Xander/Buffy xover. Sequel to Paternity.
Lord Voldemort looked at the three women he had captured two weeks earlier. He didn't dare harm them but they were starting to piss him off. "Why should I care if such a child comes to be?" he sneered.
The three Daughters of Loki sneered at him en masse. "Because," the oldest one, the blonde, said snidely. She could have been a Valkyrie by her looks and demeanor. "This is the one child that will make sure you win."
"Or lose," the last daughter, the one with jet black hair and the classic Roman nose, the smallest of the three but no less haughty and regal in demeanor. "The child is important. Your choice of course."
The middle daughter, a stunning redhead who always seemed to have her nose in the air, glared at him. "The child will not come to be if you force it. Only if the parents choose to. If they choose to do it for you, then they shall. If they choose to do it for others, then your worst nightmare will come to be." She glared at those around them. "Now, we are leaving. Your puny war has nothing to do with *our* kind." She gave an insulting half-bow and led her sisters off.
"Do not touch us again," the blond warned. "Our father may not be corporeal, but he is still around and able to be felt."
Voldemort looked at his lieutenants, sneering at them. "Kill them." His men rushed out but they soon came back, or at least most of them did. A few were missing. "What happened! Why are they not screaming!"
"They watched as six Death Eaters ran into a barrier, then laughed as they died, then disappeared without apparating," one of them said in a breathless pant. Soon his screams made the walls sing in the place of those women's.
Xander looked around the bookstore, feeling someone watching him. He shrugged it off and went back to browsing for his comic books. His father had told him to find something to do or else. His mother had only chuckled and handed him some money, shooing him off behind his father's back. He was used to being stared at however. Ever since he had taken up with Draco he was often stared at. Sometimes in awe, sometimes in fear, and sometimes just by the clueless who couldn't quite figure out what Draco saw in him. Though sometimes the girls flirted with him and he knew they wondered why he was with the pretty bastard. He found the next installment of all but two of them and turned, finding a woman blatantly staring at him. "Hi," he said cautiously. He did not know the pretty blonde woman but for some reason she was putting his hackles up. "Excuse me, I've got to see if they've gotten the new editions in."
"That is fine, Brother."
"Um," he said, starting to ease away. "I'm not related to you. I've only got one sister and she's in New York at the moment hunting ghosts and nasties."
She chuckled. "You are very cute, but you are a member of our family." She moved closer, smoothly stalking him up the aisle. "You are a son of Loki, are you not?" He quickly shook his head. "Are you *sure*?" she purred, running a finger up his cheek.
"I think my dads would have noted it to me that he was there when I was conceived," he said with a nervous chuckle. "I didn't find them that long ago but I'm sure they'd have told me if a God was there in the bed with them. Though, Mom is kinda chaotic sometimes."
She pulled back to look at him, frowning. "Hmm, you're not our brother reborn then," she said with a pout. "But you are clearly family. Stay here. Let me find my sisters."
"I kinda, sorta, need ta get back to the school," he offered. "You can find me and the 'rents there. Then you can tell them?" he suggested, sounding hopeful. She chuckled and patted him on the side of the face. He felt some sort of magic attach itself to him and supposed it was to make him stay, but he quickly got away from her, tossing the cash at the cashier, holding up his comics as he ran out of the door. He wasn't sure how he had made it out of the aisle, he had been backed against a bookcase, but he didn't really want to consider how at the moment. He pulled another demonic teleporting spell up as soon as he was a bit less panicked and headed back to the school from the apparation point at a dead run. He ran into Giles outside first and hugged him. "Why did some blonde woman just say I was her brother and ask me if I was the son of Loki?" he panted.
Giles gave him an odd look, then shook his head. "Perhaps because of the spell to carry you. It was very hard chaos magic," he said thoughtfully. "Head inside, Xander. Go find your father and tell him this. I'm sure it'll liven up his day. Did you find all your comics?"
"No, but I'm not going back there alone!" he said frantically. "She was purring and touching me, and...and I could see that her eyes said that she wanted to do more, but she was calling me her brother and it was icky and nasty, Giles!" he complained, starting to move toward panicked again.
