This was rather nice, with his children curled around him.

An hour later, Ron snuck in with a camera and snapped two pictures. He smirked as he snuck back out. Now he knew what he could give the little kids that would annoy their father. And he had blackmail material. Yes!


Ron and George carried the brightly wrapped package up to the door, George bracing it while Ron knocked. A house elf opened the door and squealed, getting out of their way. "Which way to the nursery?" George asked.

"Top of the stairs, second door on the right." Ron walked backwards, letting George steer them.

"What are you doing?" Draco yelled as he walked down the hallway.

"Present for the niece," Ron panted. He shoved Draco out of the way and kicked on the nursery door. It opened and Simone stared up at him with wide eyes. "Want a present?" he asked. She nodded and opened the door wide, getting out of his way. She even grabbed her brother so he couldn't get in the way of the present. It was a big present! Ron led the way into the room, finding a nice, clear spot to put the present down. George let his end down with a grunt. Then both men stepped back. "Open it," Ron told them. "Grandma said you'd love this one."

Denver squealed in delight. He knew what presents were! He ran over as fast as he could and started to attack the wrapping paper. It didn't take long for his sister to help him, but she was getting hugs from the uncles. He squealed louder when he found some straw. "Nest!" he screamed, ripping the paper faster.

By the time the paper was off, Draco had his mouth closed and was glaring at the two men. "What did you do?" he hissed.

"Gave them a comfy napping spot," George said with his brightest grin. "Mum said you'd like it. She really adores the picture of you sleeping in ours. It's a tad bit small for you, but I'm sure the children will *love* it."

Simone jumped onto the cushion that was laid overtop of the straw, snuggling down into the comfy spot. "It's big!" she said happily. Her brother climbed in over top of her and plopped down next to her so he could get comfy too. "Need toys," she called. "And sheetsies!"

"I'll get you for this," Draco promised. He walked over and saw how happy it made them. "We'll have to find sheets for it later, Simone."

"Precious, Xander has sheets for it," George called. "He'll be over later to show your daddy how to care for the nest." He patted Ron on the back. "Give him the other one, Ron."

Ron pulled a small package out of his pocket and handed it to Denver to open. The little boy carefully ripped the wrapping paper until he could see what was inside. "Baby phoenix," he said happily, showing the stuffed animal off to his sister, who had a real phoenix.

"That's to hold you over until one picks you," George told him with a brilliant grin. "There's more eggs you know."

"Eggies? Baby eggies?" Denver asked. He looked at his father. "We see eggies?"

"Later," Draco sighed. He looked at the smiling Weasleys. "I will get you for this," he promised.

Xander skipped into the room, his hands full of a large bundle. "I got them perfect," he said. He smiled at the kids as he knelt next to the nest. "Okay, you guys have to pick which set of sheets you want today." He opened the bundle, letting them feel the different sheets.

"That one!" Simone demanded, pointing at a set of blood red silk sheets. "Feels nice."

"Cold," Denver added. It was nearly summer and it got hot sometimes in the playroom. He scrambled out of the nest, tugging his sister after him, so they could get their chosen sheets put onto their nest. It was special, almost no one had a nest. Not even Melvin, who was nearly his age. As soon as the sheets were on, he climbed back in, playing with his stuffed phoenix.

Simone paused long enough to give everyone hugs, then crawled back in with her favorite dolly. This was the perfect play place.

Xander handed Draco the remaining sets of sheets. "We go to the place taped on the inside of the card. They're very nice to us." He took his husband's hand and let Ron precede them.

"I'll get you for this," Draco called after them. He looked down at the nest, shuddering. He had a set of sheets exactly like that. It was his favorite ones to make love on. That was just an icky image that came into his mind. No, the nest would go just as soon as the children were slightly tired of it. He put the pile of sheets on a table and opened the card up.

//A nest is a special heirloom meant to be passed down through the generations as a sign of relationship. Some of the straw comes out of the family nest, thereby marking it as part of the family and you as my kid. Get over it, Draco. If you try to get rid of it, that means that you're spurning the family and I can come take the kids from you to raise them correctly in the family's traditions. And yes, I will teach them gryphon magic just to annoy you. Xander.//

"Bloody fucking git," Draco swore quietly. He *would* get them for this!

Snippet 12:

Notes: a few years have passed since the last snippet. The kids are now four/five/six depending on which kid since it's right before one's birthday. Ginny decided to stay out of her seventh year for a few years due to the money she was making and the contacts she was building, which wouldn't be around if she were still in school. By the way, Melvin is Percy's if anyone forgot.

Simone and Denver pounced on their cousin Melvin, making him scream in delight. Melvin didn't have anyone to play with so a day together at Grandma's house was always special. They mutually decided on tag and ran away from Denver, who was slowest.

Molly came back from the garden, smiling at the people standing around talking to each other. "Are we having a reunion?"

"No." Xander smiled at her. "Just a random visit." He sat her down at the table. "We just decided to let the kids play with each other. They're driving us nuts."

"Iggy is a good boy, a very good boy," George said as he sat down across from his mother. "But Iggy seems to have some ...issues, mum, and we need advice."

"He doesn't like comic books," Xander complained. "Or tricks, or anything."

She patted him on the hand. "You can corrupt the other children, Xander. I'm sure Percy wouldn't mind if his son lightened up."

Percy gave her a look. "I'd like it if he suddenly got more serious. I found him playing in the mud, mother."

"Little boys do that," she said wisely.

"But Iggy won't," George complained. "No mud, no fun, no laughing out loud. He actually rolled his eyes when Fred changed him colors the other day."

Xander looked up at Percy. "How did our son become a mini-you?"

"I think the better question would be, how did my son become one of yours," Percy noted dryly. He took his usual seat at the table. "I would like to encourage my son to be a bit more serious, but he holds up Simone and Iggy as paragons of fun and says they don't read."

Molly snickered. "Simone reads quite avidly."

"So does Iggy. Want to let him come over so he can see that our kids read?"

Percy shrugged. "It might be helpful. Kandy is, as you already know, pregnant again and it's a difficult one. It would be easier if we didn't have to worry about him for a few days." He looked at his hands. "We've been to the hospital twice now and they're saying it's quite possible she'll miscarry."

"Then we'll gladly take him in for a few days," George agreed. "Or Draco might offer to watch him," he said when his all-but brother-in-law showed up. "Bored?"

"I was coming to pick up Denver." He looked around, seeing the young boy sitting on the couch reading. "Iggy, why aren't you playing?"

"Playing's for babies," Iggy said from behind his book. It was taken from him so he glared at his uncle. "Mine."

"Go play," Draco told him. "Simone's going to miss Denver." The boy sighed and headed out.

"Nice work, son," George said happily. It was a running joke among the family that Xander had adopted Draco, so therefore he was now a Harris-Weasley, and his step-son. Draco flipped him off. "What's going on in your end of the world?"

"Nothing much." Draco looked outside, smiling when he saw his son pounced by Melvin. He sighed and looked at the gathered family. "I'm going to take another sudden and long vacation." Molly opened her mouth. "We'll be leaving tonight. I can take Simone with me if it'd make things easier on you."

"Absolutely not!" Molly Weasley shouted. "You will not take either of those children away from Ginny for even a month!"

Draco grimaced. "I can't leave him here. Besides, he'll be safe. I'll make sure of it."

"No. I forbid it. Denver will stay here with us while you're gone."

"I don't know when I'm coming back," Draco told her quietly. "Denver is coming with me."

Xander laid a hand on Molly's arm. "Draco, why now?"

"Because I'm getting looks again and I hate it," he said harshly. "The house seems to have shrunk in and I can't stand it anymore."

"Denver is my grandson and you will not take him from me for a long trip," Molly told him.

Draco sighed. "Unless you want to watch him for the next six months to a year, then he's coming with me." He walked outside and grabbed his son, telling him that they were going on a vacation without his beloved sister and that he would have to tell her goodbye for a while. It was a teary goodbye, but they'd have to go through it sometime. He apparated home. Everything was ready for them to go. They climbed into the muggle vehicle that had come from the airport to pick them up, and were off.

Molly sobbed at the table, supported by her sons. Simone came in and climbed into her lap. "He come back," she told her grandma. "Me cry too, but Iggy say it be okay." She hugged her. "It's okay to cry. Can we write mommy?"

"How about I tell mommy tonight at dinner?" Xander suggested. The little girl smiled. "Okay, I'll tell your mommy tonight and everything will be fine."

"How are this year's grades?" Percy asked.

"Surprisingly, the Prefect in my advanced class flunked. She hates to sweat and it shows." He stood up. "We should probably get back, but we'll let Iggy stay tonight if you want." Molly nodded. "Okay, we'll be back tomorrow, after all the kids are off on the train."

"And some snogging," George muttered as he stood up. He looked at his mother, then at his husband. "I think I'll come home later tonight."

"Cool." Xander gave him an understanding look, and a kiss. "See you tonight." He walked over to the fireplace and sent himself back to the school.

George patted his mother on the back. "He didn't do it to hurt you. He needed to get away before he exploded. He's done it before, that's why we have Denver."

Molly sighed as she wiped off her face. "I know, but Denver is my grandchild too. I'd react the same if you took off suddenly."

"Well, there's always Charlie and Bill," Percy said. His mother and brother looked at him. "Any children they'd have would be far away most of the time. Think of it as practice."

Molly shook her head. "Those two will never settle down and have children," she told him "They're too busy with their jobs."

"So unless Charlie knocks up a dragon, we're probably not getting any from him," George finished. He noticed Percy's smirk. "You know something."

"One of his former girlfriends from school just transferred out to the reserve in a business capacity."

"Still, Charlie only has eyes for scaly things," Molly told him. "It would be nice, but I can't count on that." She stood up, putting Simone down in her former spot. "You wait here, dear, and I'll get the things together so we can bake cookies."

"Cookies!" Simone shouted loudly, bringing the two boys running.

George pulled Percy up and into the hallway. "Didn't that bint hate people like my husband?" he asked quietly.

"Yes, she used to verbally go off on people like him," Percy said. "But I'm sure she's learned better. She seems to have mellowed quite a bit." He glanced at the children waiting patiently for their grandmother to hand them the stuff to make cookies. "Should I send a letter and warn him?"

"No, I'll do it. Maybe invite him to come stay with us when he comes back. I don't want to make Xander uncomfortable, or to cause a family split."

Percy nodded. "Good point, though I think she has to have mellowed."

"Some people don't mellow, Percy." He walked away, going to write out the letter to his second oldest brother. He sent a letter to Bill too, using Ron's owl. Pig was just sitting around doing nothing at the moment. Ron was over at Buffy's living in his girlfriend's lap. He wouldn't mind. He sent them off, giving his mother a smile when she caught him. "Reminding Bill and Charlie that we'd like to see them soon," he told her.

"You are so transparent," Percy told him.

"Hey!" He grinned. "Besides, they haven't come to see the nest yet." He rolled up his sleeves and waded into the pile of cookie making materials to help. He was a champion cookie maker.


Xander pulled Ginny over before dinner started. "Draco took off on another of his vacations." She rolled her eyes. "With Denver."

"What? Not a chance!" She grimaced. "Any idea where he was going?" He shook his head. "Well, he has to be stopped. He's not taking my son for six months. Mum'll be devastated." She scowled at the wall and Xander realized he had unleashed a deep well of unhappiness and determination. "We'll see if he stays gone that long." She smiled at him and walked into the Great Hall. It was her leaving feast.

Xander followed, smiling at the Headmaster. "Just a bit of family business."

"Are you escorting students to the train tomorrow?" McGonagall asked him. Xander shrugged. "Good, then you've volunteered. We're short a few adults." She smiled at him. "No Iggy?"

"He's with Grandma, Simone, and Melvin."

"Ah." She nodded, looking wise. "How is Melvin?"

"Percy's worried because we seem to have switched kids sometime and never realized it," he told her. "Melvin's definitely like my kid and my kid's Percy's ideal." He paused when Dumbledore stood up to make his speech. The table was emptier because Tara was upstairs in the infirmary with Adrian, along with six other teachers. The wizard flu. Nasty thing. Even Snape had gotten caught by it this time. He clapped once the nice words were done and dug into his meal. "So anyway, Draco took a sudden vacation with Denver and Molly's not very happy at the moment. The grandkids are making her happy."

"Good." Minerva paused to eat a bite of food. "Any news from the farther flung members of the family?"

"No, but we're expecting at least one to come in for part of the summer. I haven't seen Charlie since the wedding and Bill since the year Iggy was born." He ate some of his roast. "I can help herd at the station if you want." She nodded. "Then I'm coming back here with George for the traditional end of the year sex."

She blushed and giggled. "We'll hopefully get done early this year so you can have all afternoon for that."

Dumbledore looked over at them. "Remember, we're having the castle cleaned thoroughly this summer."

Xander smiled at him. "The bug people can come into my room, but they had better not touch my nest. As a matter of fact, I'd rather clean my room myself if it's possible, just so no one touches the nest."

Dumbledore nodded. "I've already instructed that they weren't allowed to touch any professor's personal furniture and I'll gladly reiterate it. You said Mr. Malfoy took off?" Xander nodded. "Did his son go with him?"

"He offered to take Simone, but he only took Denver. Molly was *not* happy."

"I daresay I wouldn't be either," McGonagall agreed. She glanced at her house's table. "Did you tell Ms. Weasley?"

Xander nodded. "And it's looking like she's going to give him the ass-kicking of his life when she sees him because he made her mother cry."

Dumbledore smiled. "A Weasley is always a force to be reckoned with." He ate some of his vegetables.

"Yes, those children will be quite a challenge," Xander said with a grin.

"By then, I may be retired," Dumbledore told them. "I'll be able to sit back and watch the chaos they bring to the school."

"Leaving me to deal with it," McGonagall snorted. "I'm sure I'll have many words with you if you do that." She looked at Xander. "Are they keeping up with their studies?"

"Iggy's reading books that are years ahead of where he should be. He's definitely Percy's kid." He heard some choking and looked down at the kid nearest him. "What? My brother-in-law corrupted my son. He's serious!"

"The teacher?" Dumbledore asked with a naughty twinkle in his eye.

"Maybe. He reads more than Willow does, but he's definitely my son physically." Lupin choked where he sat on the other end of the table. "You guys are going to have to pop in and see him this summer. Sirius will have someone to roll around with and you can discuss books with him," Xander told him with a grin.

"We might," Lupin agreed. "I had planned on visiting a small werewolf colony in Germany."

"Oh, hey, if you run into someone named Oz, tell him I said hi and that he can write letters." Lupin nodded. "Thanks. I haven't heard from him since the year I went to help Buffy with that legion."

"Most of us would like to forget that incident," Lupin told him. Xander shrugged. "But I will pass on the message if I see him."

"Thanks." Xander glanced at Ginny, then went back to his dinner. She had her planning face on. It was almost scary.

Snippet 13:

Ginny walked into the lobby of the hotel in India and smiled at the man behind the desk. "I'm looking for my son," she told him. "Denver Malfoy. His father told me to meet him here." The man nodded and called someone over to escort her up to the Malfoy suite. She followed the bellhop up, but motioned that she would open the door herself. He bowed and left, and she pulled her wand. The door burst open and she strode in, only taking the time to kick it closed. "Oh, Draco," she called sweetly. Her son looked over the back of a couch and smiled. "Hello, sweetheart," she said, giving him a kiss. "You taste like curry." She turned and found Draco behind her. "You bastard," she said, continuing to smile. "You took my son and ran away with him"

"Your son?"

"Have I not been there for all but a few months of his life?" Draco slowly nodded. "Did you think that I didn't care about him? Or that my mother didn't see him the same way?" He shook his head. "You idiot, he's as much my son as yours now." She walked closer to him, poking him on the chest. "And you took him from me without even giving me a chance to say goodbye." She poked him again. "I should hurt you for that."

He pulled her in and kissed her.

"What was that for?" she asked.

"The sunlight was hitting you just right, turning your hair into fire, matching the fire coming from your eyes," he told her, giving her another, smaller, kiss. "I'm sorry."

"You're going to be if you ever do it again." She leaned into his arms. "If you ever take off with the kids again, I'm going to go cry on Xander's shoulders and let him beat you up for me. Then I'll finish you off."

He kissed her until neither of them could breathe. As soon as she wobbled into his arms, he took her into the bedroom. Such fire and passion was calling out to him. He needed that sort of fire in his life.

Denver went back to watching his cartoons. He didn't understand what they were saying, but it was all good to him. Daddy wouldn't be moping any more. And maybe he'd get another sister. It was his fondest wish beside getting a phoenix of his very own.


Molly took the message off the owl's leg, sitting down to read the short missive. She burst out laughing and waved it so everyone else could come read it.

Xander read it over his husband's shoulder, smirking. "So, Grandma, ready for another one?"

"Again?" Arthur asked, snatching the note to read it. "She doesn't say she's pregnant."

"No, but I wouldn't bet against it," George told him. "Hopefully they'll bring back lovely treats for those of us unlucky enough to have to stay here." He put a hand in Xander's robe pocket, tickling him. "Should we go decorate the house for his homecoming?"

"Give it a few days," his father said with a smile. "Ginny did say she'd warn us when they were coming back."

Melvin climbed into his grandfather's lap so he could read the note too. "Where's India?"

"If Grandma has a map, I can show you," Xander offered. Melvin gave grandma an expectant look so she created a map for him. Xander motioned him over and pointed out the large country that was India. "It's right here. India is one of the oldest steady countries in the world. It's been like it is now for centuries."

"That's a really long time," Iggy offered. His fathers both smiled at him, creeping him out. "Didn't it change hands a few times?"

"Somewhat, but India also managed to incorporate the invading cultures into their own, absorbing them instead of being absorbed. Britain used to control it too."

"Wow," Melvin said, giving his uncle an adoring look. "You're really smart."

"Only about some things. You should ask your Uncle Charlie about stuff like this when he gets here. He knows much more than me."

"He's coming soon?"

"In a few hours," Molly said tolerantly. Melvin cheered. "Maybe you should go draw him a card or a picture."

"Okay." Melvin hopped down and dragged his cousin with him to help him draw.

Molly smiled at Xander. "You handled that very well."

"Thank you. Iggy went through a 'where is that' phase last month. We actually bought a globe." He gave her a hug. "So, give. Do we know anything about this mystery woman?"

"Um, yeah," George said, sitting down and pulling his husband into his lap. "She's not of the most friendly class of people toward people like you," he told him.

"Or at least she didn't *used* to be," Percy amended.

Xander grimaced. "That's going to cause a problem, won't it?" Everyone nodded. "Then I won't attack her if she makes snide comments," Xander said with a shrug. "I can walk away."

"Thank you, son," Arthur told him. "I know it could become quite uncomfortable." He watched his son walk away to go check on the children.

"Does Charlie know what I am?"

"I'm not sure," Molly admitted.

"I reminded, or told, him of that fact," George told her. "That's why I sent the letter, that and to invite him to come see the family nest." He gave his mate a squeeze. "Fred's decided he's willing to nap in it if you'd let him."

"I wouldn't mind, as long as he doesn't hog it," Xander said with a shrug. He turned and stole a kiss. "A nest is a comfy and loving spot. I'm willing to share it with your twin."

"Thank you." George smiled. "I get the store tomorrow and the next week."

"Okay. Can I work in the lab?" Xander asked with a grin. He heard the small whimper and gave him another kiss. "I promise to be good and only create things that you can openly sell."

George laughed. "I'll ask Fred for you," he agreed. "Just don't create any more foggy bottoms."

Xander giggled. "I won't make any more if he doesn't want me to," he promised. "But I won't promise not to make any more of the icy fingers of death."

"I'm sure he'd enjoy having more of those." George patted him on the rear. "They sold very well."

"But that one kid got sick," Xander reminded him.

George leaned closer. "Then he shouldn't have eaten the whole thing." He nipped his mate on the neck. "If you make them, save one for me."

"Okay." Xander smiled happily. He looked over as the fireplace dinged, discharging Fred. "Closed early?"

"Yes. Town's dead." Fred looked around. "No Percy?"

"Kids," George told him. "Do you want Xander to help in the lab tomorrow?"

Fred's eyes opened very wide. You never knew what was going to come out of there when Xander spent time working in the lab. Some things had been hilarious and had been put onto the special list, while others had been too naughty for anyone else to have. "What were you planning on making?" he asked carefully.

Xander shrugged. "I don't know. George suggested I make more icy fingers of death. I wanted to make something that would make you both laugh until you peed."

Fred nodded. "As long as you keep it clean," he agreed.

"Has he been making naughty things?" Arthur asked, giving Xander a look.

"Not intentionally," Xander said sweetly and innocently. "I'm a good boy, but sometimes my mind travels to my snuggley one and you know how the magic can be."

Fred snorted. "Every time they have a minor spat, the lab seems to come out with another annoyance toy," he told his father. "And, dear Merlin, *NEVER* let him in there when he's horny." He looked down at Xander, giving him a light scowl. "The last thing that came out of there nearly made me blush."

"Which is so very hard to do," George snorted.

"It made people...." Fred started.

Molly held up a hand, stopping him. "I don't want to hear about it. There are many things I don't need to know about your lives." She looked at Xander, giving him a smile. "Do try to be good, Xander. You're making them upset because they can't market any of those things."

Xander looked at Fred. "You could, but you'd never be able to put it out in the main store."

"No, Xander. I'm not selling sex toys."

"Fred!" Percy shouted. "Not in front of the children."

Melvin pulled on his father's robe. "I know what they are," he told his father, sounding very serious for a nearly four year old. "I found mommy's."

Percy blushed and groaned, walking away from his son before he could yell. He vaguely heard Xander answer his son, but wasn't sure he wanted to know.

Xander leaned closer to the little guy. "Never say that in front of your father again," he said quietly. "It makes him think about things that he shouldn't when you're in the room." Melvin nodded, but he didn't look like he understood. "Those are adult toys, and he's very protective of his toys, just like you are."

Melvin's face lit up. "Okay. I won't play with his big people toys. I have plenty of my own. Can I have Iggy?"

"For a night maybe," George told him. Melvin cheered and went to tell his cousin that his parents had agreed. George cleared his throat. "Remind me to make sure our box is locked," he told his husband.

"Okay," Xander agreed happily.

"You and me both," Fred muttered.

"Boys, no discussion of adult toys," their father complained. "That's much more than your mother and I ever wanted to know about your private lives." His wife burst out laughing. "Molly, are you all right?"

"Percy's face was priceless," she said, smiling at her husband. "What did we want to eat for dinner?"

"I can cook," Xander offered quickly.

"Xander, I love you, but my kitchen is my sacred space and none of you children are allowed to do more than make toast in it." She stood up. "Stew? Casserole?"

"It's all good to me," Xander told her. He nipped George. "I have my meal right here."

"Xander," Arthur groaned. "Go neck in the garden." He watched as they left the house. "Fred, do me a favor. Never make us watch you do that with your mate."

Fred chuckled. "You should see them around the store. That was very tame. I've walked in on some things that would make Dumbledore blush."

"That was the night of the ball," Percy noted as he walked back inside. "I'm not sure what he caught them doing, but it was the first time I've ever seen the Headmaster not look calm and collected." He took a seat at the table. "Need help, mum?"

"No thank you, Percy. I've got it well in hand." She pulled some meat from the fridge and set about thawing it. "How much longer before Charlie gets here?"

"He said he'd be in after dinner," her husband reminded her. He coughed, making his wife look at him. "I'm fine."

"Off to bed with you. I won't have you down with the wizard flu that's going around," she demanded. "Boys, make sure he makes it to bed." They ganged up on their father and took him up to his room. "I will not have Charlie's visit ruined by his father being ill," she told herself. "That would be horrible for poor Charlie. I hope his girlfriend likes carrots." She brought some over and waved her wand so they were cleaned and chopped up.

Snippet 14:

Charlie sat down next to Xander on his first full day home, giving the surroundings a short glance. "Thank you for not telling her."

"As long as you do," Xander said quietly. Charlie shook her head. "Think about this, brother-in-law, she's going to find out. It's going to cause problems. And not just for me. Look at what your girlfriend's doing right now."

Charlie looked over to see his girlfriend, Amanda, reading a book to Iggy and Melvin. "She'll get used to you and see you're not so bad."

Xander snorted. "Sure she will." He leaned closer. "I promised to walk away this time, but I'm not going to rip this family apart over what I am. If it comes down to that, we'll have a fight. And I will win." He stood up. "With that said, I'm going to go take a nap in my nest. You're welcome to drop by later if you want." He walked out into the garden and disappeared.

Charlie sat back and considered the situation. At least until Fred hit him. "Ouch!"

"Tell her soon," he said quietly. "Mum'll have fits if this ends up being a fight." He walked back into the house. He liked Xander, but the boy had strange notions. Did he actually think that the family would be that upset if this turned into a fight? He looked around for his twin, but found George was missing. So was Ron, which wasn't that unusual, but George had just been here. He walked into the kitchen and grabbed one of Xander's sodas. The guy always kept at least one here, just in case he needed a boost. "Where did George go, Mum?"

She looked at him. "He saw Xander sneak off and went to snog him in private for a change," she said with a smile.

Fred snorted. "A change is right. Those two go at it all the time in the lab." He sipped the soda slowly, they gave him horrible gas. "So, what do you think of her?"

His mother glanced into the living room, then shook her head. "I think Charlie's going to have to tell her a few things before I make that decision. She all but suggested that Ginny was wrong for what she's doing, which I agree with on some points but it's her life and she has to live it. She doesn't know about Xander or Iggy. And she hasn't even met Percy yet."

"Point," Charlie said as he walked in. "Should I tell her?"

"Is it serious?" his mother countered.

Charlie stopped and thought, then nodded. "I'd like it to be."

"Then you'd better tell him soon, before Xander goes on a guilt trip over the fight being his fault," Fred told him.

Charlie nodded. "I'll tell her tonight."

"Thank you, dear," his mother said, handing him a plate of cookies. "Go feed the children and take one for yourself." He smiled and walked away. "Fred, what's going on with Xander?" she asked quietly.

"He's been worried about this. He knows that this can cause a huge row and he's going to end up stuck in the middle. Or at least he thinks so."

Molly nodded. "I can see how he'd think that, but he has to know that we'll stick up for him."

"A battle between the in-laws is never fun. Imagine having to pick a side in an argument between him and Draco."

Molly winced. "I'd rather not. That would be messy." She sighed and turned the pot roast over so it could brown on the other side. "Can you run to the store for me?"

"Sure, mum, let me finish this." He gulped the rest of the soda and belched. "Ow." He patted himself on the chest, then took the list, blatantly ignoring the money she was holding out. "Be back in a few." He grabbed some floo powder and took off.

She 'humphed' and went back to making dinner. That boy.


George followed Xander up the stairs and into the nest, holding him closely. "She won't get within a few feet of you," he told his husband.

"But she can still yell and it can still hurt Iggy."

"And you."

"And me," Xander agreed. He flipped over, snuggling in tightly. "I'm tired of people looking at me funny. I don't like to shop outside of town anymore."

"Then I'll go with you and we'll both be stared at," George told him. "It happens."

"Yeah, but it sucks."

"True." George gave him a squeeze. "But I'm here."

"And that's nearly the only thing keeping me from screaming at the idiots some days," Xander admitted. He closed his eyes. "Can I just leave if she starts shit?"

"Sure. I'm sure Mum and Dad both would appreciate not having you rebuild part of the house if you attack her." Xander smiled against his chest, he could feel it. "Maybe she'll keep it inside."

"Or maybe I heard her telling Iggy earlier about how she had switched jobs to get away from one of us."

"Oh, really?" Xander nodded and George frowned. "Did anyone else hear her?" Xander shrugged. "Okay. Well, at least Mum and Dad are on your side."

Xander looked up at him. "If it comes down to it, I'll leave the family alone and just be here. Or at the school."

"Bloody prick," George said with a smile. "Not going to happen. Dad's gotten used to having you around. You give him muggle things to play with. Besides, Ginny would kill us all if someone forced you to not associate any longer."

"Yeah, maybe, but I still have to think ahead and plan the options."

"Well, you can just quit it right now, husband. If they say crap to you, then they're going to have to get through me, Ginny, Fred, Ron, and probably Draco. I doubt they're willing to take on half the family over such a minor little thing."

"Minor? I can blow up the house by sneezing if I'm holding my wand and thinking the wrong thing." He knew he could, he had blown up part of the Forbidden Forest that way. Just a small section, but it still blew up. It had been a very pretty explosion.

"So? Dad was the one who was worried about that. He's gotten over it, she can too." He closed his eyes. "Let's nap. We haven't had one of those recently."

"You hoo!" someone called up the stairs.

"Crap," Xander sighed. "Who gave her a key?"

"Guys?" Ron called.

"Him." George rolled out of the nest and jogged down to deal with them. "Trying to nap, Ronniekins. Make it fast."

"She needs something to totally gross out the Travers arsehole."

"Oh. Funny, sickening, sexual, embarrassing, or punitive?"

"Funny for everyone but him," Buffy said. "Punitive sounds really nice. He's been nagging me about Ron again." She grimaced. "I'd really like to stomp him, but that would be a bad."

"Yes, it would," George agreed. "He does hold the papers for your house after all." He held up a finger and walked into the back room, coming back with a small box. It had been something that Xander had created back in Ron's sixth year; the revenge toy that had made the other joke shop leave them alone.

"I remember that," Ron said with a grin. "Totally hilarious when they react." He checked the wires. "That one's to the battery, right?" George nodded.

"Can you connect it for me?" Buffy asked. "I want to floo back and hand it to him. Or hide it under his chair or something."

"Put it somewhere unnoticeable," George told her. "It lasts for about a minute, then dissolves. It's not very loud, but it does tend to scare people." He heard a thump and looked up the stairs. "You okay?"


"I'll be right back."

"Is that Xander?" Buffy asked.

"Yes, he's trying to take a nap too." He connected all the wires, remembering at the last moment that one of them was supposed to be crossed over. "You've got twenty minutes before it goes off," he warned. Ron paid him and left with her. George turned off the floo and went back up to rest with his cuddly one. Fred could apparate home if need-be.


Charlie took his girlfriend Amanda out into the garden so they could stroll and watch the stars come out. "What did you think of the clan?" he asked, holding her close.

"I think that most of them are great, but that one person...Xander? I think he's odd. He kept walking away from me all day, like he was afraid of me."

"No, he's not afraid of you, he's afraid of your reaction to him." He stopped her and turned to look at her. "I know that you have strong feelings against certain types of people, but Xander is one of them. He's gryphon-born."

She snorted. "So he was trying not to hurt me?"

"He only attacks if people try to harm the family." He started walking again, but she stayed there. "Coming?"

"No, I want to have this out."

"Then we'll argue away from the house, where everyone can't butt in," he told her.

She followed him, nearly stomping, to a bench set further down the garden. "You know how I feel about them and you let him near me? What about his son?"

"From what I understand, Iggy is both fathers' child, but was carried by my sister Ginny. It was very powerful magic done by the gryphons themselves." He patted her on the hand. "Xander was worried that this argument was going to tear the family apart so he promised mum to let me tell you first."

She opened her mouth, then closed it. "I won't be around him."

"Then you're going to leave," Charlie told her with a sigh. He really had liked her. "Xander's my brother-in-law."

"And I'm your girlfriend."

"Yes, you are, but I'm not going to allow the family to be hurt because you have a prejudice." He shifted so he was facing her a little more. "You saw Xander, you saw Iggy. Can you really tell me that you think either of them are violent or willing to attack for no reason?"

She shrugged. "I wouldn't know. I'm assuming they'd be on their best behavior. I have no idea what they're usually like or if they're one of the attacking bastards." She stood up. "How could you not tell me before?"

"Because I didn't realize how much this bothered you," he replied softly. "I won't fight about this. Xander is my brother-in-law and Iggy is my nephew. A Weasley doesn't abandon their family for anything."

"So you're going to let the gay, murdering, *violent* creature near our future children?"

"Better someone who has fought their lack of knowledge than someone who hasn't." Charlie stood up too. "These are my family, Amanda. I come equipped with them. They're always going to be there. I'm not going to argue about this, but I won't let it tear my family apart."

"You're taking his side over mine?"

"He married my brother so there's got to be something good there at least. Iggy's just a normal, average kid who likes to read."

"Sure, until poor little Melvin or Simone pisses him off!" she said with as much scorn as she could muster. "Then what?"

"Then they roll around and fight, like normal children," Arthur said as he walked up behind them. "I've had my doubts, mostly about how powerful Xander really is and the lack of control he showed when his powers came out. I even tried to act on them to protect the family." She snorted and waved a hand at him for her boyfriend's benefit, a 'you see' move. "Fortunately, Xander handed me a bouquet of flowers and talked to me about it. He's only violent when someone threatens the family. Any part of the family," he finished with a smile. Xander had stopped someone from bullying Arthur's aunt last week by giving him back what he was giving. "I trust Xander with my life, and those of my children and grandchildren." He looked at Charlie, then smiled. "If that's good enough for you, then there's no argument."

"And if there is?" she demanded.

"Then maybe you should sit down and talk with him. He's had a very interesting life. Guarding a hellmouth. Guarding Hogwarts. Fighting Voldemort." Her eyes narrowed. "He taught Ron how to fight effectively, which I thank Merlin for every time he has to fight. He's protected Ginny's children when they were threatened. To a gryphon, family is everything and the only important thing." He nodded at his son. "Don't stay out too late, it's supposed to rain tonight." He walked back inside. He found his wife tidying up the spotless kitchen. "It'll be all right."

"No it won't," she sighed, turning to look at him. "She's not going to change. The fight could divide the family."

He gave her a hug. "It won't happen because we won't let it happen. If anyone doesn't like Xander and George's relationship then we'll stick up for them. I'm not going to let anyone make one of my children unhappy." She nodded and relaxed against him. "Let's go to bed. It's well past time." She let him lead her up the stairs.


George accepted the message from Glinda, worrying about what it said. It couldn't be good if his mother was using this instead of the floo. Of course, he had turned off the floo last night..... He walked over and turned it back on. They needed a fire to warm the shop anyway, it was chilly this morning. As soon as the fire was blazing, he sat down to read the message, which ended up in the fire. How could she tell him not to bring his husband around? Was she taking the girlfriend's side over his? He looked up as someone walked down the stairs, pasting a happy smile on his face.

"What?" Xander asked suspiciously.

"Mum sent word. We're not having lunch today because her stomach's acting up again. The stress of the visit and all that."

Xander's eyes narrowed. "Someone told you not to bring me?" George winced. "What? I'm going to upset the fragile balance?"

"No, she just wanted Amanda to have some time to get used to the idea that you're gryphon-born. Charlie told her last night." He walked over to his husband and tried to give him a hug, but he got pushed away. "It's not my fault."

"I'd rather sulk alone," he said, walking out of the store. It was a short hike to the school, but he always had a sanctuary there. He waved at Hagrid as he passed him on the road, but didn't stop to talk. He even ran into McGonagall in the school, wearing a dust cap no less, but he didn't stop to talk to her either. He went right to his room and sulked. After he straightened out his nest. Someone had shifted some of the straws around.

McGonagall stared after the young man until she heard a door slam elsewhere. This was not appropriate at all. She thought about going to talk to him, but she didn't have the delicacy necessary to deal with matters of the heart. She wished someone else was around.


George apparated next to his mother's dining room table. "How could you?" he demanded. She looked up at him, not looking happy in the least. "He stormed out to go sulk because he thinks he's not welcome here anymore."

"I just wanted to give her time to get over it," Molly said calmly.

"I doubt she will."

"George, everyone has ideas that aren't right. Even you and Xander."

"Yes and apparently mine are against people like her." He crossed his arms over his chest and glared at her. "You hurt his feelings, mum. I won't have it. He's too fragile to have this sort of pain."

"He'll be fine," she soothed. "I'll talk with him in a while."

He snorted. "Good luck getting to him." He turned and looked around. "I think I'd better take our son back home with me." Her shoulders slumped. "I don't want that woman anywhere near my son. There's no telling what filth she told him." He walked up to the nursery, gathering up his sleeping son's body so they could go home. As soon as he stepped out into the hall, he ran into Charlie. "We're going home."

"Leaving in a snit?" he asked.

"She *suggested* Xander didn't come for lunch today." Charlie hissed. "I think it's better if my son and I weren't here either. *If* she gets over this, call us." He shoved him out of the way and took his son home.

"Sleeping!" Iggy pronounced.

"I know you are. I'm putting you back in your bed," George soothed. He didn't care who or what his son brought home when he was of the age to date, the family would just have to get over it. After all, they'd gotten over Ginny bringing home a Malfoy. He tucked the precious baby in then went down to start the day in the store. They had originally planned on taking the afternoon off, but there wasn't any way he was going to sit across from that woman and listen to her shit.


Charlie walked down the stairs, checking around to make sure no one else was going to yell at him. "Are you all right, mum?"

"Fine," she told him, pouring him some tea and making sure he had a plate for breakfast. "I handled that very poorly."

"No, you did what you thought was right. Not everybody's going to be happy with that. They'll calm down eventually."

She shook her head. "I didn't even think about what sort of message that would send to Xander. He is so very fragile sometimes."

"It comes from having crappy parents," Charlie reminded her. "I'd have thought he would have picked up on something better since joining the family." He dished himself out some eggs. "He'll get over it and I'll apologize for her."

"Oh, why bother?" Fred asked as he walked down the stairs, pulling on his shirt. "Will it actually make matters better to offer a false apology?" Charlie glared at him. "Do you really think she's going to change?" He sat down next to his brother. "I agree, she's a very nice woman, except for this fact. I'm sure she probably turns you on like no other woman recently. Is she really the one you want to spend your life with though?" He grabbed a plate. "I heard George."

"He took Iggy home." His mother handed him the plate of toast. "He said Xander's went off to sulk in private and that no one's probably going to see him for a few days."

"Then he's either camping in the Forbidden Forest again or he's locked himself up in the school. He'll come back."

"Days?" Charlie asked.

"As you so glibly pointed out, his family wasn't that great. Having met them, I've got to say that I'd prefer Lucius Malfoy as a parent over them." Charlie shuddered. "I think he will get over it, but he's going to feel insecure for a while."

"When did you get so smart about people?" Charlie asked.

"I live with him, have to hear George talk about him, end up watching those two make out, and I don't have much else to do right now since I'm not dating anyone." He stuffed his mouth full so he couldn't say anything else. He decided to add one more thing. "The one thing he won't ever forgive is this tearing the family apart. He was worried about it yesterday and apparently it hasn't eased any at all since then." Molly choked. "Weak family bonds," he reminded her.

She nodded, straightening up a bit. "I'll talk with him as soon as he comes out of hiding."

"It won't be today, and I doubt it'll be tomorrow," Fred reminded her. He stuffed his mouth again. "What can I do to help with lunch?"

"Go find Ron and Buffy," she said with a smile. "They might as well wait here. Maybe you can help her stay up on a broom better than Ron can."

"She can't fly?"

"She's the Slayer, she's meant to fight not fly," Fred told him. "Her words. Anything else I can do?"

"No, I think I have everything set up and ready. Shouldn't take too long." She sipped her tea. "Can you talk to your brother?" Fred raised an eyebrow. "Never mind."

"I doubt he's going to be very happy," Charlie noted. "He's grown more stubborn."

"Only about the family," his mother told him. "Xander and he fit so very well together. Then they had Iggy and George tightened his focus."

"Hmm," Fred sighed, finishing his mouthful. "Have you heard about the junior quidditch leagues?" His mother nodded. "He's trying to get Iggy into one. Hogsmeade has two teams at the moment and Iggy really would like to be on one of them."

"Trying to make him play on his house team?" Charlie asked.

Fred shrugged. "We both miss it. I refereed a game last season for them." He scraped his plate and ate the last little bit. "I'm off to interrupt Ron's sex life. Be back soon." He grabbed some floo powder, making a mental note to bring some over for all he's used, and sent it into the fire. "Slayer's attic," he called out, stepping in so he could leave.

"Slayer's attic?"

"She thought her house looked like an attic cut off and put down as a house," his mother said with a grin. "It's a very cute little cottage."

"Are they serious about each other?"

Molly shrugged. "I don't think they suit each other well enough for that, but Ron hasn't mentioned that it's very serious. Right now, they're dating exclusively and taking it slowly."

"And you approve?"

She gave him a look. "You may be my children, but that doesn't mean I can dictate how you work your relationships. I may not like it, but dragging him out of her bed won't solve anything." She smiled. "Besides, I do realize that times have changed since your father and I married. Having Ginny pregnant, twice, was quite a learning experience for us."


"She did carry Iggy also." She pointed at a dish of sausage. "Eat some of that, you didn't have enough breakfast."

"Yes, mum." Charlie dished himself out some of the meat. "Have you heard from Bill recently?"

"A bit. He's on-site right now. Very hush-hush he said. Some undiscovered site of a battle during the ancient times. He said it's a very exciting find."

"Is he coming in soon?"

"He was supposed to but the find was found the other night and he had to cancel his trip home." She patted his hand. "I'm sure he'll pop in on you soon. He said he would if he couldn't get back in time." She got up to start some more food, the shower had just come on. She turned and looked over her son. "I won't let her tear this family apart," she said quietly. "If she wants, and you're serious about her, then she can keep it to herself. I won't have her hurting Iggy at all, and Xander will eventually fight back. If you love her that much, then I'll accept her. If she starts though, then she's on her own."

Charlie nodded. "I tried to tell her that. I'm not sure what's happening, mum."

She walked over and gave him a hug. "Love is never easy."

"I'm not sure it is," he said quietly.

Molly winked at him. "I could always pull out my old cards."

"Mum!" he said, giving her a look. "You have cards?"

She laughed. "Merlin, yes. One of my best subjects was Divination. That, Potions, and Domestic Arts." She opened one of the drawers next to the stove and pulled out her set of tarot cards to show him. "I could do a reading for you. I did one for Xander and George and it was right. I thought I had misread when I saw a child predicted, but then the gryphons did that spell." She put the cards on the table and walked back to the stove, cracking some eggs into the pan to scramble. "I won't pry if you don't want me to, Charlie."

He picked up the deck to look at the box it was in. "I wouldn't mind, mum," he said finally. "Though I might not fully trust it." He looked at her, seeing her for the witch she was and not only his mother. "Do you have the sight too?" She shook her head. "Not a bit?"

"Oh, a feeling now and again, but nothing much. No dreams or visions. I knew that Ron and Ginny were both going to be in trouble their last year, but not why or when. I had no doubt that Ginny would get better, her life was so long in the cards." She poured the eggs into the mostly-empty bowl. "I saw a few children for her when I read her cards before she went to school." She smiled. "I had hoped that the children I saw were *after* she graduated, but if she's happy..."

Charlie shook his head. "You have mellowed, mum. If I had come to you and told you I had stuffed up someone, you would have killed me horribly."

She nodded. "And your father would have been right behind me," she agreed happily. She smiled as her husband walked in. "There's fresh eggs," she told him.

"Can I have some tea too?" Arthur asked. He noticed the cards on the table and looked at his wife. "Already?"

"I offered to do one for Charlie."

"If it helps," he agreed. He touched the box. "She's very accurate. She predicted Kandy without knowing why."

"Well, I interpreted it as a piece of candy," she snorted. "I'm out of practice." She finished pouring water into the teapot and put it on to heat. "George was here."

"Did he take Iggy?" Arthur sighed when his wife nodded. "And Xander?"

"Sulking," Charlie told him. "I really didn't mean to start a fight."

"It's not you, son. There's plenty of people who won't accept Xander because of what he is. It's gotten around Diagon and he's sworn he's never going to shop there again." He accepted his filled plate. "What about everybody else?"

"Fred went to wake up Ron and Buffy," she told her husband. "It's taking him a bit apparently." She smiled. "Everyone else is here unless Bill gets away."

"I do wonder which site it is," Arthur said. "I had thought that we chronicled all the old battle sites and found them all."

"The War of the Ancients had a lot of personal battles that weren't disclosed," Charlie reminded him. "It could be one of those. Or one of the sacrifice sites maybe."

"Not over breakfast, son," Molly told him. She came over and took the box of cards, opening it and pulling out the cards. She held them for a moment, her eyes closed while she concentrated. The first card was dealt. "A girl," she said happily.

Arthur watched as she dealt out a mostly happy future for their son. Still, the card which should have hinted at the girl's name had been ambiguous. A death card? How very unusual. Not even Buffy had gotten one of those. He ate his breakfast, watching as she pulled out a child. "Splendid," he said happily. A grandson.


Fred appeared in Buffy's cottage, and stopped to look around. Little pink flowers on the wallpaper? He sneezed due to the extra dust on the mantle. "Hello?" he called.

"Shit!" Ron stomped down the stairs, his wand drawn. "What're you doing here?"

"Mum sent me," he said happily. "Said she wanted you to crawl out of your girl's body and rejoin the family for a bit." Ron's glare got hotter. "Lunch, sound familiar?"

Ron nodded. "It's not for at least three more hours." He checked a clock. "Two more hours," he corrected.

"She said to come get you up," Fred said with a lopsided grin. "Need help getting dressed?"

Ron's wand, and the hand holding it, came down to cover his nudity. "Blasted arsehole." He stomped back up the stairs, going to wake Buffy up and get dressed.

Fred made himself at home, sitting comfortably on the couch. The place really did need dusted so he pulled his wand, sending the dust to rest in Ron's underwear.

"I'll get you for that!" Ron yelled. He came down a minute later. "Thanks to you, I can't wear any now." He smiled as Buffy came down the stairs in a little sundress. "Ready to go?"

"Almost." She walked over to what looked like a china cabinet and pulled out a dagger. "Can't go anywhere without it," she said with a smile. She walked back over and stole a kiss, pinching Ron on the butt. "Be good today or I'm going to sic Xander on you."

"He's not coming," Fred told her. She pouted at him. He shrugged. "Amanda is rather...upset about what he is."

"And?" Ron asked.

"Xander's avoiding a fight and sulking because mum asked him to give her some time to get over it. So George and Xander won't be there."

"Bet me," Ron said darkly. "Fred, take her back to the Burrow. I'll be right there." He disapparated.

Fred stood up and held out a hand. "Shall we?" She smiled at him. "So, are you serious about my brother? I should warn you that I'll make your life miserable if you're playing with him." He tossed some floo powder into the fireplace and let her get in first, climbing in behind her because she was still a muggle. "The Burrow." They disappeared.


Ron landed in the joke shop and looked around. Someone was browsing, but George wasn't anywhere to be found. "Can I help you?" he asked.

The woman looked at him, giving him a smile. "Not unless you're going to hand over your brother again," she told him.

Ron stepped back. Melody. Shit! Fucking hell! "What're you doing here?"

"Came to get an idea. I have a problem ex that I'm trying to ...discourage. Wanna help?"

Ron pointed at the blue cases. "One of those. They're annoying and punitive." He stepped further away. "I'm going to find my brother."

"He's in the back with the little kid."

"Good." Ron headed back to the lab, and the back way to the kitchen. He looked down at his nephew. "You want to come with me? Buffy wants to teach you how to play soccer."

Iggy smiled and held up his sandwich. "Breakfast first, Unclie." He stuffed the rest of it in his mouth.

"We're not going," George told him. He looked at his son. "You can go see everyone tomorrow." Iggy shook his head. "Yes, you can."

"Uh-huh. Melvin's leaving tonight." He sniffed for show. "Please, daddy? I've been good."

"Yeah, he's been good," Ron reminded him. He picked up the little guy and gave him a hug. "Come on, I'll introduce you to the nasty woman who's trying to make Aunt Kandy go away."

"I'll hiss at her," Iggy told him. He waved at his father as they walked away. "Come get me tomorrow!" he called.

"Ronald Weasley!" George yelled in direct imitation of their mother. "Put my son down."

Ron put Iggy down and turned to look at his older brother. "I'll protect him. So will Fred and Buffy."


"Wouldn't Xander rather have you find him?" George shrugged. "Then you're letting me sit him. Besides, Ginny's due back today too, with Denver." He smiled. "And if Amanda says anything nasty to Iggy, I'm siccing my girlfriend on her."

"Can't I go, daddy?" Iggy begged.

George sighed. "Fine. Behave and listen to Uncle Ron and Grandmother." His son nodded. "Then you may go. Ron, keep him away from Melody." Ron smiled but picked his nephew back up to take him back to play.

Ron waved at Melody. "Nice choice. Loud, can be made to only be heard by them. George!" he yelled. "She's found something." He waved Iggy's hand. "Say bye."

"Bye, nasty lady," Iggy said, giggling when she burst out laughing. "C'mon, Uncle Ron, the kids will be up by now."

Ron waved and they went home via floo. "Here we are," he announced, holding Iggy long enough that he could give Buffy a kiss. He gave her one as soon as Iggy was off and running. "Protect him," he told her quietly. She nodded. "Did mum feed you yet?" He wrapped an arm around her waist so he could lead her into the dining room. He held her chair for her, then sat beside her. "Just saw Melody," he said conversationally. Percy, who had apparently appeared recently since his plate was mostly full, choked. "Sorry. She was finding something to drive off an ex."

Fred hopped up. "I have something perfect for that." He disappeared, going to stop her from buying anything else.

Amanda looked at Buffy. "Are you a witch?"

"No, I'm the Slayer," she said with a smile. "Retired."

"You exist? I thought you were a myth."

"So did we, until she ended up at Hogwarts for a bit," Arthur said, giving Buffy a smile. "You look nice today."

"Thanks. I found it tucked in the back of the closet. I have to do laundry."

"Yes, me too," Ron said, glaring at Fred's chair. His mother patted him on the head as she put a full plate in front of him. "Thanks, mum. Buffy can't cook."

"Can so," she argued, frowning at him. "Just not a lot of things. I make killer muffins."

Ron smiled at her. "But you don't make eggs." He dug into his meal. "I'll be back on next month," he announced.

"Are they rehiring the staff they let go?" Arthur asked. Ron nodded. "That's good then. I'm happy for you, son. Are you going to be building or testing?"

"Testing. I'll be half of the quality control department."

"Does that mean that you'll finally get off the kick to put me on a broom?" Buffy asked between bites.

Ron shook his head. "My girlfriend has to be able to fly. I promised myself that back when I was ten and I intend to make good on it."

"I'll help if you need it," Charlie told him. He smiled at Buffy. "You're graceful by nature, you shouldn't have any trouble balancing."

"I don't, until I get up high and there's only a little bar holding me up," she explained with a grimace. Her fork moved her eggs into her potatoes. "I'm okay on low level stuff."

"She starts to wobble about four feet up," Ron told him.

"Oh. That's probably easily fixed too," Charlie told her. "We'll all go flying after breakfast."

"I think I'll stay and help," Amanda told him.

"Don't fly either?" Buffy asked. Amanda shook her head. "I thought all you guys flew."

"We all learn but some of us prefer not to," Percy told her. "I don't like to fly."

She smiled triumphantly at Ron. "See, I can get by without flying. Percy can."

Ron leaned next to her ear. "Then we'd have to break up and you'd be without your usual morning wake up call," he whispered. She blushed but settled down and mentally stoked herself for another flying lesson. "Not such a bad idea?" he asked playfully.

"I'll try again," Buffy agreed.

Iggy ran back in. "Boom!" he yelled, pointing a wand at Amanda. She shrieked as she started to change colors, pushing herself away from the table and knocking things over. Iggy laughed cruelly. "I hate you!" he yelled. He ran back outside before any adult could catch him.

Buffy looked at Ron. "I thought you said you got your wand at eleven." Ron hopped up and ran outside, trying to find the children. She looked at the other woman. "You look good in that color," she offered.

Arthur stood up and walked over to the fireplace. "Everyone check for their wands. There's no telling where he got it from."

"It was medium brown," Buffy told him.

"Mine's blond," Charlie said, pulling his out to look it over. "Mum?"

"In my hand," she said, using it to bring a washcloth over to clean up the mess Amanda had made.

"Fred," Arthur called. Fred's head appeared in the fireplace. "Do you have your wand?"

Fred looked down at his body, then shook his head. "No, I don't seem to. Why?"

"Your nephew just turned Amanda purple." He glanced behind him. "Can you come back?"

"I'll send George, he's the one who makes the color changing line." His head disappeared, but he looked like he was trying not to laugh.

"This is why they shouldn't be allowed to breed!" Amanda yelled. "They're all evil and violent."

Buffy took a bite of her sausage. "Actually, I have a feeling that he did it because you hold that opinion," she said calmly. She looked at Molly. "If Ron and I are getting serious, can I have you teach me how to cook? I'm tired of the home equivalent of fast food."

Molly beamed at her. "Of course I will, dear. Especially if you're going to become serious with Ron."

George appeared and coughed quietly. "Where is my son?" he asked.

"Ron went after him," Buffy told him. She gave him a smile. "He said 'boom', then waved a wand at her."

"I'll have a talk with him as soon as I change her back," he told his mother and father. "Amanda, shall we move to somewhere more private?"

"I'm not going anywhere with you," she sneered. "You're just like your mate."

"I can always leave you that color," he reminded her. She shrieked. "Your call." She stomped off to the living room and slammed the door.

"I would have left her," Percy said. He glanced at Charlie, who had sighed. "Sorry."

"That's all right. I'm wondering what set Iggy off."

"Well, she did tell him yesterday that she tries to stay away from people like him because they're all bad and evil. She tried to tell him that she would never be able to like anyone like him." He scraped his plate. "Mum, if you don't mind, I think I should have a discussion with my son." She nodded, excusing him. He got up and walked outside. "Melvin Weasley, you have two minutes to be standing in front of me or you're grounded for the next year and won't be able to see any of your cousins." He tapped his foot, waiting on his son. "Now, Melvin," he yelled after a minute. Melvin came running out of the woods. His father grabbed him to slow him down and drag him off to sit and talk with him. "Thank you."

Out in the woods, Ron had found the children. And their hiding place up a tree. He even managed to get up there with them, barely. He accepted the wand from Iggy. "Why did you do that?"

"Because Melvin told me what she meant yesterday," he sniffled. He wiped his nose with his sleeve. "She's mean."

"No, she's prejudice," Ron told him, reaching over to pat him on the head. "A prejudice means that she holds a stupid anger against people who aren't like her. In this case, she's got a stupid view about people like you and your father Xander. She's wrong but no one will ever be able to make her change her mind."

"Then why does Uncle Charlie like her?" Simone asked. "He's a nice guy and she's mean."

Ron gave her a hug. "Sometimes you can't pick who you like. Everyone thinks that me liking Aunt Buffy is strange too, but I like her even though people think it's strange."

"Oh." She pulled Iggy closer, giving him a hug. "It's okay. If she comes near you, I'm hurting her. And if I can't, then daddy and mommy will when they get back. Daddy might even make a special trip to hurt her for you and Uncle Xander." Iggy snuggled into her side. "Uncle Ron? Do we have to go inside?"

"Well, yeah," he told her. "Iggy's got to apologize."

"Nah-uh!" Iggy protested. "She deserved it."

"Yay. You attacking her is still wrong and you have to apologize for it. And for stealing the wand," he added as an afterthought. Iggy gave him a pitiful look. "Not going to work, I've seen the master of that look - Murphy." The little boy settled back into his cousin's side. "Are you ready to go inside yet?"


"Why not?"

"Can't get down," Simone told him.

"You climbed up."

"But it's very high up."

Ron groaned and climbed down, jumping the last few feet. He pulled his wand and looked up at the kids. Someone tapped him on the shoulder. "Hey, George. She normal again?"

"And off in a snit. She's flooing back to her parents." He looked up at the kids. "Get down here."

"Too high," Simone called.

"We're scared," Iggy added.

"Crap. Do you know a lifting charm?" George asked. Ron shook his head. "I'll go get mum. She got Bill out of trees all the time." He turned and walked off, not in a hurry at all.

Ron grimaced up at the kids. "Mum's going to yell," he warned them.

"Hey, I've been good," Simone complained. "I didn't turn her colors."

Ron groaned. He was going to be *far* away from that lecture if at all possible. It would be longer and worse than any he had *ever* gotten.


McGonagall looked around the courtyard. Hadn't Xander been at the school? Did he leave? She looked at Snape, the only other teacher at the school. "Did you see Xander leave?"

"No. He was here?"

"He stormed in while I was examining the paintings for flaws and went to his rooms." She looked inside the school, trying to see into the cloud of insecticide. The bug-removing charms hadn't worked this year so Dumbledore had arranged for someone to come in and exterminate the muggle way. "Do you think he's all right?"

"He should be." Snape crossed his arms and looked at the man standing off to the side. "What would happen if a human was still in there?"

"They'd probably be really sick by now," the supervisor said. He looked around. "Are we missing someone?"

"Another teacher came in earlier but he's not here."

The supervisor waved it off. "We're doing the dungeons and the main hallway today. He should be fine."

"His rooms are down near there," Snape told him. "When can we go inside?"

"Unless you can fit into one of the protective suits, three days." Both teachers looked at him. "Sorry, but it's not very healthy for humans."

"Is there any other way?" Minerva asked. The man shook his head. She pulled Snape aside. "A breathing charm?"

"I wouldn't try it. Maybe something like a bubble around the head so you can see." He looked inside again. "Are you sure he was here?" She nodded. "Then we should probably try to get to him."

"He has a window," she said. "We could head around and see if we can see him." Snape nodded, walking away. "He's between the East tower and the outer wall."

"Thank you." Snape walked on. They had moved all the phoenixes to Malfoy Mansion, the only safe place for them all. The place had shields rivaled only by the school itself so he was living there during the extermination. If worse came to worse, he could move the young man there to work on him He found the window to Xander's room and peered inside. It was cloudy and hard to see. But yes, there was a form on the bed. Snape took out the window so he could climb inside, taking the limp body from the room. He paused when he noticed a large blank spot. Someone had removed the nest. He carried the young man outside into the fresh air, coming back around to the main courtyard. "He was," he panted.

Minerva took the body from him. "Oh, dear." She slapped his cheek a few times. "Xander. Harris, wake up."

Snape looked at the men standing around taking off their suits. "I noticed that someone had removed a nest," he said coldly. "You will put it back."

"It's moldy and probably what was attracting the bugs."

"You will put it back," Snape ordered. "You were told not to touch it and you will not touch it. Put it back where you found it and exactly how you found it. Today!" He turned and looked at the young man on the ground. "We need to take him somewhere else."

Minerva looked at the exterminators. "What type of gas were you using?"

"Ingredients," Snape demanded.

"It's a common poison." He walked over to the cart holding their equipment, rummaging around until he came up with one of the safety sheets. He handed it over to the weird people. "That's what we're using." He looked at the man on the ground. "Was he in there?" Both instructors nodded. "Then give him some oxygen and he should be fine."

Snape looked at the ingredients. "There's two different poisons on here," he said quietly. He used his wand to call a cart over to them. "I'll take him to where the birds are." He helped McGonagall put the young man on it, then took off, the cart following him. They walked down to Hagrid's house, him pounding on the door. Hagrid opened the door. "The dunderheads didn't check for people," he said, walking through the door.

Hagrid walked out and picked the limp body up. "They hurt him?"

"No, he inhaled quite a lot of the poison. I'm taking him to Malfoy Mansion." He lit the hearth fire and tossed some floo powder into it. In went Xander. Then him. "I'll be back," he said before disappearing.

Hagrid frowned at the main school. That was very bad.


Snape set the boy down on the couch and checked him over. "I can probably cure him," he told himself. He checked the sheet again. "You stay," he told the body. He found a bird staring at him, Fawkes. "Watch him. He stays there." Fawkes hissed at him. "What was that for?"

Fawkes let out a loud squeal, bringing her mate. Murphy flew in and grabbed his father's shirt, flapping until they both lifted off. He took off upstairs, taking his father to the playroom and the nest.

"Fine. Stay up there then," Snape called as he headed for the room he had been working in. This could be very bad.


Ron smiled as his father walked up next to him. "They claim they can't climb down."

"Bill said the same thing," Arthur said with a smile. His wand came up and the children came down. "There we are. Both of you, kitchen now," he said calmly. The kids trudged off. "The wand?" Ron handed it to him. Arthur smiled. "That was quite impressive," he said quietly.

Ron nodded. "Wish I could have done something like that at that age." He walked beside his father. "She left?"

"She left in a huff," his father corrected, but he was smiling. "Charlie's not upset about it so it couldn't have been that serious." He patted his son on the back. "What about you and Buffy, Ron? Are you two getting serious?"

"I'd like to think so, but I'm not sure it's more than a friendly sort of relationship. I like snogging her, but I don't think I could live in her life. It's hard."

Arthur nodded. "It is. She's got a lot of responsibility on her shoulders. She's a very important being and you'll have to take that into account if you start something with her. Are you willing to fight beside her?"

"I wouldn't mind, but she won't let me. I went hunting with her last year and she refused to let me near the fight. She treats me like I'm fragile."

Arthur nodded, smiling at him. "You are." He opened the back door, letting his son walk in first. "Here we are," he announced. Molly came out of the living room. "They were in Bill's tree."

She rolled her eyes. "Of course they were." She took both children into the living room to talk to them with Melvin. This was an important lesson and they would learn it.

Arthur checked on lunch, deciding to sit down and read when he saw it was nowhere near ready.

Ron went back outside to enjoy some sunlight.


Snape appeared in the middle of the store, looking around. George put down his book and stood up slowly. "What poison was used on your mate the year he went to train?" he asked.

"I don't know. Xander never said. He claimed he forgot but that someone had told Madam Pomfrey. Why?"

"Because those blasted exterminators caught him with their poison and the cure's not working. You don't know at all?" George shook his head. "Would they know?" George shrugged. "Do you have any other spellbooks of his with potions?"

"Hermione has all those. Ginny gave her that part of the textbooks and Xander's put most of his books with them for the summer. Is he all right?"

"No. Can you contact her?"

"Of course." George walked over and got down next to the fire. "Potterville," he called once the fire was prepared. Harry's face showed up. "Harry, I need Hermione. Snape needs one of the potions books."

"She's in the library, hold on." His head turned away and hers came in a moment later.

"What happened?" Hermione asked.

"Xander got caught by the exterminators," George told her. "The cure's not working."

"I have a few potions books, and books with potions, but I'm not sure I can give them out, George."

"I assure you, Ms. Granger, I have access to other books of their's. What do you have in the way of potions to cure poisoning?"

"I've got six potions books that have something in it, four spellbooks with cures in it, and two diaries. I can bring them to wherever you need them."

"Bring them to Malfoy Mansion." She nodded and disappeared. "Potter, I don't suppose you want to help."

"No, I won't get in the way."

"Harry, can you come and run the store for me so I can go?" George asked. "Everyone else is at lunch with mum and dad."

"Sure." His head disappeared.

George stood up, dusting himself off. "Where is he?"

"In the nursery. His bird took him up there."

George smiled at him. "Thank you," he said quietly, disappearing. His mate needed him.

Snape shook himself. It wasn't often he heard thanks for his work. Of course, he only did it because Malfoy would murder him in a horrible manner if he let Harris suffer. But it was a nice change. He disappeared, going back to the mansion. Hopefully he could figure out which cure he had used those many years ago.


Simone looked around. No one was in the kitchen. She could sneak off. She grabbed some of the pretty green powder and tossed it into the fire like the adults did. "Daddy's house," she announced. The fire stayed normal. "Daddy's house," she said more firmly, in a more adult manner. A head appeared and she nearly screamed. "Who're you?"

"Floo information. Where were you wanting to go?" She smiled at the little girl.

"Daddy's house. I need to go get phoenix treats. Mine just showed up."

"And what's your daddy's name?"

"Draco Malfoy," she told her.

"Then say Malfoy Mansion and step inside. Do you know where you are now?"

"The Burrow," Simone said happily.

"Say that to get back there." She disappeared.

Simone threw more powder onto the fire. "Malfoy Mansion," she told it. It turned green so she got in and went away. She looked around the living room, and not seeing anyone, hurried up to the nursery. She saw something in the nest and went over to look, smiling at the uncle's bird. "Hi, Murphy." Murphy nuzzled her and she caught sight of her uncle. "Is he sick?" Murphy nodded. "Is anyone making him feel better?" Murphy cheeped. "Then I'll tell Grandma and she'll come help." She grabbed the treats and one of her favorite blankets, then headed back downstairs.


Ginny, Draco, and Denver appeared out of the fireplace in a rush, nearly tripping over each other. "Hello!" Ginny called. Her mother came rushing in. "Hi, mum." She gave her a hug.

Molly looked over her daughter and sighed. "Again?"

Ginny giggled. "I only figured it out this morning, mum. Give me a few days before the lecture."

Draco smirked smugly. "We seem to work well together." Denver tugged on his pantsleg. "Yes?"

"Can I go play?"

"Yes, you may. The others are outside watching everyone fly," Molly told him. She gave him a hug. "I missed you, Denver." He beamed at her and ran out of the house. Molly looked at the couple. "Expect a fit from Simone."

"Oh, I do," Ginny told her. "But we'll be taking a vacation with just her later this year." She sat down in a chair. "What's been going on?"

"Oh, dear," Molly sighed. "There's been so much going on it's not funny." She took a seat, then remembered her manners. "Tea, Draco?"

"No thank you. We had that muggle soda on the flight back." He grimaced. "Quite unnatural to fly that way." He pointed outside. "I'm going to head out."

"Your broom's still in the closet," Ginny reminded him. He nodded and went to get it first. "Mum, what happened?" she asked. "Is Charlie all right? Didn't he get to come in?"

"No, he's still here. His girlfriend isn't. She doesn't like gryphon-born." Ginny sighed. "She said some things yesterday to Iggy without knowing what he was and Melvin kindly explained it to him this morning, prompting an attack. Iggy turned her purple with Fred's wand. Xander and George are back at the shop because I asked them to give her a day to get used to things. Then she left and I can't get hold of either of them now. Xander is supposed to be sulking today." She looked over as Simone came out of the fire. "Where did you go?"

"Mommy!" Simone launched herself to get a hug. She managed to pull her blanket enough so it didn't catch fire. "Is Daddy back too?"

"He's outside flying," Ginny told her. "Where were you?"

"I went to get my blankie and phoenix treats." She bounced slightly. "Uncle Xander's in our nest napping."

"Why is he there?" Ginny asked.

"Not know. It was just him and the birds." She hopped down. "I'm going outside to hug brother. Be back soon." She dragged her blanket outside with her.

"I should probably go check on that," Ginny sighed, starting to stand up.

"Let it be for an hour or so," Molly suggested. "He was probably checking on the nest. He said something about moving the nest there because they were fixing the bug problem at Hogwarts."

"Good idea." Ginny stood up anyway. "Come on, let's go watch." She and her mother walked out together.


Draco looked up, his fork forgotten. His daughter had just said something about Harris sleeping at his house. "Why was Xander at my house?"

"He said something about moving the nest there while they sprayed for bugs," Fred told him. He looked at his mother. "Did you ever find George?"

"Not yet." She glanced at the clock that showed where everyone was. George was sitting on 'safe'. "I have no idea where he might be."

"I can go ask Xander," Draco offered.

"After dinner," Arthur ordered gently. "It can wait that long."

"I guess he went to sulk there," Percy put in. "Make sense, his bird's there." He looked at Glinda, who was perched on the back of Simone's chair. "Did she bring you a message?"

"I forgot to check." She turned and looked at her bird. "Did the uncle give you a message?" Glinda leaned down and nipped her on the nose, but she gave over the message. "What's a cloud doing in the school?" she asked.

"Bloody fucking hell," Draco muttered. He stuffed another bite of food into his mouth before disappearing. He came back a moment later. "Does anyone remember what poison Harris had used on him when he went for training?"

"Yes," Percy and Arthur said.

"File's in my office," he told Percy, who went to get it. "What happened?"

"The bug people didn't check for him before they set off the clouds of smoke. So he got caught. Snape's taking care of him at my house. George is there by the way."

Molly hopped up and grabbed some floo powder. Her babies needed her. She came out of the fireplace at a run and headed up to the nursery. Her son gave her a hug as soon as she appeared. "How is he?"

"We're working on finding the right cure. Snape's got everything but the last poison he used."

"I need to know which one it was," Snape said from the doorway. "I'll have to mix some of the old cure into the new one to counteract any lingering traces in his tissues."

"Percy was getting it for Draco," she told her. She patted Xander's face. "Such trouble," she told him.

"Not his fault. They moved the nest too."

"We can always put it back," she reminded him. "He's more important than the nest."

Draco walked into the room and handed the file over. "That's what the Ministry recorded." He walked in to look down at his mentor. "You'd better get better or else I'm burying you in Father's grotto."

George growled at him. Molly glared at him. "Don't say such things!" she snapped. Xander groaned and shifted. "Shh, Xander, we're here. That horrible girl is gone. Your son turned her purple."

"I'm very proud of him for it," George admitted, still glaring at Draco. "Go away."

"My house, Weasley."

"Go away," George repeated.

"Fine," he said, leaving them alone. He found Snape waiting in the hallway. "Did you need to know more?"

"Actually, yes. There's two cures I could have used and they're opposites so I can't just try them both."

"George, what did his breath smell like?" Draco called.

George stuck his head out. "Apples, the sour ones he likes, and onions. It could have been what he was eating though. Why?"

"Because there are two possibilities and they won't work together," Snape told him. He tapped the file. "Onions and apples?"

"Sour apples. He likes the baking ones, like for pies."

Snape nodded. "Then I should know which one I used." He walked away.

George pulled back into the nursery. His mother looked at him. "What?"

"How long have you known?"

"Most of the day." She made to hit him. "Don't," he warned. "In the mood I'm in, I'd probably do something royally stupid and get you back." She snorted. "I mean it, mum. Hold it until he's up and mouthing off and I'll gladly let you beat me senseless, just not today."

She gave him another hug. "It will be fine, George. Xander is very strong."

"Of course he is; the people who did this to him said he only needed a little air." He pulled away from her. "Why did this happen today?"

"Maybe it was meant to remind you that he does love you," she said quietly.

He glared at his mother. "I knew that already. It's very evident to me everyday. I didn't need the lesson."

"Maybe he did," Draco said from the doorway. "He was a bit morose the last time I saw him." He walked in and looked down at the sleeping man. "You're welcome to move him to a bed if you'd like. He's a bit big for that nest."

"I tried talking Snape into moving him back to our place but he was adamant that we stay here." George ran a hand through his hair. "They undid the nest at the school too."

Draco winced. "Were they terminally stupid then?" George pointed at Xander. "Of course, that explains everything." He looked around. "All right, we're moving him. Do you have a way of making potions?"

"We have a whole lab setup," George admitted. "The basement is a large lab, complete with anything we've ever needed. Plus we have the main family nest upstairs."

"You have a laboratory?" Hermione said from the doorway. "Why?"

"Because half of what we do requires a potion of some sort," George told her. "All the smoke, the color changing solution, everything. We spent a lot to get the lab perfect for us."

Snape strode in. "You have a lab?" George nodded. "Are you sure?"

"Very. I was mixing child-strength sedative in it last night."

Snape nodded. "Then we can move him back to your home once I look at it."

"Go for it," George encouraged. "He'll be happier at home." He sat down and took his husband's hand again. "I'd like to have a few words with the people who did this."

"I'm sure they'll forget about it very soon," Molly reminded him. George smiled. "Even if you did yell at them, it wouldn't make matters better."

"It'd make me feel better," George pointed out. "Right now I feel bloody useless."

"Me too," Draco put in. "How many times have you done this?"

"Too many," George told him. "Every fight, that Christmas, a few other times. Nothing this severe since that Christmas though." He looked at the young boy. "How was your trip?"

"Interesting," he admitted with a sly grin.

"Again?" George asked. Draco nodded. "Did you even *try* to prevent it this time?"

"I got caught up in her fire." Draco moved closer and sat next to him. "It was like she lit a fire in my life, making it whole again. Everything that had been colorless and closing in on me suddenly regained focus around her. It was good for us I think."

Molly shook her head. "But why make her pregnant again? She's had enough."

"Purely an accident. We got so caught up that we forgot."

"If it would have worked," Hermione said. "Snape said the lab was acceptable enough. We can move him." Draco and Molly both looked at him, Draco motioning for an explanation. "Do you remember the spell you interrupted seventh year?" He nodded slowly, barely remembering it. "It was an anti-fertility charm to be worked on me, but it took three people. When you broke the protections, it may have backfired on you and made you incredibly fertile. It can be reversed, or it'll wear off when you're twenty-eight."

George smiled at her. "That's amazing. Did it work on you?"

She nodded. "Until I had it removed. Harry saw Simone and decided that it would make him happy. They're probably at the shop with him."

"You have children and didn't tell us?" Molly screeched.

Hermione cringed. "Sorry. We forgot to tell my parents until last year and I got sick. We're so wrapped up in our own little world that sometimes we forget there are others." She gave them a hopeful look. "It wasn't intentional."

"We'll see what Ron has to say about that," George told her. She winced again. "Did you at least name one after him?"

"Our son," she said quickly. "Ronald Alexander."

"Did you marry?" Molly wanted to know.

"Quietly. There wasn't anyone else there. I made Harry go through with it because it would finish settling him down. Otherwise he'd *never* go out of the house again."

Draco nodded. "I understand that feeling very well, I escape it every chance I get." He stood up. "Let's get him back to your bed. It'll make him feel better once he's home."

George stood up and lifted his husband gently into arms. "Le's go." Draco led the way, making sure he wouldn't trip over anything.


Harry looked up as the fireplace discharged Draco. "Did it get fixed?" he asked, coming over to move his children out of the way.

"Not yet. Isn't Snape here?"

"He's downstairs." He watched as Xander and George came through next, coming over to help brace his mentor. "He's really that sick?"

"The stuff they used is a poison," George told him.

"Two of them," Hermione said as she came through. She gathered up the scattered toys. "Put him into bed, or whatever. We'll be up in a while to give him some more medicine." She waited until everyone was upstairs to look at her children again. "Clean this up a bit please. We don't want anyone to step on a toy and break it." She headed down to the lab, only taking a few wrong turns.

Molly came out of the fireplace last and smiled at the children sitting around. "You three are so precious," she told them, stopping to look them over. Two of them were definitely Harry's children, they looked just like him. The last one was definitely Hermione's because he had her hair. Ron was going to throw a fit when he heard about this because they didn't tell him. She turned to call the house. "Arthur, we're back at the shop."

"Is he badly off?" he asked.

She nodded. "The gas they use is a poison. Xander's still unconscious. We moved him back here when Snape decided that there was a lab good enough for him to use. Did you know Harry had children?" Arthur's mouth fell open. "They're all here right now so can you send Ron over? I'm sure they'd like to see him."

"Of course. Did you want Buffy too?"

"If she's comfortable coming, I wouldn't want her to be uncomfortable." She broke the connection and went to go help. The bell on the door rang before she got halfway up so she went back down. "Hello."

"Oh, hi. I was expecting one of the twins."

"They're taking most of today off." The girl looked so familiar. "Is there something I can help you with?"

"No, I needed one of the twin's dirty minds to finish helping me plan my revenge." She shrugged. "Will they be back tomorrow?"

"Melody, just shock him into submission," George called.

"Thanks." She smiled at the older woman. "I think it's great that they're popular enough to hire people now."

Molly laughed. "I'm their mother, I gave them every idea they have." She smiled sweetly, she knew who this tramp was now. "Was there anything else you needed?"

"Nah" Melody walked out with a small wave.

"Tramp," Molly muttered, going back to the stairs. The children were little, they wouldn't get into anything. Besides, Ron was coming and he was good with children. She found George trying to straighten out the room. "It's fine," she told him.

"Mum, Snape'll be up here. I don't want him to see our dirty underwear and things." He finished tossing the dirty clothes into the hamper, which Xander had charmed to clean anything in it every night. It usually took two days to get the worst stuff clean, but it beat doing wash the normal way. He looked into the nest, then at his mother. "Did he just move?"

"No." She sat on the edge of the nest and picked up Xander's hand to hold. "I'll do this, you panic."

George gave her a smile. "Thanks, mum." He walked into the bathroom and started to scream.

Snape rushed up the stairs. "What's wrong now?"

"Stress relief," Molly told him. "It's been a long two days."

"I had wondered why he was up in the school. Minerva said something about him sulking and slamming doors."

"My oldest's girlfriend is one of those who thinks that Xander should be killed horribly."

He nodded. "Understandable. I would have stomped out too." He handed over a small vial. "He'll need to drink this first, just in case it isn't the right one. It won't hurt the new poison at all, but it could make sure that the old one won't act in collusion with it."

Molly tipped Xander's head back and carefully poured it down his throat. She was a mother, it was a practical skill.


Ron appeared downstairs and stopped to look at the children playing with the jelly balls. "Should you have those?" he asked. He heard a scream from upstairs. "You all right?" he called.

"Fine," George called back.

"There's children down here."

George came most of the way down the stairs. "Put those back," he sighed. He looked at his brother. "They're Harry and Hermione's."

"Excuse me?"

"You heard right. He's insulated himself that much. He's up here if you wanted to talk to him." Ron nodded. "Be right back. Xander's been given six potions and none of them have worked so far." He walked back up the stairs and Harry came back down.

"You had children and didn't even send me a note?" Ron asked.

"I forgot," Harry said quietly, not looking at him. He frowned at his daughter, who was gumming a jelly ball. "Put that down. You don't need to be limp."

"C'mon, I need a drink," Ron said, dragging Harry out the door and down to the Three Broomsticks. They apparently needed to have a talk.

Draco walked down the stairs and took the direct approach, confiscating all the soggy pranks they had liberated from the bottom row of cases. He found an empty tray under the counter and dropped them onto it. "There, now play with your toys." He found one of them using the little boy's hair as a helper to suck his thumb. "Does your mother approve of that?" The little boy smacked his sister and she cried. "Enough," Draco said calmly. They looked at him like he was insane. "I have two of my own and another on the way, plus I've helped raise phoenix chicks. There's nothing you can do that will surprise me." He sat down behind the counter. Upstairs he was in the way. The least he could do would be to babysit the next generation of annoying people. Maybe the oldest would become his daughter or son's worst enemy.


"So, children?" Ron asked after they'd both had two drinks.

"I wanted something that loved me. Hermi's great, but she's there to keep me from going insane or harming myself. The kids are there because I needed love."

Ron reached over and pinched him hard. "I would have helped. Or you could have come over. The house has been really quiet recently."

Harry sighed. "It's not the same, Ron. If I need a hug because the nightmares come back, then all I have to do is walk down the hall. The little you is very cuddly," he said with a faint smile.

"Harry, this isn't healthy," Ron said quietly. "You need to be around people sometimes. Being a hermit won't help you any. It only makes it worse."

"How would you know?"

Ron snorted. "Think I wasn't there too?" He flicked Harry on the scar. "Just because I don't have one of those doesn't mean I didn't fight the same things you did every time. I was there wasn't I?" Harry nodded. "And I nearly lost my family to it too, didn't I?" Harry nodded again. "Then what makes you think you're the only one who has nightmares?"

"Hermi doesn't," Harry said quietly.

"Gee that's great, but yay. Draco and I both still have nightmares. Horrible ones. Denver's his cuddle toy whenever he needs it and Simone seems to sneak into my room all the time." He touched his friend on the hand. "You can't hide from it, it doesn't get any better if you do."

Harry finished his drink. "When did you get so wise?"

"My mum told me that," he sighed, ordering them another round. "It's disappointing when you realize your mother will continue to be right until the day she dies." He paid for this round, Harry had gotten the last one. "Ginny's pregnant again we think."

Harry snorted. "Good on her. By Draco again?" Ron nodded, sipping his drink. "Why does she like him?"

"He takes the extra fire from her and uses it to right his life," Draco said as he walked up to them. "Potter, your wife's a shrew." He pushed Harry over. "So, Hermione?"

"She followed me and got demanding," Harry said with a shrug. "Refused to leave. Paid for a third of the house when I said I wanted to be alone." He sipped his firewhiskey. "She's been a life saver so far."

"I can see how," Ron agreed. "But you still have to get out of the house." Harry gave him a short head shake.

"Yes, you do. This isn't like you," Draco told him. Harry snorted. "There's not a touch of annoying prat anywhere in you now. Nothing of the mouthy little brat who tried to make my life a living hell, or even the git who was always followed around by that set of brothers with their cameras."

"The Creevys," Ron supplied. "They're both working for the Daily Prophet now." He finished his drink. "See, even the annoyance in my life agrees. It's got to be bad if the bouncing ball of fur agrees."

Harry laughed. It was quiet and soft, but definitely a laugh. "Maybe I should get out."

"Why don't you try out for a team or something," Draco suggested. Harry looked at him. "You nearly had a spot before. It shouldn't be too hard to get back into shape."

"Yeah, you could come and play with me. I won't be back to work until next month anyway and I only work six hours a day."

"Why did they lay off?"

"The economy's bad. People aren't buying brooms, they're buying houses. But we always pick up for the holidays." Ron grinned. "Fortunately, Buffy likes it when I'm home so often."

"You two are still together?" Harry asked. Ron nodded. "Wow."

"Yeah. I only see her every few weeks usually, but I've been staying with her for the last month so I wouldn't have to make mum work." He punched Harry on the arm. "So, how 'bout it. Want to bring the kids to the Burrow and come fly with us?"

Draco coughed. "Charlie's staying another week, he told your parents earlier in the kitchen. It'd be good practice for the both of us to fly."

"You're not flying?"

"Denver's ears hurt him when he flies so I haven't had much opportunity. Simone loves it though."

"Iggy's going to be put into a league around here for tots, we could probably get her set up too," Ron told him. Draco smiled at him.

"You two quit fighting?"

"Right around my niece's birth," Ron told him. "Being sprayed by the brat did it. We still fight, but I'm not going to kill him anytime soon. He's moved down my shitlist to about ten or so."

Draco laughed. "Thank you. That was the nicest compliment I've gotten since your sister said I looked funny the other day."

"How was India?" Ron asked.

"Hot. Noisy. Crowded. Tiring to walk around. But Denver loved it. We're taking Simone to France later this summer so she can have a vacation without her brother since he got one." He stole Ron's drink and gulped it. "We'd better get back. Getting drunk will only make your mother scream at us."

"Where's Xander and George's baby?" Harry asked, finishing his drink.

"At the Burrow being spoiled," Draco told him. "Iggy attacked someone this morning and didn't get much out of the lecture. He was bragging about what shade of purple she turned." He stood up. "Come on, let's get back so your kids don't rip apart the whole store." He followed the friends back to the store, hoping that something got through to Potter. He was more miserable than anyone he'd ever seen. The boy obviously needed help and a family full of busybodies would certainly help him. If they could make Draco come out of his house, they could make Harry Potter come out of his. As soon as they walked back in, the screaming started. "Oh, shut up," he told Hermione. "We're all very big boys." He looked upstairs. "Anything work yet?"

"Not yet," she ground out. "You left the children alone."

"There're five other adults in the building," Ron told her. "Trust me, mum was listening for them."

"And she found them playing with something that created fires."

"*Safe* fires," Ron pointed out. "They couldn't have been burned by them. Even when you eat one of them, they only make your skin light for a few minutes."

"Tested that too?" Draco asked.

Ron nodded. "Fairly funny and shocking. Great gag for Halloween if you can stand to eat a candy bar every few minutes." He clapped Harry on the back. "I'll tell mum that you're coming for a visit." Hermione opened her mouth. "Keep it up and I'm siccing Iggy on you."

"What's his full name?" Harry asked.

"Ignatius Caramel," Draco said dryly. Harry burst out laughing, a loud, obnoxious laugh. "That was my reaction too." He looked at the kids, who all were trying to look pitiful. "Take lessons from the phoenixes. They excel at that look." The kids started to babble at once. "Yes, I know many of them. They're all at my house at the moment." He grimaced. "At least they don't trail nasty things on the carpets."

Harry looked at him. "When did you turn into a real good guy."

"It's Simone's fault," he sighed. "She refuses to talk to me unless I keep my evil ways inside my own head. She's quite the forceful beast some days."

"You call your daughter a beast?" Hermione asked.

"Never to her face, but it does fit sometimes. She can throw the most awesome fit, which of course, only her mother and grandmother can stop. Fortunately, she allows Denver to worship her so it's all right." He headed up the stairs. "I'll be back. I'm going to butt in."

"He's good at that," Hermione said stiffly.

Harry gave her a hug. "We've been invited to the Burrow for a visit with the children," he told her.

"Good. Mrs. Weasley made me feel horrid about not telling her everything about us. They'll also benefit by being around other children their own age." She walked over to stop her daughter from sucking on her brother's hair. "Don't do that, you'll put knots in it."

"Cut off a lock and braid it," Molly suggested as she came down the stairs. "Give it to her to suck her thumb with. It worked for Charlie when Bill was sick." She smiled at the children. "Would you like to come play with the other kids?" They all nodded. "Then let's go. You'll like most of them, they're very nice most of the time." She gathered them together, letting Harry get one of them, and took them home.

Arthur jumped up, coming to take one of the children from her. "Are we adopting?" he asked with a smile.

"No, these are Harry and Hermione's children." She got out of Harry's way. "Where's the brood?"

"Out in the garden trying to trap a garden gnome." He watched as the two little bundles of energy went running off and the third crawled up into Buffy's lap giving her a smile.

"Kid, you don't even know me," she protested. Harry handed her a book. "Oh, you're like that. Okay, I can read." She opened it, letting him see the pictures. "The weather outside was rainy and there was nothing to do," she read.

Snippet 15:

"I swear to Merlin, Xander, you will lie back down or I'm going to drug you."

Xander pouted at his husband. "But I have to go to the bathroom."

"You just went."

"Yeah, and then you fed me a gallon of soup." George snorted but helped him up and into the bathroom. Xander knew he was still weak, but this was ridiculous. "Can I help downstairs today? Maybe in the lab? I'd be sitting down."

"You'd have to ask Fred, it's his day."

"Fred, can I quit hiding like I'm some naughty secret?" Xander yelled.

"Sure," Fred called back. "The kids are here."

"Cool." Xander made sure he was appropriately dressed then slowly headed down the stairs. "Hey, guys," he said as he hit the bottom landing. The kids waved and went back to the their puzzle. Xander walked over to his chair and sat down, he was sweating lightly but he was okay. "No business?"

"Next week, when everyone starts their school shopping," Fred reminded him. "Are you running the maze this year?"

"Unless someone tells me I can't," Xander agreed. "It's tradition now." He looked at the unnaturally quiet kids, counting heads. "Iggy?"

"With Denver, who was running a fever this morning."

"Ah." Xander nodded and gave his brother-in-law a grin. "Can I go work in the lab?" Fred shook his head. "But I need to start wearing out some energy."

"Nope. Sorry. No lab work today. Charlie's coming over later to wander around town and see the nest. Bill might come with him, if he wakes up. He got in late last night according to mum. That's why we've got the kids, so he can sleep. Apparently the site was something really unusual and exciting."

"Coolness. Are they putting things into a museum?" Fred shrugged. "It might be kinda neat if they did, but I guess that's more of a muggle thing."

"Probably true. Gringotts wouldn't want to show off what they have, the goblins are like that." Fred locked the cash register and walked over to check on the kids. "That all black piece goes in the bottom." Simone put it in place. "Did you guys want to take your Uncle Xander and go get a treat?" The kids talked to each other, then shook their heads. "Really?"

"Grandma making stuff," Harry son's Ronald told him. "Better than anything."

Fred smiled. It was great the way his mom had adopted these three kids. "Okay. Did you guys want to do anything else, besides the puzzle, today?"

"We wanted to see the new stuff," Simone told him. She gave him a winning smile. "You always have neat stuff and I want to get Denver back for being mean yesterday."

"Why was he mean?" Xander asked as he forced himself to stand up. He ignored the shaking going on in his legs and came over to sit next to the kids, but out of the way of the door. "Did he pick on you?"

"No, he lied!" she protested. "Said mummy going to have 'nother of us."

"Did you ask your mummy?" Fred asked. Simone shook her head. "Why not?"

"'Cause it's a lie," she said simply.

"Maybe you should ask your mommy about that," Xander suggested. Simone frowned at him. "She could probably help you straighten Denver out."

"Okay." She placed another puzzle piece. "Does Iggy get to play quidditch?"

"After his birthday," Fred told her. "We have a small league around here for little kids and he wanted to join." He sat down with them too. "Here, put this one in," he said, picking up one and handing it to Ronald. Agatha, Ron's sister, helped settle it into place with a pat, that was her job. "You guys are doing very good with that."

"Thank you," they said together.

"We should probably get more toys too," Xander told Fred. Fred nodded. "I wonder where Molly gets toys."

"There's a little place near the end at the end of Diagon Alley, I know we used to go in there," Fred offered. "Not that expensive, but full of stuff." He smiled at the kids. "We used to stare inside the store every time we went down there. They had flying things and crawling things and lots of things that we could never identify." The kids looked at each other. "We should talk Grandma into taking you guys down there with Xander and Ginny."

"Mummy buys all our toys," Agatha told him, sounding very old for a four year old.

"I'm sure she does," Xander agreed. "Does she buy fun stuff?" Agatha shook her head. "Then you should have at least one fun toy." He stood up with a grunt. "Be right back." He walked into the back room, where he had a small stash of funny stuff. He grabbed one that still amused him and brought it back out, playing with it.

"Ooh," Agatha said, reaching up to touch the brightly colored plastic. "What's that?"

"Yes, I've wondered that too," Fred noted.

"Watch." Xander walked up a few stairs and started the slinky going down. All the kids watched raptly as it walked all the way down. "Like it?"

"And it's educational," Fred said with a grin. "Not even Hermione can object."

"Exactly," Xander said with his brightest grin. "Do you guys think you can do that?" They grabbed it and moved further up the stairs. Xander got out of the way as the slinky started down the stairs. "I have fun toys," Xander said smugly. Fred pushed him down into a chair. "Okay, I'll sit."

"The beads of sweat above your lip are a dead giveaway," Fred said quietly.

"What is that?" George asked as he came down the stairs. "Cool. What else does it do?"

"Gets tangled frequently," Xander called. "It's basically a spring." He held out his arms and got a hug. "It's about time we buy Iggy more toys," he said against his husband's shoulder.

"All right, once you're better." George let him go because the bell over the door had rung. "Hi." He moved behind the counter, letting Fred to watch the kids.

The woman looked around. "Is this Weasley Wizarding Wheezes?" she asked. Xander nodded. "And are one of you Professor Harris?" Xander raised his hand. "Good." She smiled at him. "Stay away from my children."

Xander snorted. "I don't know who your child is, lady, and I only teach the kids in my class. If you have a problem with my teaching methods then we'll discuss it like *reasonable* adults, or you can go to Dumbledore and talk with him, but I don't interact with children outside of my students and my children."

She shook her head. "No, you misunderstand me. You have no right to be near anybody's children."

"Get out," George said. "Now."

She looked him over. "I won't allow people like him near my child."

"Then go talk to Dumbledore. He came back early last week," Xander told her. "Complain to him because he's the only one who'll be removing me as a teacher." She sneered at him. "And if you don't get out of my sight immediately," he told her with a cold smile, "I'm going to start throwing things." She turned and stomped out. "Anybody have any idea what that was about?"

"Beside the usual?" Fred suggested.

"Yeah. That wasn't the normal 'I hate your species' thing." Xander stood up and wobbled.

"Sit," George told him. "I'm going to go find a paper and see if something's in there." He walked out of the shop and down the street to the inn, they always knew all the gossip about the town's people.

Xander looked over at Fred and the kids. "Do I draw people like that?"

"No," Fred told him. "They're everywhere, you're just a convenient target."

George walked back in. "When were you hugging Denver?"

"Not for a while now," Xander said. He looked at the picture of him hugging Denver. The article suggested, strongly, that something was going on. "I'm going to go throw a fit." He stood up again and strolled to the fireplace, sending himself to Diagon Alley. He walked out of the Leaky Cauldron's fireplace and smiled at Tom. "Where might I find a lawyer?" he asked pleasantly.

Tom laughed. "I knew it wasn't nothing. There's one up the street. You sit and I'll call him." He pointed Xander at a bar stool. Someone had told him that Xander had been sick recently. He went to call the lawyer for him. The Daily Prophet had gone too far this time and they were going to pay.

The lawyer walked into the bar a few minutes later and headed right for Xander. "Professor Harris?" he asked, holding out his hand. "I'm Theodore Miderson. You wanted to do something about the Daily Prophet article?"

"No, I want to destroy them and have them begging for mercy at my feet," Xander told him, giving him his patented goofy grin. "But I'll settle for a retraction, an apology, and a nice settlement so they won't do it again."

Theodore laughed. "Good. I think we can do that." He pointed at a nearby table. "Shall we sit?" Xander nodded, following him to the table. "First, I have to ask, is there anything to that picture?"

"I was picking him up. I don't even know when it was taken, I haven't seen Denver in weeks because I've been sick." He looked up as Tom put a small basket in front of him. He patted his pockets down. "Um, Tom...."

"You'll pay me later," Tom told him. "You need the food now."

"Okay. I'll come back by tonight." Xander grinned at him. "Thank you for believing it."

Tom laughed. "There's no way that was real. Doesn't even look like your back." He walked away.

Xander looked at the picture again, Tom had brought a copy over. "It doesn't look like my back," he agreed. He pointed at a line of muscle. "I have a scar there that shows through any tight shirt."

The lawyer looked carefully at the picture, then smiled. "Really?" Xander nodded. "Can I see?"

"Sure, I've got a pretty tight shirt on right now." He turned, letting the guy see his back. "Does it show?"

"It does," Theodore said happily. "Oh, they're in such trouble this time." He tapped the picture. "Have you ever heard of Polyjuice?" Xander nodded. "Who might have access to anything of yours, hair, skin, something like that?"

"Well, my brother-in-law had a seriously upsetting person in to be vetted by the family and she decided she'd rather be eaten by a dragon than be anywhere near me. And I've been sick recently, but I've been at the store, so most of Hogsmeade could probably get something of mine if they looked hard enough." He looked over as swearing erupted from the fireplace. "Hey, Draco," he called, smiling at his favorite student. "Saw the paper?"

"Bloody fucking arseholes are going to pay this time," Draco said. He looked at the lawyer, then at Xander. "Doing something of your own?"

"I've already had one person come up and *tell* me I wasn't going to be anywhere near her child."

"Good. Then I'm going to rip them a new one beside you."

"Theodore Miderson," he introduced himself. "Attorney."

"Oh, you're going for *miserable*," Draco said in appreciation.

"And covering my ass because this will definitely come back on Hogwarts," Xander agreed. "Sit, discuss on how to make sorry."

Draco pulled a chair over. "That wasn't Denver."

"Really? It wasn't me either." Xander looked at the picture. "Are you sure that's not Denver?"

"Denver has bright red streaks in his hair and has for the last three weeks," Draco told him with a smile. Theodore's smile got more shark-like. "I want them stopped for good this time," he told the attorney. "Can you do that?"

"I'll do my best." He stood up. "Let me go talk to someone in the Ministry. You two stay here for a few minutes." They both nodded so he walked away. He was *finally* going to get those assholes.

Xander looked at Draco. "What's up with Denver?"

"Stomach aches. He ate something bad sometime recently."

"Did you try to cook?" Xander asked. Draco hit him. "Ow. Careful, I'm still fragile and you're really strong."

Draco smiled at him. "It's about time you admitted I'm stronger and younger than you."

Xander gave him a little shove. "You're only younger by a few years. Poser."

"Ah-ah, no muggle words," Draco teased. He laughed at the sour look on Tom's face. "What?"

"You two are strange and off-putting," Tom told them.

"Believe it or not, I've been told that before," Xander told him. "Dracula didn't understand me either."

"Dracula," Tom said flatly. Xander nodded. "Why did you run into him?"

"He came to try his luck against Buffy."

"Oh." Tom shook his head. "I don't want to know, do I?"

"Probably not," Xander agreed. "It's not a messy story, just a really weird one. I got to be the bug eating guy."

Tom shuddered and walked away. "I think I'll save that story for another time." He walked back behind the bar, pushing his dinner off to the side. "Anything for you, Mr. Malfoy?"

"I'll have what he's having, and he's buying," Draco told him.

"Not today I'm not," Xander said. "I have to go home and get money as is."

Draco frowned. "You walked out of the house without money?" Xander nodded. "How?"

"I came from the shop and didn't go back upstairs to change or get anything."

"Oh. Then I'll get lunch and you can pay me back by babysitting Denver again."

"Okay. Thanks." Xander ate a bite of his sandwich. "We have Harry's kids and Simone today anyway."

"I noticed Iggy was hovering beside Denver's bed," Draco said dryly. "Have you tested him for any special gifts?"

"No, we're trying hard not to think like that," Xander told him. "We're taking a wait and see approach as he grows up. I don't think he has the sight. Tara's son does, just like his mom, but Iggy's seems to be pretty normal. He worries a lot, but otherwise pretty normal," Xander qualified.

Draco sighed. "I'm worried about Denver. He hasn't shown very much ability toward magic."

"He's only six."

"Good point." Draco accepted his sandwich and paid for them both. "How long do you think it'll take for the Daily Prophet to be in a smoking ruin?"

Xander smiled. "I don't know, but I'd like to see that."

The fireplace discharged Hermione. "Xander, did you see what they wrote about you?" she asked shrilly.

"Yup. We've got someone working on making them deal with it." He ate a bite but she snorted. "You think they won't?"

"With the crap they put Harry through in our fourth year? Probably not." She sat in the empty chair. "I'd like to know how they got that photo."

"Wasn't either of us," Xander told her between bites. He was really hungry it seemed. "My scar shows up when I'm wearing a shirt that tight. And Denver has a lot of red in his hair at the moment."

She smiled. "Good! Then you'll be able to bring them down this time." She nodded. "What did you give my children?"

"A toy that teaches the effects of gravity."

"Huh?" Draco asked.

"I let them play with my slinky."

"Slinky? Sounds like a sex toy," Draco said suspiciously.

"It looks like a spring," Hermione told him. "They were making it move down the stairs when I popped in to check on them." She looked at Xander. "Nice try."

"Kids are supposed to have fun, not just education," Xander reminded her. "It's an uncle's job to make sure that the kids aren't ruined by overzealous parents." She blushed. "So ease up. They can play with the slinky, and my silly putty if we find pictures, and I'm going to find them a lot more fun toys. Nag me about it and they'll be noisy too."

Hermione sighed and rolled her eyes. "If you must."

"Yes, he must," Harry said as he appeared. He smiled slightly at Xander. "The article was seen at the school. McGonagall was ranting in the store about the stupidity of some people."

"It actually wasn't me or Denver," Xander told him. "My scar would have shown in that shirt."

"Scars won't show up with Polyjuice," Hermione said happily, figuring it out. "It takes your image from your DNA, but not things like scars." She smiled at her husband. "Xander's hired a lawyer."

"Good on him," Harry said firmly. He pulled a chair over and sat across from Draco. "Are there any other plans yet?"

"Not yet, I'm waiting for a response," Xander told him. "The lawyer went to talk to someone. I'm hoping to make them so miserable that they go out of business."

"Fat chance," Draco said darkly. "They seem to stick around through everything." Harry nodded. "We'll be lucky to get an apology."

Xander smiled at him. "And what makes you think that I'm going to settle for that?" Xander asked sweetly. Draco burst out laughing. "I'm tired of this shit and my rep can't get any worse at this point." Harry started to smile again. "I'm all for smoking ruins and most people will probably say 'well what did you expect from someone like him'." The three younger people burst out laughing. "What? I'm serious."

Draco patted him on the arm. "Don't worry, we know you're a pussy cat."

"Shh," Xander told him. "Don't let that get around. The bigots will get *confused*."

Draco laughed harder. He had casually mentioned Amanda to her boss the other day, telling him how *strong* her convictions were and how he was *sure* her dubious talents could be put to better use than working with dragons. He expected to hear about her being fired or transferred any time now.

Xander smiled at Harry. "I told Hermione that I was going to buy your kids fun toys." Harry nodded. "And if she started to argue about it or makes them disappear, the next one's going to be noisy."

Harry gave him a pleading look. "Please, not a noisy toy, Xander. I'm sure we'll treat their new toys very well."

"Good. Now all I have to do is find the toy store so I can get Iggy stuff too."

"It's down at the end of the alley, on the right. It's a dusty looking little shop that'll remind you of Ollivanders," Draco told him.

"Cool. Speaking of wands, have any of the other chicks given feathers?" Draco shrugged. "I know Glinda did."

"And I heard Fredericka offered one of her feather for Denver's wand," Hermione put in. Draco looked at her. "She told Ginny that when she gave us the books."

"Oh." He blinked a few times. His son was powerful. The gryphons knew something he didn't. Xander nudged him. "My son's going to rival Dumbledore in power," he said happily. Hermione laughed. "What? He's got to be powerful if he's getting a gryphon core to his wand."

She nodded. "Probably, but without knowledge, all he'll be is a big power user with no depth of ability. The thing that makes Dumbledore so powerful is his knowledge."

"Hey, Iggy can help him learn," Xander said, breaking up the impending argument. "I'm sure Denver will be very careful in how he uses his power."

Draco nodded. "Probably. I have taught him subtly of action." He smiled at Harry. "Will he be in the same class as Agatha?"

"She'll be a year behind."

"No Potter-Malfoy rivalry this time," Xander said happily.

"Just Malfoy-Weasley rivalry," Draco added with a smirk. "My son and Melvin will be in the same class."

The lawyer reappeared. "Xander, good news." He stopped and looked at Harry. "You're him?" Harry nodded. "Are you supporting him?"

"He's one of my favorite teachers," Harry said simply.

"Even better. We have a sitting in front of a judge in thirty minutes. The current caseload is light and I managed to talk my way into a spot today."

"Okay." Xander stood up, finishing his sandwich in one bite. "Lead the way." He saw the look given to his outfit. "I'm still getting over being poisoned. Besides, all my robes need washed at the moment and they're at the cleaners."

Draco wiped his mouth and stood up. "Let me handle this. Coming?" he asked, walking away and dragging Xander with him. "You really should dress to impress the judge," he said with a fond air of smugness. Xander wore some atrocious outfits if you let him dress himself. Now Draco would be able to give him at least one decent outfit. Maybe his students would be spared more of the glittery monstrosities that Xander had blinded his year with. He still had nightmares about one of those outfits coming after him. He dragged Xander into Madam Malkin's shop. "He needs something respectable so we can stomp the Daily Prophet," he told Madam Malkin. Her eyes twinkled. "We only have a few minutes."

She hurried away to pick out something for Xander. She remembered the young professor fondly. He always bought such interesting outfits. But with who had brought him in, she decided to go for stately. She could see him dressed like a Malfoy. "Here we are," she said, putting clothes into a changing room for him. She watched with amusement as the Malfoy heir forced the professor in to get changed. They had a hissed conversation and Draco shook his head, but it was fine. When he came out, she saw what the argument had been about. Dear Merlin, she hadn't watched that part of him before. He was nicely built. Very nicely built. She hurried over to do some fast alterations. She hoped he had some bodyguards to protect him.


Draco adjusted his waistcoat as he sat and waited. He glanced at Xander, who wasn't fidgeting yet thankfully. "How could you not wear underwear?" he asked quietly.

"Easy. I was wearing sweats," Xander hissed. "I'm like that."

"Most people wear underwear daily."

"Yay. Do I look like most people? Besides, it's just one more thing that I'd have to take off when I went back to sleep."

Draco shook his head. "This is an American thing, isn't it?"

Xander shrugged. "We did invent the underwear model and quite a few of us do go commando sometimes. I never realized you British guys didn't do that sometimes."

"You're a citizen too," Ron reminded from behind them. He was the representative from the family because he wouldn't kill the reporters. Hopefully. Molly and Arthur both were ready to kill them with their bare hands. Buffy had offered her services. Fred and George were letting Xander handle it, they knew what Xander was capable of. He looked behind him as the doors opened, admitting a few reporters and a lawyer. "They're here."

"Yay," Xander said, glaring at the stupid humans. They were going to be sorry by the time he was done with them. Everyone stood as the judge walked in.

"Why are we here?" the judge asked.

Theodore stood up. "Madam, we have proof that not only did the Daily Prophet run a patently false story, but they did it with malicious intent to destroy my clients' reputation."

"Madam, there is freedom of the press," the Daily Prophet's lawyer pointed out.

"Yes, but that doesn't extend to lies," Theodore told him. He looked at Xander, then back at the judge. "Not only is the story meant to inflame the public against my clients, but they put in a false photo to prove it."

"Was it manipulated?" the judge asked.

"No, Madam, we suspect Polyjuice. There are things that wouldn't have been covered by the potion that both clients have." Behind him Denver threw up. The judge looked at the little boy. "That's part of the proof, but I humbly apologize for him, he's sick."

"That's fine. Bailiff, send someone to clean that up." She looked at both parties. "What proof can you offer?"

"I can prove the picture's false." He turned and held his hands out, taking Denver from Ron. "This is the little boy in the supposed picture." He sat Denver on his table, then handed a copy of the picture and article to the bailiff to be handed over along with an affidavit from Denver's mother and father about how long the color had been in his hair. "As you can see, the boy does have attributes that wouldn't have shown up with Polyjuice." He nodded at Xander, who stood up and took off his robe, turning around. "Polyjuice also doesn't take scars into account. You can see in the picture that the man doesn't have one, yet my client's scar shows through most shirts he wears."

The judge looked at Xander's back. "If I may ask, how did that happen?"

"Poisoned implement," Xander told her. She waved him to go on. He put back on his robe as he explained. "I was training with the gryphons and was out for a fly. We were attacked by some people. A large, sharp something was shoved into my back and dragged down, leaving poison in the torn flesh. It took nearly a month to heal." He sat down.

She nodded. "Are you gryphon-born?" Xander nodded. "Thank you." She looked at the Daily Prophet's lawyer. "Can you prove that this picture is real? Because that scar would show up and these statements say that this little boy has had partially red hair now for nearly a month."

The other lawyer stood back up. "Madam, we rest on our reputation. We do not make up photographs."

"No, only stories," Ron said dryly.

"Did you have something to add?"

Ron stood up. "No, ma'am, I'm sure everyone's very familiar with how the Daily Prophet can make up stories. Rita Skeeter's very presence in their midst makes their reputation void."

"She's lied before?"

"About me, about Harry Potter, about our friend Hermione, and all during our fourth year."

The judge nodded. "I'm not an avid reader of this paper and hadn't known that there were prior problems from them." Ron sat back down. She frowned at them. "Unless you can show proof that this picture, or the contents of the story, are true and real, then I'm going to have to rule against you. I'm sure the Malfoy child," she noticed he swallowed hard. "You didn't know who he was?"

The other lawyer shook his head. "The child wasn't identified until earlier this morning. We were given the picture, Madam. We have no idea that it wasn't real."

She looked at the paper. Then she looked at her bailiff. "Call downstairs to the newsstand. Ask them if ..." She glanced at the paper again, "a Creevy is a usual photographer." The bailiff left.

Ron's eyes narrowed and he leaned forward. "They used to worship Harry," he told Xander. "That's not right." The judge looked at him and he smiled innocently.

The bailiff reappeared. "Madam, the man running the newstand said that there are two Creevies that are often credited for photographs, but that they usually identify which one of them it is. This photo doesn't say which one it is."

She nodded and he sat down. "Well, gentlemen, are you going to suggest that the picture was taken by someone outside your organization?"

"We're not sure who took it," the lawyer told her. "That was a typo."

"I'm sure it was," she said dryly. She looked at Xander, then at Denver, who was looking a little green. "You might want to get him a bucket," she suggested as she stood up. "I'll be back with an answer in a moment." She left the courtroom.

Draco relaxed. "I like this new system. It's much more informal than it used to be." He patted his son on the back. "Just an hour more and you can go back to your bed," he soothed. Denver nodded and scooted around until he landed in his father's lap. "Is your stomach still hurting?"

"Yup." Denver looked at Xander. "Are you still sick too?"

Xander nodded. "Pretty muchly." He ruffled the blond and red hair. "Was Iggy making you feel better?" Denver nodded. "Then I'll let him stay if your father agrees I know he makes lots of people feel better. He gave me a lot of hugs when I first woke up."

"And this Iggy would be?" their lawyer asked.

"My son, Ignatius. He's been making Denver feel better all day."

"Oh. I didn't know you had children," Theodore said. "How many?"

"Just Iggy," Xander told him. "I'm happy with only one. He's one hell of a kid."

"Yes, he is," Draco agreed. "He picked up your old book and started reading it to Denver this morning. It seemed to make him much better."

"It did me too when I was sick. I guess George gave it to him." He pinched Denver's ear gently. "When I was hurt really badly in a fight, back when your uncle George and I were still dating, he read that very same book to me while I healed."

"I'd rather not remember that time," Ron told him. Xander gave him a smile. "Sorry, but you looked horrible, Xander. You were so injured there were bets being placed about you living." He shuddered. "Can we please change the subject?" he pleaded.

"I'm glad I missed that," Draco told him. He squeezed his son. "What did you want for dinner tonight?"

"Grammy's making soup for me," Denver told him. "I'll share with you, sissy, and Iggy."

"That's very nice of you," Xander told him. "Your Grandma made me a lot of soup recently too."

Ron nodded. "And the rest of us got some too. She's been making a lot of comfort food recently."

"I noticed that a batch of scones ended up in my kitchen this morning," Draco told them.

"Mum's been unhappy with so many of us sick so she's trying to pamper the rest of us," Ron said with a shrug. "Be thankful. I got spinach rolls in my lunch pail yesterday."

"I like your mom's spinach rolls," Xander protested. "It's about the only way I'll eat spinach."

"I like them too, but she filled my pail full of them," Ron told him, starting to smile. "A lot of the guys on my shift love mum now."

Draco shook his head. "At least she cares about you."

"Son," Xander said, punching him on the arm, "we like you too."

"Gee thanks," Draco said dryly. But he liked the fact that he was wanted for himself. Not his money, not his influence, but him. Xander liked him because he did, not for any other reason. It was a big thing in his life and a definite change from his childhood. He cuddled his son closer. Denver was his lifelilne to sanity and everyone understood that. Simone was his daughter, and special for that reason, but Denver was his and only his. He guarded him with his life, and his adoptive family did the same. It made him happier than most things in his life to be Xander's adopted son. He stood up as the Judge walked back in.

She sat down and so did everyone else. "I checked the law books for the wizarding world. While there is no specific laws against lying, there are personal injury laws regarding cases like this." She looked at the Daily Prophet's lawyers. "Have you found any evidence stating that your clients had nothing to do with this situation?" He shook his head. "Then I'm forced to rule in favor of the plaintiffs, Alexander Harris and Denver and Draco Malfoy." She smiled at them. "With this situation being so serious, and this allegation making me ill, I have decided that not only will the Daily Prophet retract the story and offer a *front page* apology, in the main headline if you please, but will also offer you monetary remuneration for their offensive trash." She frowned at the Daily Prophet. "Let me make note that you making up such harmful stories sicken me. The fact that you have enough power to make an innocent person look not only guilty, but guilty of such horrible things, means that you have too much power. For that reason, you will pay to the three defendants half of your yearly profit for this year. They can decide among themselves how to split it up, but you will be paying them by tonight." She banged her gavel. "Hopefully you will remember this punishment in the future when you decide to make up news." She smiled at Xander. "Please accept my apologies for any reaction you may get from the general public." Xander nodded. "And Mr. Malfoy, please make sure no one harms your son over this."

"Over my dead body," Xander told her.

She smiled at him. "That's what I thought you'd say." She waved a hand. "Dismissed. I will have an accounting of the payment on my desk before I leave today," she ordered.

"Madam, such a fee tonight would be very hard to do."

The judge snorted. "While I was gone, I checked with the bank. They wouldn't give me a figure, but they did say that you had ready access to funds. It will be tonight or you'll be in contempt and I'll add a fine on top of it." She stood up and walked away.

Xander stood up and wobbled, letting Ron catch him. "Head rush," he said.

"Definitely." Draco led the way out of the courtroom. "Are you heading home or back to the Burrow?"

"Mum said you're both to come tonight," Ron told them. "Something about dinner and Xander napping on the couch."

"That would be fine," Draco told him. "Did she get Iggy and the others?" Ron nodded. "Then I'll meet you there. I believe my son needs a treat for only getting sick once in *their* presence." He shot a glare back at the representatives of the rag. "I do hope that you can find your way to our gathering tonight, I'm sure we'll all want to see the money you're giving." He walked away. "Would you like a new toy or a food treat?" he asked his son.

"Can I have some ice cream?"

"You'll throw it back up."

"But it'd make my throat quit hurting."

"We'll see what they have for that," Draco agreed, taking his son to spoil him some more.

Xander let Ron lead him to a public fireplace, still kind of dizzy. "Gee, that means I'll have money again."

"You have money now," Ron reminded him. George had said something about some of the reward money still being around. He sent them both home at the same time so Xander wouldn't fall down. "Here we are," he announced.

George reached over and steadied Xander. He looked over his outfit, then up at his husband's face. "Do I even want to know?"

"Draco got offended at my sweat pants and the lawyer agreed." Xander slid down into his mate's lap. "We won."

"Of course you did," George agreed.

"How did you win?" Arthur asked. He handed the green-looking Xander a glass of juice. "Drink that, it should help. Your next dose of medicine is already in there."

"Thanks, dad." Xander gulped the juice, nothing could mask the taste of his medicine. "We got an understanding judge who slipped us in right away."

"Already?" Molly asked.

Xander shrugged. "Yeah. I guess the guy had connections." He snuggled into George's body. "I'm a bit tired. Can I nap?"

"Sure, we'll nap in the living room," George told him. He let his brother pick Xander up for him and led the way so they could cuddle together on the couch.

Fred came back into the kitchen. "Did you see what he was wearing?" he asked his mother. She nodded, her lips pursed together. "I guess I know what George sees in him."

"Meow," Ginny said from her place in the corner. "Very catty, Fred."

He grinned at her. "You really think so? But I don't have a proper tail. I have something to fix that, but I really didn't think I looked good in one."

"Enough," Arthur broke in. "I wonder who they got as a lawyer." He pulled out his floo directory from work, looking under lawyers. "There's only a few in here and none near Diagon." He looked up as Draco appeared outside the door, Denver in his arms sucking on something very red and drippy. "Who did you get as a lawyer? Xander said he got you in already."

"Theodore Miderson," Draco said as he walked inside. He looked around.

"He's napping," Ginny told him. She looked up. "He couldn't find underwear?"

Draco shrugged. "He claims he runs around like that a lot." He handed Denver to his grandfather. "Here, you turn red for a bit."

"I like red," Denver reminded him. He stretched up and gave his father a kiss on the cheek, leaving a sticky trail of red popsicle. He smiled at everyone. "We beat them good," he announced. "We woned and everything."

Draco took a seat next to Ginny. "That's very true, we did. There's going to be a representative coming tonight to pay us half their profits from last year." Arthur's mouth opened. "Minus lawyers fees of course."

"That's a huge amount of money," Arthur said in shock. "How much is the lawyer charging?" Draco shrugged. "You didn't think to ask?" Everyone in the room groaned. "Son, you need to get that sort of thing in writing."

Draco leaned closer. "Do you really think the money matters to me?" he asked. Arthur smiled and shook his head. "I'm giving it all to Xander anyway. I figure they can use it to pay for the cost of the supplies Snape used to heal him and update the store. And if he takes too much, or more than I'm comfortable with, then we'll be having a discussion and the shortfall will be made up," he finished quietly. Arthur nodded, he understood. "Discussion closed." He leaned back, then remembered to give Ginny a kiss on the cheek. "How are you feeling?"


He looked her over. "You haven't gained a gram yet. Feel fat in a few months."

She laughed. "I'll feel fat then too," she reminded him.

"And I'm sure Xander will gladly give you many more backrubs."

She hit him with the book she was reading. "I'd better be feeling your fingers on my back this time. It's your fault I'm getting fat."

He took her hand and kissed the back of it. "You know I won't shy away from touching you," he said against her skin.

"Not in the kitchen," Molly told them.

"I think they've done enough of that already," Fred pointed out. "She's already pregnant."

Draco smirked at him. "Yes, she is. It's very tempting for me to go after her again." Molly shook her head. "But I can wait until after dinner. Come home with us tonight?" Molly had put her foot down, there would be no sex under her roof. Ginny might be pregnant by him and Simone might be around, but Molly refused to listen to the sound of her children having sex.

"Sure. But I get a foot rub."

"I'll steal Ron's oil if you want me to," he agreed.

"I doubt you want to steal Ron's sex oil," Fred told him.

"Hey, leave my personal lubricant out of this," Ron complained.

"Personal lubricant?" Ginny snickered. "Something you wanted to tell us, Ron?"

Ron's blush matched his hair. "Sometimes a guy likes to feel slick," he told her.

"Beats spit," Fred agreed.

Draco looked at them. "What are you talking about?" Ginny leaned over and whispered it in his ear. "Oh that. There are much better things than oil, and they won't get all over the bed."

"I doubt you've done that in the last year," Ginny argued.

Draco leaned closer and nipped her lips. "Just the mere thought of you makes me need to adjourn myself to the bathroom to deal with my lust."

"Dear Merlin," Molly sighed. "No more sap or sex talk in my kitchen. Draco, leave off talking her into bed until you take her home tonight. Boys, you don't need to talk about tossing off in my kitchen either." Both her sons blushed brightly. "I hope that's settled." Everyone nodded. "Thank you." She turned back to the stove. "We're having casserole tonight," she announced. "It'll be ready in half an hour. Go do something until then." All the younger people escaped to the back yard.

"There really is something better?" Ron's voice carried in from the garden..

Arthur shook his head when his wife's mouth opened. "They're not in the kitchen," he pointed out.

"Still, you'd think we were a bunch of perverts the way those boys go on."

Arthur stood up and walked over to his wife, giving her a hug. "I remember feeling the same way at their age," he whispered in her ear. "Some days, I still do." She tittered and smacked him on the chest. "Want to go fool around?"

"After dinner," she told him. "There's not enough time before." She gave him a light kiss as a promise for later.


Everyone was waiting impatiently for the lawyer, or the representatives, to show up with the money owed to Xander, Denver, and Draco. Ginny tried to study, with little success due to the lips on her neck. Draco was occupied with his favorite treat. Ron was trying hard to ignore them by polishing his broom. Xander and George were curled up together, talking about what they needed to do with the money vs what they wanted to do with the money. The only thing they'd agreed on so far was that Iggy deserved some new toys and they all needed some new clothes. Fred was eavesdropping in case George wanted to add onto the store. Arthur and Molly had left the kids alone for a bit, but were back now, sharing the paper between them. The kids were all curled up together on Bill's bed, Denver on the outside in case he needed to get sick. Bill was off visiting friends and would be back tomorrow.

Xander looked at Fred, giving him a smile. "Did you want to suggest something?"

"Well, the store could use some more cases and the like," Fred suggested. "Maybe some supply stocking."

"All very practical," Xander agreed. "I was going to go over some of my spells with you guys to see what I could do to help." Fred smiled at him. "The practical ones. Like building charms and stuff like that."

"It'd save us money," George agreed. "Can you build us a storage space?"

"Probably. I know I have a spell to build a house. I should be able to use it to build a storage shed."

Everyone looked at the fireplace as it dinged, discharging the lawyer. "Hello, all," Theodore said happily. "I have a sheet here for Xander and Draco." He waved it a bit. Draco snatched it first. "On there's an accounting of my bill and what was left."

"How much are you charging them?" Arthur asked suspiciously.

"Fifty percent."

"What?" Molly asked. "That's outrageous."

"That's what most of my colleagues charge," Theodore said with a shrug.

Draco glared at him, making the man take an involuntary step back. "I don't think so."

"It's fine," Xander butted in.

"No, it's not. It's robbery," Arthur corrected. "No wizarding lawyer would ever think to charge that much."

"Muggle ambulance chasers often charge that much," Xander told him. "It's fine, dad."

"No, it's not," Draco told him. "Stay out of it." He looked the lawyer over again. "Do you really think you did enough work to earn that much money?" He glanced at the paper again. "And did you demand to see an accounting of the Daily Prophet's balance sheets? This figure is much too low."

"It's what they gave me. It had the Ministry stamp on it."

"Yay," Draco sighed. "If the newspaper was making this little of profit, then they wouldn't be in business today," he told the lawyer. The lawyer took another step away from him. "Did you bring a copy of their paperwork with you?"

"Um, no." He looked around. "I left it in my office."

"Then we'll go to your office," Draco told him, grabbing him by the arm. "Let's go." He followed him back through the floo network. The requested papers were handed over, and they made him laugh. Sure the Daily Prophet had only made 120,000 galleons last year. And he was a Weasley by birth! He gathered everything up and took it to the courthouse, the lawyer following in his wake trying to get him to stop. He found an officer of the court and stopped him to ask a few pertinent questions.


Draco walked out of the fire the next morning with a yawn. He was too tired to apparate. He tossed something at Arthur, who was up and dressed. "They got fined too," he said smugly. He trudged up the stairs, going to curl up with his girlfriend. He was a hero now, no one would complain too loudly as long as they didn't have sex. He stripped and climbed in beside her, curling around her body. She thoughtfully rolled over to give him a kiss and a handjob.

Arthur read the official document, smiling brightly. "He got it all straightened out," he said happily. Xander and George would be ecstatic when they woke up. He tried to hand the papers to Fred as he walked past, but Fred shuddered and sent himself back to the shop. It had been a long night and Fred was barely awake. Arthur smiled. His family was going to be okay. Now all he had to do was ask for a raise. He hoped Asdar would see sense. It had been fifteen years since he'd gotten one. He finished his breakfast and cleaned up after himself, then went to the early morning meeting of the Ministers.


Xander woke up warm, snuggly, and a little too warm for comfort. He shifted away from George, but the heat continued. "Crap, I didn't need to be sick today," he complained. He forced himself out of bed and to the bathroom, waiting in line so Ron could finish up. He splashed himself with water and looked up. He looked like hell. He'd have to do something about that. He decided against a shower because he wanted to go back to bed. After hogging the bathroom for a few more minutes, he trudged back to bed. It was empty. He sighed in relief as he slid into the cool sheets. Nice.

Downstairs, George was eating something so he could go to work. No one expected Xander to come back today so he could sleep in. He knew Xander was getting the wizard flu and had already made arrangements to cover Xander's shift at the store. Now all they needed was Draco and everything would be good. He put his bowl into the sink and headed home.


Xander opened an eye, someone was trying to crawl in with him. "What's wrong, Iggy?"

"You don't feel good and need hugs," his son told him, giving him a hug.

"Get out and let me put on clothes, then I'll have hugs," Xander told him. His son laughed, but left the room so he could get semi-dressed. As soon as he was back in bed, Iggy came back in with a cup of something and some toast. "Thanks, Iggy." He let his son curl up against his side while he tried to eat breakfast. "What are you doing today?"

"I'm going to talk to the new baby and read some more to Denver." He looked up at his father. "Do you need read to too?"

Xander shook his head. "I'll be fine by tonight. Denver needs you more." He ruffled the little boy's hair. "Did Ginny tell you to talk to the baby for her?" Iggy nodded. "That's cool."

"The baby's funny. Can we have one?"

"Not really," Xander told him. "Aunt Ginny would have to carry it for us and she's already pregnant for Draco." Iggy sighed. "Sorry. But go ahead and ask your father if you really want a little brother or sister. Let's see what he says."

Iggy laughed. "I already did, daddy. He said we could if you wanted to carry one around." He smiled up at his father. "So can we have one?"

"Your father and I will discuss that tonight," Xander told him. He put the remaining toast and tea off to the side. "What else were you going to do today?"

"Just that. I figured I'd play the rest of the time. Do you think Grandma will make me eat veggies for lunch?"

"Oh, I think it's pretty well set that we'll all be eating vegetables for lunch," Xander told him. He smiled at the person opening the door. "Hi, Grandma."

"How are you feeling, Xander?" She came in and felt his forehead. "Just like we thought, the flu." She picked Iggy up and put him onto the floor. "Go play with Denver. He just got sick again and needs your special touch." Iggy hurried off to help his best friend. "Flu?" she asked. Xander nodded. "Can I get you anything?"

"A new stomach?"

"I can't do that, but I can manage to settle yours." She handed him a small vial of liquid. "Try that."

"Can I take this with the other stuff?" She nodded. "Okay." He swallowed the couple of tablespoons. "What do I do now?"

"Sleep." Molly took the vial back and helped him settle back into the bed. "There we are. You rest."

Iggy screamed from the hallway. "He's naked!" He ran into the room. "Daddy, Uncle Draco's deformed!" He crawled up and hid in his father's arms. "He has a dangly thing that's really gross."

Xander and Molly tried very hard to keep from laughing. Draco appearing in the doorway in Ginny's robe did them in though. "I am not deformed," Draco told him. "All adult men have things like that. Next time, knock." He stomped back to Ginny's bedroom and slammed the door, making sure it was locked this time.

Iggy looked up. "I have to grow something like that to grow up?" Xander nodded at his son. "Then I'm not growing up."

"Go read Peter Pan. He didn't want to grow up either, son," Xander told him.

"Yes, that was a very nice story," Molly agreed.

Iggy slid out of the bed and carefully checked the hallway before heading down to the bookshelves. But before he read anything to the other kids, they would have to discuss what he had seen. That had been weird.


Draco stood up during the family dinner. "It was fixed to *my* satisfaction," he announced. There was a bit of clapping. "Not only did the Daily Prophet try to lie about their profits, the lawyer was also fined for helping them lie." Xander clapped. "So, with great pleasure, I give you this, Xander." He handed over a small gold key. "It was deposited directly for you."

"What about Denver's part?" Xander asked, looking at the key.

Draco gave him a scolding look. "Denver doesn't need anything. You need more clothes like I bought you yesterday."

"And underwear," Fred added. A few people laughed. "Please don't run around like that at the store or the school. We don't want to have another obsession to handle."

Xander smiled at him. "Okay, but only if you explain to Iggy about adult males not being deformed."

George choked. "Excuse me?" He looked at his son. "Who were you peeking on?"

"I went to talk to the baby," Iggy told him. "Uncle Draco scared me." He glared at his uncle. "I don't look like that and I'm a boy. If I have to look like that when I'm older, then I'm not growing up!"

George put his head down on the table with a groan. "Son, we'll discuss this later."

Arthur clapped. "Good. Now I feel redeemed for having to have that talk with Percy and Charlie."

"And Bill," Molly reminded him. "He cried for days because he was going to grow up like that."

George gave a whimper. "Son, it's not a bad thing. Just trust me on this. You'll enjoy it when it happens to you." Everyone laughed.

"Are you sure?" Denver asked. "I don't think I could ever enjoy growing dangly things like that."

Draco covered his face with a hand. "Son, we'll discuss this later."

"Okay, Daddy."

Draco shook his head. "As I was saying. The situation has been handled. I snagged a copy of the paper," he said, handing it to Xander with a smile. "And I sent one to the school also. Everything is fixed to *my* satisfaction so it hopefully won't be happening again." He sat back down and accepted a hug from his son.

"But the judge said to give some of it to Denver," Xander reminded Draco.

"We did, we took a single galleon in payment for the pleasure of stomping them." Xander frowned at him. "If you continue to argue, I'm turning you into something without a tongue until you see reason." Xander opened his mouth and Draco pulled his wand. "Try it," he suggested.

Xander shut his mouth. "Thank you, Draco."

Draco smiled at him. "You're welcome. What are you going to do tomorrow, now that you have money?"

"Toys and clothes," George told him. "That comes first. Then we'll figure out what we're doing."

"We'll have plenty of time to figure that out," Xander agreed. He touched his husband's thigh. "Your son said you brought up an interesting point. Something about children?"

"I only said that so you would explain to him why we can't have anymore," George told him.

"Oh, why not? Grandchildren are wonderful," Molly suggested with a twinkle in her eyes.

"Where do babies come from?" Denver asked his father.

Arthur laughed. "Yes, sons, where do babies come from?"

"From Ginny," Fred told them. She threw a corn cob at his head. "Hey, easy on the hair."

Draco looked at the gathered children. "Babies come from sex, which happens between a man and a woman. It's a biological thing that makes most people very happy." Iggy slowly raised his hand. "As for you," he said, reaching over to pat him on the head. "The gryphons decided that your fathers needed you so they combined the both of them and eventually put you into Ginny."

"Oh," Iggy said, nodding. He looked at his father. "Does that mean that we can't have more?"

"It would be rather difficult for your daddy to carry one," George told him.

"Then why don't the people who work in places like you were muttering about have lots of kids?" Simone asked.

Draco frowned at her. "Ask your mother." Ginny shook her head - she wasn't going to step into that argument. "They have spells that prevent it," Draco said, glaring at the grinning Ginny.

"If I wear baggy clothes, it might be okay for a while," Xander suggested with a grin. "I'm fat anyway because I'm out of shape. No one would notice for a while."

George stared at him. "Are you offering?" Xander shrugged. "You're sure?"

"If you want another one, I'll do anything to make you happy." He leaned over and kissed his husband. "Your happiness is most important to me."

"If you have another one, you're moving for the baby's first year," Fred told them. Ginny punched him on the arm. "Ow! Grumpy."

"Shh, they're having a tender moment," Ginny complained.

"I think that we have enough," George said quietly. "Unless you..." Xander shrugged. "You're leaving it to me?"

"You're the favorite daddy."

"Yes, I am," George admitted with a bright grin. "But I think we have enough." George took Xander's hand and squeezed it. "We'll stick with one for now. There's no hurry on the spell."

"Okay." Xander gave him another kiss. "Will you help me get back into shape this year?"

"As long as you don't go fight," George agreed with a smile.

"If a new bad guy pops up, I'll do whatever I have to," Xander reminded him. His husband opened his mouth. "I'll let the older kids take the front line, but there's no way I can not fight totally. It's not how I am."

"I know," George sighed. "I just wish you wouldn't be on the front lines anymore. I don't like to see you hurt."

"I don't get hurt on purpose."

"I know, you just get hurt by accident." George gave him a kiss. "I'd like it if you didn't get hurt at all."

"I'll try."

"Thank you." George stole another kiss. "Okay, enough mushiness. Dessert."

"Which is pudding, and therefore more mushy," Ginny said with a grin. "For the record, as long as I have a lot of time to recover after this one, I'll happily carry one for you two. It makes you two happy and I kinda like being pregnant." Her mother gave her a look. "Except for the weight part," she admitted.

Molly nodded. "If they decide to do that, I'm sure they'll come tell you first so we don't have to hunt down another gryphon."

"The family needs more girls," Arthur told them.

Simone smiled at him. "I'm a girl. Aren't I enough?"

"No, honey, we like girl babies around here," Ginny told her. She patted her on the head. "That's why I'm giving you a sister."

Simone tossed her napkin down and stomped off.

Her parents looked at each other and shrugged. She'd get over it.

Snippet 16:

Xander walked into the library waving the newest baby's birth certificate. "I'm here to give you this for my all-but-adopted son," he said happily.

"One of the parents really must come in," Irma Pince told him. "It's the rules."

Xander shrugged. "Sorry, but he's buried underneath a pile of kids right now and the mom's on bedrest because it was five days of labor. I'm the best you get this time."

She shook her head. "Quite irregular." She took the certificate to read over. "Oh, he had another daughter," she said happily. "Five days?"

"Yeah, she's stubborn," Xander noted dryly. "She's refusing to feed from both sides of mom and she really hates diapers. Every time Molly comes near her, she wails." He smiled. "Quite the little hellion in the making."

She laughed. "I suppose, with those two as parents, it was bound to happen to one of their children." She put the entry into the book, making a note that a relative had brought the form in. "All legal," she announced. "Anastasia Romani, a very pretty name."

"And she's another redhead," Xander told her. "Do you know if Dumbledore's in?" She nodded. "Then I'm heading up there to tell him." He winked at her, making her blush. "Don't worry, I'm sure there's going to be more of them soon." He paused. "Did Harry or Hermione register theirs?" She shook her head. "Then I'll remind them to do that today. That'll be okay, right?" She nodded. "Thanks." He strolled away. He found Snape lurking outside the Headmaster's office and showed him the birth certificate. "Five days of labor," he said with a smile.

Snape shook his head. "She's a very strong girl."

"And so is this daughter. You should go see them. They're back at the mansion because Draco threw a fit about his daughter not spending her first night in her new crib."

Snape nodded. "I'll pop around later." He pointed at the stairway. "Are you headed up?"

"Yup, Ginny wanted me to give him a message. Coming?" Xander opened the doorway and hopped on a rotating stair, letting it climb. He walked over and kissed Albus on the cheek. "Ginny sent that because the breathing exercise made her keep calm after the third day," he reported. "Anastasia is every bit the hellion you were predicting for Simone." He smiled.

"Good," Dumbledore said with a fond smile. "Are they at the Burrow?"

"Malfoy demanded so they're at his house."

"Good, good," he said. He pointed at the chair, so Xander sat. "Are you taking a year off?"

"Why would I take a year off?" Xander asked.

"To spend your new wealth," Snape suggested.

Xander snorted. "I can spend it just fine while I'm working. Teaching won't hinder my buying toys, or working in the lab." He looked at his boss, pouting slightly. "You don't want me to leave, do you?"

Dumbledore shook his head. "Not at all, Xander, but you did miss the meeting this morning."

Xander chuckled. "I was feeding Anastasia. She refuses to suckle from one side so I was helping Ginny breastpump and prepare bottles."

"Oh. That's excellent news," Dumbledore said, relieved. "Then you're coming back this year?"

"If you'll have me. I told you before, I'm not leaving unless you throw my chunky butt out and even then I'll probably have to be drug kicking and screaming as the castle falls down around my head."

Dumbledore laughed. "That's what I needed to hear." He leaned closer, putting his elbows on his desk. "Are your classes all set up?"

"As much as they are every year. The book hasn't changed. I'm an expert at giving the 'the author refused to change the order of the book so you're going to be flipping around in it' lecture. As far as I know, I've got forty kids coming in next week and I'm ready for them."

"Excellent news," Dumbledore agreed. "But the book has changed." He handed over a large envelope. "This was sent to you by Rupert. New classifications have come to light recently. Including the classification of gryphons, unicorns, and dragons."

"Fuck him," Xander said quietly. Dumbledore's smile got a little wider. "I'm not a demon, thank you. I'll look over the rest of it, but if I do anything with the book, I'll be rearranging it." Snape coughed. "You think he was right to put us in there?"

"No, but I disagree with Rupert Giles on many things," Snape reminded him. "Much as you do these days."

Xander nodded. "Yeah, we do hold grudges." He stood up. "Anything else?"

"Can you include the demonology part of Professor Maclay's class? I understand that she's feeling a tad bit overrun with material since she added a seventh year class."

"I can try," Xander said with a shrug. "If not, I could probably teach a second class in the subject. She covers nearly a year's worth of material anyway."

Dumbledore nodded. "Good. Do that." Xander nodded again. "Thank you for helping her out."

"Hey, I like Tara. I even like Willow again. I can handle a lot more than what I'm doing right now. It's not like I'm Snape and I teach every year's worth of kids." He tested the weight of the material. "Anything else that I missed?"

"Just that," Dumbledore told him. "Please remember we have a day of meetings tomorrow. You're expected to attend those too." Xander smiled and nodded as he walked out the door. Dumbledore looked at Snape. "You were worried?"

"He's still weak from his poisoning this summer," the potions' master reminded him. "A third class could well put him into the infirmary."

"I'm sure he'll be fine. Did he pay you for the ingredients you used this summer?" Snape nodded. "Even better. It's amazing, I've only had two owls about him this year." He winked. "And both were easily solved by that lawsuit."

Snape smiled. "It was obviously the cunning idea of Mr. Malfoy." He nodded and walked away.

Dumbledore smiled. "No, it wasn't, but he did manage to pull out some of the Malfoy charm and put it to good use," he muttered as he made notes.


Xander tapped on Tara's office door, smiling at Adrian, who was sitting quietly and drawing. "Hey, little man, where's your mom?"

"She'll be right back. She went to the bathroom." He grinned at Xander. "Can Iggy come play?"

"How about you go play with Iggy," he suggested. "He can talk about his new cousin. She's very cute."

"How old is she?"

"Just born yesterday," Xander said as he sat down next to him. "She's very strong and very stubborn, but kinda cute."

Tara laughed from the doorway. "Ginny had another one?" Xander nodded, watching her walk in. "What's her name?"

"Anastasia. She's *very* stubborn." He grinned at her. "You needed me to take some of the weight off you?"

"Please. I've got too much material to cover." She patted a two foot stack of parchment sitting on her desk. "That's the advanced spells class, part one. Since I'm running three years worth of classes now, I'm pulling up some very interesting spells. Can you take the demonology lectures?"

"Sure. I heard you've got about a year's worth of work and I offered to run a second class for the fourth years. Oh, and Giles sent shit." She winced. "Classifying gryphons, unicorns, and dragons as demons."

"The hell with him," Adrian said firmly. His mother stared down at him. "Sorry, but he can't even remember my birthday. He's a bad guy."

"I'm sure he had his reasons," Tara soothed. "We'll talk about him later, Adrian."

"Okay," he sighed. He looked at Xander. "Did you really birth me?"

"Well, I delivered you," Xander corrected. "But your mommy birthed you."

"Oh. Was I slimy and nasty?"

"Yeah, all babies come out that way, it's the way nature makes them."

Ryan made a grossed out face. "That's nasty."

"Yup, but then you got a bath and you were baby colored and anti-slimy," Xander said, giving him a hug. "You'll see one some day."


"Sorry." Xander looked at Tara, who was smiling. "Maybe your mom'll have another one." Tara shook her head. "No?"

"The miscarriage left some scarring," she said quietly. "I can't get pregnant again without a major spell helping."

Xander stood up and gave her a hug, whispering in her ear, "I have one of those." He pulled back and took the stack of papers from her. "Any particular order?"

"That's in my usual order. Have fun." She watched him pick up the envelope and leave. "Adrian, I know you're mad at Giles, but you can't speak out like that. Save it for when he's in front of you."

Adrian nodded. "Yes, mommy. Do you think Uncle Xander was upset?"

Tara smiled. She remembered hearing that Xander had announced her giving birth with a punch. "No, I don't think he was upset at all. He loves you and knows what Giles is like." She looked at her desk. "Give me a few more minutes and we'll head into town."

"Okay, mommy. Can I go flying? I want to join one of those kiddie leagues."

"We'll see," she told him. She really didn't want to think about him flying. That was a scary thought. He might get hurt. He looked up at her, giving her the pleading look. "We'll see," she repeated. He nodded. That kid was too smart, it was scary how well he read her sometimes. It was almost like he was reading her mind.


Xander walked into the joke shop loaded down with stuff. He plopped it all down on the stairs, then sat down beside it. His brother-in-law looked around the corner at him. "We just got new materials so I'm rewriting my textbook."

"By yourself?" Fred asked.

"I have a template," Xander pointed out. He stood up. "It shouldn't be so hard. I should have a working copy by next year." He stretched. "But that means I'll have to do some research. Giles sent new chapters putting me in as a demon."

Fred winced. "Is his house still standing?"

Xander grinned. "As far as I know. I wouldn't be that obvious." He walked over to the fire. "Gotta call Harry. Wanna help?"

"No thanks." Fred picked up his notebook from his fourth year. Somewhere in here was a great idea, he just knew it.

"Potterville," Xander called as he tossed some floo powder into the fire. Harry's head popped up. "Did you forget to register the kids?" he asked, sitting down. Harry frowned. "I asked Irma Pince, and she said you hadn't registered any of them in the book."

"What book?" Harry asked. "No one said anything about a book."

"The Book of Heritage," Xander told him. "It's a birth registry for wizards. I put in Anastasia today. That's why I checked. You have to register everyone's birth."

"Is this like a Hall of Records?" Hermione asked when her head popped in.

"As far as I know. Arthur told us we had to and Irma tells us that we're legal whenever we put in the birth certificates. You might want to check on that."

"Thanks," Harry said. "I'll call around and see if this is a Hogwarts policy or a Ministry one." He smiled at Xander. "Anastasia?" Xander nodded. "Ginny finally popped?"

"After five days of labor. And now the little one's picky." The chime over the door rang. "Gotta go. Call Molly and ask her, she and Arthur told us." He waved and broke the connection, getting up. He smiled at the man standing in the doorway. "You might as well come in so I can knock you through the door," he said with a smile. Giles stepped in and closed the door, and even attempted to open his mouth. "Save it. I'm not a demon, nor will I ever be as far as I know. I'm rewriting the book." He crossed his arms over his chest. "Unless you came to apologize, and you're about five years too late for that, then I don't want to hear it."

"Xander, I didn't mean to upset you. I did the new chapters how I thought they'd be best taught."

"Yeah, you messed up the first book that way too. Another reason why I'm rewriting it." He started to tap his foot. "Anything else?"

"Those are the official Watcher classifications," Giles said quietly.

Xander smiled his coldest, cruelest smile. "Then I guess I'm going to have to go show them that not only am I not a demon, people like me aren't to be trifled with. Because if a Slayer shows up to try and kill me, I'm getting her. I'm not allowing anyone to be hurt. Thank you for coming." He walked over to his stack and started heaving it up the stairs in chunks.

"Why is his kind classified that way?" Fred asked.

"Because someone in their *absolute* ignorance decided that all magical creatures had to die. We had a unicorn walk onto the property the other day and Buffy nearly didn't save it. This wasn't me," he said, taking off his glasses to clean them. He put them back on. "It really wasn't me."

"Then I'll have a talk with Travers," Xander told him.

"Traver's died, Xander."

"Hey, good news." Xander came down into the shop again. "Then you tell whichever stupid idiot human that's trying to force this that the gryphons won't stand for it. I've been told repeatedly that I should drop Buffy as a friend because it's nearly a war. Guess which one I'm going to choose." Giles flinched. "Now go away before I finish losing my temper." Giles nodded and walked away, looking like he was scared. "I'll kill them," Xander hissed.

"Warn them first," Fred told him. Xander frowned at him. "The gryphons? They can probably get the news around to everybody."

"Yeah, maybe I should," Xander said. He went into the back room to get some privacy. This was not going to be happy news. He started with the Magical Creature's board in the Ministry. "Hey, this is Xander Harris," he said with a faint grimace. The woman answering the floo nodded and held up a finger, getting someone else to talk to him. The newly appointed Minister's head came up in the flames. "Hi. I've got bad news. Really bad news." The Minister's head bobbed. "The Watcher's Council decided we were all demons. Unicorns. Gryphons. Dragons. All of us."

The Minister hissed. "Has anyone come for you yet?"

"No, but I heard a unicorn barely made it out alive," Xander told her. "I got handed new chapters for my classifications class and we were in there."

The Minister nodded. "Then we'll handle this. Are you telling your kind?"

Xander shrugged. "Probably. They live near each other and I think it'd probably be better if I did it instead of you."

"Good. Tell them that I'll be up tomorrow for a conference on the matter. We'll figure this out. Protect yourself and your family." The head disappeared.

Xander sat back on his heels so he could grab some more floo powder. He tossed it into the fire. "Main fire, main gryphon colony, Stonehenge." A head slowly grew to encompass the whole fire. "I need to talk to the ambassador. There's been something bad happening near you guys." The gryphon turned his head and squealed something in gryphon. A new head appeared. "Elder Fredericka, I have to report that the Watcher's Council has named us all demons. Along with unicorns, dragons, and any other magical creature." She nodded. "It's official in their minds. I've already had a discussion with the Ministry. The Minister of Magical Creatures wants to talk with you tomorrow. She'll be coming up."

"We heard about a unicorn being injured," she said regally. "We will deal."

He shook his head. "I wouldn't deal. I really wouldn't. I know the Council and it's going to become a hunt."

She nodded. "We'll figure it out. Be safe." Her head disappeared

Xander relaxed. It was being handled, he would do what he had to do. He walked out of the back room and found Hagrid standing inside the shop. "You heard too?"

"Yeah. The Ministry just called. Bloody pricks. Have no respect."

"I know," Xander told him, patting him on the arm as he walked around him. "At least the Ministry is taking this seriously. It may not become a full hunt and purge." He frowned at Fred. "I'm hoping they didn't create detailed maps on how to get here."

"Me too," Hagrid agreed.

"I'm not so sure that a memory charm will work this time," Fred pointed out. Xander looked at him, looking confused. "Isn't that the usual way of dealing with this sort of mess?" Xander shrugged. "What else could they do?"

"They could shut them down," Xander pointed out. "Or they could do something stronger, like a binding to keep them from harming a magical creature. And, if they're including me, are they including the Slayers?"

"Probably not," Fred agreed. "Please go blow up something before we have an accident."

Xander laughed. "Not a problem, bro. I'm in control. It'll be okay." He went to carry the rest of his research up the stairs. It was going to be a long few months.

Snippet 17:

George looked out of the bathroom when he heard a thump from his bedroom. "Who're you?" he asked the man now laying in his nest.


"Ah." George finished wiping his hands off and walked to the top of the stairs. "Xander, there's a strange man up here," he called.

"Be right there," Fred called.

"Xander, there's a stranger in our nest!" George yelled louder. Xander came thundering up the stairs. "I think maybe you should deal with this," he told him.

Xander looked into the bedroom and smiled so broadly his face nearly split. "Oz!" he yelled, taking a flying leap at his friend. He pounced him, hugging him as hard as he could.

"Hey. You called?" Oz asked.

Xander pulled back. "You can't write now?"

"Don't know the addy," Oz said with a shrug. He waved at George. "You're still together?"

Xander grinned at his mate, holding out a hand. "That's my husband. George, this is Oz."

"He introduced himself," George said as he climbed in next to his husband. If anyone was going to be curled up against Xander, it was him.

"He was Willow's guy in high school," Xander told him, smiling at ease the jealousy he could see. "He saved me that Christmas."

"Oh." George's whole attitude changed. "It's very nice to meet you," he said, shaking the other man's hand. "We wouldn't be together if it wasn't for you."

Oz nodded. "That's cool. Married is good for you, Xan." He patted his friend on the shoulder.

"Not only married, but we have a son," Xander told him. "IGGY!" His son bounded up the stairs. "Come meet your Uncle Oz. He's a really great guy." Iggy climbed in with them and shook Oz's hand, looking him over. "He used to save my life a lot."

Iggy grinned at him. "Good, someone needs to," he told his new uncle. "Do you fly?"

"Nope, sorry. I do the furry thing." Oz sat up, looking the little boy over. "Gryphon baby?" Xander nodded happily. "Wow, very happy with the married thing then."

"Are you like Uncle Remus?" Iggy asked excitedly. Oz nodded. "Really?"

"Really. He's the reason I'm here. He said your dad wanted to hear from me." He looked at Xander. "How would I write a letter to you?"

"Write it to Buffy, she'll send it on," George told him.

Xander nodded, still grinning. "Yeah, the brother-in-law's over there often enough, there shouldn't even be a great delay." He gave Oz another hug. "We missed you, man. There's so much you have to catch up on."

Oz got free of the clingy guy. "We can do that," he agreed, nodding at Iggy. "This is boring adult stuff if you wanted to go play."

Iggy laughed. "Daddy's not boring. He does exciting stuff, like fight and fly." He grinned at George. "And he's the greatest because I get to test the pranks."

Oz shrugged. "So, life?" he asked.

"Oh, I'm teaching now," Xander told him. Oz nodded. "I'm teaching demonology and fighting, just like I was before, only Giles is gone."

"Asshole," Iggy muttered. Oz looked at him. "He's mean to his kids."

"Giles has kids?"

"Willow and Tara forced him to procreate with them," George told him, grimacing. Giles was not a happy subject in their household. "Fortunately, they're being raised like by their mothers and they won't end up horrible creatures."

"Both of them?" Oz asked. Xander nodded. "Must have been one hell of a night."

"Planned," Xander told him. "Tara wanted to be a mommy and Willow jumped in to join her. Which explains why they're not together anymore." Oz nodded slowly. "The kids, Adrian and Ryan, are horrible around each other and Iggy."

"They'll fight over anything," Iggy told him. "Even who gets to beat me up." George looked at him. "Daddy took care of it," he told him to get rid of the concerned look.

"Oh, yeah, Ryan and I had a *long* discussion in front of his mother. Tara just looked at Adrian and he burst out into tears. They're never going to do it again," he said with a fond pat on the head for his son. "Buffy's dating George's brother Ron, the one who used to stare at her when we first got here. They're stable but not continuous so it works for them."

Oz nodded, he had stopped there first. He approved of Ron. "And Giles?"

"He ran," Xander said simply. "Willow turned into super-bitch while pregnant and he took off, leaving Tara at Willow's mercy." Oz opened his mouth. "She's better now, the time without her powers and the week in the mental ward seemed to have stopped all bad intentions she's had towards Tara or anyone else."

George nudged Xander. "Apparently the medicines calmed down all those nasty homicidal urges she's had. She's still behaving rather well."

"Guess she doesn't want to go through that again," Xander said with a shrug. "I'm just glad she's back to normal. She's been her old self since Ryan was six months old."

"How old is he?" Oz asked.

"Six months younger than I am," Iggy told him. "Adrian's only four months younger though."

"Problems getting pregnant?" Oz asked Xander.

Xander shook his head. "Willow created so much stress Tara miscarried one of the twins. Adrian was born early. Hence the stint of mental health care."

"Oh." Oz blinked a few times. "She turned that bad?"

"She transfigured Tara quite a few times," George explained quietly. "We think that one of the times created the problem with the stillborn twin." He looked at his son. "You are not to speak on that matter, Ignatius. It hurts Aunt Tara to talk about Andrew."

"Yes, sir," Iggy said obediently. He liked Adrian, most of the time, and Aunt Tara baked stuff. "Can I beat up Adrian's daddy if he comes back again?"

"No, son, that's my fun," Xander told him.

"Huh," Oz said, staring at Xander. "That bad?" Xander nodded. "Never expected that."

"Neither did any of us. Buffy's gotten him a few times, but he still likes to pretend he doesn't have sons." He shrugged. "It's not like they carry his name. Both mothers refused when he suggested it, long before he left. The Council knows though, they've sent letters saying that Giles' pension was being held for them as a form of trust fund." Xander smiled evilly. "I'm not sure who was stunned more, Tara or Giles. He threw a fourteen-year-old sized fit. Snape sedated him and sent him away. Oh, and Buffy's happy. Can't cook, but happy."

"So she said," Oz told him.

"You saw Buffy and she didn't tell me?"

"I just came from there," Oz told him, patting him on the arm. "It's okay. I'll be here for a few days." He looked down at what they were sitting in. "Nice nest."

Xander beamed. "It's the family nest. It was in the bank." He patted the braided outer ring of hay. "It's been passed down through a lot of generations. We're the first ones to put it into use for centuries."

"Very cool," Oz agreed.

"What are you doing now?" George asked, feeling like he should be offering snacks or something.

"I manage a commune and head a pack. We're trying to do the band thing, but I'm having to teach music classes." He shrugged at Xander's giggle. "It works for me. I'm happy most of the time."

Iggy looked at him in awe. "Can I watch you change this month? Uncle Remus won't let me."

"Nope. Too dangerous," Oz explained.

"Shoot. He says the same thing." Iggy frowned at his fathers. "When do I get to see that? It'd be really neat...and a learning experience," he tacked on hopefully.

George shook his head. "Never."

"Not until you're an adult," Xander told him at the same time. They looked at each other. "We can't stop him when he's grown up, but I will teach him how to take precautions."

"When he's twenty-one, I'll let him come visit the preserve," Oz told him. Both parents smiled at him. It would be rare for Oz to stay in control of a pack that long, unless they were family. An empty promise would work for now.

Iggy beamed at him. "Really?" Oz nodded. "That's so wicked!" he shouted, crawling out of the nest. "I'm going to tell Uncle Fred about this." He ran down the stairs.

George smiled at Oz. "Thank you. That could have gotten sticky."

"No cubs of my own to velvet-glove," Oz told him, nearly smiling. "It's good to have nephews like that." He stretched. "So, can I stay for a few day?"

"Sure," Xander said, looking at George, who shrugged. "You might even be able to nap with us in here."

Oz snorted. "No offense, Xan, but you're too cuddly for my tastes. I think I'll take the floor."

"You can have our bed," George offered. "We sleep in here usually so it's not a problem. And mum'll understand that we can't come to dinner tonight so you two can catch up." He kissed his husband hard, making sure his husband remembered who he belonged to. "I'd best get back to work. Come downstairs whenever you're ready." He climbed out, leaving them alone.

"Gryphons are protective," Xander said happily. "He's so much like one of us and it makes me very happy."

"Happy is a great thing," Oz agreed. "I'm that way usually. My mate's a cute little wolf." He winked. "Very tiny little thing at that."

"Girl?" Oz nodded. "How long have you been together?"

"A few years. Nothing formal. I chase her every full moon and she likes it that way." He shifted, getting comfortable. "This is really comfy. Have to remember this when I go home."

Snippet 18:

Xander looked out of his classroom when the screaming started. "Shit!" he swore. He grabbed his wand off the desk and headed out to try and do something about it. He locked his classroom door so that nothing could get through it. How did a fire monster get into his hallway. "WILLOW!" he shouted. Fire was her thing, not Tara's. And besides, Tara had this period free. She came running. "I think this is your area."

She frowned, concentrating on the monster. "It's a fire elemental. I've got to get some stuff."

"Can we get the students past it?" She shook her head. "Is there a passage out of this hallway?"

"There's the passage down into the dungeons. Send them down there."

Xander turned and unlocked his door. "Guys, you're leaving via the dungeons. Take your stuff and head down to the dungeons in one large group. It'll be harder to hit individuals that way." He waited until the group was formed, then let them out, firing on the elemental to distract it. He noticed Willow's class coming out to help her. "Do you think that's wise?"

"Xander, that elemental has to be really old and powerful," she complained. "I need the help. Ready?" she called. Her students all nodded, though a few of them looked like they were going to pass out. "Then begin!" She started the chant, bringing a water elemental to fight with it.

As soon as she had it started, Xander headed down after his class. He ran into Snape's class evacuating too and forced his way through the throng to find the teacher. "Fire elemental," he told him. Snape's eyes narrowed. "Big, huge, filled up the hallway, fire elemental."

"How would someone send one of those here?" Snape grumbled. He gathered up his materials and walked out into the hallway.

Xander followed him, stopping when he heard a large explosion. "That wasn't upstairs, was it?" he asked. Snape shook his head. "The store." He ran up the stairs, going as fast as he could to get out of the school. He forgot he couldn't teleport inside the school grounds and nearly knocked himself onto the ground just outside the door, but Hagrid caught him. He waved the help off and took off at a run. No, this couldn't be happening. Not the store. His son and husband were there. Not his family. By the time he got halfway there, he could see the smoke and tell where it was coming from. He put on an extra burst of speed, nearly running over one of the firefighters. "My family," he panted.

"In the ambulance. They were thrown free," he said, guiding Xander that way. He left Xander in the hands of one of the Ministry officials.

"Professor Harris, have you gotten any threats recently?" the Ministry official asked. Xander looked at him stupidly. "It was an explosion, Professor Harris. Someone did this."

Xander growled low in his throat. "Then they're mine." He pushed pat him, finding Fred and Iggy first. He bowled into them, giving them as tight of hugs as he dared. "George?"

"In the other one. He needed oxygen," Fred told him. He stopped Xander. "It was flashback. Just like at the school that time."

Xander's eyes narrowed. "You're sure?" Fred nodded. "Then whomever did it has to be one of us." He turned and found the Ministry official standing behind him. "Whoever did it used a decreate spell. It's one of the most powerful gryphon spell ever. It comes with warnings about nearly everything. That means it's one of my kind." He pushed past him and opened the back of the other ambulance, crawling in to give his husband a hug.

"Sir," the driver started. Xander growled at him. "Oh, you're the husband. That's fine then. Let him rest flat on his back please." He climbed in and helped arrange George so he wouldn't get hurt further. "We're taking them for observation. Do you know anything about the spell used?"

"Flashback," Xander told him. He looked up at the driver, who looked somewhat familiar. "Were you at Hogwarts when Voldemort showed up?" The young man nodded. "It was the same spell. They got caught by the flashback." He gave George a squeeze. "I'm going to tell your mom and dad. You rest until I get there tonight, okay?" George nodded, blowing a kiss through his oxygen mask. Xander looked up at the driver. "If he's seriously hurt, you do whatever you have to do to save his life. No questions asked." He kissed his mate's cheek and climbed out, watching as the ambulances disappeared. "Portkey, interesting usage," he decided. He looked at the smoking ruin, then nodded, walking over to where the store was. He found Madam Rosemerta in the crowd. "I need something to contain any infected debris," he told her quietly. She looked at him quizzically. "The jokes, they exploded with the shop. There's no telling what's on some of the wood." She nodded and hurried away. Xander turned to look at the firefighters. "It was flashback," he called. "I'm moving the remains." He shut his mind off so he wouldn't have to think about what the debris was. His family nest. Everything of his family's. Everything that his husband had ever wanted in his life. Destroyed by a selfish asshole who would be paying heavily. Madam Rosemerta gave him a large glass jug, like one that alcohol was cured in. Xander pulled his wand and picked up as much of the loose material as he could, sending it into the glass jar. There was no telling which joke had hit which piece of wood or how they had mixed. He noticed a few more being placed about and finished cleaning up the mess. By the time he was done, most of the crowd had disappeared.

One of the firefighters was standing beside him. "Souvenirs?" he asked.

"It was a joke shop," Xander said quietly. "The jokes exploded too." The firefighter winced. "This is public safety. There's no telling what was on some of that wood." He turned away from what had been his home. "It was a decreate spell. It causes flashback, a backwash of magic rushing outward from the spell to find a way back into the earth. Pure chaos magic and so very powerful that most of the gryphon-born can't cast it." He sighed and gave into the temptation, giving the ruins one last look. "I had my ability to cast it removed after that incident with Voldemort. There's going to not only be fallout from this incident, but it's going to resonate through the magic fields for weeks." Xander walked away, going to a safer place to send himself to Molly and Arthur. He ended up in the Ministry first, Arthur was always more calm. He gave his father-in-law a hug and told him. Arthur hurried away so Xander went to tell Molly. It was his duty, it was his family. By the time he got to the hospital, Dumbledore was there. "I'll be back day after tomorrow," Xander told him.

"That's fine. I expected you to ask for longer off," Dumbledore agreed, giving him a pat on the back. "Was it that spell definitely?"

"I've never seen another one that had a flashback like that. Not in any of the spellbooks is there anything that has a flashback warning. So unless they've got something I don't, I'm assuming it's that spell and it was another gryphon-born." He turned and hit the wall, cracking the plaster and fracturing one of his fingers. "I'm going to get them."

"After your mate is safely back at the Burrow," Arthur advised. Xander nodded, that was a given. "We don't know anything yet."

"There was someone there asking questions, he knew," Xander told him. He rubbed his sore hand. "I want them though, dad, and the part of my that's a gryphon is screaming for revenge. They destroyed my home, my nest. They nearly killed my mate. This deserves retribution of the highest order. They're going to get it."

"Of course they are," Molly agreed coldly. "Trust me, you're not alone in going after them, Xander. I want them just as much as you do." She looked at her husband. "No one said anything?" He shook his head. "Nothing?"

"Not a thing," he told her. "Xander said there was someone there but they apparently didn't feel the need to tell me." He looked around. "Molly, did you tell the others?"

"No. I thought we'd tell them tonight. Everyone was supposed to be home tonight for dinner." She looked back at the examination rooms. "Iggy and Fred will be fine, but they want George to stay overnight for observation. They think he might have a concussion from being thrown."

"Which is the only thing that doesn't fit," Xander butted in. "Flashback is a backwash of magic fighting to get back into the earth. It shouldn't have thrown George like that. It threw them clear of the building from what I saw."

"Could it have been directed?" Arthur suggested. One of his colleagues hurried down the hallway. "Maybe she has some information." He stopped the Minister of Magical Creatures. "Do you have any idea what's going on?"

"Not yet." She glanced at Xander. "The Unmentionables got the call first. They handed it over to us just a moment ago. They think it was one of the gryphon-born."

"But the flashback didn't act regularly," Arthur told her.

"Which is why we're both working the case. They wanted us to watch out for your family." She saw Molly's enraged look. "We'll find whomever did this, Molly, you know I won't rest until this mystery is solved."

"That makes two of us," Xander told her. She looked at him. "You're keeping me in the loop because there's no way you can get this person without endangering lives. I want them. They came after not only my family, but my family nest, which is as important to one of us as our family. It's our proof of lineage."

She nodded. "Fine. We'll keep you apprized. If you do the same, Harris." He shrugged. "Thank you. May I go ask them questions?"

"As long as you don't upset them," Xander told her. He took a deep breath then let it out slowly. "I'm going to go vent some of this anger." He sidestepped a nurse, heading outside. He glanced around the street he was on, then decided some walking might help. It was only a few blocks to the Leaky Cauldron and maybe he could trust Tom to hold his wand for a few minutes while he went to vent it out. As soon as he walked in the door, he felt someone like him. He glanced around and found Melody sitting in the corner. She had been at the store recently. He walked over and pulled her up to look at him.

"I heard. I have an idea who it might be," she told him. He let her go, still not saying anything. "There's a group of rogues, about ten strong, who want to be the new big bad. One of them tried to come after my daughter and my mother. I tracked him back to where they were meeting. Together we can take them, they're puny borns on the power scale."

Xander's eyes narrowed. "How did you know?"

"It's in the paper already. Someone sent the Daily Prophet a warning." She handed him the paper. "Are they okay?"

"George has a concussion. Everyone else is just bruised." He made a fist. "I promised to keep the people in on this. We have to go back to the hospital."

"Deal," she agreed. "They're near there anyway." She waved at Tom and put some money on the table. She had been waiting here most of the day for Xander, ever since she had read the paper. She followed him out into the night air, trying hard to keep up with him. She waited down the hall from the family, not wanting to upset them.

Xander walked up to Arthur and opened the paper, showing it to him. Arthur took it from him, reading it, going ever so slightly more pale. "Melody knows who it might be. Did that minister want to come with us?"

Arthur swallowed and looked up. "She's left for the night. I can call her."

Xander shrugged. "Your call. We're not waiting that long." Arthur nodded and walked away to call the proper people. Xander gave his son a hug. "I'm so glad that you're all right," he whispered.

"I'm okay, daddy. I promise I'm okay. Go stomp the buggers so I don't have to."

"Iggy," Molly chided gently. "You're not old enough to stomp anybody yet. Wait until you're out of school." She kissed Xander on the cheek. "Good luck, son. Give them one for me."

Xander nodded and let his son go. He turned and walked away, joining Melody at the end of the hall. There was no way he was losing this one. He didn't care who followed him into the fight; it could be a Death Eater for all he gave a damn. Anyone who got in his way was going to suffer. Official or not.


Xander looked at the warehouse Melody had led him to. Why did bad guys always have to be in warehouses? It was stupid. It might give you space but the building could easily collapse on you. He steeled himself for the upcoming battle, clearing his mind of everything else. He heard someone step up behind him, but instinctually recognized the person as non-lethal to him. He nodded at Melody and she blew the door in. He was still stronger than she was. She could do the more loud and startling things better than he could. He walked in through the cloud of dust, staring down the people staring at him. "I believe you called me out to a fight?" he asked calmly. His wand was in his hand. A few of them laughed. "Cute. Let me introduce you to my Hyena spirit," he sneered. "She does it better." He said the simple spell that undid the binding on his passengers. The hyena came forward and his eyes started to glow red. "You're mine. You came after my family and my family nest." The other gryphon-borns stepped back, leaving one where he was. "Don't even try," he sneered. "If you stick up for him, then you're my new enemy. My last one, I did that same spell on. Look what happened to him and his crew." He fired off his first spell, hitting the man left out in front. From behind him, a shield blocked off the exits, trapping them all in here. He shifted his focus from the man writhing on the floor, screaming in pain as his organs started to rearrange themselves, to the others. They all screamed and tried to run away. "You were warned," he hissed, firing off at them. Hex after hex, spell after spell, all of them eventually went down. A few of them had gotten off spells, but nothing that *harmed* him. One of them pissed him off, but nothing more. He felt another born in the building and looked around. She was standing above them on a catwalk. He raised the hand without the wand and fired his finger at her. "Boom," he said. "You're next. Let this be a lesson." She laughed, so he fired off his excess anger at her anyway, bringing the catwalk and part of the roof down on top of her. He stepped up to her. "I warned you," he told her in a conversational tone of voice. "Don't fuck with my family. Only the perpetually stupid do that and most of them don't live." She tried to sneer at him through her missing teeth. "Which clan tossed you out?"

She spat the blood at him. "I don't belong to any *clan*. That's for sissies."

He snorted. "Really? Gee, I got all the spells I ever needed from mine. *Everything* I could ever need to destroy you and all like you. *Never* touch what's mine again," he hissed. "Next time, I won't be so *nice*." He walked away. The shields came down and he walked outside. He saw an auror waiting and waved him off. "Go away. This isn't your business."

"Professor Harris, you've being called before the judicial board," the auror said, looking like he was very sorry to be doing this.

Xander laughed. "They can do whatever they want. This was my duty. You can tell them that when you see them again." He waved his wand and the auror went flying; Xander had sent him back to the Ministry building. He'd get there much faster this way. Xander shook off the rest of his anger as he walked back to the hospital. At least he hadn't killed anyone. It wouldn't have been right because his own family wasn't dead. The code of honor was very strict on that point. And hey, he could always go live with the colony if something happened. Iggy would probably love living there. He walked into the hospital and into an ambush. Fortunately they were in a hospital and could get immediate medical attention. He strolled into his mate's room and leaned down to give him a kiss. "They're very sorry and they're never going to do it again," he told George. He heard a cough and turned, finding his father-in-law standing there. "Shouldn't you be at home?"

"Xander, the Ministers have called for you to be put into prison," Arthur told him. "You got one of us."

Xander raised an eyebrow. "One of the born was a Ministry person

"An auror undercover to get them," George told him. He touched Xander's hand. "They can't do this, Dad."

"They can and they probably will, son, but not for very long."

Xander gave him a bright smile. "Let them do their worst. I'm known for having suffered and I've beaten it before." He handed George his wand, sticking it to his hand. "Keep that for me, babe, I'll be back soon." He followed Arthur out. "You know, they should have identified themselves, I might have spared them. Though I didn't kill anyone. The code is very strict on that."

"What code?" Arthur asked as he walked Xander to the Ministry's main building.

"The gryphon code. A death is only acceptable if a death occurred. That's why everyone's hurting but not dead."

Arthur nodded. "That's good to know." He led Xander into the Minister's judicial board room. "He's here."

"Thank you, Arthur. You may leave," Minister of Magic Asdar told him.

"He can stay," Xander told him, sitting down and putting his feet up. "My family has a right to hear what bullshit you're trying to put on me."

"Son, you hurt one of the aurors."

"Actually, I hurt a few of them because they were stupid enough to jump me on your orders," Xander corrected. One of the ministers sighed. "As for the one in the main battle, did they identify themselves?" Asdar shook his head. "Then why should I have spared them? As far as I knew, they were just like the others."

"You still hurt him."

Xander leaned forward. "And was he there when they attacked my family?" he asked coldly. Asdar flinched. "That's what I thought." Xander stood up. "You technically don't have the right to judge a gryphon matter, but I'm feeling nice today so I won't cause a stink about it. I agreed to keep the Minister of Magical Creatures informed and Arthur told her where we were headed. For that matter, if any of you read that yellow rag, then you would have known it was going to happen and might have prevented it."

"They were protecting Percy," Arthur said quietly.

Xander looked back at him. "Wonderful. What about the rest of you? The threat was to the *whole* family. Was someone protecting you and Molly? Or the kids?" Arthur nodded. "Huh." Xander looked back at the board. "So you purposefully left my family open to attack."

"We figured that they could take care of themselves," Asdar said quietly.

Xander laughed. "With me teaching almost a mile away and not able to get to them to help them? And with my *son* there?" Asdar paled. "You're in deep shit, Minister. You really are."

"We can throw you in Azkaban," one of the Ministers pointed out harshly. "You did attack some of our people."

"Only after they attacked me. And try it. Dementors don't touch us. They never have." He smiled. "It was in Voldemort's papers, a letter he sent Draco's father to warn him that there might be one of us fighting with Dumbledore at Archmenis." A few of the ministers shifted nervously. "Oh, didn't know about that either?" He looked at Asdar. "You did." Asdar swallowed. "So, where did you put those death eaters?"

"That's it, young man. You're going to Azkabhan."

Xander laughed. "Go right ahead. I could probably use the meditation time. They won't hurt me. I have mental shields that they can't break. They don't know Willow and Tara's magic either." Asdar's face turned red. "For that matter, I could probably lose the extra weight I'm currently carrying around. I'd like to see you handle the matter diplomatically though."

"What makes you think they'll know?" Asdar said cruelly.

"Easy. Melody sent herself there as soon as the fight was done." Asdar laughed. "By teleportation, which you can't stop unless you have her exact output level." That stopped him. "The gryphons might give you an early Christmas present and not interfere, but do you usually gamble like that?"

"Explain your earlier remark," the Minister of Magical Creatures demanded.

"Okay." Xander pointed at Asdar's arm and used the last bit of his rage to rip the cloth and the illusion off it. "That's what I meant. He dropped out?"

"He was a spy," the Minister told him. "How did you know that?"

"While I was sick I helped Draco clean out some of his father's office, which he had left alone until he was ready. His name was on the list of fighters at Archmenis." He sat down and put his feet back up. "Now then, you can be reasonable or you can be assholes, that's all up to you. Personally, I'm tired. I started fighting with a very old fire elemental this morning in Hogwarts and continued until just now." He yawned. "I really am tired and would like to get back to my mate's side. He needs me."

"You're not going anywhere," Asdar told him. "Except to prison." Xander waved a hand. "That doesn't bother you?"

"Like I said, they can't drain me. They can barely find me when they try. Bring one in, I can prove it. All it'll do is piss me off more." He smiled sweetly. "All up to you still." He put his feet onto the floor. "This isn't really a big game of chess, no matter what you think."

"Xander," Arthur told him, coming over to take his seat on the council. "You had no right to go after them like that."

"I had every right. They tried to destroy my lineage and the symbol of my house. By gryphon rules, that's punishable. Which I did. I followed the code exactly. A death is not acceptable in these matters unless a death occurred. I didn't kill any of them but they won't be doing it again."

"The warehouse lit on fire once you were a block away," Arthur told him.

Xander laughed. "That still wasn't me. If I had wanted to burn them, I would have done it while we were all in there. Melody and I would have been able to walk out of it." He leaned forward, talking only to his father-in-law. "You remember back when you worried about my lack of control?" Arthur nodded. "Well, I fully admit I lost it tonight, but the fire wasn't me. I had no need to burn them. Even if they aren't of a clan or a colony, then they're still bound by the gryphonic rules of conduct. It's nearly innate in us, as much as our desire not to do a frontal assault is. All of us act in certain ways according to what everyone's told me. By attacking any of you, they knew they were facing retribution. They might not have expected me to be that powerful, but they knew it was coming. If I hadn't retaliated, then the gryphon community would have turned their back on my whole family. That's the way they are. I'd be seen as too weak to be one of them."

"Is that the only reason you retaliated?" Asdar asked.

"No. They hurt my family. My desire for retribution was much stronger than the knowledge that I had to do something about them. The screaming in my blood is still going on because I left them alive, but I know where the line is." He put his feet back up. "Sorry, it's been a long day," he said at the dirty look. The door slammed open and Xander looked over his shoulder. "Hey, Ron, go wait outside." Ron opened his mouth. "Outside. They can't do anything that'll hurt more than my reputation." Ron glared at everyone, especially his father.

"Ron, wait outside while we discuss this," Arthur ordered calmly. His son slammed the door, then kicked it for good measure, but he was back in the hallway. "Xander, I know that my family is your family, but he is my son and it was proper that I do that."

"He wasn't coming to your aid and he wouldn't have wanted to listen to you," Xander pointed out calmly. "Besides, I was closer." He grinned. "But you might end up with a very surly son for a few days."

"Boy, you're overstepping your boundaries," Asdar warned.

Arthur glared at him. "That too is my jurisdiction," he said angrily. He glared at Xander. "But it is true."

"Then yell at me later. Fighting two battles will only give me a headache."

"You're taking this very lightly," one of the other ministers accused.

Xander shrugged. "Why should I take this heavily?"

"We could kick you out of Britain and refuse to allow you to get anything of yours. Including your money or going to Stonehenge to say goodbye," that minister told him.

Xander shrugged. "I've started over a few times in my life. What makes you think I can't again?" He spluttered. "Let me guess, you think that I'm a little scared of being kicked out? Not a bit." He put his feet back down, they were numb. "I started over when I came here. I would make sure Iggy at least stayed here, and George if I could so he could see his family, but I can start over. The only barrier I would have is language. Oh, and by the way, you underestimate my skills yet again." He looked at Arthur. "May I borrow your wand for a second?" It was handed to him and everyone watched him very closely. Xander growled a gryphonic phrase and his journal came floating down onto the table. Xander tossed back the wand and picked up the journal to show the name on the front of it. "With the exception of the money in Gringott's, which I would leave for my son anyway, I can always start over again." He laughed. "At the very least, I have an 'in' with a chaos sorcerer because my bird likes him and a vampire because he sees me as something more than a body to be used in a fight." He stood up. "Is there anything else? My mate needs me and I think we've covered all the bases."

"You still hurt those aurors."

"They attacked me first," Xander countered. "That's not assault, that's protecting myself from bullies." Asdar glared at him again. "Did you tell them to jump me as I walked in the hospital?" Asdar shook his head. "Pity. I'd like to talk to the person who told them that. There were injured people in there who probably got disturbed." He tipped his head to the side. "If you want to try me, then let's have a trial. If not, I've got shit to do and you're keeping me away from my mate and my son." He watched as the ministers looked at each other. Finally one pointed a wand at him. Xander felt his mind be transported to somewhere else. It was almost like he was in a cell. He could see a dementor floating in front of him and he shrugged it off. He felt a touch brush against his mind, but it didn't really touch him. He settled in to meditate before he hurt someone. A while later it was like his husband was coming to visit him. He smiled at this fake George. They had gotten the hair wrong, George had gotten a haircut just yesterday. "Hey," he said, waving but not moving. The dementor came back but it passed by him like it was an empty cell. "They can't get me. And you're not real." George's mouth opened but the vision shattered. Xander was panting and sweating, but he stared down the wizards. "I told you so." He picked up his journal. "Was there anything else?" No one said anything so he left the room. He saw Ron waiting out there. "Don't get in the middle of it," he suggested. "It's going to get nasty again." He walked away, going back to the hospital. Once he got there, he asked a nurse if she could give him something for his broken finger. She gave him a splint and let him sit beside his husband's bed.

When Arthur and Molly walked in, he shushed them and took it out into the hall. "Tell me now if you don't want me around anymore."

Molly hauled off and hit him. "Shut up, Xander." He shrugged. "I know what you're thinking. I'm not mad at *you*. You did what you had to do to make sure no one ever did it again and made sure that the people who did it this time won't be doing it to anyone else." Xander nodded. "You're more than welcome at the house when you bring George over to recuperate." She reached up and laid a hand against his cheek. "You're so brave."

"Stunned stupid," he said, giving her a bright smile. "And really tired. I'll bring him tomorrow so I have time to get our room at the school ready. You can baby him tomorrow."

"And Iggy will be staying with us," Arthur said, giving him a faint smile. "You scared a lot of them."

Xander snorted. "If they had done any research, they would have known that we're the masters of mind fucks. We invented that trick." He grimaced and looked at the room behind him. "We'll talk about this tomorrow, Arthur. You were doing your job. The same as those poor schmucks who I beat up earlier were."

"Xander, you did break a few rules," Arthur told him. Molly hit him. "Ow. What was that for?"

"Those rules are stupid and don't cover this situation."

"They're to prevent incidences like Bill's people found at that site," he argued.

"This is a hospital," Xander interrupted. Both parents looked sheepish. "Thanks but gryphons don't think like that. If they retaliate for my retaliation, then any gryphon has the right to destroy them. Even if they've rejected everything else, they know this." He smiled at Arthur. "Just think, I'm not the strongest. One of the strongest of my degree of being born, but not the strongest. The strongest few live in the colony because they have 'puny human' complexes."

Arthur grimaced. "Yes, we've met a few of them." He reached over and patted Xander on the shoulder. "I understand, Xander, but I would have rather not seen that."

Molly laughed crudely. "It's no different than when he went after those death eaters. They decided not to do anything to him then because of who it was. In this case, they were just as harmful to society. It was a blessing." She pulled Xander down and kissed him on the cheek. "Come home as soon as you can. Iggy nearly broke my heart worrying about you tonight." She smiled. "Did you tell Ron to mind his own business?"

"No, I told him not to get between me and Arthur," Xander told her. "I don't want to make the guy pick a side. That's just wrong." He shrugged and walked into the room again, going to check on his mate. Maybe it would be better if they moved to the colony. He had a standing offer. Or he could always make the new house more secure.


Molly came out of the fireplace and ran into Ron, who was still pacing and muttering. "He told you not to get into the middle of the argument between him and your father and I agree, so quit," she ordered. Ron gave her a shocked look. "Yes, you. All that muttering and wearing a hole in my floor. You should be ashamed of yourself."

"But..but he shoved me away and told me not to get in the middle."

"Between him and your father," she said, giving him a short hug. "I asked, he said he didn't want you to have to pick a side." Ron nodded. "Does that make you feel better?"

"Yeah," Ron said, giving her a small smile. "I thought he was trying to say I couldn't help."

"No, I'm sure you could have helped him quite a lot. Your father said they tried to do something that showed him what prison would have been like. The person who did it has a whopper of a headache," she informed him with a cold smile. "Imagine, making it seem like he was in prison. And Xander didn't react at all."

"I imagine he based it off what Sirius Black told him, mum," Ron suggested, sitting down to watch her putter around the kitchen. "Is he in trouble?"

"Only if they're being bullies, which they tried." She pursed her lips. "Apparently Xander pulled out his arsehole act for them." Ron's eyes widened. "Yes, dear, I do swear when there's a reason for it," she told him condescendingly. Really, did her children think her a saint? "They pushed and he countered with calm smugness."

"So that's where Draco gets it from," he said happily. His mother laughed and shook her head. "So he acted like one of them and they didn't like it?"

"Not all of them are like that," she reminded him. "We've known some of those people for a very long time."

"Some of them always looked at me like I was deviant little creature and they were waiting to put me in jail." His mother frowned at him. "They did. Remember that garden party when I was nine?" His mother's face scrunched up but she eventually nodded. "Asdar gave me that look whenever I went for the snack table. That present Minister of Magical Creatures looked at me like I was some sort of creature that she didn't want to deal with. A few others got me too. Fudge used to do the same thing."

"Son," Arthur said as he appeared behind him. "They're like that because of their jobs. They hold important jobs and have a lot of stress."

"Not back then they didn't," Ron argued. "Asdar was an auror at the time. Minister Fudge wasn't a minister and most of the rest of them weren't nice to us kids. It's power corruption, not stress, dad."

"I'm sure it's not," his father told him, sitting beside him. "Ron, you can't barge into a judicial chamber like that. They could have seen it as an attempt to free Xander and punished you with him." He patted his son's arm. "I would have hated that."

"Dad, if they touch any of us, then Xander's going to hurt them," Ron said firmly. "You're lucky he held it in tonight." Arthur nodded. "I won't get in the middle of you and Xander arguing tomorrow, but I won't let him get hurt by this family. Some of us will follow George." Arthur looked sad, but he nodded again. "Not that I want it to happen," Ron soothed, "but if it does. You know how Xander is. You've seen him protect the family before."

"Which is why I stepped in tonight. He nearly got sent to prison."

"For protecting his family?" Ron snorted. "Not without one hell of a protest."

Arthur shook his head. "Not even Dumbledore would be able to save him, son. Asdar is very close to revoking Xander's citizenship and banishing him from Britain."

Molly banged a pot onto the stove. "Let him try."

Arthur smiled at her. "Xander told him the same thing. That he could always start over again and we would have Iggy. And possibly George if Xander could force him to stay." He shrugged at her dirty look. "He knew that Asdar had been a spy."

Ron snorted "According to the records I've seen, there's only been one successful spy that never got caught. Snape." Arthur nodded for him to go on. "From the records of the trials that they held, and the released documents for the ones they didn't even bother to try and hold, Voldemort killed any and all spies except Snape."

"Who has those?" Molly asked as she brought over some sandwiches.

"Harry. Hermione thought it might help his nightmares to read some of the transcripts. Did you know that Sirius wasn't the only one who got thrown into Azkabhan without a trial?" Both parents shook their heads. "Yeah, there are records for twelve more that never got given that right. Most of them are dead now, but there's a few who are alive. And almost all the trials had someone saying that the Ministry would fall from the inside. Which leads me to believe that they had a spy in there, not the other way around." He took a bite of his sandwich and grimaced. "Corned beef?"

"It's all we have. I have to do some shopping," Molly sighed. "Just eat it, Ron."

"Yes, mum." He took another bite. "It does make me wonder."

"Ron, please don't repeat any of that theory. It could get a lot of people in trouble. Most of those records are supposed to be sealed."

"No they're not. Hermione got them from the library at Hogwarts in the newspaper archives. And I'm not the only one asking questions. Harry went to ask Dumbledore if any of that was true. He agreed that Asdar might be a death eater who's trying to pretend he's not."

"Some of them did reform," Molly put in weakly. "Or tried to."

"Yeah, but he denies what he is," Ron pointed out.

"Which could be because he's worried about the backlash," Arthur reminded him. "It would be like Xander wearing a t-shirt with his lineage on it. Some people would not be very happy with him for it." He took a bite of his own sandwich. "I know you don't care about such things, but for someone like Asdar, image is everything."

"And Xander just threw it to the wind," Molly reminded him.

Arthur nodded. "I know. I almost expecting a letter to be in my box on Monday thanking me for voluntarily quitting." Ron frowned. "When I made Minister, they requested a letter of resignation so it could be put about if something happened and I embarrassed them. With Xander being part of my family, it could happen."

"Not unless they want some major backlash," Ron said, his eyes narrowed. Arthur shook his head. "Dumbledore would stick up for you, so would most of the teachers, and some of your coworkers."

"They'd be trying to protect their own jobs, son. It wouldn't happen."

"Well, that sucks," Fred said as he walked down the stairs. "What about Percy? The Ministry is his life."

"Asdar is cruel enough to try and make him choose," Arthur told him. "I wouldn't blame him for it if he does." He handed over his sandwich. "I wish the aurors had decided to go in with Xander instead of standing back and waiting for it to end."

"Excuse me?" Fred asked. "They stood back and waited for Xander to do their dirty work?" Arthur nodded slowly. "And did anyone else see this?"

"I heard the aurors talking about it while they waited to jump Xander at St. Mungos. They all knew. Asdar told them to wait and see if he walked out of it alive."

"Mother fuckers," Fred muttered. His mother gave her wand a meaningful look. "Mum, first they leave us open to attack, Xander's immediate family. Then they do things to try and let him be killed. Doesn't that sound funny to you?"

She nodded. "But there's nothing we can do about it." She snorted. "It's not like the Daily Prophet is going to do an expose on what happened."

"They might, if they thought it would change the current administration," Ron said. "They're mad at Asdar too for letting Xander and Draco screw them so badly."

On the windowsill, unseen by them, a small ladybug took notes with her special quill pen. That gryphon-born female had been right, this was going to be one of the top stories of the century.

Snippet 19:

Notes: Thanks to Shaz for the idea, it'll come in here and the next snippets too. Hers was the idea with the caves.

Xander looked over at Fred as he joined them in the living room. "I found my building spell," he said. "But it'll build a cave complex." George shuddered. "I can put windows in, if you can stand that for a while until we can rebuild."

"I'm not sure we'll be rebuilding," Fred told him. George nodded.

"But it's your dream," Xander protested. "You're letting them win!"

"They blew up the store, Xander, and everything in it."

"Yeah, and I lost just as much as you did," he reminded them harshly. He shook his head. "Sorry."

"It's okay," Fred told him. "I know you miss things that you've lost, but I'm still not sure we should rebuild."

"And you'll do what instead?" Xander asked. Fred glared at him. "Hey, practicalities here. George can always come live with me at the school. That means you're stuck."

Fred nodded and slumped down some. "I know. I'm trying not to think about that."

"Then let me see what I can plan for a rebuild," Xander coaxed. "At least let me do a plan or something so you can decide if you can live with it for now."

"Caves probably wouldn't help us," George pointed out quietly. "We'll need a real building."

"Actually," Xander said with a grin. "If the spell works the way I think it does, we can have something better. But we can still rebuild the building around the caves. It'll be a temporary shop so you have some cash coming in while you're working on the new store."

"The longer we wait, the more market share we lose," George agreed. Fred nodded. "Can we at least do that much?"

"Sure," Fred sighed. "I'll look at a plan."

"Cool." Xander grinned. "Now then, what about the other practicalities? Insurance and that stuff."

"We had some," George told him. "I made the payment last month."

"The Prophet owes you guys bigtime," Ron said as he walked in to join them. "Has anyone seen the paper this morning?" Everyone shook their heads so Ron held it up so everyone could read the headline.

Ministry Intentionally Harms Old Wizarding Family Over Prejudice.

"Oh, shit," Fred said, snatching it to read it. "Who wrote this?" He searched and found the byline. "Skeeter gave us good press?"

"It's her way of getting back at the Ministry for letting Xander and Draco screw them," Ron said happily. "She says so down near the bottom. Calls for an external investigation about how 'widespread the prejudice goes and how these strange and powerful wizards are being mistreated, thereby creating a new evil force'." He smiled at Xander. "That's you by the way."

Xander laughed. "Really? I'm the new badguy on the block?" Ron nodded. "That's nearly cool. Not exactly me, but cool nonetheless. How did she hear about this?"

"She's an animagus," Ron said smugly. "Turns into a bug. Hermi found out."

"So she could be here now?" Fred asked as he looked around. Ron shook his head. "No?"

"Nope. She's a ladybug. It's not the season for them so she can't be too obvious." Ron sat down on Xander's other side. "What can I do to help you rebuild?" Both twins opened their mouths but nothing came out. "Yes, me. I have learned how to build stuff over the years."

Xander gave him a hug. "You can help me. We're doing a temporary store." He let his buddy go. "Have you heard from Percy?"

Ron nodded, scratching his scalp. "Yeah, I heard from him. Actually I went to see him and they did what dad thought they would. I told him we'd understand if he picked his job."

Xander nodded. "I will. I'll owl him and make sure he knows I won't get upset."

"We," George reminded him. He gave his husband a stern look. "You're not babying me this time, Xander."

Xander gave him a breath-stealing kiss, keeping it up until his mate went limp. "Of course I'll wait on you hand and foot," he said with a grin. "You're coming back to the school with me or you're staying here. There's no chance you won't be pampered within an inch of your temper." George opened his mouth so Xander took possession of it again. George wouldn't be able to protest by the time he was done.


Draco sat down, finally alone for the first time in days, and picked up the distressingly large stack of newspapers that he hadn't had time to read yet. He flipped the stack over so he could start at the bottom and catch up. The first headline caught his attention. "Bloody hell, doesn't it ever stop?" he muttered, reading the article about the corruption in the Ministry. He had a perfect idea for the Ministry but no one would listen to him because of who his father had been. The next one made him gasp. "Someone's trying to hurt the family?" He quickly scanned the article. The date caught his attention. It had been sent out six days ago. A week and no one had bothered to warn him? He picked up the next one and his mouth opened. "I'll kill them," he growled.

"What's going on?" Ginny asked. She walked in and sat beside him, putting her head on his shoulder. He showed her the paper. "Is everyone okay?" she asked, taking it to read. An attack on the shop? And Hogwarts? Her family. "They're dead now," she vowed. She took the next paper in the pile, reading the story about Xander against the Ministry. The next day's paper didn't have anything in it, but the day after that did. People were calling for mass resignations. Especially the Minister of Magic's and the minister over magical creatures. They had tried to throw Xander in jail without a trial? She stood up and looked at the fireplace. "Want to take Anastasia for a visit?" she asked.

"Let's see the last one first," he suggested. "Just in case we have to mount a rescue attempt." He picked up that last paper and smiled at the picture on the front. Xander and Harry in Diagon with the kids. Doing normal things. The caption said something about them leaving it to others to fix, which was very ungryphon-like. It speculated that Xander knew more than he was letting on. He handed the paper to Ginny and went to gather the kids together. They could use an outing today. A quick trip to the Burrow and then to find Xander. A short, pleasant trip. As soon as he stepped into the living room, Ginny took their youngest from his arms, bundling her up tightly.

"We go separately," Simone announced. She smiled at her parents. "I know how." She hurried over at the skeptical look, tossing some powder into the fire. "The Burrow," she called out. The fire turned green and she stepped inside it, sending herself off. She landed in the kitchen and peeked around the corner into the living room. Grandpa was talking with people, a lot of people, maybe even fifteen, which was as high as she could count. She decided against a noisy entrance and snuck up behind him, casually slipping into his lap. "Hi," she said when the talking stopped. "We come to check on the unclies. Daddy pissed."

"I know he probably is," Arthur told her. "Iggy's outside."

"So? I haven't had huggles recently." She hugged him.

Arthur smiled at his coworkers and shrugged. "She's been with her family now for nearly a month," he explained. A few of his coworkers smiled. "As I was saying, I don't want it. I can't be impartial. We'll need someone above reproach. Someone who can not only be impartial, but not base his decisions on his family."

"Fidders," someone suggested.

Arthur thought about it. "He would work," he agreed. "He understands the problems." He nodded slowly. "I can see him as the new Minister."

"He definitely won't ignore a dark force rising," one of the visitor said lightly.

Draco walked into the living room. "May I make a suggestion?" Arthur smiled at him and nodded. "Why don't you set it up so that all the Ministers have to vote for their next boss? Then slowly make it general elections?"

"You wouldn't protest mudbloods voting?" one of the female contingent asked.

Draco grimaced. "While I still think most of them can't find their asses with their wands, there are some that seem to have some sense." He glanced at his girlfriend. "And besides, someone gave me a very long lecture about genetics and how we were getting weaker by inbreeding, which means that Harris will end up taking over eventually."

"Like you'd mind," Ginny said, bopping him on the back of the head. "Ow. Your hair's crunchy again."

"I like my hair this way," he reminded her. She opened her mouth and he kissed her. "Leave the hair alone."

"I'll get it fixed for you one of these days," she vowed. She handed over the baby, shooing Simone off her grandfather's lap. "Is everyone okay? We just caught up with the news."

Arthur nodded. "For the most part. George and Fred are fairly disheartened. Their insurance agent's already been around to see them and said they'd get it soon. Xander's working on plans to rebuild the shop. Percy's in a royal snit because someone gave him an ultimatum." He shrugged. "It's what we expected when we found out what was going on."

"And you didn't tell us?" Draco demanded. "Did you think I wouldn't help? Or be able to help in some way?" He pouted. He had thought he was family.

"You were protecting the most important of the family treasures," Arthur told him, making him stop pouting. "None of us would have been able to go on if any of the children had gotten hurt."

Draco nodded, mollified. "All right, but tell me next time." He picked up Denver and swung him around. "Come on, let's go pounce Iggy." He led the small parade of children into the yard.

Arthur smiled at his daughter, but didn't relinquish his hold on the latest grandchild. "Why don't you go play too, dear?" he suggested. She rolled her eyes and walked away too. He looked back at the others. "It was a good idea," he told them.

Everyone nodded. "Might cause a bit of a stink," one man offered. "It shouldn't be too hard to implement at first. If only the Ministers and Under-Ministers vote, it should go rather quickly."

Arthur nodded. "Are we in agreement then? Fidders?" Almost everyone nodded. "Were there any others that could be suggested?"

"I was going to suggest Athena Harmandis. She's fairly fair, but a bit high strung."

"I think it would soothe the average wizard and witch if we went from the inside this time. But, if she wants, I wouldn't mind sitting down and talking to her. If everything that's going on happens then we'll probably have quite a few openings coming free." Everyone nodded at that. "Any news on the hearings?"

"Just that the magical creatures want Asdar's head," one woman suggested. "Apparently he's pissed them off for the last time. I know they're not going to call Xander about what happened. They want the incident to die." Ginny ran up the stairs crying.

Draco stomped back in and flopped down onto the floor beside Arthur's chair. "Your daughter's insane," he told him.

Arthur patted him on the head. "What happened now?"

"I was praising Denver for being a little Malfoy." A few of the guests coughed and snickered at that. "He is. He's exactly what I wanted to be when I was his age." He looked up at his father-in-law. "Then I praised Simone because she's *obviously* one of you. So Ginny screamed something about me being a pig and ran away crying." He shrugged. "I don't understand."

Arthur nodded. "I know, son. It's hard to understand women. I'll have her mother talk to her. It might help some." Draco nodded and rested his head on his upraised knees. "Did you want in on this meeting?"

"As long as no one's going to hurt the family over whatever happened, I'm good with the world not falling apart." He looked around, then up at Arthur. "Are you making sure some stability exists?" Arthur nodded. "Are you planning on making a rule that states a death eater can't hold a position of power?"

"No, but we were considering a disclosure to the ministers rule," one man told him. "That way people would know."

"If you put it before the elections, it would probably help a lot," Draco offered. "That's how Xander said they do it in America." Everyone looked at each other. "We might even base it on the British system if we wanted to take the muggle way out of this trouble."

"That could work," Arthur agreed. Everyone nodded. "It's a very good suggestion, son." He smiled at Draco. "Xander's back at the school today. George is hiding from him."

"I'd hide from him too," Draco snorted. "That man can smother if you're sick." He looked around. "How is everyone?"

"We found something interesting," the vocal woman said. "The top of the building blew off. The flashback sent the bottom level outward and the top two upwards. We've found a few pieces of their clothing fifty miles away." She smiled. "It's a very odd occurrence. Someone's studying it to see if it was a fluke or something in the design of the store."

"With as many times as they had to fix it, there's no telling," Draco told her. But he smiled. "So, the nest?" She shrugged. "No idea yet?"

"We've sent word out and a few people have sent things in. We've gotten six robes, a few books, and a bunch of metal boxes embedded in trees." Draco smiled. "The nest might have blown apart."

"Hopefully not," Arthur sighed. "It's the way gryphons establish lineage." He patted Draco on the head again. "Each child gets some of the family nest for their nest to mark them as part of the family."

"You have a nest?" the woman asked him. Draco nodded. "A big one?"

"Smallish, but it's meant for the children. They enjoy the hell out of it." He looked up. "I'll gladly let Xander steal some of the scented hay for a rebuild."

"He still has the one at the school too," Arthur reminded him. "The problem is that Xander's family kept that nest for generations."

"How do you keep the hay from going bad?" one of the men asked. Arthur and Draco shrugged. "A spell of some sort? A preserving technique?"

"You'd have to ask Xander," Arthur told him. "I don't know. We haven't been gifted with one."

"I don't think Xander would want to see you sleep in a nest," Draco told him, smiling at him. "It wouldn't be something he'd want to walk in on."

Arthur rolled his eyes. "Xander doesn't tend to walk in on us, Draco, your son does."

"Point," he agreed with a grin, feeling much better now. "But at least my son didn't scream about adults being deformed."

Arthur laughed. "No, he didn't." He shook his head, but everyone else was smiling. Laughing was good. They needed the tension break.


Xander brought the small model out to show McGonagall. "What do you think?"

"Will it be big enough?" she asked with a smile. He gave her a look. "Sorry, couldn't resist. It's been a good day for me. Someone managed to get their lesson right on the first try." She lifted the lid off, looking inside. "It's rather dark," she offered. "Will that be enough room?"

"That's just for the store." He added on another section. "That's for us. And yeah, I couldn't figure out how to do windows so the blue stuff marks where I'm putting them." He watched her look it over. "I thought that the wobbly lines would help them separate out the stuff by section. You know, the fun, kiddie safe stuff right at the front. The more adult revenge toys toward the back."

She put the lid back on. "That's a wonderful idea. Have you shown them yet?" He shook his head. "I wouldn't mind it, were it up to me. It looks like you planned for almost everything. Bathroom?"

"Right here," Xander said, pointing at it. "A public one in the store and a large one in the back. I'm planning a sunken tub and everything."

"Very nice," she agreed. She straightened up. "When do you show it to the twins?"

"Tonight at dinner. Then I'll let them decide and do the formal planning for the human sized one." He looked over as the door opened, admitting Snape and Dumbledore. "I got the model finished," he said happily. The older men came over to look at it. "The blue areas will be windows in the real one." He was almost nervous. He liked these two men and their opinions mattered to him. Snape stepped back and nodded, looking pleased. "You think they'll like it?"

Snape nodded. "Most likely. The windows in the lab are a nice touch." He crossed his arms. "How will you build it?"

"A few spells," Xander told him. "Ginny's going to shield the area while I work so no one can see what I'm doing. These'll be the biggest spells I've ever done. They're so complex there's a whole book on the building spell itself. I've got my notes though and the diagrams so I can visualize properly."

Dumbledore pointed at a small mark on the lid of the store. "What's this?"

"I was thinking about putting in a chandelier there. I was going to put some metal flashing or mirrors around the skylights to spread the sunlight around, but I figured we'll need a regular light source too. A chandelier is just something I've always wanted."

Dumbledore smiled at him. "Excellent work, Xander. I look forward to seeing the real thing. You'll have to let us go through first."

Xander beamed. "Okay. I'll tell them." He carefully put the models away and covered them. "I hope they like it."

"They should," McGonagall told him. "Have you heard anything about the Ministry?"

"Dad's having a meeting today with a bunch of the Ministers and Under-Ministers. I'm hoping that they at least set a course of direction. Maybe even come up with a name for the new Minister of Magic."

"Did Asdar finally quit?" Snape asked.

"The advisory board looking into everything *suggested* that he retire," Xander told him. "They've also decided they don't want to talk to me, hear about me, or see me ever." Dumbledore burst out laughing. "Apparently I scared some of them," he said with a naughty grin.

"Not that they didn't deserve it," McGonagall said, patting him on the arm. "You called for us to come today?"

"Oh, yeah. We need to work on the maze this year. Since I'm rewriting the book, I can't run it. My deadline is January second and I've found some assumptions of arrogance in the book. I had no idea that Giles wrote some of it from his training and not the research. So I'm going to go find someone and talk to them about it. They'd know and can give me what I need."

"Will this person cooperate?"

"Probably," Xander noted with a grin. "Spike still thinks I'm a pretty good human. I've sent him a letter and he said he'd help, but I'll need about three days and a weekend off to go see him. I'll be in London, but we're going to be holed up working on the categories together."

Dumbledore nodded. "I can approve it. Did you need one of us to cover your classes?"

"I'd like it. All of you have sat in on some of my lectures. Otherwise I've got to get a student to fill in and they stutter."

"I have a free period during part of your fourth years' class," Snape agreed. "If we can combine them for this week it would be easier."

McGonagall shrugged, it didn't matter to her. The other houses were with her that period. "As long as we can do that for the third years' class also, which would give you a free period that week," she agreed. Dumbledore nodded when they looked at him. "Then it should work well enough. Can you give us your notes?"

"I can give you the notes, written out perfectly, so all you have to do is read them." Both teachers nodded. "Cool, thanks. I really need to get this book fixed. If the research I did wasn't right, then I don't know what's going on. The books I used and Giles disagreed forty seven times in the first book, and now I've got to include the second class too. Would it be too hard to put them together? I know it'd make the book cost more, but it'd be easier for me."

Dumbledore shrugged. "It's your class. A pricier book would be a worry for some parents, but noting on it that it was for two years worth of classes might help some." He patted Xander on the shoulder. "As I said your first year, you're the teacher."

Xander nodded. "With any luck, I'll have everything fixed and ready for editing by the time I come back. Spike's one of those guys who, if he doesn't know, he knows someone who knows and can get hold of them. He's the one who's going to make the book work this time. I'm even giving him co-writing credit."

Dumbledore smiled. "I'm sure the vampire will appreciate that greatly." He smiled at the young teacher. "If there wasn't anything else?"

"No, just that. I'll be borrowing Willow's laptop and she's already agreed too. It should be okay."

The teachers walked out, talking about some minor gossip from their houses.

Xander looked around the classroom. It would all be okay.


Xander smiled at Ginny as she came to help carry the model. He gave her the smaller, residential section piece and took the main part himself. Together they flooed over to the Burrow. "I bring an idea," he called. No one answered. He put the model onto the table and walked around to look around. "No note," he called.

Ginny groaned. "It's not a problem. I know it's not a problem." She looked around, then grabbed some floo powder. "Potterville," she called. Hermione's head appeared nearly instantly. "Is my family there?"

"No, and neither's Harry," she said complacently. "They all went shopping for something. They're supposed to be back in about half an hour." She looked behind Ginny, smiling at Xander. "Did you get the model done?"

"Just today," he told her. "Sorry, but we panicked."

"Perfectly understandable," Hermione agreed. "By the way, Xander, I'm getting you for the drums." Her head disappeared.

"Drums?" Ginny asked.

Xander nodded. "Drums. She gave one of the toys I gave the kids an unamused look. I warned her the next one would be noisy." He went to put the model together, but out of the way. "I'm all set," he announced from the living room.

"Good," Ginny told him. "Will it work?"

"Oh yeah," he agreed as he walked back into the kitchen. "No matter how long it takes to rebuild the building will hold and we can always build through the walls, knocking one room down at a time to build the wooden building if they want." He stopped when the fireplace dinged and Harry stepped out of it, imitating a beast of burden. "Give me that," he said, taking the bags from him. "What's all this?"

"Groceries," Harry panted. "Molly just did a stocking run because the panty had been allowed to go bare." He collapsed into a chair. "That woman haggles like a pro."

Molly came out of the fire, laughing. "Thank you, Harry." She kissed his cheek, then Xander's. "Just leave it, I'll put it up."

"Nope," Xander said, stuffing some cans onto the pantry shelf, label side out because she liked it that way. "I can help."

She grabbed him by the arms and steered him out of her way. "Out. Go sit down." She rearranged the cans he had already put up, even though he had put them into the right order. As soon as everyone else appeared, she snatched the bags from their hands and put everything away.

Xander motioned his partners in crime out to the living room, where he had set up the model. He took the cover off carefully and stepped back.

"It's a cave," Fred said. George nodded.

"Pick up the lid and look inside," Xander urged. "The blue areas will be windows."

George took off the top and flipped it over when he noticed the blue areas. "Skylights?" Xander nodded so he put it aside. They examined the edges of the shop. "How is this temporary?"

"I can take down each room as it's ready to be built," Xander told him.

"Oh," Fred said, nodding. "Excellent idea." He nudged one of the non-straight walls. "Why is it like that?"

"See, I figured you could separate out things by grouping. The stuff for everyone up front," he said, pointing at that section. "The farther back, the more adult you get. I figure the revenge toys should probably be at the very back." He turned the model a little bit so they could see the lab he had set up. "And I put the workroom and lab here, with windows so the kids could watch you create. They'll have shades so you can have privacy, but you can show off sometimes too," he said happily.

"What's that section?" George asked, pointing at the other part of the model.

"Living quarters."

"Oh," Fred said happily. "Can we look inside?" Xander moved so they could huddle around that part. "This looks great," he said finally. He looked at his brother-in-law. "How much will it cost us?"

"Less than it did to renovate the building the last time," Xander told him. "The stones for the cave can be found anywhere. We can get some of them from the woods if we look hard enough. I asked Hagrid and he said there's an old quarry a few miles away, easily flyable if we want to look there. The biggest expense will be the lab setup."

George smiled at his husband. "Splendid thinking, hubby. Can we think about it?" Xander nodded and walked away. "Do you like it?" he asked his twin.

"He thought of everything," Fred reminded him. "It really is an ingenious design. I'm wondering if he can really do all this though."

"He said he'd create the model using the same spells," George offered. "I'm guessing windows were a little hard in this size." He ran a finger over the blue spots designating skylights. "He worked hard to make it not look so much like a cave."

"And it would save us money until we could build again," Fred pointed out. "If we can take down walls as we build, it might not be so bad."

"We can soften the impact by painting," George offered. He used his wand to change the color of the walls, making them a light mauve. A very comforting color.

"No," Fred sighed, changing it again, this time to a light blue. The walls turned plaid.

"Xander!" they yelled in unison.

"Sorry! Couldn't resist!"

"I rather like that," George admitted. His brother glared at him. "Maybe if we change the colors every day? Make it a joke by itself?" Fred shrugged. George smiled at him. "We'll be the only joke shop in the world that operates out of a cave. Instant recognition."

Fred laughed. "Too true. Okay, Xander, we give in." Xander came back in and gave them a hug. "We'll work out all the minor details tomorrow."

"Okay," he said happily, covering back up his model. "Are we going to be able to share one bathroom?"

"Maybe," Fred told him. "Didn't you put in two?"

"I put a mini-bath in the store. There's only one shower and bathtub though."

"That should be enough," George offered. "Iggy doesn't take all day and neither do we."

"I was thinking about him after a game," Xander told them. Both twins shrugged. "Not a problem?"

"Shouldn't be. We used to have to wait to shower after a game," Fred told him. He patted him on the back, nearly knocking him over. "Good job."

"Spiffing," George agreed with a smile. He wrapped his husband in his arms. "Did you hear? Someone found some of our stuff. Dad told us earlier. Just some clothes and things, but it's hopeful that we'll find more." Xander smiled at him. "Not my ring or the nest probably, but maybe most everything else."

"You lost your ring?" Fred asked. He hadn't noticed.

"I took it off because my hands were swelling last week. You remember."

Fred nodded, he did remember. George had a horrible day in the lab and the swelling potion had gotten on him. "Where was it?"

"On the dresser," Xander told him. "In my jewelry box." He saw the wince and blinked heavily. "I know, but we can figure that out later." He gave his mate a squeeze. "The same as we can figure out the nest stuff later too." George rested his head against Xander's shoulder. "We'll figure it out," Xander repeated. "As long as we're all living, anything else can get be gotten over." He kissed the side of his husband's head. "Enough bad stuff. We have to plan on how to get rocks so I don't have to create them."

"Could you?" Fred asked.

"Maybe. I'm probably not that strong; maybe strong enough to create a few small ones but the shaping I have planned is much easier. I'd be wasted again for at least a week. Oh, and I got permission to go work on the book with Spike. I sent him a copy with my notes written in. It shouldn't take more than a week."

"Even better," Molly said as she walked in. "Did you get the model done?" Xander nodded and pointed at it, getting out of her way by sitting himself and George down on the couch. "The blue stuff is for windows."

She nodded as she looked over it. "Very ingenious," she praised. He smiled at her. "How long do you think it's going to take?"

Snippet 20:

A young boy walked up to the spot of his former favorite shop, nearly laughing when he saw the sign.

Coming Soon! Weasley Wizarding Wheezes, the second edition.

Coming in a week (crossed out), two weeks (crossed out), a month.

Bold new designs inside and out.

He giggled and jogged to where his friends were playing. This was great news! They were coming back!


Xander snuck down to the spot the shop would be sitting on and crossed out the month, adding 'and six more days' to it. They had almost enough rocks, but they needed a few more medium sized ones and they were having trouble finding them. Someone tugged on the back of his robes. "Yes?" He smiled at the little girl standing there. "What are you doing out so late?"

"I wander. My parents understand." She grinned at him. "Six more days?"

"Yeah, we need some more rocks and we can't find them."

"Big rocks?"

"Rocks the size of a big roasting pot or bigger," Xander told her.

"Oh." She blinked a few times. "If we find them, can we bring them here?" He nodded. "Thank you for coming back. You made us all very happy because you liked to play pranks too." She turned and skipped off, heading for the tavern.

Xander shook his head. That was odd. Nice, but odd. He headed for the tavern himself because he knew Madam Rosemerta was holding the glass jugs with the remains of the bottom floor. He tapped on the door and walked in. "Hi?" he called.

"Be right out," she yelled back. She came out wiping her hands. "Oh, Xander," she said happily. "Nearly ready to rebuild?"

"With a few more stones," he told her. "Can I look at the stuff in the jugs?"

"Sure. They're in the basement along with the boxes that were left here for you." She led the way.

"Boxes?" he asked as he followed her to the basement. He stopped when he saw the boxes. Their usual shipment. "Wow. That's really cool of them." He looked at the labels. Everything was here. All their potion supplies and everything. "I've got to tell the twins about this," he told her. He noticed a few metal boxes. "What're those?"

"Those are what people's found so far," she explained. "Supposed to be some robes and stuff. Someone put them in metal because it'd absorb any remaining chaos energy. I guess they figured you could do something to make it go away again." She pushed back some of her hair. "When do you think you can move it?"

"I think we can get most of this tomorrow," he told her, looking at the metal boxes again. They looked familiar.... He opened one of them and whistled. His weapons collection. He laughed. "Oh, not a robe," he told her, pulling out a battle axe to look over. "These were my babies before I married and had Iggy." He carefully put it away. "I missed you guys," he told the boxes.

She laughed. "You boys and your toys," she said with a wave of her hand. "You know the hours so I'll be here whenever those mates of yours come."

"I'm only married to George," he reminded her with a naughty grin. "Fred couldn't keep up with me."

She laughed harder. "If you say so." She led the way back up to the main inn. "Whenever you want, they'll be here."

He kissed her on the cheek. "Thanks for helping us so much." He walked out, heading back to the school. He ran into Irma Pince in the entryway and grabbed her, twirling her around. "It's almost all over, we're almost back into our home," he said happily. He smiled and let her go, heading down to his rooms.

She stood there, looking shocked. No one touched her, especially not to dance. She blinked a few times then decided to go back to her library. Her pay discrepancy could wait until tomorrow to be discussed. She hurried back to her office, hoping no one else wanted to dance with her.


Xander looked at the spot where he had hidden the rocks, noticing that there was a small pile of them out from under the cover. "Wow," he said, sitting down beside them. Each of them was a good size, and decent enough to work with. He smiled at his helpers, Ginny, Hermione, and Ron. "Someone found us some more rocks." He settled his working materials in front of him, arranging them in the most pleasing manner. "Okay, start the shielding," he ordered. "Ron, go stand outside or go get the glass jugs from Madam Rosemerta. Ginny and Hermione, I *can't* be disturbed." Everyone nodded and he felt a shield go up around him. Just in case though, he put on his battered invisibility cloak so that it covered him and his materials. As he started the first part of the spell, he felt the earth respond all around him. It was going to be okay.


Fred and George apparated in front of what had been their shop, frowning when they couldn't see anything. "He hasn't started yet?" Fred asked. George nudged him.

"We had to put up a shield," their little sister said, snatching the baskets from them. "Did mum make it or are you poisoning us?"

"Mum made enough for everyone and about a quidditch team more." George walked over and felt along the air, running his hands along the shield. "Can we bring it down?" Both women shook their heads. "Not even to peek?"

"Xander said he can't be disturbed or bad things will happen," Hermione told him. "I'm not sure what, I've never studied those spells."

"He'll become a statue and then you'll have to snog a marble man," Ginny said with a twinkle in her eyes.

George shook his head sadly. "That would mean the end of my happily married life. I could never stand living with a cold, unresponsive man." He looked around, noticing Ron wasn't there. "Where's Ron?"

"Getting something." Hermione pointed at the glass jugs he had carried up so far. "He's been getting those."

Fred moved closer, examining the contents. "Xander put the remains of the wood in here," he said finally. He uncorked one jug and quickly put it back. "It's infected."

"Might be a fun thing to deal with," George suggested. "Magical Mysteries?"

"They definitely need study," Hermione told them, pointing at Fred's missing hair. "Did you have something to make one bald?"

Fred eeped and touched his new bald spot. "What did that?"

George grinned. "I guess we'll have to find out," he said happily. "Could be quite fun."

"As long as it grows back," Fred grumped. He looked behind him when he heard footsteps, getting out of Ron's way. He was carrying a box. "Are those ours too?"

George nearly squealed. "Our potions shipment! It hadn't come yet." He looked at his brother. "We can start restocking at the Burrow."

Fred nodded. "Okay. You tell mum." Ron laughed. "What?"

"She suggested it earlier when she popped in to nose around," he told his older brothers. "Did you want me to bring up the weapons boxes too?"

"Weapons?" George asked. "When did we get weapons?"

"They probably came with your husband," Ginny pointed out. "He seems to like things like that."

George nodded. "Probably did, though I wish I had known that. He wouldn't have gotten so hurt in a few fights."

"It's hard to hold an axe and a wand," Ron told him. His brothers gave him a funny look. "Direct quote from Black."

"Oh." Fred looked at his brother. "Should we look at them?"

"We should," George agreed. "Bring them up, Ron."

Ron snorted. "You can help carry. Your arms aren't broken."

"Oh, for Merlin's sake, use your wand," Hermione snapped.

Ron looked at her. "Have I ever mentioned that your forceful side is not only creepy, but bothersome?" She glared at him. "Well, now I have. Thank Merlin I'm not married to you." He strolled away, going to not do what she said. He lifted every day at work, he was perfectly capable of lifting some of the weapons boxes by himself. And he thought that all the way up to the point when he tried to move one. He got his crafty smile and made the boxes feather light, just long enough to carry them out. So he grabbed six of them and took them back to the site. "Ha," he said as he dropped them, canceling the spell. He went back for the rest of them, smirking at her shocked look.

Hermione walked over and tried to pick up one side of the top box. "How did he lift six of those?" she said incredulously.

George and Fred snickered. "Big brute strength I guess," George told her. He made a sound of joy when he saw a bit of stone pop over the shield. "Is that it?" he asked, pointing.

"It'd better be, otherwise you're getting a statue," Ginny teased. "Did you bring the camping gear? Ron forgot it at home."

"We can go get it," Fred offered. She nodded. "Be right back." He disappeared. He came back a moment later carrying a large, scuffed duffle bag. "This it?"

"That's it," Ron said as he carried out the last of them. "That's all there is." He wiped his forehead off for show. The last box moved in the slight breeze, but fortunately Hermione never noticed. His sister smirked at him as she canceled the spell.

"Guys, I need to do something nasty to my ex's hair," Ginny announced. "Can you think of anything?"

"Balding potion," Fred offered, pointing at his bald spot.

"Did you want to change the color, make it look like real hair, or just make him scream in horror?" George asked.

"Any and all of the above?" she suggested with her own version of a mean and cruel grin. "He tried to say that Denver wasn't a proper son of mine. That he was a Malfoy and only a Malfoy."

Fred winced and started scratching as his hair grew back. "And for that you want to hurt him? Denver is a Malfoy. He looks like one, he occasionally whines like one, and he even eats like one."

"That boy will never tan," Hermione agreed.

"Not the point," Ginny told them. "He all but said I wasn't a good mother to Denver." She pouted, an irresistible thing to her brothers.

"I can think of a few things," George told her with his most evil smile. He pointed as another arch of stone came up above the shield. "There's more of it."

"Xander told you both it'd take two days," Hermione reminded them. She grimaced when Fred combed his new hair into place. "That was sudden."

"Which is a good thing in our line of work," Fred reminded her. "Want to sniff? Maybe it'll do something different with your hair."

"No, thank you," she said dryly, going back to her post. She saw a few kids watching and waved at them. "Three days," she called. They pouted. "You can't see until he's done or it'll turn out funny in a bad way." The kids trudged off to go do something else. "There, settled that problem." Ginny and George laughed. "What?"

"They'll be back," Ron told her. "Children and little sisters are like that." He punched Ginny on the arm. "Stay out of my personal oil."

She grinned at him. "But it felt good!" He shuddered and walked away so she laughed. Direct hit!


Xander came out of his spell trance and looked around. He was in the middle of the shop. It was nearly done. All he had left were the windows and the doors, and the spells on them. He stood up with a groan, taking the time to stretch. Three days of doing this. He was sore, tired, and really needed the bathroom. He decided to head there first, just to make sure the plumbing worked. After he was done, he walked back to the bedroom to work on the windows in there. This was going to be so good when the guys saw it.


Xander walked out of the store and the shield fell. "I'm done," he announced. The kids clapped and cheered. "It'll be officially open in three days, with all new stock," he told them. The kids talked among themselves as they walked off.

Dumbledore walked up to Xander's side. "Did it all work?"

"It worked great," he said with a grin. "Want to see?" He let the older man into the building, letting him check out everything. He heard the laughter for the walkway between the shop and the lab. He had put the views from an aquarium on the walls, but it could be turned off to become normal windows if the twins wanted. He watched as Dumbledore came back out, still grinning. "Cool, huh."

"Very well done," Dumbledore praised. "The attention to detail is wonderful." He patted him on the shoulder. "Did someone tell you not to use major magic?" Xander started to frown and shook his head. "Good. It was a rumor I had heard and I wanted to check on it." He walked Xander back out, running into McGonagall and Snape standing outside. "He did an excellent job. Though the spell over the main doorway might need a bit of tweaking. It feels like it'll stretch." He let his coworkers into the store so they could check it out. "I'm sure Professor Flitwick would be quite interested in the spells to make the windows look out on different views."

Xander giggled. "I got them from him. He had them in a really old spell book. The same with the stretching portal spell."

"You'll need to anchor it," Dumbledore told him. "Those sort always need an anchor. But it was very considerate, making the doorway match itself to whatever size the person entering is." He took McGonagall's arm and walked her back to the school. "I'll expect to see you at classes on Monday," he called back.

"Okay. I'll be up for breakfast." Xander turned and found Snape staring at him. "What? The lab looks really bad?"

"No, it's quite nice," he said. "I had no idea that they were expanding that area."

Xander shrugged. "They used to complain that it was cramped so I gave them more room." He grinned. "You don't like the fish, do you?"

Snape shook his head. "It's not exactly standard wizarding creatures."

"Yeah, but they're calming and fun to watch. Plus very colorful. And I can cancel the view if I want."

"I saw a diver."

Xander stepped closer. "I put the viewing spell on a rock," he said quietly. "It's a normal rock and no one will sense anything unless they're magical. No resonance, no leakage of magical energy, nothing that'll show up unless you know what you're looking for." He stepped back. "What was the diver doing?"

"Staring at the rock, but he didn't move it." Snape glanced at the main doorway. "Are you sure that one's correct?"

"No. Dumbledore said I needed to anchor it better. I'll do that tomorrow, after I eat. Close the door behind you, I have the keys." He grinned and disappeared.

Snape grunted in annoyance but he closed the door before going to have a drink at the inn. He didn't think it was possible, but he had found someone worse at potions than Xander. He didn't even have anyone in detention tonight to help him clean up the mess.


Xander popped into the Burrow, landing on the couch with a yawn. "Done," he told Arthur. "What's this about me not using major magic?"

"Some people were worried that there might be some instability around the store because of the flashback," Arthur said, turning the page on his paper. "They didn't want you to bring down the rest of the town by accident." He lowered the paper. "Why don't you go eat and take a rest, Xander? You've been working for quite a while."

"Okay." Xander got up and yawned his way into the kitchen. Molly handed him a bowl of soup and a sandwich, shooing him to the stairs.

"You eat that while the water warms up for your shower then go to bed," she scolded. "Doing all that work must have worn you out." She walked in and kissed her husband on the cheek. "Did you want to sneak off and look at it?"

He smiled up at her. "No, I can wait until tomorrow, and so can you." He patted her on the butt, then pulled her down into his lap for a hug and a real kiss. She giggled and pushed ineffectively at his chest.


Xander climbed into his bed for the first time in three days and his husband nearly ran out the door. "Hey!" he complained. "Needing cuddles here." George slid in and gave him a perfunctory hug. "You can wait," he chided, holding George tightly.

"But we want to see it now," he whined.

"You did that on Christmas too, didn't you?" Xander asked with a grin. George nodded. "Give me a few hours. It's better by sunlight." He forced his mate onto his back and curled up on his chest. "Give me a few hours and I'll show you around. There's one small spell that needs to be fixed, but it'll be okay enough until then." He yawned again. "Need a nap."

Fred poked his head in. "Is it done?"

"With one correction needed," Xander agreed. "But that'll take someone better at portals than I am." He yawned again. "Tomorrow, guys. It looks more impressive in the light."

"But we wanna see it," Fred told him, starting to bounce on his feet.

"Tomorrow," Xander told him.

"Tomorrow," Arthur agreed from behind Fred in the hallway. "Just a few more hours, boys."

"Just like Christmas," their mother agreed as she slipped past Fred toward her room. "I'm sure we'll all be very happy when we see it tomorrow."

Xander's answer was a snore.

"Aww, that's cute," Arthur said, smiling at George, who was now a body pillow. "Let him rest, George, he deserves it. Those were some very heavy spells he used. I'm quite impressed." He patted Fred on the back. "Have a nice night, boys." He walked into his bedroom and closed the door.

Fred pouted at his brother, but his twin was trapped. Xander fought when his pillows moved.

"I'll wake him up at dawn," George told him happily. "Four more hours."

"All right," Fred sighed, going back to his room.

George settled himself for a sleepless night. It was torture to wait.


Xander plopped down in his usual chair at the table and gave his mother-in-law a pitiful look. She laughed and put a large plate of food in front of him with two of his sodas. "Thanks," he mumbled, grabbing one of the drinks to gulp. Caffeine was always helpful in the morning. As soon as that can was gone, he started on the food. "Give me enough time to eat and shower and I'll take you over and show you around," he mumbled between bites.

"Really, those boys should have let you sleep longer," she said firmly. Xander nodded, giving her a disgusted look. "I'm sure it was just their enthusiasm," she soothed. Xander nodded again, but he still didn't give his husband a happy look when he joined him at the table.

"Good morning," George said happily. Xander grunted at him. "What?" he asked innocently.

"I could have used some more sleep," Xander reminded him. "I have to start work again on Monday."

George gave him a hug. "I know and I'm sorry, but I've got present anxiety." He gave his mate a pitiful look. "Please? You can always nap later. It's only Saturday."

"Iggy has a game later," Xander reminded him. He scooped up the majority of his remaining eggs and shoved them in his mouth.

"Xander, eat like a normal human being," Molly chided. "They can wait long enough to let you eat."

"No we can't," George argued. His mother laughed. "We can't. This is really important." He squeezed Xander's thigh. "Eat faster, dear, and I'll make your night *very* happy tonight." Xander raised an eyebrow, and picked up a smaller bite. George leaned over and whispered in his mate's ear, and the food nearly instantly disappeared. "Thank you."

"Hey, that'll make up for the sleep I'm missing. I'll nap tomorrow." Xander stood up. "No Fred?"

"He's outside thinking," Molly told him. She stuck her head out the half-door to the garden. "Fred Weasley, get in here! We're leaving!" she yelled. It wasn't long before Fred landed outside the door. "Thank you. Keys, Xander?"

Xander held up a large brass key. "Here we are." Fred snatched it from his hand and disappeared, George no more than a heartbeat behind him. Molly and Xander laughed, but they left the house to go see too. The front door was already open so Xander escorted his mother-in-law inside. "Hey, that's the wrong color," he said, frowning at a small bout of graffiti. "The door was locked."

"It can be cleaned," Molly said, waving her wand at the spot, cleaning it up. She looked around at the walls. "Just like you imagined it," she said happily. She wandered back. "Xander, why is this view a dirt floor?" she called.

Xander pulled his wand and concentrated, flipping the stone over in the National Aquarium. "How's that?" he called.

"Much better," she said happily.

Fred came out of the hallway leading back to the living areas and gave Xander a hug. "You're the greatest," he said happily. "I'll even stop complaining about snogging in the workrooms." He wiped his eyes and walked back to the lab area, laughing out loud when he saw the view.

George came out of the living areas and smiled at his husband. "How did you duplicate the view from our rooms at home?"

"The same way I did the fish," he said smugly. "It's a small viewing portal attached to rocks."

"The fish disappeared again," Fred said as he walked back out. "Now it's a work room and some woman poking at the spot."

"They shouldn't have been able to see it," Xander said with a frown. He walked back to look at the view, frowning. He stunned the room and summoned the rock, looking it over. He fixed the portal and sent it back before the stunning wore off. The view came back and the rock was scrubbed, then put back into a fish tank, this time with tropical fish and sharks. "Hey, cooler view," he said happily, walking back into the main shop area. "All better." Arthur appeared, holding a parchment in his hand. "For me?"

Arthur nodded. "They delivered to my office." He handed it over. "Please don't mess with the muggles, Xander. It looks bad."

"I only stunned them," he complained, reading the note. "See, someone else thinks that I'm not supposed to be doing major magic either." He showed it off. "Can you please tell them to tell me that personally so I can bitch them out?" he asked sweetly. Arthur nodded. "Thanks." He balled up the parchment and tossed it into the empty fireplace. "So go look, tell me how good I did." Arthur walked off, letting his wife show him around. Xander lit the parchment on fire with his wand.

George bounded out and picked Xander up, swinging him around. "I love it," he told him. "It's perfect and unique and so very us. It's the perfect joke shop and amusement place in one."

Xander smiled down at his husband. "You're welcome." He stole a kiss. "Wanna go nap?"

"Nap? We have to make stuff," George told him. "We've got to get the stock out and make sure everything's up to our standards."

"I told the kids last night we'd be opening in three days," Xander told him.


"There was a crowd of kids waiting on me when I got done." He slid down his mate's body, stealing another kiss. "Either I get a nap or I'm going to whine for hours," he said nicely, giving him a smile. "Wake me up for Iggy's match."

George laughed. "All right, you go nap and I'll make Fred go referee tonight." He gave him a squeeze. "I mean it. This is perfect. Much better than I imagined, Xander. Thank you."

"Welcome. I like making you happy." Xander reached into his pocket and pulled out a small box. "That's why I got you this."

George took the little box, holding his breath. Inside was a wedding ring, one to replace his lost one. "It's gorgeous," he said, smiling. He took it out and put it on; it was an eternity band with emeralds between the diamonds inside a solid silver band. "I love this." He gave his husband a long, penetrating kiss. "I love you. You're so good to me."

Fred leaned against a wall, watching his brother all-but have sex in the middle of the shop. He could see the ring, and honestly if Xander had given it to him, he'd be making out with him too. He coughed loudly, breaking them up. "Are we working in the lab today?"

"I'm napping," Xander told him. "George offered you to referee tonight."

"Forgot about the game," Fred said, his face starting to scrunch up as he thought. "Wish Charlie or Bill were here, they'd do it and let us work."

"Bill said he'd be back tonight," his mother called from the back. She and Arthur walked out to join them. "Oh, George," she said happily, picking up his hand to look at the ring. "That's even nicer than your first one."

Xander beamed happily.

Snippet 21:

Bill forced his way through the throng of kids, generally moving toward the register and his brother-in-law. "Good reopening," he said in appreciation. If there had been a shop like this when he had been a child, he might have run away from home to come visit it. He smiled at the wall behind Xander as it slowly changed colors. "Your idea?"

"The plaid, the color changing was the twins." He leaned on the counter, watching the kids talk about the new stuff. "The red stuff's hot," he warned when someone started to put it on their mouth. "And you've got to buy it before you can eat it." The girl in question ran over and gave him a sickle for the treats in her hand, then ran back to her friends to show off what they did. Her ears started to smoke and she belched a small flame, making the other kids in the store go 'ooooh'. There was a run on those candies.

Bill laughed. "Very cute," he told Fred as he waded toward them. "Xander, can I borrow you for a minute?"

"Sure," Xander said, turning over register duties to Fred and taking Bill back into the quieter living section. As soon as the door closed, silence was achieved. "A spell I found yesterday," he told him. He led the way to his and George's bedroom. "What's up?"

"You know I've been working on a battle site?" Xander nodded. "Well, it looks like one of you was there." He opened his robe and carefully pulled out a wrapped object. "This is part of a skeleton we found," he said quietly, unwrapping it so he could see the claw finger. "The goblins I work for *refuse* to go anywhere near the site now. Can you get us a specialist or a historian to help us? Someone who could identify the various stuff we've found and help us with any technical details."

Xander shrugged. "I don't know, let me ask." He got up and walked to the fireplace, tossing some of the special contact powder into the fire. "Secondary fire, main gryphon colony, Stonehenge." A head appeared, a human one. "Hey, is big Bill there?" Bill frowned at him. "Believe it or not, the colony's historian is named Bill too," Xander told him with a grin.

"This had better be good," the gryphon said as he appeared. "I was in the middle of a new book." He looked at the thing Xander was holding out. "Where did you get that?"

"I have someone here, a relative, who works for Gringotts and they found a battle site. He needs to talk to you about it and maybe convince you to help him. Can I put him on?"

"Do so," Bill the gryphon said.

Xander got out of the way. "Here you go, Bill Weasley, Bill the gryphon. Oh, Bill, do you have anything on portals? One of the ones I created is doing funny stuff."

"I'll send someone down to help you," he told him. "Portals can be very dangerous, Xander, that's why we don't use them."

"This one's supposed to stretch to whatever size you are, but it's been stretching length-wise too, like it gets longer the more it stretches in height."

"I'll send someone down, Xander."

"Okay." Xander walked away, leaving them alone. Out in the store, everyone was silently staring at a man holding a large, round, braided hay object. Xander squealed and leaped over to look it over. "The family nest!" he said happily, giving the man a hug. "You so rock, dude. You're the greatest being at the moment." He carried it away, going to put it on the base he had made for it. He could fix it later. There was enough here to rebuild it. "Bill, look," he said as he walked in. "The family nest!" He put it on the base and looked it over. "This is so wicked."

Out in the store, that man was looking at Fred, looking confused. "Was that a good thing?" he asked.

Fred nodded. "He's formerly American," he explained. The guy nodded. That certainly explained it. "Thank you for bringing it back. Xander's heritage is very important to him."

"It was nothing. It was in my field." He waved and walked over to look at the treats around.

Fred walked over to the doorway that went to the lab, and stuck his head in. "Someone found part of the nest!" he called. George came running out and headed back to the family section. Fred smiled at the man coming up to him. "Thank you for that. You just made my brother-in-law ecstatic. He's been so down." He waved the man's money off. "It's free. Have fun with those." He handed over a small bag from under the register counter containing one sliver of wood from the old store. "Try that too," he said with a smile. "It's a mystery what'll happen."

The man smiled and walked out, his son would enjoy these. His wife had been right to nag him to bring it back for a reward. Not that the tricks would be what she had been expecting. But the boys had just rebuilt so they probably didn't have any of that settlement money left.


Xander walked into breakfast Wednesday and smiled at everyone. "Someone found the outer ring of my nest," he announced to the other teachers. A few of them clapped and everyone else looked happy. "And the reopening went very well. The kids nearly cleaned out the whole shop." He sat in his usual seat. "So today's going to be a good day."

"Good," McGonagall agreed. "What about Minister Fidders? I heard he was coming up to tour the school."

"I've met him before. He fixed the immigration stuff for me." Xander dished up some food. "I'll eat fast," he said when he noticed some of the teachers giving his full plate a look. "I've got a first period class too." He stuffed his mouth.

"I saw the ring you gave George," Tara told him. "Very beautiful." Xander grinned at her between bites. "Did it take you long to find it?"

He shook his head. "I took Harry to help me find it. I tried to get Ron, but he had to work."

"So that's what the picture was of," Willow said. Xander nodded. "I guess that's cool." She looked around, then back at him. "Have you seen Ryan? He wanted to talk to you about guy stuff."

Snape coughed. "Yes, he started to come to me for it, but realized I might not have a clue what he was talking about. Apparently I'm not a man according to him," he finished dryly.

Xander looked Snape over. "You look like one to me. What did he need?"

"I have no idea. He started to babble something about protective gear and then blushed and ran away."

"Oh, he probably needs a cup," Tara said, nodding. "Adrian needed one of those to play quidditch." Snape gave her a look. "I guess he thought you never needed one because you don't play sports."

Snape snorted. "Indeed." He finished his breakfast and stood up. "Good day." He walked away.

McGonagall leaned around Willow and Tara. "He came to me after class yesterday and was indeed asking about protective gear. Didn't blush a bit, but why he expected me to know I'm not sure."

Xander coughed. "It's because you're such a tough woman," he explained. She smiled. "He probably thinks you used to play quidditch yourself."

"I guess it was a compliment then," she said happily, getting up. "I'll see you all at lunch." She walked away also.

Xander stuffed the rest of the food into his mouth and grabbed one of the last pieces of toast to nibble on his way to his classroom. "Later," he mumbled, heading out.

Dumbledore stared at the young professor's back. If he only had that sort of energy.


Xander looked up from his grading as the door opened. "Hi, Minister Fidders. Give me a sec." He finished grading that paper and put it aside. "Sorry, I lose my place in essays if I don't do it all at once." He put aside his quill and pasted on his 'interested' look. "What can I do for you today?"

Minister of Magic Fidders closed the door. "Xander, there was a small concern about the magic you were using last weekend," he said, sitting down at a student desk.

"Yeah, Arthur mentioned something about the excess chaos energy. But you've got to realize, what I am is made to channel and smooth out the chaos energy." The Minister tipped his head to the side. "Gryphons channel, smooth out, and filter the chaos magic for the larger lumps of it. That's our function the greater scheme of life. The problem became that humans were able to pull up the chaos magic, but it wasn't ....helpful to them. It was too lumpy if you get my meaning, hurting them greatly when they tried to use it." The minister nodded. "So they researched and decided that they needed the gryphon-born because we filter the magic streams so much smoother, which in turn makes it easier for other humans to use it, which means that the humans would leave them alone."

Minister Fidders smiled. "That's good to know. So you can successfully handle chaos magic?"

"Up to a point," Xander told him. "I'm not the strongest. I can deal with chaos tainted magic, and things like that, but I couldn't handle pure chaos magic. Especially not when there's a big chunk in the stream like there's been recently. So what I did actually smoothed out the fluctuations around Hogsmeade."

Fidders laughed. "Thank you for that explanation. But, in the future, could you please warn us? The Misuse of Magic office nearly went insane while you were working. All their monitors picked up on you and nowhere else."

"Not an issue. I would have thought Arthur would've put it around. I heard him bragging to Percy."

"Ah, yes, Percy Weasley." He grimaced. "He's become a bit uptight since that incident happened."

Xander nodded. "Someone gave him an ultimatum, his work or his family. I know it didn't make him that happy." He shifted and crossed his feet at the ankle. "I've been meaning to steal him for a while, just to make him feel better. Percy and I get along great."

"You don't think he'll be upset about what happened?"

"Probably about the part where they left Fred and George out to dry, if he knows. Maybe more if he didn't. I'm not sure what Percy knows and what he doesn't. He hasn't written me recently."

Minister Fidders stood up. "Thank you, Professor Harris." He smiled. "No phoenix?"

"He's running an errand in London today, taking some of his last crop of chicks to Ollivanders and taking a message to the vampire working with me on my textbook."

"I had heard that some of it was wrong."

Xander snorted. "Not only is some of it wrong, but Giles intentionally put something false in there. That was before the incident with the Watcher's Council declaring all magical creatures demonic. Thankfully, most students take things from the notes I give them and not the books. With luck, I'll have a correct copy by my deadline in January. For both classes."

Minister Fidders nodded. "Good work." He shook Xander's hand. "Please, seem less fantastic," he said quietly. "I'd like it if everything died down for a bit."

"There's still going to be action against the Watcher's Council. They come from near the main gryphon colony and we've heard that they've gotten hold of a unicorn in the past. The new Head is an asshole of the highest magnitude."

Minster Fidders smiled. "Quite often people in charge are. I'm hoping not to become one myself." He patted Xander on the arm and walked out, continuing on his tour. He came back a moment later. "Could you show me your other classroom and how the various implements work?"

"Sure," Xander said, gathering up all the essays. "It's really pretty neat," he said with a smile. He led the way down and showed off his toys.


Bill stood up at dinner, clearing his throat. "Family, I have something important to announce." He looked at Xander. "The site I'm working on was one of you. We've positively identified it as such from the gryphon records. As a matter of fact, it was a gryphon-born female fighting against one of the old-time dark wizards." Xander dropped his fork with a clang. "She changed shape to fight with more powers."

Xander's mouth opened, but no sound came out. "No way," Ron breathed. Bill nodded. "And you're sure?" Bill nodded again so Ron looked at Xander. "Does that mean you can do that?"

"No," Xander squeaked. "None of us can."

Bill's smile got brighter. "The gryphon Bill managed to find her former house and her decaying books." He sat down. "The nest itself was a find, but her books are priceless. The goblins readily handed everything at the site, except a necklace, to the gryphons for study. They don't want to deal with it."

Xander shook his head. "Necklace? Could it be like my bracelet was when I had it?" Bill nodded. "Wow. Any idea which clan she came from?"

"She's from an African clan, but she's the daughter of a European mother. Her clan's from Belgium. Bill's trying to find out if there's anyone remaining from her family to get official permission." He smiled at Xander. "He said your lineage was from there too."

"An African clan or the Belgian one?" Molly asked.

"There's so much interbreeding," Xander told her. "Females and males are given to other clans and colonies so there's not inter-family breeding."

"I was wondering," Ginny said. "What's the difference between a clan, a flock, and a colony?"

"It's a matter of relativity," Xander told her with a mischievous grin. "A flock is a single family unit. A clan is an extended family unit. A colony can be a clan with others added in, or it can be a group of gryphons living together, like in Stonehenge's main colony."

"Is there more than one there?" Bill asked.

Xander nodded. "There's six colony portals within Stonehenge. One of them is apparently empty now, but there's more than one there. Caves can only hold so many of us before it gets crowded."

"So, colonies can hold families, but it's not only family members," Fred summarized. Xander nodded. "That's interesting. So, would you belong to the colony?"

"I'm affiliated with the main colony because they trained me and taught me what I needed to know. I can choose to go to another colony, but it might be seen as turning my back on the first one unless there's an overcrowding problem - which there is. So, theoretically, I can start my own colony, or my own flock."

"Which you have," Molly pointed out. Iggy giggled at her. "Do you have plans of setting up a colony?"

"Not really. I already have a clan going." He grinned at her. "I adopted you all so it's official in our eyes. I have a clan going." He nodded, closing that subject. "Any ideas how long it'll take to find any relatives?"

"Bill thinks that there's probably at least four surviving. That flock exchange was one of the most common back then. Belgium and the African tribes were the most populous and neither one kept very good records of incoming gryphlets."

"Gee, that would be something that changed," Xander said with a frown. "There's a very big book of every gryphon that ever *visited* the colony I work with. Breeding has an even larger book."

"It apparently changed when the hunts started," Bill told him. Xander nodded. That explained it. "So we're searching. Before then, we're hoping to find something fantastic in her books, maybe even a diary."

"What about the skeleton?" Xander asked.

"It's going into the Ministry's creature museum. Apparently she didn't get to shift fully before she was killed."

"Because shifting fully meant she couldn't use her wand," Xander said, understanding.

"Actually, she had a staff," Bill told him. "About six feet tall, large emerald at the top."

Xander stood up, pushing his chair over. "She was a desert guardian?"

"Huh?" George asked.

"Desert guardians. They guarded one of the most massive colonies down there. One of the biggest ever!" Bill nodded. "It's her, isn't it?"

"We think so," Bill agreed with a smile. "It looks like it's Thermina. We're trying to figure it out for sure."

"Thermina?" Fred asked.

"Think of her like Sir Galahad from King Arthur, only a gryphon-born," Xander explained, putting his chair back into place. "It's a legend among us. Someone told me when I first got sick up there." George frowned at him. "Telling me stories kept me calm and anti-whiny."

"I'll have to remember that," George told him, patting the chair. "Sit down, Xander." Xander sat back down. "So, she's a white knight among the borns?"

Xander nodded. "Yeah. She supposedly died in battle protecting her colony, facing off with Merlin himself."

"But Merlin was good," Ron pointed out.

"Not always," Molly told him. "He did bad things too." She looked at Xander. "Was he searching for a newborn?" Xander nodded. "Then I know the myth associated on our side."

"And in the books we found part of the story from her side," Bill told her. "Merlin wasn't the good guy everyone thinks and this find proves it."

"His quest to make the future turn out the way he saw it blinded him to the ethics of his actions," Arthur told him. "Both sides probably had some stake in it."

Xander shook his head. "No, Merlin came after one of our eggs so he could sacrifice her. It had to specifically be a pure bred gryphon, female, and a gold egg. He was going to break it open and sacrifice the child within to build up his power base, wanting to absorb what would have been her powers." Arthur shook his head. "That's what the gryphons recorded. This wasn't being blind, this was a power move."

"Could it have happened?" Bill asked.

Xander nodded. "The same as if I do some of the darkest spells and kill you during them, I can take your energies. It's the same spells. Someone got caught last year doing it to a unicorn and were sentenced for it."

Arthur sighed. "I had forgotten about that."

"But Merlin was a shining figure in the world," Ron argued.

"Who knew he wasn't going to be a major player himself. He was a facilitator," Bill reminded him. Ron nodded and looked away. "He had a period of his life when he wanted power and wasn't careful about how he got it. This was part of that."

"And he was blasted back into the ocean for it," Xander added. "The story finishes that Thermina defeated him by some sort of displacement spell, basically calling flashback to her and shoving him away. The pure energy running through her killed her and he was forever banished from touching another magical creature."

"He was so burnt out that he went into hiding. That's supposedly when he found the Lady of the Lake."

"Oh," Ron said, blinking a few times. "So he was a bad guy who became good?" His parents nodded. "Interesting. Won't it cause problems within the historians?"

"Oh, yeah," Bill agreed. "They're already protesting that this isn't what we think it is, and it's not who we think it is, and that Merlin could never do anything like that. I wish he'd wake up and admit it so they'd all shut up."

"He's sleeping?" Xander asked. Bill nodded. "Are you sure?" Bill nodded. "I wouldn't be." Bill frowned at him. "One of the colonies up north was supposed to be guarding his body. The one that Lucius had destroyed. No body was reported. Just a grave."

"Oh, crap," Bill said, looking stunned. "How long have you known?"

"It came out while I was informing someone of the colony's demise. They wanted to know if they should move the body or not. I'm not sure what they decided. Bill will probably ignore any question you ask about it, but you might be able to out-stubborn him into telling you about it."

Bill nodded. "I'll talk with him tomorrow. If Merlin's dead, then a lot of what we know is wrong."

Xander shrugged. "I stay out of those arguments," he said wisely. "It keeps me happier." He looked at his son. "Why don't you call Melvin and ask him to sleep over tonight?" he suggested. His son slid out of his seat and walked over to the fire to call his cousin. "Fidders came by today. He was really nice and agreed with you about people panicking over my using magic in town right then. Asked that I tell him if I plan on using something bigger. I told him why we're here and he looked really stunned, like he had never heard it before."

"You guys filter chaos magic, right?" Molly asked. Xander nodded. "And the ones like you are because normal human wizards can't use the level of filtering that the gryphons create?" Xander nodded. "That's what we were always taught in Care of Magical Creatures."

"Hagrid never said anything about that stuff," Ron said, frowning at his mother.

She laughed. "Don't worry, anytime you need that sort of knowledge, I'm sure one of us will have it." He grumbled something but stuffed his mouth.

Arthur smiled at his boys. "As long as you can keep the controversy polite, it'd be very nice to hear about more of this."

Bill snorted. "Polite? The Merlinites at the Ministry? Some of them don't want to see anything except for him being the hero. They don't even like to acknowledge his role in Arthur's birth because he screwed people over. They're going to be up in arms about this." He took a bite of his dinner. "Great job, mum. Can't tell you how nice it is to eat real food."

Xander nodded. "Much better than I do at home."

Iggy stomped back to the table and sat in his seat, his arms crossed over his chest. "Melvin's daddy told me not to call him again."

"I think someone needs to have a talk with Percy," Xander suggested. "Even Fidders suggested someone talk with Percy because of his surliness."

Arthur wiped his mouth and stood up. "I should probably be the one to do that."

Xander smiled at him. "If it doesn't work, can I kidnap him and make him uncranky?"

"As long as it doesn't hurt anyone," Arthur told him. He tossed some powder into the fire and disappeared. He appeared in Percy's fireplace. "Percy," he said, stepping out. "I think we need to talk. Minister Fidders suggested it," he said at the frown. Percy's mouth opened in shock. "Tell me what's wrong?" he offered quietly.

"Wrong?" Percy screeched. "What ever could be wrong? Just because the Ministry is targeting my family, my brother-in-law is nearly thrown in prison, and everyone decided that it's somehow my fault!"

"Percy," Kandy said quietly, laying a hand on his arm. "Everything's fine now. They've found the people responsible. Everyone's fine."

Arthur sat down next to Melvin and smiled at his son. "Percy, I know that you're distressed. I was horribly upset, enough that I went and yelled at my boss at the top of my lungs." Percy pulled away from him. "Percy, this has been a horrible time for the whole family, not just yours. By being surly and nasty to the rest of us, it just leaves you more alone." He gave him a sad smile. "Xander said that he's going to kidnap you if you have more problems." Kandy smiled and Melvin laughed. "Really, Percy, it's all fixed. We'd be more than happy to have you come back and the family to be whole again."

"But..." Percy said.

"Time's up," Xander said as he stepped out of the fireplace. "Sorry, but I'm impatient and I need to talk to my bestest buddy." He grabbed Percy and took off with him, and no one heard the address he gave the floo. He stepped out into the woods, letting Percy go so they could walk out of the ruins of the cabin Xander had found a few years ago. "Tell me. I'm not going to get upset and I'm not going to scream back. So just yell and scream and get it all out."

Percy shook his head. "I don't want to."

Xander stepped closer. "Percy, on some level, you blame me for this. All this stuff happened to your family since I came along. I know that you do," he countered when Percy shook his head. "It's reasonable, I understand that."

Percy stepped away from him. "Even if I did, it's unreasonable and wrong."

"Since when has the human mind made sense?" Xander said scornfully. Percy scowled at him. "See, you need to get it out before you explode. Otherwise I'm stealing Melvin for a sleepover and giving Kandy stuff to put you in an excellent and relaxed mood."

"Did Fidders talk to you too?"

"Actually, he only talked to me and I was going to let dad handle it." Percy scowled again. "What? You don't like me calling him that?" Xander stepped closer to him again. "Is that all part of the blaming me thing?" Percy nodded. "It might help if you screamed at me instead of holding it in. It'd make you feel a lot better."

Percy took a deep breath and faced off with his brother-in-law, willing to let it all out as long as it wouldn't come back on him. He just couldn't carry it around anymore.


Xander and Percy appeared in the dining room together. Percy went to his wife and whispered something in her ear, making her smile and kiss him. "I'm sorry if I've caused any trouble," Percy said quietly.

"It's all right, son. I do understand," Arthur told him, giving him a hug. "It can't be any worse than what I thought when Xander and George first started dating." He smiled at Xander. "And then he decided to show me he could be worse than I thought, but probably wouldn't toward the family."

Xander nodded. "True." He kissed Fred's cheek.

"Eww," Fred muttered, wiping his cheek off. "George, your husband's molesting me again."

George walked over and kissed his husband hard. "Put your lips on my brother again and I'll make you sorry," he promised. Xander grinned at him. "Oh, like that thought do you?"

"Maybe," Xander said happily. "But only if I get to try and retaliate later."

Arthur shook his head. "As you can tell, nothing much has changed. Sit and have dessert with us. Bill's just found an amazing historical site, it'll really shake up some historians."

Percy frowned. "I've heard. I'm being moved to their unit due to their boss getting a promotion." He looked at his brother. "They're all cursing your name and giving me dirty looks because of this."

"They'll get over it," Xander told him.

"You could ask to be transferred," George suggested as he slid down into Xander's lap. "The kids have decided that they're staying here tonight."

"Oooh, really?" Xander breathed against the warm skin of his mate's neck. "Does that mean we can be noisy?"

"I'd like to sleep tonight," Fred butted in. "Please put a silencing charm on your room."

Ron choked on his juice. "Fred, not while I'm drinking. That's an icky picture."

Xander looked over at him. "I feel the same way whenever I have to hear about how you snogged Buffy into a good mood." Ron smiled at him. "Just remember, I've known her since before she dated a vampire." Ron frowned at him and flipped him off.

"Ronald Weasley!" his mother shouted. She reached over and whapped him on the arm. "You do not make that gesture in my house."

"Yes, mum." Ron glared at Xander, who was smiling at him. "I'll get you for that."

"How about we get Draco together instead?" he suggested.

Ron considered it for a minute, then nodded. "Sounds reasonable to me." He finished his juice. "Are we finally attacking his hair?"

Xander nodded. "I'm tired of the helmet look. He needs real hair." He smiled evilly, then chuckled. "I don't think he knows how strong the two of us can be."

Molly choked. "Xander, don't be mean to him."

"He told Ginny that Denver was only a Malfoy," Xander whined. "She's obviously smoothed out some of the Malfoy roughness with Weasley care and attention on both of them. He needs to learn that he can't insult her willy-nilly whenever he wants."

"You would have been hell during our early school years," Ron said, smirking in admiration. "I might have not had to call him all sorts of names."

Percy glared at his youngest brother. "The war between you two should have stopped long ago. He is practically family now."

"Which is why he's further down my ..." He looked at his mother. "Crap list," he finished. She growled. "Sorry, mum, but there's no other way of putting it."

She shook her head. "I'm sure those two will work it out without any help from you lot." She called the cake over to her and put it in the middle of the table so she could slice it. Together with Kandy, everyone got served and was happy again.

Snippet 22:

Xander had waited for this moment for nearly a month. Draco was walking into the shop and Ron was in the back room. "Hey," he said, patting down his pockets. "Can I borrow your wand for a moment? I can't find mine." It was a lie, but Draco readily handed over his wand for him to use. He changed the color of the wall behind the kiddie-safe treats and muttered the incantation to stop Draco from using the spell to flatten his hair. He smiled and handed it back. "Thanks. I was tired of that color and it wasn't going to change for hours."

Draco smiled at him. "No problem. Iggy told Simone about something that tickled you and Denver's demanding some of it."

"Oh, yeah, the icy fingers of death. You eat it and it tickles you ten minutes for each inch you eat." He pointed at the jar holding the long strings of taffy-like material. "Right there. Six knuts an inch. It was one of my creations."

Draco walked over and pulled out a few inches, cutting it off with the cutting bar on the jar. "I think this should be enough to soothe his temper tantrums," he said with a smile as he brought it over to be rung up.

Xander handed him a bag. "That's three inches, so eighteen knuts." He took the money. "Hey, you wouldn't want to test something out for us, would you?" Draco shook his head. "Shoot. We really need an independent test subject."

"What does it do?" Draco sighed. He hated it when Xander was unhappy, besides, it kept him from blowing up stuff. He took a small piece of popcorn that Xander was holding out. "What does it do?"

"It makes other people see things that you can't," Xander said with a grin. "Like you turn colors but only they can see it." Draco dropped the piece of popcorn, but Xander nearly cackled because the potion was soaked up through the skin. He saw Ron sneaking out and opened his mouth like he was going to warn Draco, but nothing came out. This was going to be good.

Ron raised his wand and sent a short spell at his almost brother-in-law. "Ha!" he shouted when it was done.

Draco watched as his hair fell down into his eyes, and over his mouth, and down his chest. Then the hair on the rest of his body started to grow too. "What did you do!"

"Ginny said so," Xander said with an evil smile.

Draco growled and disappeared, going to Ginny's office. He landed in front of her desk, huffing and sneering. "What did you tell those two maniacs to do?" he demanded. "I look like a yeti! I ought to make you shave all this off! Why did you tell them to do this to me?"

Ginny shrugged. "I asked months ago." She reached into her drawer and pulled out a hairtie. "Here, you need it."

"Do you know how long it takes me to fix my hair every day and shave?"

She looked him over. "Not as long as it will now?" she guessed. He huffed and pulled up the top of his hair, making a topknot. "What did they do to you and which pair was it?"

"Ron and Xander," he nearly wailed.

"Ah." She stood up and moved some of the hair out of his eyes for him. "I told them months ago to get you for saying I wasn't a good mother to Denver," she said quietly. "I'm sorry they waited this long to do it." His eyes flashed. "Well, you did."

"You're an excellent mother to my son."

"Our son," she corrected. "I changed his diapers and read him bedtime stories too, as much as you do for Simone. That makes him just as much my son as it does yours." He sighed. This argument again. "And then you compounded it by saying that I had no effect on his life. If it had been me, you'd be more than hairy." She sat down again. "Sorry about the hair, but the kids will probably think you're a teddy bear." She smiled.

"I'll get you for this," he promised, grabbing her. "You'll fix this or your family will have to beg to get you back." He disappeared with her. "With you Weasleys, who needs Voldemort and Death Eaters? You're the most evil creatures on the face of this planet."

"Thank you," she said with a grin. She wiped her smile before he dumped her onto the floor. "You want me to fix it and you abuse me?"

"I should abuse you," he snarled. "It'd serve your family right for doing this to me."

"Just think, Xander likes you a lot, he could have done a lot worse."

"Worse? How can it get worse?" he screeched. "I look like some creature that Hagrid would keep!"

"Yell like that again and I'll call him," Ginny told him, standing up. He growled at her, making her back up a step. "Hey, you started it! You said I wasn't a good mother to Denver. I'm an excellent mother to all the kids, even him!"

Denver walked in and looked up at them. "If you want to yell at each other, can I go live with Iggy? His parents don't scream or leave." He pouted at her. "Mommy, are you coming back for good?"

"No," Draco told her.

"It's up to your father," Ginny said, pointing at him.

Denver looked at his father. "Daddy, why are you furry? Is this a subtle way of telling me I can have a dog?"

"No," Draco said. "Go play upstairs," he ground out. Denver sighed and rolled his eyes, but he left them alone. "Do you see what your son learned from you?"

"Yup, he learned to give a damn about other people's feelings," she countered, crossing her arms.

"I care about other people's feelings," he said, starting to pout.

"So you didn't mean to say I wasn't doing a good job with Denver?"

"No! But he is a Malfoy. He looks like every single one of us and he acts like us."

She rolled her eyes. "Then Merlin help him if he ever gets a girlfriend! He'll probably have this same argument with her." She smirked. "And that's assuming he likes girls."

Draco spluttered. "He had better like girls. It's up to him to carry on the family name and genes."

Ginny shrugged. "Yay. He might not like girls. Xander said he caught your son groping Melvin." And Simone, but she conveniently left that out.

"No! Not my son. My son will be straight and have many children to carry on the better part of the family's heritage." He crossed his arms and fully started to pout, not that she could see it. "My son has to do that or the whole family might die."

She gave his furry self a hug. "I'm sure he'll have at least one kid. Xander and George did." He looked at her, but he wasn't ready to be mollified yet. "And you look better with hair that's not chunky." She ran her hands through some of the pelt coming through his shirt. "It's good to be able to run my fingers through it."

"I like my hair, I look good like that."

"Who told you that?"

"My mum, used to say I was very handsome with my hair like that." He sniffed. "I like my hair like that."

"Honey, everyone else thinks your hair looks like some helmet-like protection device." He pulled away from her. "What looked good on you as a child doesn't look good on you now."

"You'd prefer me like this?" he asked, waving a hand at all his hair.

She shook her head. "Personally, I think it's cute that you shave everything." She smirked when he glared at her again. "I do. It's cute to watch you shave." She sat down on a couch. "I'd rather that you not have that much hair because it reminds me of your father, but I'm more than willing to help you find a hairstyle that suits you."

"I like my hair that way," he ground out.

"Draco, I don't know how you get laid as much as you do, everyone used to laugh at your hair." He stomped out and she sighed, getting up to use the fireplace.

"No!" he said harshly from the doorway. "You're staying." He covered the fireplace and stomped back out again.

She sighed and sat down again. "This was not how I wanted to spend the day." She tipped her head back. "I need to call Hermione, I was supposed to be meeting with someone today," she yelled. And she really needed to get the news back so someone would go pick Simone up at daycare.

"Fine, use the one in the kitchen," he snapped from the doorway. "Who're you meeting?"

"Minister Fidders. He wanted to know if there was anything coming down that he should know about." She stood up. "Besides, your daughter's playing right now and someone has to pick her up." She started to walk away from him but he grabbed her arm. "What now?"

"You sent my child out to be taken care of by a stranger?"

"Mum's busy and the daycare's just down the road from my office. It's run by a very nice witch and two wizards, all of whom mum talked to." He glared at her, and it felt like the air was heating around them. "She's only there when I have to go into the office. Usually she's with me at Hermione's while we work."

"From now on," he snarled, "she comes here when you're too busy for her."

"I'm not too busy for her. Did it occur to you that it's good for her to meet new people and play with other kids?" She got free of him and he made another snatch for her. "Get over it, Draco. If Denver's yours, then Simone and Anastasia are mine."

"They're my children."

"And mine. I didn't see you laying there pushing them out." She turned and walked away, heading for the kitchen. "Percy Weasley," she called as soon as the floo powder was in the fire. Her brother's face showed up. "Percy, I need a favor. Draco's just kidnaped me to have a fight. Simone's in daycare up the street and I had a meeting with Minister Fidders in about thirty minutes. Can you call off and pick her up?"

He looked around her but he didn't see anyone else. "Are you all right?"

"Yeah, but I think it's going to be a long, tiring fight. One we need to have if he's going to continue to see his daughters, but it's going to be horrible. Can we send Denver to you too?"

"Of course. I have nothing here for him to do, but I'll gladly take him to mum's tonight."

Ginny smiled. "Thanks. Expect him soon." She broke the connection. "Denver!" she yelled. He came running down the back stairs. "Want to go see Percy and the others?" He nodded, looking happier. "Okay. Let's send you there so your father and I can fight."

He laid a hand on hers. "He's very fragile," he told her quietly. "Be nice to him or he'll cry." He let her send him on to his uncle.

Ginny turned around and found her ex standing in the doorway. "That way he doesn't have to hear us argue."

He shrugged. "I know your mother will take good care of him." He leaned against the doorway. "Are you done?"

"For now." She stepped away from the fireplace, and it disappeared too. "You do realize that the house elves will be confused?" she asked.

"I don't care." He pointed at the hallway. "Let's go fight somewhere else." He walked off, leaving her to follow him.

She sighed but followed. Maybe she'd be able to shout some sense into the guy. He wasn't totally gone yet. "Have you decided to apologize for insulting me yet?" she asked. He looked at her, then looked away. "Because if you haven't...."

"You'd take my daughters away from me?"

"You're trying to take my son away from me," she reminded him. "I can get over Denver's loss, you can get over the girls'."

He shook his head. "No, I won't. They are my life."

"No, they're part of your life," she countered. "You have more in your life."

He shook his head. "No, I don't. I've built my life around them because I can't do much more." He turned to face her. "They are my life. You have more going on."

She nodded. "Yeah, I do. You could but you chose not to."

He laughed coldly. "Like anyone's going to trust me! No one even wants to be around me because of what my father was. All those parties that I used to go to are closed to me. People I thought I knew snub me. Either I'm in love with you, and that's too much for them to handle, or I'm a Malfoy and therefore evil and unable to be around decent people."

She walked over and hugged over. "You need better friends." He pulled away from her. "Has anyone in my group said anything to you?"

"No, they just give me looks like I'm a horrible disease that's infecting you periodically." He sat down and curled up in a chair. "You can't take the children away from me."

She sat down across from him. "I don't want to but you're not giving me much choice. I'm not going to voluntarily hand over my children to someone who insults me." She got comfortable. "I'm nearly leaving this to you, but I'm drawing a line. You insulted me and I'm not going to put up with it. For that matter, I know my brothers can do better. Percy might as well have thought this prank up." She smiled. "But Xander wouldn't hurt you."

He nodded. "I know."

She picked up a pillow and tossed it at him. "Asshole, you could get over this if you wanted to. You used to be much more forceful and manly. You're wimping out because people give you funny looks?"

"I'd like to be accepted by someone."

"Gee my family doesn't count?" He shrugged. "Get over it, Draco. "You're feeling pathetic again and it's affecting everything around you."

"You left me and took my daughters," he protested. She shrugged. "That doesn't bother you?"

"I told you that I wouldn't put up with shit from you when we were in India." She leaned closer. "You do realize that you brought this on yourself."

"But he is a Malfoy! He looks like one, he acts like one, and he's everything that I would have been with decent parents."

"Yay. He's also all but my step-son."

He shook his head. "We're not married."

She picked up a small statue and threw it at him, hitting him on the side of the head. He looked stunned as he rubbed the small lump. "Good, maybe it'll make you see reality again. Have I not been there for Denver for most of his life?" Draco nodded. "Didn't we already have this fight at least once before?" He nodded again. "Did you think I was blowing smoke up your ass that time?" He nodded. "Bloody idiot." She got up and walked out. She came back a moment later. "In case you hadn't noticed, I'm here. I've been here and might continue to be here. Whether or not I'm here depends on you pulling your head out of your ass and seeing me for everything I've done and been through. Until you do, I'm not talking to you and you might as well tell my parents you've kidnaped me." She walked away again.

He sat and thought about it as the extra hair receded, leaving him desperately in need of a shave. He absently scratched his chest. Then he pulled his wand and cast the shaving charm. He started to cast the charm that would fix his hair, but his wand wouldn't work. It felt plugged up. He frowned and then hit himself on the head. "I'll get Xander later," he promised himself. He played with his wand while he thought. If she meant it, she was really pissed and he would be groveling soon. He looked toward the door, but she hadn't reappeared. He stood up and went to find her, but decided that maybe a present was in order. He made a stop at the safe and pulled out a necklace he had been meaning to give her for her birthday. Thinking about the house led to starting with the nursery, hoping she would hide in the same places he did. No luck. He tried their bedroom, but it was empty except for the house elf cleaning the mirrors. He headed back down the stairs, trying to think if there were any rooms she had spent a lot of time in after Anastasia's birth. Nothing was coming up, so he headed back to the garden. She liked the outside. Bingo. He walked up behind her and put the necklace around her throat.

"I don't want presents," she told him.

"It was your birthday present," he said quietly. He walked around to face her. "You're still an incredible mother, especially to Denver because he will one day become a lot more like me. I'm hoping you teach him how to relate to women so he never has to go through this." He looked up at the sky, then back at her. "Can we go inside, it's getting cold." She shook her head. "You want to hold this talk out here?"

"The living room smells again."

"We can go anywhere you want, as long as I'm not cold." She raised an eyebrow. "You're wearing more clothes," he pointed out.

"You have a whole closet full of clothes upstairs."

He shrugged. "Probably true, but I'm comfortable in this." He sat down beside her. "I'm not sorry about what I said, but it wasn't what I meant. Simone is a Weasley. She looks like you, she acts like you, and she laughs like you. Denver is a little me." She nodded. "It had nothing to do with the civilizing influence you give my son. Or about how good or bad of a mother you are." She punched him on the arm. "Ow! Harridan."

"That would require us to be married," she pointed out.

He sighed. "You know what I meant."

"No, most of the time I don't," she reminded him.

"Ginny, we speak the same language."

"We both may be British and wizards, but we speak *very* different languages." She tried to take off the necklace, but his hand stopped her. "I don't want this, Draco. I don't need presents from you. I don't need your money, your family name, or anything of yours."

He slapped her hands away from the clasps. "This is the only way I know to interact with women. This and sex, and I think we've proved how that turns out." She laughed. "Besides, I picked that out for you for your birthday. Unfortunately you weren't here."

"Hey, you insulted me."

"I just told you it had nothing to do with that!" he said in exasperation.

"Bet me!"

He grabbed her face, making her look at him. "My son is a younger version of me. No matter how you civilize and soften him, he'll still be a little me with better manners." She tried to pull away but he squeezed. "No, you'll listen. There was nothing that I said that was meant to impinge on your abilities. It was a statement of fact. You're the one keeping my son from turning into a complete slut." She hit him, making him flinch, but he didn't let go. "I've been hit with bludgers harder than that."

"I can hit you harder," she offered.

He nodded. "Probably. You're a very strong woman, if only because you didn't beg for drugs while Anastasia was trying to put off her birth." He smiled at her. "But Denver is not your son. He's your step-son, and you do an incredible job with him, but he's biologically all mine."

"Then maybe I should beat how to deal with women into him," she said, pulling away from his hands. "Don't do that again, you'll be missing body parts."

He scooted back a few inches, all the bench allowed him. "I'm sorry."

"You're going to be," she agreed. She took the necklace off and handed it to him. "I'm here for more than civilizing your son," she said bitterly. She started to move, but he grabbed her and pulled her down onto his lap. "Let me go."

"No, not until you explain that. We're still not speaking the same language. What you do is more important than what I do with him. I could never teach him how to deal with another human being."

"If you interacted with them it might help," she pointed out. He shrugged. "You don't care?"

"No, it's a moot point. No one wants to be around me. Ever." He let her go and put the necklace into her hand. "It's yours. If you take it off again, I'm gluing it to your neck." He walked away.

"Draco," she called, hurrying after him. She stopped him in the hallway, making him turn around. "I'm his mother."

"Yes, you are. The most important thing in a child's life. You're the one who takes what little I've managed to contribute to him and turn him into a human."

She hit him again, making him 'oof' and wince. "You contribute a lot to all the kids. Not only are you giving them a saner sense of humor, but you're making them happy because you pay attention to them. They don't get as much attention from anyone." He smiled at that. "Now, are you done being a git?" He shrugged. "Good. Then we've got to figure out how to get you out of this house."

"I like this house," he protested, but he let her drag him along. "What are you planning now? Hopefully it has nothing to do with my hair." He allowed himself to be put onto the couch and moved to curl up against her when she sat next to him, but she picked up the paper. "What's that for?"

"To hit you with the first time your fingers slide against my skin," she told him. She looked at her hand, then around. She started to get up but he did instead, going to look for her necklace. He came back a minute later with it in his hand, dangling it for her to take. "It's really a birthday present?" she asked. He nodded. "Nothing else?"

He smirked. "I was going to use it to talk you back into my bed, but I doubt you'd want that now." She smiled and shook her head. "Thought so."

"Not until you get that damn fertility spell taken off," she muttered, going back to searching for something. "Ah-ha!" she said, handing the paper to him.

He sat beside her and read the short article. "How would this help me?"

"At least you'd be doing something that you liked," she offered. She started to tuck the necklace into her pocket but he snatched it from her hand and put it back on her, gluing it to her neck with a charm. "Thank you, Draco."

"You're welcome." He put down the paper. "Why would I want to do research?"

"Because it would get you out of the house and around quiet people," she told him. Then she smiled. "And I seriously doubt any Slytherin would be anywhere near this project. Most of them were afraid of books in school." He nodded, that had been true. "Libraries are quiet places and so are museums. They'd have people there that care what you do, not so much about who you are." He shrugged. "And you have the means of study here."

He nodded. "The body's downstairs," he admitted quietly. "It could be analyzed."

"See, it could be invaluable to the historical base of knowledge." She curled up against his side. "You'd have total control over everything that went on with the body. You'd probably have to pull out the Malfoy charm sometimes, but otherwise it shouldn't be too bad."

He kissed the side of her head. "Why do humans have to be more complicated than sex and cuddling?" he asked her.

"Because people have developed these things called emotions over the years," she reminded him. "And sometimes they're stupid and wrong, and sometimes they get hurt, and sometimes they make life richer." She looked up at him. "It could be a lot worse, Draco. I could have not told you about Simone and kept her away from you." He went a little pale so she patted his thigh. "It's a good thing that I see something positive in you, huh."

He wrapped his arms around her. "It is, but I'd like it if you'd tell others." He gave her a squeeze. "Can we talk like adults now?" She nodded. "Without any storming out?"

"If it works, I'm all for it," she agreed. "That means that you can't do it either."

He nodded. "I can agree to that." He buried his face in her hair. She smelled like the kids.


Molly walked into the store and looked around. "Xander? Ron?" she called. Both of them appeared out of the hallway to the lab. "What did you do to Draco?"

"Forced him to talk to Ginny," Xander told her.

"By messing with his hair," Ron added with a grin.

Molly rolled her eyes. "You know how much trouble he goes to with his hair." Both young men nodded, both of them smiling. "And you destroyed that?"

"No, I gave him more hair and blocked his wand from casting that spell," Xander told her.

She shook her head. "Hopefully he doesn't have his father's poofy hair." Her son burst out laughing. "Ronald, it's not nice to laugh at the dead," she reminded him.

"Mum, we used to tease him that his father was a poof," Ron gasped. "The ponytail just gave it away."

"I'd have voted for him to be a drag queen," Xander agreed. He had to stick up for his partner in crime, even though he was sure Draco's mother only had him for the money Lucius offered her in compensation for marrying him. She glared at both of them, but she was starting to laugh too. "I just gave him some of the ever grow potion."

"Blond yeti," Ron panted, trying to stop laughing.

She swatted the both of them. "You'll apologize when you see him." She looked around the shop. "Are most of these new?"

"A lot of it was stuff that we didn't put out before, it wasn't officially tested," Xander told her. "Now that it's tested, we're putting out a little bit of everything." He walked her over to a small locked case. "These are special," he told her. "We have to lock them up because the kids will go to any length to steal them." He opened the case and pulled out a small silver rope, cutting a piece off. "Bite a little piece of this."

She nipped a small piece off the end, then started laughing. "What is this?"

"Icy fingers of death," he said with a wink.

"Oh, dear Merlin!" she giggled, grabbing her sides. "I can see why everyone likes this." She walked over to the fire and headed to her husband's office, going to give him the rest of it. He needed a good laugh.

Ron and Xander high-fived. "Yeah," Xander said happily.


Draco pushed his hair out of his eyes. "I need to do something about this," he muttered.

Ginny reached over and pushed it off his face for him. "It's longer than I thought." He groaned. "Why don't you cut it a little bit? Then you could push the rest back in another, non-crunchy, way." He gave her a look. "What? I like running my fingers through your hair now that I know it's so soft."

"I'll get someone to cut it tomorrow," he sighed. She leaned over and kissed him on the cheek. "What was that for?"

"For taking a suggestion and not grumbling about it."

"Wait until tomorrow."

She smiled. "I have a way to make sure you won't be complaining." He looked at her but she shook her head. "You'll find out."

He picked up a forkful of mashed potatoes. "I could send this at you."

"And I could change it into water before it makes it halfway across the table," she countered. He gave her a speculative look. "It's one of the spells I worked out recently." She ate a bite of steak casually. He smiled at her, prompting her for information. "I'm doing the more helpful spells right now. We started out with stuff we already had, and then moved to things that'll be useful in daily life. I did Ron's favorite one, a spell to create pastries out of thin air. Then I did one to transfigure the material in mid-flight. That's as close to an offensive or defensive spell as I'm getting. Hermione wants to do some of the defensive spells she's found, but so many of them can be used against someone so I've decided not to go there."

"What if she does?"

"Then the gryphons will take all her memories of anything to do with them and send her home," she said simply. "I talked with one of them yesterday about this and they were quite calm. They figured some human would do something like this." She ate a bite of asparagus. "How far are you going to let them go with your hair?" He shrugged and started eating again. "Colors? Maybe a streak or highlights?"

"No," he said with finality.

"Okay, that's what I was wanting to know. Plan on going into regular London."

"Why?" he asked, being careful.

"Because the shop I saw and heard good things about is out there," she told him. He sighed and nodded. "Thank you."

"I'd do damn near anything for you," he reminded her.

"Then find a way to get out of the house." He grimaced. "Buy season tickets to a quidditch team or something. Do something to get yourself out of the house on a regular basis."

"I'm supposed to take my father's spot on the Hogwarts Board of Regents," he said quietly. "I went once and they all looked at me like I was some mutant."

"Yay, a bunch of old farts who can't even remember when they were in school, much less put themselves in the minds of a modern student." She pointed a fork at him. "You're the youngest on there by about a hundred years."

He nodded. "Probably true."

"Could that have been why they were giving you funny looks?" He shrugged. "Well, was it fear or was it revulsion?"

"Revulsion. Though one person did look afraid."

"Then they need to get to know you." She kicked him on the shin. "The old you would have stormed in there and sneered at them."

"I haven't been him in a while," he reminded her.

"Yeah, since I was about six months along with Anastasia." He gave her a startled look. "Yeah, you, pregnancy got you too." He shook his head. "Yup, it did. You got even more cranky than I did, and then you got strange and moody, and now you're swinging the other way." She started to take a bite but he stopped her hand. "I can't eat now either?"

"No, not that." He let her finish that bite of food. "I haven't always been like this?"

"No, it's a more recent thing. Usually, you work it out and come back from your sudden vacations. This time, I guess I cut it out on you."

He shook his head. "No! It was good. Very good. You made me feel alive again."

"Well, I guess you're going to have to quit being a prat and keep me around then," she teased. He nodded quickly. "I was joking."

"I'm not. Can we go pick up the kids?"

"No, mum'll complain if we take them now. It's after their bedtimes."

Draco sighed. "I hate it when they're so far away."

"Then we can always go stay there," she reminded him. She looked around the empty, big, cold house. "Maybe someone else should live here with you anyway. This house reminds me of a tomb."

"That's the basement," he joked weakly.

"And the living room and the bigger dining room. All of the house is drafty and cold, and very quiet." He shrugged. "Draco, the whole house is like a crypt. Every time you come back here, you get depressed and quiet. Maybe you should move. Somewhere smaller and noisier?"

He sighed. "I can't. It's part of the will."

"So build a small house somewhere away from the stone monstrosity. Somewhere that makes you happy."

"I think that's a big step," he pointed out. She nodded. "Can I just hang at the Burrow again?"

She nodded. "Mum'd probably enjoy it most of the time, especially if you'd cut the grass and degnome the garden. No one's done it in a while and they're annoying her."

"How do you do that?"

She smiled. "Don't worry, mum'll tell you everything you need to know." She stole a bite of his steak since hers was all gone. "No matter where you move, you're taking whichever house elf cooked dinner tonight."

He laughed. "Of course I am. It's not like I'm doing housework." He leaned over and stole a kiss. "Thank you."

"You're welcome." She stole a deeper kiss. "I'm still not having sex with you until you get rid of that fertility spell."

He laughed harder. "I can't even whine my way into cuddles?"

"Cuddles I can do, but you're at least wearing pants to sleep in."

"I can't sleep in clothes," he complained.

"Yay. Still no sex. I've had enough kids." He shook his head quickly. "Oh, yes I have. Three pregnancies is enough."

He stole another kiss. "You look good like that."

"I'm not having another one."

"I'd like more kids. And I promised my father I'd have more little Weasley spitfires." She looked confused and opened her mouth. "When Xander found him among the Death Eaters. It's part of what made him cry." He smiled smugly. "That and I told him I'd be doing charity work with the muggle born." She snickered. "He really cried, got very upset with me for some reason."

She burst out laughing. "Draco, if we have more kids, I'm finding the gryphon spell so you carry them." He looked thoughtful. "And trust me, it'll make your body feel wrong for months afterwards."

"But it has to feel less lonely. You have someone inside you kicking you and touching you. It'd be good probably. I'd like not to be alone."

She moved seats so she could hug him.


Molly walked down the stairs to start breakfast for her husband and the kids, and stopped. Draco Malfoy was sleeping on her couch. With her daughter lying on top of his chest. She cleared her throat and Draco waved, making a 'be quiet' noise. She 'humphed' and walked into the kitchen. She slammed a frying pan down hard and smiled when she heard her daughter squeak. "Good," she called.

Draco walked into the kitchen and kissed her cheek. "She decided I can't live in my home."

"I agree," Ron said as he skipped down the stairs. "Your house is drafty, big, and soul sucking." He plopped himself down at the table. "What do I get to do today, mum?"

"You're coming with us," Ginny told him, smacking him across the back of the head. "That was a weak prank."

"Xander only wanted to shock him enough to make him go find you and fight with you." He looked at Draco. "We could have done more, but we decided you didn't deserve it enough to exert ourselves." He smiled. "You looked cute," he offered.

Draco growled at him, making Ron move away from him. "One of these days, Weasley. I'm adding it to the tally and I will may you pay." He sat down and pulled Ginny into his lap, sniffing her neck.

"Draco, remove your lips from my daughter's neck," Molly said stiffly.

"It's okay, mum, he needs me."

"That's nice, but you're still in my house, at my table, and I won't watch you two make out."

"You watch Xander and George do it," Ron reminded her.

"They're married." She cracked some eggs into the pan. "As soon as I see a ring on her finger, she'll get the same rights George has." She stared down Ron. "The same goes for you as well, Ronald."

Ginny snickered. "Yes, mum. But do you really want me married to him?" He poked her hard, making her squeal. "See, he abuses me." Her mother rolled her eyes. "Did Percy pick up Simone?"

"Yeah," Ron told her. "She spent half the night in my room." Ginny looked at him and he shrugged. "Last night was a bad one."

"Oh, Ron," Ginny sighed, leaning over to hug him. "I'm sorry you're still having nightmares."

"Bad ones?" Draco asked quietly. Ron nodded. "Lots of blood?"

"The scene out in the forest," he sighed. "When the aurors attacked us to get us off the Death Eaters. I keep seeing Hermione and Harry falling and I'm never able to get to them before Harry dies and Hermione kills half the aurors in a final attack." His mother walked over and gave him a hug. "Thanks, mum."

"Instances like that will always change your lives," she reminded them, looking at Draco. "I wish none of you had ever seen that side of life, but it happened and we have to move on."

Draco shook his head. "Some of us can't, Molly. It's like it happened yesterday every time the nightmares come back." He gave Ginny a squeeze. "It might not ever get better."

Ginny looked at him. "Have you ever asked Xander how he got rid of his?"

"George is his comfort snuggle," Ron told her. "He still has them, and he has them worse than either of us do." He looked up at his mother. "Think about what would have happened if we hadn't had the training, mum."

She sniffed. "I'd rather not. That's one of those thoughts that gives me and your father nightmares." She ruffled Ron's hair. "Oh, the eggs," she said when one of them popped oil out of the pan. She hurried over to flip them. "What do you two have planned for today?"

"Ron and Xander are escorting Draco to get a haircut," Ginny told her. Ron looked shocked. "Hey, you fixed his hair, now you get to sit there and help finish the process. Besides, the both of you could use one."

Molly nodded. "Definitely, and you should pay for ruining Draco's hairstyle yesterday."

"Mum, they turned him into a big, blond teddybear." Ginny started to snicker. "Then he came and yelled at me, before kidnapping me to have a fight."

Draco ran a finger over the necklace she was wearing. "It was a productive fight."

Fred snuck up behind Draco and ran his fingers through the soft, loose hair. "Wow, it *is* real hair. Mum, did you know he had real hair and not something fake and made from that muggle plastic stuff?" Molly snorted.

Draco swatted the hands out of his hair. "Get your own," he grumbled.

Ginny shifted so she could run her fingers through his hair. "Mine," she told Fred.

Fred shook his head. "I don't see a ring."

"She wouldn't accept one," Draco reminded him. She tugged on his hair. "Woman, behave, or I'm going to do something that will make your mother scream at me."

"Something good or something bad?" Ron asked. His mother tossed a towel at his head. "Well, you might not scream if it was something good."

"I'd scream anyway, because of the way Draco's mind goes when he looks at Ginny," she told him with a frown. "No making me scream in either revulsion or horror," she scolded.

"Fine," Draco sighed, grabbing Ginny's rear and squeezing.

"Draco!" she yelled. "Let go of her arse."

Draco's hands flew off her rear. "Sorry." He hid his face in her neck again. "Won't touch her again."

"Mum," Ginny sighed.

"I still don't see a ring," Molly said firmly. "Until I do, there will be no groping in this house."

Ron sighed and put his head down. "Is breakie almost done?" Molly scowled at him but went back to fixing breakfast for everyone. "Fred, we're going to need Xander."

"Good, it'll keep him out of our lab." Fred shrugged when his mother looked shocked. "If he likes working in one so much, he should have built himself one. He's taking all our time in the lab."

"He was working the register the last time I saw him," Molly reminded him.

"He was the only one in the store," Fred told her. "We were at the bank checking funds."

She rolled her eyes, but started to dish up food. "Someone go wake up Xander. That way no one can complain." Fred skipped off. He'd have the lab all to himself today!


Ginny dragged Draco into the salon by his arm, both her brothers following behind him. "Hi," she said with a smile. "I called yesterday. Three appointments together?" The receptionist nodded and marked her off. "How long will it be?" She glared at Xander. "Some people can't wait."

"I can wait," Draco offered.

"It won't be too long," the receptionist told her. "Did any of the gentlemen need our special computerized service?" Draco was shoved toward her. "Come right this way, sir, and we'll start the computer process."

"What computer process?" Draco asked, shooting Ginny a glare.

"We're going to take your picture and then plug it into the computer, which will pull up various hairstyles so you can see what you'll look like," she said happily. She sat him down on a stool. "Look at the camera." Fortunately, she pointed at it since he didn't know what one was. He stared at the spot she pointed at and a small flash went off. "All done," she said happily. "You can go back and wait with your friends."

"They're her family," he grumbled. "I'm just an innocent victim." He trudged back to the waiting area and sat next to Ginny, leaning into her side. "They took my picture."

"Good. That means that we'll be able to look at a lot of types of hairstyles and pick one that makes you look hot."

"I looked fine," he said, shooting a glare in Xander's direction. "I looked good enough to get many people in my bed." Ginny smacked him hard. "Ow. Not while you were pregnant."

"You haven't gotten laid by anybody but me since Denver got dropped off," Ginny whispered next to his ear. "All you've had was me and your hands." He shivered. "And if you don't get something cute done with your hair, you'll still only have me and your hands."

He kissed her on the cheek. "I'd be happy with that," he offered.

She smiled and shook her head. "You're sweet, but that's not the point. I like you looking hot. You looking hot means that people look at me and wonder what I've got to make you follow me around like a puppy dog." He scowled. "Kidding," she said with a grin.

"People look at you when we're together?"

"Yup. Because they wonder why she's with you, git," Ron told him. Draco threw one of the hairstyle books at him. "Hey! Watch it!"

"I can make the world forget you," Draco reminded him.

Ginny shook her head. "You can't make mum forget him, honey, she'll never forget giving birth to him. She once told me she looked down and screamed because he should have been a girl."

"Eww," Xander told them. "No more fighting, or I get to wear myself out with you two today." Both men settled down to wait.

A hairdresser walked out, smiling at Ginny. "You wanted us to work on all of them?" she asked.

Ginny stood up, hauling Draco with her. "This one is mine, and he needs a new look badly. His old one was slicked back and crunchy, which means that I can't run my fingers through it. So he needs something to make him hot." She pulled Xander up. "He just needs a trim, he's never concerned about how he looks for his husband." The hairdresser pursed her lips. "Really, the only reason he's wearing decent clothes is that his husband picked them out this morning."

"Iggy picked them out," Xander corrected. He smiled at the hairdresser. "My son."

"Oh. He has excellent taste," she said, looking over his navy blue t-shirt and tight jeans. "And the other one?"

"He's my brother, you can make him look as bad as you want," Ginny offered. The hairdresser laughed. "Seriously. His girlfriend will understand. She's more fashionable than I am, but won't care because they never go anywhere." Ron glared at her back, she felt it.

The hairdresser nodded. "That will be fine. Mr. Malfoy, let's go look at the pictures and find you a new look. Nancy, Helen, come get these two," she ordered. Her underlings hurried out and led the other two back to separate chairs, while she and Ginny led Draco over to look at himself on the computer. "I have to ask, is that your natural color?"

He smirked. "Everywhere," he answered.

Ginny laughed. "As I found out yesterday." He nudged her. "Sorry, couldn't resist. He refuses to do anything beside cut it."

"Then we can weed out a lot of the images," she said, taking the keyboard to select a few options. "These are the first ten out of thirty hairstyles," she told him, letting him look them over.

"I like that one," Ginny said, pointing at one that wasn't *too* far off his old style. It was swept back in a more gentle manner, but it looked very natural. "Can he do that without gel?"

The hairdresser ran her fingers through his hair. "Maybe. It seems well trained."

"Let's look at the others first," Draco suggested. She nodded and paged down, letting him see the next ten. "Next," he suggested. He found one on the last page, a shorter, but spikier style. "Can I do that one?"

"Will your hair stand up?" she asked, playing with it some more. "Maybe I can get somewhere between the two," she decided. "How about if I take this much off," she measured off a length with her fingers. "That should allow it to spike a bit if you wanted it to, or you could so the swept back style like your girlfriend liked if you chose that way. It'd be fairly versatile." He nodded. "Good. Let's get you to a chair." She watched as Ginny gave him a kiss and whispered something in his ear, then led him to her workstation. "This won't hurt a bit," she promised him.


Xander and a nearly bald Ron looked up as Draco was led out. Xander whistled and Ron glared at her. "I'll get you for this," Ron promised his little sister.

She smirked. "You can try, but I'll be with him." She patted Draco on the butt. He looked hot! Mission accomplished. She watched as he paid the nice hairdresser, leaving a good tip, and accepted his next appointment. "Come on, I want to go find a new outfit," she told him.

He kissed her on the cheek. "I'll take you shopping if you get lunch." She smiled at him. He stopped to look at Ron. "Find lice?"

"No," he said indignantly. "My hair was fried from work. It was the only way to save some of it." He crossed his arms. "I didn't need it though."

Xander snorted. "Yeah, you did, Ron. I've seen serial dyers who didn't have hair that was as bad as yours was." He patted him on the back. "You've got to get away from the steam section, dude." He walked out behind the happy couple. "Want to go drive Fred out of the lab?"

Ginny turned and looked at him. "Xander, no," she said seriously. "Fred loves his lab time and you can't keep driving him out of it. He's about to banish you from the labs again." She walked up to him and gave him a hug. "Go infuse some of the walls so they're stronger or something."

"Okay," he sighed, but it did need to be done. He tugged Ron, having him come help him. They needed to find some more rocks to strengthen some weak spots.

Draco watched them go, then pinched his girlfriend on the rear. "Nice work," he told her, taking her hand so they could head around to shop.

"I seem to spend a lot of time talking Xander out of things," she mused. "I talked him out of a Hawaiian print robe last week." She noticed he looked confused. "Do you remember the game where you ended up naked?" He grimaced and nodded. "Remember the shirt you ended up in?"

"Yes," he said carefully. She smiled. "Tell me he didn't find a robe in that pattern," he begged.

"Oh, yeah. In reds at least so it looked decent enough on him, but he did find one." She leaned against his side. "It could have been much worse. Madam Malkin was keeping him away from the really garish ones. He wanted a silver one, shiny silver," she finished. He shuddered. "She pointed out that he wouldn't look that good in it and refused to let him buy it."

"Good. Maybe a small bribe will make sure he never goes near that section of the store again." He smiled evilly. "Or we could buy that section and burn it," he said happily.

She shook her head. "We can't. It's the section little kids get Father's Day presents from. They'd be devastated."

"But the fathers of the world would rejoin," he argued. He patted her on the hand. "Fortunately, all our children have my tastes. Denver bought me a very pretty blue one for Father's Day."

She snorted. "I've seen it, it's too light for you."

"Yes, but it was tasteful and I can wear it easily," he pointed out. "Especially if I wear it open over an outfit like I wore to court. I looked wonderful in it."

She tugged on his sleeve. "You sound like one of those queenly guys, Draco," she whispered. He scowled at her. "Just telling you."

He poked her, making her squeak. "Just because I'm very fashion conscious does not make me a drag queen." He led her on, going to help her find an outfit. She had to match his magnificence.


Xander and Ron landed in front of the store, letting their nets with stones down beside them. "Will this be enough?" Ron asked.

"To help fix one of the smaller weak spots, the one on the roof," Xander agreed. He noticed a parent looking at him. "It's perfectly stable," he told her, "but it won't stand up to more than a strong storm so I'm adding more stones to the places where I used more porous materials."

She nodded. "Will it withstand a dragon landing on it?"

"Most of it," he told her. "There's six weaker spots that'll only stand up to a storm like we had last spring. But I can merge some of the mass of these stones into the weave I put up and strengthen it." He smiled at her. "Don't worry, it won't fall on your head."

"As long as it doesn't," she said with a smile. "Aren't you a professor?"

Xander shook her hand. "Professor Harris, demonology and paranormal classifications." He nodded at Ron. "My helper is Fred and George's brother. We're playing hooky from the normal Sunday activities."

She laughed. "Good enough." She looked around. "Is your class mandatory?"

"No, it's an elective in the Defense Against the Dark Arts program. The beginning class is open to third years, and I'm running a second one for fourth years. The fourth years have the option of taking mine, switching from mine to study other forms of magic, or changing out totally." She nodded. "Basically, I cover the creatures that Professors Black and Lupin don't in their parts of the courses."

"And you teach an auror preparation class?" she asked. He nodded. "Are you still teaching one?"

"As far as I know. I do more physical training than auror prep though. I've had a few kids in there that wanted to play quidditch professionally so they took the opportunity to bulk up their muscles. Black and Lupin handle the magical parts of it while I do the physical."

"That's interesting." She smiled at him again. "Did you have no idea I'm a reporter?"

He shrugged. "Not really. But if you give me bad press I'm going to bug the shit out of you," he added with a naughty grin. "I'm like that."

She laughed. "So I've heard. Morgana Lesters, Witch World Weekly." She shook his hand. "My editor wanted us to do a special piece on the different classes being offered at Hogwarts as electives. Would you be willing to let me use what you just said?"

"As long as you don't call me names, make me sound dumb, or evil," he said with a shrug. "My classes are pretty full right now. I've only got two open spots in my fourth year class and about six this year in my third years. It was something we expected to happen though, with there being no current big, evil force to fight." She nodded and brought out a notepad, taking notes of what he'd said. "Professors Rosenberg and Maclay usually have really full classes, what they do is interesting."

"Why wait so late for your classes?" she asked.

Xander leaned against the side of the store. "A few reasons. The first being that I cover some things that aren't really nice to hear about. Some parents got upset my first year because I was teaching first years about some of the horrible things that can be found in the world. One of the demons I cover actually eats children." He shrugged. "It was decided that it would be better if we limited the class to the older students."

Ron nodded. "True. Some of the stories he told gave me nightmares and I was a sixth year when I took it," he offered. "But I've also run into one of them recently." Xander looked at him, frowning. "The green thing with the horns and the slimy suckers."

"Oh, that. Did you remember the wood?"

Ron nodded. "And I even remembered how to kill it, but I still can't remember it's name."

"Sometimes names aren't that important," Xander agreed. He turned back to the reporter. "Ron was also in my advanced class the first year, back when Professor Giles was still working up there."

"He made us jog," Ron said with great distaste.

Xander smiled at him. "Yup, he did. It wasn't so bad, when there wasn't snow on the ground." Ron nodded, that had been true. "At least he kept you guys at a mile. He used to run five a day."

"Eww," Ron said, picking up one of the sacks of rocks and carrying it around the side of the building. "I'll go find the ladder."

"Thanks." Xander smiled as Hagrid walked toward him. "Hey, Hagrid. What's up?"

"Thought I'd get something to cheer Fang up. One'a the kids got him in a fight yesterday. He's not a young pup anymore." He looked at the woman. "Reubus Hagrid," he said, shaking her hand.

"Morgana Lesters. Witch World Weekly." She smiled at him. "We're doing a special on the non-required classes offered at the school."

Hargid smiled. "Then you won't need me. Care of Magical Creatures is mandatory for everyone." He smiled at Xander. "You comin' up tonight?"

"Probably. Fred wants the house to himself for a while." He watched as Hagrid walked through the door and disappeared. "Huh."

"That doesn't worry you?" she asked.

Xander shook his head. "No, I've been trying to fix that spell for a few days now. But I know where he went." He smiled at her. "He's safe." He motioned her around to the side of the shop. "I won't be doing anything that you can't see," he offered. "We can continue. Hagrid will be back by tonight." She followed him to get a deeper interview.

Hagrid looked around the cave he found himself in, surrounded by gryphons. "Hello," he said cheerfully. "I stepped into Xander's store and...."

"XANDER!" one of the gryphons yelled. When he didn't get an answer, he stormed off. He had forgotten that he was supposed to send someone up to help Xander fix that portal.

Hagrid continued to smile at the remaining gryphons. "I didn't mean to intrude," he offered. "But can I look at your wings? I'm Groundskeeper at Hogwarts and I teach Magical Creatures."

One of the young gryphons, barely a toddler, walked up to him and plopped himself in Hagrid's lap. "Groom me!" it demanded.

Hagrid happily complied. He did so love creatures.


Xander looked up from his patching in the new stones as a gryphon landed outside the store. They were basically on the same level. "Hi, Bill," he said, giving him a smile. He saw the man on his back. "Hey, Hagrid, sorry about that. I've been trying to fix the portal."

"I will fix it," Bill told him huffily. "You should not mess with things that you don't understand."

"But I'm not," Xander complained. "I anchored it every which way I could and it still does that. Even the Charms teacher couldn't figure out what I did wrong."

"Then we'll remove it and reweave it," Bill said firmly. "Go get your books."

"Hey, Fred, can I have the books I used to work on the store," he called through the skylight. His brother-in-law headed back to the living area to get them for him. "At least that only happened once," he offered. Bill glared at him. "And it was someone who respects you for the creatures you are."

Hagrid laughed. "True. Had a long bit'a pettin' on some babies. Truly magnificent creatures." He slid off the gryphon's back. "Thanks for bringin' me back and all. I'd best get Fang his treat." Xander tossed down something. "Thank you, Xander."

"Welcome. I figured I should probably get it for you so we don't have you landing back there." He winked. "You might not come back."

Hagrid laughed. "I'd always come back for Fang." He walked away, whistling happily.

Xander slid down his ladder when he saw Fred walking out to the door. He took his books with a smile. "Thanks. We're going to try and be unobtrusive."

"We close in an hour anyway," Fred reminded him. He patted Xander on the shoulder. "How many more weak spots do we have?"

"That one's still a little weak. I'll have to shore it up a little more before someone as big as him," he pointed at Bill, "will be able to land on the roof. Right now, it's strong enough, but I'd rather have it stronger."

"Fine with me," Fred agreed. "Any chance of the skylights falling in?"

"Not unless something *really* heavy lands on the roof," Xander told him. "I've got a few more stones I can integrate when I have more time. Right now, it should all be okay."

"Good. Stay out of the lab," Fred told him as he went back inside.

"He says I was keeping him from the lab," Xander explained. He flipped open his book and showed off the spell he had used. "I did this one."

"That's why," Bill muttered. "There's supposed to be more to this spell."

"That's all Flitwick had."

"Ah. A mistranslation. That explains it." Bill nudged a sack he had around his neck with a wing. "Take this. It's yours." Xander took the bag of books and opened it, looking stunned. "You've proven you have the capability to use some of our hardest spells. Open the red book." Xander held one up. "The other one."

"Okay." Xander dug around until he found the other red book and opened it to the index, finding the spell he wanted. "This one?" he asked, showing it off. Bill nodded. "Thanks." He took down the first spell and the doorway trembled. He frowned and reached out to steady and meld it a little more. "Sorry, really dead wood," he explained. He recast the spell, anchoring it to the walls and the floor. He anchored it width-wise to the doorway itself so it couldn't stretch anymore. As soon as he was done, Bill stepped up and the door opened to admit him. He walked through without any problems and Xander whooped. "Yes!"

Bill walked back out and seated himself, looking at the young man. "Good job," he praised. "Now we have to discuss things." Xander nodded, settling himself down, but repacking his books first. Bill all but worshiped books so he was very careful with them around him. "You may not show these to Ms. Granger."

Xander nodded. "I was wondering when she was going to try and rework an offensive spell," he said quietly. Bill nodded. "Has it been taken from her?"

"Yes, all of it. We felt her putting a shield around her house and knew it was not one of the spells she should have. That was in the higher books." He looked at Xander, who shook his head. "You haven't given them any of your higher textbooks?"

"I gave them the potions books," Xander admitted. "And a few diaries from the potion makers, but I haven't even given Ginny access to my higher textbooks. I know there's stuff in there that they can't have."

Bill nodded. "True, though we trust Ms. Weasley. She and her mate are not only amusing, but quite strong and able to handle the situation should it arise."

"What situation? An offensive spell getting out?"

"That or having to use one if something too horrible happens," Bill agreed. "Something like what happened to your family." He stood up and sniffed. "Why do you smell like cows?" Xander shrugged. "Did you get your nest back?"

"Someone brought the braided outer edge," Xander told him. He hopped up, carrying his books back inside and going to get the nest he still hadn't finished fixing. He brought the ring back out, laying it on the ground. "This is what was found."

Bill sniffed it then shook his head. "This isn't yours. It's a phoenix nest." He sniffed Xander again. "It is the reason that you smell like cow however." He nudged Xander playfully. "Are you claiming another creature in your lineage?"

Xander snorted. "Not hardly. So what should I do?"

"Give that to Murphy and his mate. Yours probably won't be found." Bill shrugged. "I can help you rebuild one. We know where some of your relatives are."

"I have relatives? Living relatives?"

"One," Bill agreed. "Two more that have died in the last few years. Their nests are laying around in the catacombs. We can find some of the orginators' hay in there and remake your own nest." Xander sniffed and lunged, hugging him hard. "I understand," he said quietly, enfolding him with his wings. "I was once without my family nest for a year. It is very hard when you're not surrounded with the scent of your family. Even when you can't smell it, you know it's there." Xander nodded. "I will help you rebuild."

Xander pulled back. "I have one up at the school, but the exterminators did something to it and it smells wrong. But I did give Draco a family nest." Bill nuzzled him. "Thanks, man, this means the world to me."

"You are one of us, it is only fair." The gryphon stuck his head in the door. "If he has any more of the fake nest, throw it out," he told George, who had just appeared.

"It's not the nest?" George asked. Bill shook his head. "Then what was it?"

"A phoenix nest," Xander told him. "But I have relatives and Bill thinks I can rebuild mine."

"What about the one up at the school?" George asked. "It smells funny."

"We may be able to fix it," Bill told him. "I'd have to take a look at it." He nipped Xander's head playfully. "I'll do so when I come back with some of the hay for you to rebuild. Remember what I said." Xander nodded. "You may show Ms. Weasley your new books. We like her." He took off into the air.

Xander pulled his husband into his arms. "He brought me more textbooks and helped me fix the spell on the door," he said happily.

"And we'll have a nest again," George agreed. "We'll have to break it in that first night." Xander just grinned at him. "Mum wants us home for dinner."

"Okay. Let me go get some more of my books for Ginny." He led the way into the shop, going to find his favorite textbook. It had some of the neatest spells for personal use. Including one that created lubricant and baths. He sent himself to the Burrow, landing behind Molly. "Hi," he said happily. "Bill just came up and helped me fix the doorway spell." Molly shot him a glare. "What?"

"What did they do to Hermione?" she asked.

Xander sighed and sat on the stool beside her. "She tried to use one of the offensive spells," he said quietly. "They took the knowledge from her." Molly waved a spoon, a motion for him to go on. "All I know is that she put up a shield-like creation, and the only one I know of would attack anyone who wasn't part of the family as she defined it." He swallowed. "Did it attack someone?"

Molly nodded. "It attacked her son. He's here, with Harry and the others."

Xander slid off the stool. "I'll go talk to him. Trust me, they were gentle when they did it, as gentle as they could be." Molly nodded, looking resigned. "She knew better," he reminded her. "That was part of the rules she was given when they agreed she could help Ginny." He looked around. "Did anyone go take the books from the house?"

"Ron went to do that with Ginny. Hermione's in the hospital. Little Ron just got out an hour ago. Harry's quite upset."

"I'd be pissed too if my husband put up a spell and it bit Iggy," he said philosophically. He walked into the living room and gave the kids a hug, motioning with his head for Harry to join him outside. "Is she okay?"

"She's still groggy from the spell," Harry said quietly. "Why?"

"The thing that bit little Ron was a shield, meant to protect the family by eating whatever came for the family." Harry winced. "She knew she wasn't supposed to do any of the offensive spells, Harry. They have to protect themselves." He looked at the door behind them. "Is Ron okay?"

"He had to have stitches. Magic wasn't closing the wound." Xander nodded. "Are there any more like that?"

"Spells that'll protect the family by eating intruders? Yeah, I think so. I think there was some sort of guardian spell that used basically the same formula. It could wander wherever the family went."

"Not that," Harry said, glaring at him. "Any more surprises?"

"Well, Ginny's still being allowed to work on stuff. And I just given permission for Draco to help her." Harry chuckled weakly. "The gryphon that helped me today, Bill, said that they were strong enough to do whatever was necessary in case a spell got out, or if something bad happened and we had a repeat of the Voldemort incident." Harry paled and Xander put a hand on his shoulder. "The nightmares don't go away," he told him, "but the ache eases. No matter what, you'll always remember what happened, but it'll seem more distant in a way."

"Like my childhood died that day," Harry said. Xander nodded so Harry gave him a hug. "Why did I jump in?"

Xander laughed. "Because you're a lot like me, kid. You knew you had to do it or a lot of people would get very badly hurt. It's who you are, you're a guardian and a protector. Feel better about that part, you couldn't have stopped yourself if you had tried." Harry nodded against his shoulder. "Come on, I think we need to spoil your little creatures."

Harry pulled back. "They're already spoiled." He glanced around. "What do I do about her?"

"That's up to you," Xander told him. "Do you want to stay with her?" Harry shrugged. "I'd think on it before I did anything. She might have a really big personality change from this."

"She started screaming at me as soon as they did it," Harry noted dryly as they walked back inside. He saw Ginny and Ron dropping boxes of books, and more of them littering the kitchen. "She had that many?"

"No, there's more," Ron told him. "Xander, we could use some help. Ginny just had to stun Hermione so we could raid her personal library. She has books in there on summoning demons." Xander winced. "Harry, I'm sorry, mate, but I really should turn her in."

Harry nodded. "I understand. I'd like to see them first though, face her down about it."

"That's a good idea," Xander agreed. "Ginny, call Draco. The gryphons decided you could work with him." Her face lit up and she squealed so he handed her the next book in his set. She flipped through it, then handed it to her mother so it wouldn't get mixed in. "Besides, we could probably use the muscle." He followed Ron into the fire. As soon as they stepped out, Hermione came for them with a fireplace poker. "Put it down," he ordered. She stared at him in shock. "What did you do to yourself? You used to be a hell of a lot more innocent and nice. What happened to that sweet little girl who didn't want to hit anyone?"

She sneered at him. "She killed people, all thanks to you."

Xander shook his head. "I gave you the training, Hermione, you chose to use it." He pushed her into a chair and stuck her there. "Stay." He followed Ron back to the library, going to find the rest of his books. He got a bright idea and went back to the living room. "Come on," he said, compelling her to follow him. He took her to Hogwarts and walked her into the Great Hall, taking her up to Tara and Willow. "She's gone dark," he told them quietly. "We're emptying her house." He looked at Willow. "I think you can handle this better than I can." The witches nodded and took her with them, once he had removed the spell. He disappeared again, going back to help Ron. "All settled," he told his brother-in-law as he reappeared in the fire. He looked at the piles of books in the living room. "Where would she have gotten chaos books from?" He opened the front of one and sighed. "From the personal library of Ethan Rayne. Great." He slapped it closed. "Ron, do we know how she got his books?"

"He found her and tried to talk to her. She all but killed him and robbed him," Harry said as he walked in. "She admitted it." He nodded at the books. "Do you know him?"

"Very well. He and Giles used to do magic together. He's the one who freed Giles when he was asleep your sixth year." He rubbed his forehead. "I'll deal with that part later. Let's load all this into boxes and move it back to the Burrow. We'll store it in the shed for now. I can weave a protection around it." He started packing books. "Harry, anything you don't want to keep, let's move it." Harry nodded, but he stood there. "What's wrong?"

"How could she have gone so bad?" he whispered. "I never noticed."

Xander held out his hand and Harry instinctively took it. He let a little bit of chaos-tainted magic out in a small bubble, which the other wizard felt - Harry's eyes opened with wonder. "That's just chaos *tainted* magic, Harry," he said quietly. "Chaos is a very popular choice because it's so powerful. You can get drunk on the power and not even realize it." He let Harry's hand go, but let him keep the little bubble. "Absorb it, you'll understand." He watched as the small bit of power was absorbed and the younger wizard sat down, looking drugged. "And that isn't what Ethan and Hermione play with," he reminded him.

"No wonder," he sighed. "That's a great feeling."

"And very addictive," Ron pointed out as he carried more books in. He smiled at Harry's shocked look. "He accidentally sent some into me when he had the flu the last time. Never hand the guy a tissue." He dropped the stack of books. "That's all for the library. That just leaves her personal rooms."

"And the other rooms," Harry noted dryly. "We have books in every room of the house." He got up to help remove more of the books, leaving Xander to pack them up and send them to the Burrow.


Molly screamed as a stack of boxes appeared right in front of her. "Xander!" she yelled. Boxes of books had been coming fast for the last hour.

He appeared, giving her a sheepish smile. "Sorry, mom. I thought you would have been done by now. We're going to move them after dinner so I have time to weave a protection around the shed."

"We'll put them in Charlie's room," Ginny told him, using her wand to move the stack of boxes into the hallway. One of them tipped over with a crash. "Oops." Her mother frowned at her so she went to clean up the mess. "Sorry about the vase, mum, I'll get you a new one tomorrow," she called.

Xander sat down at the table, next to Draco. "Where's George?"

"Still in the lab," Ron said as he appeared. "I just popped in on them. They're deep into something new." He sat down, looking around. "Looks much better packed in boxes."

"What are you doing with them, boys?" Arthur asked.

"Well, some of them don't belong to her," Xander told him. "Some of them belong to a few chaos sorcerers. I was going to track one down when I'm in London next month." He grimaced. "If he's still alive, I'm sure he wants his books back. Plus, he should be able to give the other chaos people their books back too."

"They're dangerous," Molly reminded him as she sat down.

"Yeah, but they're probably pissed right now because they don't have their books. That's why I'm warding them until we can do something about them." Arthur nodded. "And then," he sighed, "a few of the books are not gryphon books that I've ever had. So I'm going to have to cart them next weekend so we can figure out what to do with them. A few of them are very important books that I've only heard talked about. I'm sure Bill the gryphon will be *thrilled* to have a copy."

"They're that bad?" Draco asked, passing the potatoes.

"Yup. One's full of ways to kill a gryphon and use the parts."

"Xander, food," Ginny reminded him. "Save that for later." She retook her seat. "All cleaned up, mum. And I'll still buy you a new vase tomorrow."

"At least I didn't care for that one," she said primly. She saw the shrug and frowned. "Make sure that they're safe tonight."

"Yes, mum," the younger people said in unison, mostly.

Draco nudged Xander. "A gryphon gave me a compliment?"

"Yup, said you were strong enough to handle it if something got out or it was a situation where something *had* to be done." Draco nodded. "So I guess you're her new research assistant," he said happily.

Ginny laughed. "As long as we're not working at his house," she put in. He frowned at her. "Nope. I'm not letting those books be tainted by the overwhelming sense of despair your house exudes."

"I'm guessing it needs to have it's aura cleaned," Arthur suggested. Everyone looked at him. "A house keeps a living record of energy from the inhabitants, the same way a person's body does," he explained. "With as much evil and depression that's lived in that house, it probably needs to be cleaned."

"Can you do that?" Draco asked.

Arthur shook his head and handed over a card. "I can't, but they can."

"Spengler and sons?" Draco read. "I've never heard of them."

"Spengler, like dealt with paranormal stuff?" Xander asked. Arthur nodded, looking happy. "That was a movie."

"Not exactly," Arthur told him, then he took a bite of food.

"Next he'll be saying Atlantis was real," Ron said.

"It was a most famous school of magic back before the modern period of civilizations," Molly told him.

"What?" Xander asked. Molly nodded. "Does that mean it didn't disappear?"

"No, it did, just a bit later than everyone thought. Some sort of horrible backlash from a duel I understand. The earlier demise, the one everyone knows about, was because people were looking for them and they had to disappear." She dished him out some corn and put it on his plate for him. "Eat, Xander, you'll need your strength to move all those books out of my kitchen."

"Yes, mom," he said, shocked.

Snippet 23:

Notes: Happens the year before Simone, Melvin, Denver, and Iggy start school. Death of a Minor Character most people really liked.

Xander knocked on Harry's door, giving him a head shake when the door opened. "He died."

Harry sighed. "Hagrid must be torn up." He let his former teacher inside. "What can I do to help?"

"The funeral's tomorrow so we should probably both be there for him. He's kept himself drunk for the last three days and I don't think he's going to be able to hold himself together during the funeral." Harry nodded, sitting himself on the couch. Xander sat next to him. "I also think that we need arrange a distraction, give him something to care about again."

"It's too soon," Harry told him. "Let him have time to grieve."

"But he's not. He's trying to ignore it and get around the knowledge. If he were dealing with the grief, it'd be different, but he's just drinking. Maybe a distraction will help him deal with it." He shrugged. "That's my idea, and the only one I have."

"Maybe," Harry agreed. "It could backfire. He might hate whatever you give him."

Xander shrugged. "Then Iggy will have a pet," he said philosophically. "Or Denver, or Simone, or someone. It's not like we can't find a home for a dog within the family."

"Good point," Harry agreed with a smile. "I have a try-out tomorrow. I'm flying against Malfoy, it's a multi-team tryout for the National team. They're picking for six different teams along with the National."

"Congratulations!" Xander said happily, pulling him into a hug. "It's a great thing. Do you think you'll get it?" Harry nodded. "Have you been practicing? I'll let you borrow the twins, I don't have classes today so I can watch the store."

"Maybe," Harry said, looking at his hands. "It's been a while, but I think I can do this."

"Hey, borrow the husband, I won't mind," Xander told him. "He'd be really happy to get back on a broom again. He and Fred have thought about trying out for a the local 'just for fun and butterbeers' league, which are the parents of the kids in the kids' league. They'd be really happy to help you practice. And if they're not, I'll zap them until they give in."

Harry laughed. "Thanks, Xander." He looked around. "What sort of distraction were you thinking about?"

Xander handed over a small pamphlet.


Hagrid leaned heavily on Harry and Xander during the funeral for his Fang. "I don't know what to do," he sighed when the casket was lowered into the ground. "I'm all alone."

Xander gave his arm a squeeze. "It'll be okay, Hagrid, you'll find a new friend who'll devote himself to you." He gave him a faint smile. "I'm sure you will. And if not, well, Molly had someone drop a dog on her doorstep a few mornings ago."

Hagrid shook his head. "People shouldn't do things like that."

Xander nodded. "I know, but she's got a loving heart. If she can't take care of the dog, one of the kids will probably adopt it." He looked at Harry. "And he's got a try-out today."

Hagrid gave Harry a tight squeeze. "Good luck, someone needs to be happy."

Xander gave Harry a look, and got a nod in return. "Will you come with me to look at the dog? We're not sure it's healthy or happy. None of us know anything about dogs." The big man nodded his agreement and turned away from the grave. He couldn't stand there anymore. He let Xander lead him back to school and to the floo fireplace. As soon as he stepped out of the fireplace, the large puppy ran up to them and started to bark and whine for attention. "Hey, little guy," Xander said, picking him up. He showed the dog to Hagrid. "This is the guy they left on the doorstep. The note said he's a mastiff/great dane crossbreed." He watched as Hagrid took the puppy to look over. "The rest of them, according to the note, are in the pound but the former owner wanted to keep this one. I figure it was a kid and they couldn't bear to part with it, but a parent put their foot down."

Hagrid sat down and looked in the puppy's eyes. "You're gonna be a big'ne," he told it. "Too bad you don't have no one to care for." He sniffled. "Fang would've loved you."

Xander patted him on the shoulder. "Fang would have eaten him," he said with a smile. Hagrid laughed. "He's supposed to get a little larger than Fang was. Mastiffs grow to be about two hundred pounds." Hagrid looked up at him. "And like I said, he got dropped off here."

"What's a pound?" Hagrid asked.

"It's where unwanted dogs and cats go. People stop by to adopt them, if they're lucky."

"And if not?"

"Don't ask," Xander told him. "It's peaceful, but not a happy moment."

Hagrid nodded. "I understand." He looked at the puppy again and held him out, but Xander shook his head. "For me?"

"If you want him," Xander told him. "Molly said he eats too much, she can't feed it and Iggy." Hagrid almost smiled; Iggy was known to have a cast iron stomach, he even ate Hagrid's rock cakes and enjoyed them. He gave the older man a hug. "I know he's not Fang, and he'll never be Fang, but he needs a loving parent and you need someone to love. And maybe, he'll help you a little bit."

Hagrid nodded, hugging the puppy to him. "Thank you, Xander." He stood up. "I'll try to take good care of him."

Xander punched him playfully. "You'd better, or I'm siccing Simone on you for it. She has first dibs on him if you don't take him." He heard a small laugh, it was a start. "And Denver said he's going to be checking on him every day once he starts school, because he says he's a great guy to be sad with. Apparently it's the great dane influence."

"When was Denver sad?"

"When he found out he might not get to go to school with Simone. He very nearly cried for two weeks straight. All on top of this little guy, who took it all and just gave kisses."

Hagrid looked at the puppy again. "You're good for that?" The puppy barked and wiggled, making him laugh. "All right, I'll give it a try."

"And if you can't handle it, then let me know and I'm sure Denver and Simone will have a fight over who gets him. I'm sure after both of them have black eyes and broken bones, they'll work it out."

Hagrid nodded and sent himself back to his house. He set the puppy on the table and poured himself some tea, with a lot of brandy. He watched as the little nose headed for the second cup of tea, then right for his. He laughed because the puppy sat down and slurped up the laced tea as fast as he could. "Yeah, you'll be happier here with me. The kids'll be too loud for you." He patted the soft butter-colored back. "Maybe we'll find peace together." The puppy tipped his head to the side and drooled. "Just like Fang," he said with a sniffle. The puppy walked up to him and licked his face ardently.


Xander looked up as someone knocked on his door a week after the funeral. He smiled as Hagrid walked in, followed by Shadow. "Hey." He pushed out a chair with his foot. "Hey, Shadow."

"Don't talk ta him, he's been naughty." Hagrid sat down and glared at the dog. "He crapped in Madam Sprout's personal garden."

Xander bit his lip so he wouldn't smile. "Never had that problem before?"

Hagrid sighed. "I'm too old to be raisin' a young one, Xander."

"Like I said, I can always give him to Iggy." Hagrid scowled at him. "Then what's the problem? You're not *that* old. Shadow's not going to grow up for a while, I found a book on his breed." He searched his desk and came up with the breed books he had found. "One on great danes and one on mastiffs. Did you know mastiffs were the dogs of war? Great, long history with his breed."

Hagrid looked down at his dog. "That explains why he can drink me under the table." Xander opened his mouth. "He steals my tea."

"Oh." Xander looked down at Shadow, who it looked like winked at him. "Are you a normal dog?"

"No," Hagrid told him, giving him a smile. "He's a gryphon in a dog costume."

"He winked at me," Xander explained.

"You wink?" Hagrid asked the dog. The puppy winked at him. "Got somethin' in your eye do ya?" He picked the little dog up and looked into his eyes. "Don't see nothin'."

"Maybe we should have someone look at him. He might be a gryphon in a dog costume." Hagrid looked at him like he was insane. "You can't tell me you haven't seen a special animal while you've been here."

"Well, no I can't, but I didn't think he was one. Why was he with the muggles?"

"Mom or dad was probably one and the other parent was probably a normal animal," Xander said with a shrug. "It would explain it."

"Then we can't leave the others in that pound place," Hagrid told him.

Xander stood up. "Leave that to me, big guy. I'll be back as soon as possible." He headed to the front door so he could leave. He walked out of the broom closet at the pound, which he had shown himself when he'd been here the first time. The spells he had laid were still working, confusion and concealment. "Hi," he said happily. "I adopted a dog from you guys last week and I've decided to take the rest of the litter too." The woman behind the desk gave him a smile. "Are they still here?"

"Yes, they are, Mr. Harris." She led him back to the cages, showing him the reduced number of the litter. "Someone adopted one of the dogs, a nice little boy and his father." She let the rest of the animals out, watching as he gathered them up, putting one into the pocket of his very strange coat. But she didn't care about his clothes, he obviously loved the animals very much. She even went and got him a basket, it was a great thing to find an animal lover like him. She added the puppies' ID numbers to the form he had filled out last week and watched as he walked into the broom closet, though she saw him walking out the front door. What a strange, but happy man.

Xander walked back into the school, carefully carrying the basket. He ran into McGonagall in the hallway and let her see them. "We decided we need to check the other animals. Hagrid's Shadow winked at us."

"Oh, dear," she said, picking up one to look at it. "You're adorable." It peed on her, it was just so happy that someone was paying attention to it. She carefully put it into the basket with a pat to the head. "I'm sure he'll love them as well." She wiped at her robes as she walked away. Allowances were always made for the young.

Xander walked into his classroom and found Hagrid playing with Shadow. "Here we are," he told him.

"That was fast."

Xander winked at him. "I'm so charming, she just *had* to give them to me." He put the basket down, letting Shadow's siblings out to play. He noticed the small dog at the bottom and picked it up to look at. "Where did you come from?" The dog yapped. "I didn't pick you."

"A present?" Hagrid suggested.

Xander shrugged and put the puppy onto his desk, away from the papers he had been working on. "I guess. Iggy'll love him. Or Denver, or Simone, or Melvin. Percy could use some lightening up," he decided.

Dumbledore walked into the room with McGonagall right behind him. "You said something about a dog winking?" he asked. Both men pointed at Shadow. "Then let's look at him, see if he is magical after all."

McGonagall sat down on the floor and looked at the animals. The little puppy jumped off the desk, aiming for her bust. "Oh, no you don't," she said, catching it. "Allowances are made for the young, not the horny."

Xander snickered. "He snuck into the basket somehow."

"A proper companion," Dumbledore told Hagrid. "Quite the wizarding dog." He handed Shadow over to his owner and picked up the next puppy. "Minerva?" he suggested.

She handed the dog over. "It's an animagus," she told him. "Stuck this way."

Xander's mouth opened. "I found a wizard's pound?"

"No," she told him. "Probably just felt you show up there to see the other puppies." She was quite aware of the story Hagrid had been told.

"Why'd you go there?" Hagrid asked.

"Because I wanted to see if the other puppies were going to be adopted," Xander told him honestly. He had worried because they were going to be *big* dogs and this was London. "So I showed up and looked them over. The pound was very nice to me when I said I'd think about taking one of them." One of the puppies barked at him. "Yes, you, lovely." He picked her up and rubbed noses with her. "You are adorable, even though you're going to weigh as much as I do when you grow up."

Dumbledore looked at him. "Really?" he asked. Hagrid showed him the breed books. "Merlin," he whispered. "Mastiffs? Great breed," he said happily. "Wonderful breed. Godric Gryffindor had one, turned it away from a battle so the story went and it followed him until his last battle." He tapped five of the six puppies on the head. "All familiar quality," he announced. The last one whined at him. "You're quite nice, but you have no magic, my dear." The little dog yapped at him and bounced around. "Yes, you," he sighed, picking it up to look at it. He laughed. "Minerva, did you recognize it?" She nodded, giving him a dry smile. "What shall we do with it?"

"Who is it?" Xander asked.

"Do you remember when you first got here and there was one child that was quite horrid?" Xander nodded, frowning, but he did remember. "It's a younger sister."

"So it's a Malfoy cousin?" Xander asked. "I can just see Draco's face when he hears about this."

Minerva McGonagall shook her head. "No, not him, the one who threatened Lupin. Her sister. If you remember, we expelled the both of them in her sister's final year for summoning demons."

"Oh, yeah," Xander said, nodding. "I remember her now. And she's that dog?"

"She's animagus and stuck that way," Minerva said with a smile. "Quite self-taught and very arrogant it appears." The dog growled at her. "Do hush up or I'm going to leave you that way." The dog whined but it settled down. "What shall we do with it?"

"Tell the Ministry," Dumbledore told her. "Let them deal with it." He stood up. "Hagrid, if you decide to keep all of them, then I'll understand. If not, I could talk to someone who might have a spot for them. His own familiar is very old and getting ready to pass on. I'm sure he'd like a new one soon."

Hagrid looked at Xander. "Did you want to save one?"

Xander shrugged. "We'll have to deal with animals soon enough," he reminded him. "Oh, Headmaster, has Iggy been bugging you?"

Dumbledore smiled at him. "Indeed, he has come to see me a few times. He reasons quite well for someone his age." Xander rolled his eyes and sighed. "But I do wish to agree with him, if it wouldn't be too much trouble for you."

"No, no trouble for us," Xander told him. "Sending him to school a year early won't bother us at all. It's not like I won't see him everyday."

McGonagall looked somewhat shocked. "Early?" she asked.

"Early. Iggy's trying to get in a year early so he can go with Simone and Denver."

"And Melvin," Dumbledore told him. "We had to arrange the birthday cutoff date some, otherwise next year would only have twelve students. Melvin will be starting next year as well. As for Ignatius, I'd leave it up to the teachers. I was going to bring it up at the next meeting."

"I'm staying out of it," Xander told him. "He's a smart kid, and he could probably do it, but I'm not going to beg and plead."

Dumbledore nodded. "Professors Maclay and Rosenberg's sons are also starting next year. It would do him good, if he could keep up."

"He's reading one of the journals Ginny's working with," Hagrid said proudly. "Told me about it yesterday. Something about an elemental user."

McGonagall looked impressed. "Does he understand it?" Xander nodded. "Then we'll have to sit down and talk with him about this." She stood up. "Hagrid, please keep Shadow out of my room. He was chewing on my desk yesterday."

Hagrid nodded, but he was smiling. As soon as they were alone, he looked at Xander. "You lied?"

"Yup," Xander said, giving him a smile. "I found Shadow at the pound, and did really think about giving him to Iggy, but I thought you could use him more. Though, Denver did cry on him for two weeks."

Hagrid got up and gave him a hug. "Thank ya. He's been good for me."

"Hey, he's a good dog, chewing and drooling aside."

"That's a puppy for ya," Hagrid said. He put all the puppies into the basket and carried them down to his hut. He would enjoy raising them. Seven little dogs to follow him around. He might even be able to herd students with them.

Xander looked over at Murphy, who had slept through all the noise in his corner. "Hey, want to take a message to Percy?" Murphy turned his back on his human. "What's wrong?" Murphy made a disgusted noise. "What? You don't like puppies?" He got up and walked over, but Murphy only gave him a pitiful look. "What? I've been good. You could go visit Glinda afterwards."

"No," Dumbledore called down the hall. "They'll get their letters."

"Fine," Xander called back. He patted his bird gently. "Why don't you go find Fawkes and mate or something?" Murphy looked at him, giving him the pitiful look again. "She sent you away?"

Dumbledore walked into the room with Fawkes. "Apparently she's quite upset with him." He put the two phoenixes together on the perch, and watched as his girl turned her back on her mate. "Whatever happened was apparently quite the horrible fight."

Snape strode in with a vial. "Do you know what your mangy birds did this time?" he demanded, shaking the vial. "They drank all of the Eros potion I had in stock."

"Him or her?" Xander asked.

"Him!" Snape said firmly.

Xander looked at his bird. "Murphy, you're supposed to feed it to her, not drink it yourself." His bird made a pitiful noise. "Fawkes, give it up. He loves you. He always has loved you. Otherwise you wouldn't have twenty-six chicks with each other." Fawkes squawked, it sounded obscene. "Hey, he's a good guy. Doesn't he help you when you're nesting?" She fluffed her feathers. "And doesn't he hunt and gather for you? He even brought you peppermint mice last time." She looked over her shoulder briefly, then went back to staring at the wall. "You could continue to ignore him, but he's only going to get stubborn and hunt you down to beg." She hunched down. "And a new nesting would really be nice. We all enjoyed the chicks." She glared at him. "Sorry, but they were kinda fun. Besides, Glinda's coming back next year. You're going to have competition and he might just give up on you if you insist on being mean to my guy."

Fawkes hissed at Murphy and took off, but he was right behind her. He pounced her and carried her off. Apparently they were going to have a talk now.

Xander chuckled as he sat back down. "I think they're going to be okay. We might even have more chicks soon."

Dumbledore smiled at him. "While they're always nice, I do hope he gets her permission before the mating flight this time. Last time seemed to take her by surprise."

"Yeah, but she enjoyed those chicks more," Xander pointed out. Out in the hallway, Fawkes let out a mating yell. "I guess we'll have some more soon," he said happily. "You really know someone who needs a familiar?"

"As much as Shadow was left on Molly's doorstep," he admitted as he walked away.

Xander laughed. It was for a good cause, Hagrid would forgive them for the little lies.

Snippet 24:

Notes: More minor character death, but also some funny stuff. Sorry, not meaning to be depressing.

Ron woke up to a tingling feeling in his balls. He didn't know what it was. He hadn't felt this way in ten.... He hopped up and looked at his partner. She was still sleeping, but they had made love earlier. Oh, shit! He pulled on some pants and headed for his brother and favorite person. "George," he said as he landed beside the register counter. His brother smiled at his semi-dressed state. "Leer later, I need help." He leaned over to whisper in his ear. "The anti-fertility charm wore off and I'm having a weekend with Buffy," he whispered. "Do you know the spell?"

George frowned and thought about it. "No, I've forgotten it," George admitted finally. "I don't use it so I guess I've forgotten about it." He looked around the store. "And Fred's not here. He's probably used it more recently." He leaned on the counter and thought about it. Mum would beat Ron if he came home with a pregnant slayer after ten years of dating. "What about Percy? He probably uses one with Kandy."

"Yeah, maybe," Ron said, scratching his head. "But I don't think I can ask him."

George put a sign up in the window saying they'd be right back and took Ron with him to help him ask. This was too serious. They landed in Percy's living room. "Hey, Percy," he said happily. "Ron needs some brotherly help that I can't give him." Percy looked up at him with wet eyes. "What happened?"

"Someone attacked Kandy," he whispered. "She died."

George pulled Percy up, holding him tightly. "Shh, I'm here for you," he soothed. "It'll be okay, we'll get through this together." He nodded Ron away, and Ron left. "When did it happen?"

"Last week," Percy gasped, starting to cry again. "I can't bear it anymore." He sat down again, dragging George with him. "I've been trying to make arrangements and I can't let her go. I'm lost without her. I can't seem to do anything without needing her. I can't even get up anymore."

"We'll do it for you," George promised. "All of us, okay?" He pushed his brother's head back onto his shoulder. "Where are the kids?"

"Melvin's in his room and Tananda is in her crib. She was crying a few minutes ago, but I couldn't get up and go look in on her."

"Then I'll do it," Xander said as he appeared. He stopped long enough to give Percy a hug, but the kids needed him more. He checked in on Melvin first, he was pretty self-sufficient. Tananda was on his bed. "Hey," he said as he walked in, shutting the door. "Are you guys okay?"

Melvin shook his head, looking up at him. "Uncle Xander, I need help. I can't take care of sissy all by myself."

Xander gave him a hug. "We know now, we'll help you. You can both go stay with Grandma for a few days, until your daddy can handle life again." Melvin nodded against his chest. "How is she?"

"She just ate and poopied again, but she's fine." He handed the baby over to his uncle. "I can't get diapers right and she doesn't like it."

"It's okay. C'mon, I'll take you to Grandma's now. Ginny's there with the baby." He led the way into the living room, kneeling in front of Percy. "I'm going to take the babies to your mom's," he said quietly. Percy nodded, sniffling. "That way you can grieve alone for a few days. I'll be right back." Percy nodded again so Xander stood up, taking Melvin with him to the Burrow. He got there in time to hear a scream. "Ginny?" he called, holding onto Melvin. She walked into the room, panting and holding her stomach. "Shit, it's time? Now? Percy's going through hell right now!"

She glared at him. "Not my choice, too early, going now!" she told him, pushing past him. "St. Mungo's," she told the fireplace, disappearing.

"Shit." He took Melvin with him to the hospital. "Hi, Ginny Weasley just appeared out of the floo?" he told the nurse. She nodded. "I'm her brother-in-law. We're in the middle of a family crisis." He looked down at Melvin. "Can I leave him here while I go get the rest of the family?"

"Of course. It's going to be a few minutes before we know anything."

"Good," he said, handing over the baby. "Their father's going to pieces because his wife died." He disappeared, going back to Percy's apartment. "Ginny's at the hospital," he yelled over the talking. Everyone got very quiet. "She's in labor, sent herself there. Ron, go get Draco now. Then find Harry to watch the kids if he can." Ron disappeared, going to do that. "Molly, you're needed now. Arthur, I need a diaper bag, Tanada needs changed desperately, and can you pack stuff for Melvin?" He disappeared again, going back to the hospital. "Sorry," he told the nurse, taking back the now-changed baby. "It's been one of those ten minutes." He walked over to the fireplace, calling his boss. "Hey, it's me. I know you're not really happy with me at the moment," he told McGonagall, who was taking over. Dumbledore had fallen and hit his head earlier that day and was out up in the hospital wing. "Ginny just went into labor, Percy's wife died last week and we just found out, and I'm at St. Mungo's."

McGonagall pursed her lips. "These are serious circumstances, I'll give you a few days," she told him. He sighed in relief. "Is she all right?"

"It's early and the baby's *huge*. Either she's got almost no water, because we can see the outline of the baby, or the baby's over ten pounds." She winced. "This'll make what happened with Anastasia look peaceful. Plus the Percy thing. Ron found him crying, she died last week and he can't let her go. He hasn't managed to do anything, not even tell the rest of us."

"Of course he can't! What would you do if George suddenly died?"

Xander swallowed hard. "Die with him," he said honestly, breaking the connection. He got out of the way, letting Arthur and Molly come out of the fire. "Sorry, had to call off work." Molly took Tanada from him and sat down with her, feeding her the bottle she was carrying. "It's going to be hellish," he told Arthur. "Did you put Percy to bed?"

"Yes. Molly sedated him, he's back at the Burrow with Ron." He patted Xander on the shoulder. "You don't handle a crisis as well as you used to, son."

"That's because I'm getting old," Xander told him. He looked at the small family. "Will Percy be okay?"

"Eventually." He led Xander over to the seats and sat down to wait. It wasn't long before a doctor came out to talk to them.


Fred smiled at his baby sister, who was healing after having a caesarean section. "How do you feel?"

"Good drugs," she said with a smile. "Did you see her? She's huge!"

"Yes, she is," Fred agreed. "Would you like a piece of candy?" He held one out to her. "It's good, I promise."

She unwrapped it and popped it into her mouth, smiling when he did. "Wow, chocolate."

The incision on her stomach started to wiggle, and soon a voice was heard. "If you had listened to me, you wouldn't be in this predicament," her mother's voice said from the lips of her incision, very loudly. A nurse walked in and Fred smiled at her.

"It'll help her heal faster," he explained, "and make her laugh."

"I expect to see a ring before you have the next one," the lips went on. "Three children and no ring, I should have been hosting a wedding my now."

Ginny giggled. "Funny, mum, but you don't want me to marry him. And neither do we."

"Fine, but I had better not see any more children, young lady. I'm sure at least one of you had a procreation charm that you could have used. But noooo, too caught up in each other's lips to use it." The wound was starting to shrink, and the voice was a little quieter. "And now, now you give me another grandchild. And early I might add!" she screeched. "Long before we were ready for it! The nursery isn't even set back up yet!"

Draco came storming in, it had taken a bit to find him. "What's going on."

"And you!" the lips said as they shrunk a little more. "You got my daughter pregnant and didn't even *think* about her reputation, did you?"

Draco shuddered and glared at Fred, making him move away from his girl. "Don't ever do that to her again, it's creepy and nasty." He walked over and kissed her on the cheek. "How are you, love?" he asked quietly.

"Drugged," she told him.

He sighed and looked at the nurse. "How is she?"

"Normal," the nurse told him, giving him a smile. "It's actually quite the charm. Can I tell someone?" Fred nodded, looking happy. "I'll be right back with a doctor and your daughter."

"Daughter?" Draco asked. Fred nodded. "Oh, dear." He looked down at Ginny. "I only have one son?"

She giggled and patted him on the face. "Next time, honey, when you carry him."

The doctor came in as the lips started again. "Next time? Next time! There had better not be a next time! I still don't see a ring and I do not see a wedding! The next time the child had better be born in wedlock and had better be a boy!"

The doctor watched as the incision slowly closed, then looked at Fred, trying to hold in a smile. "Yours?"

"Mine," Fred said, handing over the spare candy he had brought. "Nagging works in our family and mum wants to do it, but won't. Thought I'd give everyone a lift." He kissed Ginny on the head. "I'll see you when you're straight again." He left her with them. "She's enjoying the nagging wound closer," he announced.

"Fred!" his mother sighed. "Now is not the time for that."

Percy glared at him. "Are you going to make jokes at the funeral too?"

Fred pulled him up for a hug. "Only if you ask, brother." Percy leaned against him. "But right now, mum is saying everything she ever wanted to. Right from the lips."

Molly got up and peeked into the room, walking in further when she heard her voice. She laughed when she saw where it was coming from. "It's certainly appropriate," she told her daughter, who laughed. "But I won't demand a wedding right now," she assured them.

"Why not?" the incision asked quietly. "Now's a perfect time. We can have someone in and do it right now, with the whole family here." It popped closed.

"That was fascinating," the doctor told Molly. "Your son is a genius."

"And a pain," Draco sighed. "Can you please smack him for that."

Molly kissed him on the cheek. "You can do it later, after the funeral."

"What funeral?" Draco asked, looking worried. "It's not Arthur, is it?" She shook her head. "Then who died?"

"Kandy," she said quietly. Draco's mouth fell open. "Ron found out when he went to ask Percy for something. The children will be with us for a few days."

"So will we," Ginny offered. "I can help." She smiled at Draco. "I am experienced."

"Yes, you are," the doctor agreed. "It's time to make this the last one," he told her.

Molly snorted. "I have seven."

"And your daughter's now had four, but her body's worn out."

"She had the first two back-to-back due to unusual circumstances," Draco told him. "Did you cut it out?"

"The baby, yes, her uterus, no. Technically, she would probably make it through another, but I wouldn't recommend it. Her body won't bounce back as fast this time. She might even get gestational diabetes next time."

Ginny pouted at him. "But he needs another son."

Draco kissed her on the cheek. "Then I'll carry the next one, love. Don't worry about having another one." The doctor was giving him a look. "We're very good friends with a gryphon-born and it seems they have a spell for that."

The doctor nodded. "Good. Though I'd like to see you push one out," he said with a smile. "She should be fine, give her some time to come down from her high. The baby's on her way in." He walked out, leaving them alone.

"You'd have the next one?" Ginny asked.

"Of course. I'm not going to let you carry one," he told her, pinching her on the arm. "You're much more fragile."

"Hey! I'm very strong," Ginny protested.

"Not right now, you're not," he argued.

"Enough," Molly told them both. "Ginny, we'll discuss this when you can think rationally. Draco, don't egg her on. You know very well she'll get pregnant to prove you wrong." She walked over and opened the door for the nurse, smiling at her thirteen pound granddaughter. "Do name this one soon." She left them alone, going back to her spot at Percy's side. He needed her more right now.


Xander trudged into the school, it had been a longer than average week emotionally. First the funeral, then hearing a rumor about why Kandy had died. The gryphon-born who had attacked her was now resting in Hell, where he belonged. And he didn't even have to touch him, Melody had attacked him and came to the funeral, kneeling in front of Percy's chair to tell him Kandy had been avenged. Then she had left him alone to grieve, promising to give him a year before he saw her again. Well, it might be more than a year, the aurors had picked her up last night and then had come to him to ask questions about the gryphon code of conduct. She was free, but really scared that they would charge her. And now he got to do the happy stuff. He walked into the library. "Last time, as far as I know," he told Irma Pince. "No more from Ginny and Draco, unless they do what the gryphons did to George."

She chuckled. "I'm sure he'd look stunning that way," she said as she input the information into the Book of Heritage. "There we go," she told him, patting him on the hand. "McGonagall said to tell you to come to her office when you came in."

He nodded. "I know. I'm headed there now." He tucked the birth certificate into his pocket, he could send it back via owl or Murphy later. He walked out to the stone gargoyle and up to the Headmaster's office, knowing she was up there. "A thirteen pound girl," he told her with a smile.

"How is Percy?"

"Destroyed. Kandy was the center of his world." He sat down across from her. "Molly's kept him sedated most nights. The kids have taken Melvin and Tananda to Draco's house so he can have some time alone. If any of us pop in, we do so subtly so we don't intrude on him. Arthur got him a straight month off if he needs it." She nodded. "Other than that, Fred's made something that pleased the doctors, and annoyed Ginny and Molly. George has spent the last day wrapped around me and Iggy. Ron's gotten Buffy pregnant because he forgot the anti-preggers charm." She snorted and rolled her eyes. "That's how we found out about Kandy. George didn't remember it either."

"You two don't really need it," she reminded him.

"Exactly, so they went to ask Percy." He shifted and sighed. "How's Albus?"

"Better, but still tired. I think he'll be taking a long vacation again soon." She looked at him. "Xander, I know this is a tough time for you, but I have to ask a great favor of you." He nodded. "If I'm to be Headmistress, then Snape takes over my job as Deputy Headmaster." Xander shuddered. "You don't like him for that job?"

"I think he'll be a terror to anyone not in his house and I think the kids will seriously look back with relief that they got out of here. I love Snape, he's a great guy, but him and power probably won't get along too great." He looked over his shoulder when he heard the door open. "Hey, just giving my opinion of you and power issues." Snape glared at him, looking hurt. "I don't say things that I wouldn't say to your face. You do terrorize students and you can be really cruel sometimes. You and power are hell together."

Snape nodded. "I know I have problems in that area occasionally. I am trying to work on them."

Xander patted him on the arm. "Work harder, man. You made a few of the Hufflepuff's cry the other day because they were talking about clothes in the hallway between classes." Snape continued to frown. "Sorry."

Snape shrugged. "I wasn't aware I was that harsh."

"Children can be fragile," McGonagall agreed. "But that is not the point." She smiled at Xander. "My original point was that, if I end up taking over, we'll be needing a Transfiguration teacher. I'd like for you to sit on the hiring committee."

"Sure. Can I give them tests?" She nodded. "Cool. What about Gryffindor house?"

She sighed. "I'll miss dealing with them, but we'll have to appoint one for them. I'll take a vote of the students and take that into account when I name my successor." Xander nodded. "I was wondering if I could count on you to fill in for that post also, at least for the rest of this term."

"Cool with me," Xander agreed. "You know I like your house. What about where I'm not here all the time?"

"You might have to be," she said cautiously.

"Then I'm going to have to bring Iggy and Fred up here with George." He smiled. "I can work it out with the kids if you'd like." She nodded, starting to smile again. "Was there anything else?"

"Not yet. The hiring committee met last night to put together the ad. You'll need to get with Professor Snape to look over the wording."

Xander looked at Snape. "Whenever you've got a few minutes?"

"After dinner," Snape told him. Xander nodded. "Was there anything else you needed the both of us for?"

"The annual Gryffindor-Slytherin game is next week," she reminded them.

"Ah. Oh, Harry got his spot." She smiled again. "He's main seeker for one of the teams, which one I'm not sure, but Molly put an ad in the paper tomorrow." He stood up. "I'll see you guys after classes. I'm going to be late to my last one."

"Thank you, Xander. I know you've got a great deal of stress right now."

Xander laughed. "Stress, me? But hey, if worse comes to worse, I'm married to a Gryffindor, he can always help some." He walked down the stairs, leaving them alone.

Snape frowned at the doorway. "He really is still rather brash and obnoxious."

"But he did have a point, Severus." She unrolled the map on the desk. "This is how he did it," she told him. "A map that tells you everything about everyone in the school." She touched one of the dots, bringing up a sign telling her what Hagrid was doing in the library.

"Interesting," he said with a smile. "I had wondered that."

"There's another part to it, a spell that links you to the walls of the castle. It allows him to look out of any portrait's eyes and hear what anyone nearby is saying. It's rather amazing and a relic of Salazar Slytherin. The map is from Gryffindor himself."

Snape looked impressed. Those two had worked together?


Xander slid into the seat next to his husband, giving him a kiss on the cheek. "I'm the head of Gryffindor," he whispered. George looked at him, a huge smile on his face. "At least until McGonagall gets her old job back. And they're hiring for it." George nodded. "I'm going to suggest Lupin or Black for it, which means we'll have an opening in DADA, which Ron would do wonderfully in," he whispered.

"Oh, my," George said happily. "The news just gets better. Iggy got his notice that he won his appeal today." He gave his husband a real kiss, and ignored the whistles and claps from the students sitting in the Great Hall. "I'm happy."

"Me too," Xander told him. "How's Percy?"

"Sleeping. Mum can't get him up."

Xander frowned. "I can't think of anything to help him. He'll have to get through this himself."

George nodded. "We know. Are you coming over this weekend to talk to him?"

"I'll try, but I may have to stay here unless I can work something out. Want to come talk to the kids with me tonight?"

"Yeah. Fred's brought a girl home so I'm here all night." He stole another kiss and then turned back to his dinner.

Xander smiled at a few of the Gryffindors he knew. They would be so surprised!


Xander stood in front of the members of Gryffindor tower. "Okay, guys, big announcement time. Until Dumbledore comes back, McGonagall is now the Headmistress." That got a cheer. "And I'm now the head of your house." Everyone stared at him in shock. "What? Can you think of someone better?"

"Professor Harris, no offense, but you didn't even go here."

"Ah," Xander said happily. "Let me introduce my mate. George Weasley, these are our new kids. For those of you who don't know, he was one of you, as was most of his family back to the beginnings of the family line." A few of the kids cheered. "Plus, I do happen to fit the ideals of the house. I'm brave, strong...."

"Jump into fights," George added.

"Hey! I haven't gotten into a fight in years," Xander complained, pouting at his husband.

"Try weeks," George countered.

"Months at least," Xander sighed. George smiled at him. "Fine, weeks. But he was a bully and deserved that black eye." He turned back to the kids. "So, we've got to have a short talk. No, I'm not going to become a tyrant to you guys the way Snape thinks I am. I'm not going to force you guys to take up self-defense lessons. I'm not going to favor you above all others ether." A few kids booed. He frowned at them. "Yay, get over it." He looked at the main group again. "One of the main problems you're going to have is that I meddle, compulsively. It's part of what I am." George nodded. "Trust me, he's seen it happen, especially within the family. Also, I'm here to ask questions of and bring worries to. I'm not going to turn you in unless I think it's in your best interests, meaning that you'll die if I don't. And if I do, I'll tell you why I did it after you get caught." A few of the kids nodded, they had gone to him before for help. "Other than that, there comes a problem called my living arrangements." A few kids snickered. "No, not George, the fact that half the time I live in Hogsmeade." A hand was raised in the air. "I know, it'll be inconvenient to get hold of me when I'm gone, but I'm willing to put something into place for that. With Murphy hanging close to the school and his girl right now, you can always send a message via him or an owl. I will get it and I will answer. If it's actually important enough to you to sneak out, then I'm all for that. I'm found at George's and his brother's joke shop almost always. I do ask that you save those for a personal crisis because I could get in just as much trouble as you." He waved around. "Any questions?"

"Sir, are you saying we can come bother you all hours of the night?"

"As long as you knock and give me time to get dressed," Xander told her. A few of the kids tittered. "Over the eleven years I've been here, I've seen kids who wanted talked out of committing suicide, pregnant kids, kids who were taking drugs of one kind or another, and kids who were going to be killed by their parents, literally, if they flunked a class. There is almost nothing you can tell me that I won't understand. I'm also here to protect you if you need it and to keep the other students for beating you up. And yeah, I've heard about what happened in the Astronomy tower last month. If that happens to one of you, even if McGonagall is back in charge of the house, you can come to me. Every student is able to come to me if they can't talk to someone else so you might find students from other houses sometimes. I can't promise to drop them for you, but I will give you just as much time, if not more." The kids mostly nodded. "Are there any other questions?"

"What about the upcoming game?"

Xander let George stand up. "I leave this pep-talk up to my mate, who used to play beater for the house."

George stood up. "Girls and boys, I want you to listen to me. I'd like to see you smash Slytherin's faces into the mud, but the field is dry." A few kids laughed. "I was here during most of the Potter/Malfoy fighting. I haven't seen a game get that dirty since then. But I have hope that it will happen this year!" The kids cheered. "So, please, beat them, humiliate them, and make them run home crying to their parents."

Xander laid a hand on George's arm. "Dear, next year, we'll have to cheer against Denver. You might want to tone it down, just in case."

"Denver?" one boy in the second year asked.

"Next year, his sister's daughter, his sister's boyfriend's son, and his nephew will all be here. Along with our son." George smirked proudly. "We're hoping that any open positions on the quidditch team will be filled by at least Iggy, if not Denver and Simone. Or that they at least make second string," he added with a grin. "The problem becomes that Denver is a Malfoy and Simone is technically one. That means that we might have to cheer for Slytherin *and* Gryffindor next year."

"Bet me," George retorted. "I'm only cheering for our son, who had better be in Gryffindor." The kids laughed. "He had better, or at least Ravenclaw, I might accept that." He smiled at his husband. "Having married into the house, you have to stick up for us now. That means you have to promote the house to the son."

"Okay," Xander told him. He smiled at the kids. "As you can see, I'd do damn near anything to make my mate happy. But if you do see us fighting, please don't get between us. Walk around us, run away from us, and only talk to us again when we've kissed and made up."

"Yes, Fred learned that lesson quickly," George sighed. "I'm surprised he didn't kick you out of the store for good, Xander."

"I apologized," Xander defended. "Besides, he knew I didn't mean to yell at him. He's a very understanding guy."

"Who still won't fall under your spell," George reminded him with a grin.

"But I have the Weasley I want," Xander reminded him, stealing a kiss. "If I had wanted someone else, I would have went for Ron."

"Eww. Has he heard you say that?" Xander paused, then nodded. "And he didn't smite you?"

"He sat me down and gave me a very nice talk about how he could never really love me," Xander said with a brighter smile. "It was pretty funny. He thought I was serious."

George burst out laughing. "That I would have killed to see." He leaned against his husband's side. "Okay, enough voyeurism from you guys. Any more questions?"

"Are you two really together?" one boy asked. The couple nodded. "Like sleeping together?"

"Every chance we get," Xander told him. "Yes, we are gay. George cured me of everything girly. No more do I look at girls in short skirts, or bouncing chests. No more do I wonder what a woman moans like or if she'd taste good. And," he sighed, "he even cured me of the desire to smell a woman after sex. He smells much better afterward." Some of the kids looked shocked. "Oops, forgot to mention that I'm realistic in my discussions. Yeah, if you guys come to me for a discussion about sex, I'll give you graphic details and precautions. I believe reality is a good thing most of the time and I tend to promote that viewpoint." He pinched George subtly on the rear, making him jump. "Anything else I forgot?"

One girl smiled and raised her hand. "Sir, can we just pop around and bug you for no reason?"

"You mean hang out? Sometimes. But sometimes I'll be busy and I'll expect you guys to respect that. That doesn't mean that I won't come help you if you need it, but if it's 'my girlfriend of two days broke up with me' don't expect me to stop having sex to come talk to you. You'll have about an hour's wait." The older kids all laughed. "Anything else?" No one said anything. "Then get back to your homework." He led George out into the hallway. McGonagall was standing there. "What?" he asked when he saw the shocked look. "I'm not giving up nookie for minor problems. Bad problems, but not minor ones that can wait for an hour." He led George past her, leading him down to their rooms to make good on his words. It would be an hour before anyone saw them.

McGonagall whimpered. Her poor house! She had worked so hard to keep it respectable.


Ron sat straight up. He had heard something. "Who's there?" he called.

"Me," Xander yelled from downstairs. "Get down here. I have something for you."

Ron grumbled, but he got up. By the time he got down there, all that was out of place was a paper. A paper open to the jobs section with one ad colored in. He sat down to read it, smiling slowly. He could do that, his job had made sure he was very proficient with transfiguration and Xander had made sure he was proficient in defeating the dark arts. Resume due in within two weeks? All right, he could do that. He pulled over a pad of paper to write out a preliminary copy. This was a good reason to wake him up. He really didn't want his old job anymore and his bosses hated him.

"Ron?" Buffy called.

"Down here. News just came that I need to do something about."

She stomped down the stairs. "I thought I heard Xander." He handed her the paper. "Hey," she said happily. "Great news?"

"Possibly. If I can get it, then I'd be out of my old job."

She kissed him on the side of the head. "I know you hate it so I'll wish you good luck." She walked into the kitchen with a yawn. "Am I burning something or are you?"

"I'll burn something in a few. Go back to bed, dear."

"Can't, doctor's appointment," she reminded him.

His pen paused above the page. That's right, they were going to look at the babies today, maybe all three of them. He smiled and went back to writing his resume out. Even more reason to get this job, whichever one was up for grabs.


Xander leaned back in his chair, looking around at the hiring committee. "I know I confused some of you by adding a few words," he started.

Lupin frowned at him. "It took us about ten minutes to agree to that wording," he pointed out.

"Yeah, but I think we have a teacher who can fill the Transfiguration spot. Or two maybe. So putting in the other position will save us time."

"You're serious?" Sprout asked.

Xander nodded, pointing at Lupin. "He and Black are both excellent at it, as proven by their youth." Lupin looked stunned. "In which case, we'll need someone in DADA."

"You want us to try out for the job?" Lupin asked. Xander nodded, and a few of the teachers looked thoughtful. "Then I'd have to defer to Sirius. He's better than I am."

"Yeah, but you're the better teacher," Xander reminded him. "He's great at dealing with the kids on their level, and getting them to listen to him, but you've got that 'teacher' air about you that's totally different. I think you should both try out." Lupin nodded his head once. "Does anyone not like that idea? Hiring from within?"

Snape raised a hand. "How were you thinking about doing a test?"

"How were we going to test the other candidates?" Xander asked. Snape inclined his head. "McGonagall has said often enough that a real Transfigurist is very rare these days, that it's almost a lost art, the same as yours is, Severus. I think that we'll have a lot of people who *think* they can do it but won't be able to do the full job. The same as I think we'll be getting posers for the DADA job." Snape snorted and nodded. "My thinking is that we should either hire from within, or we should make them prove it."

Snape nodded. "I like both actually, and for the first time, I'm not going to put myself up for the Defense job. I find I'm happy where I am."

"Cool, so that leaves a clear field." He smiled. "Though I do have it on good authority that one of my brother-in-laws will be applying." Snape raised an eyebrow. "Ron."

"Ah. For which position."

"Either. His former job is making him transfigure a lot these days. He said Firebolt is buying substandard wood so he's been transfiguring it into better condition. Taking out knots, straightening it out, things like that. Plus, I *know* he's trained enough to teach DADA. Not only did I train him, but he's been hanging with the Slayer now for ten years. So he knows how to hunt and what do to. If he's one of the final choices, then I'll withdraw my vote so I can't influence anyone."

Sprout, Lupin, and Pince nodded. It seemed fair to them.

"The ad went out today," Lupin told them. "We decided on a two week application period?" Xander nodded. "You didn't change that?"

"I figure that's enough. I can write up my resume in that amount of time and I've held about fifty jobs if we go back to the year before I came here. You guys can do it faster if you use one of those quick quote quills." Everyone nodded. "Was there anything else to discuss today?"

"No," Lupin told him.

Xander stood up. "Then I say we hit the dinner table and scare the kids." He walked out.

Snape shook his head. If he was power hungry, Xander just assumed the reins of power. He looked at Lupin, who was smiling. "You like him running things?" he asked.

"No, but his energetic nature does get things done quickly," Lupin told him. "It's nice not to draw things out for hours." He stood up. "You keep forgetting, Xander has a meddling nature. He'll jump into anything as long as it doesn't bore him."

Snape laughed. "Yes, I had forgotten about that *endearing* trait of his." He stood up. "Let us go eat." The other teachers left. Maybe having Xander on here wasn't such a good idea after all. He would hate to reprimand him for usurping his authority.


Ron walked out of the room where he had been tested and sighed as he sat down Xander on the floor. "I'm tired," he announced. Xander nudged him. "I still forget names, but I killed everything they threw at me. How is Black taking the Transfiguration job?"

"Badly. He growled at me yesterday and wasn't even a dog." Xander put an arm around Ron's shoulders. "How's the house?"

"Percy's better. He came down the stairs this morning, shaved and dressed in real clothes that matched. He even ate something without mum prompting him. She thinks he'll be well enough to head home soon."

"Good. I'll pop by this weekend to see him." The door opened and the other finalist for the DADA walked out, looking unhappy, yet giving them a smug look as he walked past them.

Three minutes later, Lupin walked out. "We're done," he announced. He watched as Xander and Ron stood up, letting them in first.

"Congratulations, Mr. Weasley," Professor Snape said with a slight sneer. "You won. Even though you can't *name* anything, you managed to beat them all."

Xander grinned and hugged Ron. "Now you can quit the other one."

Ron laughed. "Too late." He bowed to Professor Snape. "Thank you. I hope I live up to your expectations."

"See that you do," Snape told him.

Ron all but danced out of the room, going home to announce his new job.

Xander grinned at Snape. "The other guy was that bad?"

"He could name things, but he couldn't defeat a grindly glow," Lupin told him. "Ron has practical knowledge." He slapped Xander on the back. "I'm assuming you'll be celebrating tonight?"

"Probably," Xander agreed with a smile. "I'll tell Gryffindor that I'll be gone tonight and to send Murphy if something happens." He walked out, humming happily. He found Ron hugging his bird in the entryway. "Message home?"

"Yup. Then he'll come back so you can come with me." He grinned at Xander. "I'm going to float," he declared.

"You and me both," Xander told him, patting him on the back. He walked up to the Gryffindor tower and opened the door. "Yo!" he yelled. A few students came running down the stairs. "We've got a new DADA teacher and I'm going to go celebrate with him. Pass it around that Murphy will be back in a few, use him tonight." He grinned at them. "And he's a Gryffindor."

The kids cheered and went to tell the Prefects and Head Girl and Boy.

Xander went down to pack an overnight bag. He'd probably just make it back in time for his first class.