Giles patted him on the cheek. "Go inside, see your father, Alexander." He nodded and hurried that way. "Well," he sighed, looking at Harry, who was looking very confused. "Quite a few demons love the boy. We don't know why," he admitted. "Ignore it. It's probably nothing."
Harry nodded, accepting that.
At least until someone in the castle let out an ungodly scream of rage.
"Oops, might have misread that," Giles said with a fond smile toward the school.
Xander knew better than to burst into his father's classroom, even in a blind panic, so he caught his breath first then knocked gently on the frame of the painting. When that didn't get an answer he looked at the moving creatures in the painting. "Can I have my dad?" he asked miserably. "Before those weird things come for me again?" One of the bats moved and seemed to fly out of the painting and inside the room. A moment later his father came out. "Dad, why did the blonde woman accuse me of being her brother and a son of Loki? She said I was definitely family and she insisted that I was her brother while trying to catch a quick grope. Her eyes showed that she really wanted to kiss me and cuddle me and that's weird of itself, but this was even weirder. Her eyes said she *wanted* me and she was calling me her brother and shit, and that's just not right! And...and it was freaky, she tried to magic me and I got away...somehow but I'm not really sure how and I hope I paid enough for my comics and can I never be let out on my own again? I thought I had given that sort of thing up when we left Sunnydale and now they're hunting me again and she was groping and her nails scratched my cheek and everything," he babbled.
"Hush!" Severus Snape ordered calmly once there was a pause for breath in the noise from his son's mouth. Xander gave him a panicked look. "Repeat the pertinent details slower, Alexander."
"This blonde chick, kinda tall and muscular, stared at me while I was in the bookstore looking for my comics. She came up to me, called me her brother and a son of Loki, and I told her I wasn't. I insisted I wasn't," he said, starting to speak faster again. "Then she touched me, she dragged her nails across my cheek. Her eyes said she wanted me and she was calling me her brother. Then she realized I wasn't when I got really insistent, 'cause you never said there was a God there when I was conceived and all, so she said I must be family. She tried to stick me in place but I got away somehow." He took a breath and his father covered his mouth. "Eww!" he said, pulling back. "That was gross, dad. Don't you ever wash your hands after cutting up slimy stuff?" He wiped his mouth and cheeks off. "Ick!"
Severus took a deep breath, then bellowed. "ETHAN!"
"Yes?" he called as he came down to join them. "What happened, son?"
"A blonde woman who thought you had me with Loki. She said I was her brother over and over until I got insistent and told her you didn't say it was a quad with a God there, and so she said I was a relative. She tried to magic me so I would stay while she went to get her sisters. She was weird, she was touching me and groping with her nails and her eyes had that look like she was going to eat me, maybe in a bad way and maybe not, and she was breathing hard and had hard nipples pressed against my chest and everything!" he said frantically.
Ethan blinked a few times. "All right, let me get this straight. A blonde woman said you were the son of Loki?" he asked. Xander nodded frantically. "Okay. Well, you were conceived and carried with a very hard chaos spell." He looked at his fellow parent. "Why is this worrying?"
"I suppose he's bothered by the incestuous overtones of the contact," Severus noted dryly.
"No!" Xander shouted. "No, not seeing the point. Loki, god of what? And I'm a *son*? Her *brother*? When she got off that track she did say I was *family*! Hello, groping aside, she was insistent that I stay to meet her sisters. She tried to magic me. I'm going to start having Sunnydale flashbacks here."
"Calm down," Severus and Ethan ordered in unison. They looked at each other, then took their son up to the office, where they found Draco waiting on them.
"What is going on?" Severus asked.
"Some interesting news floated back to me from some of my dormmates. Apparently, the big stinky arsehole had the Sisters of Loki in to check a prophecy baby recently," Draco said calmly. Xander let out a whimper from between his parents. "How could you harm him!" he demanded, puling Xander closer to sit him in his lap. "What's wrong, pet?"
"He just ran into someone who said he was their brother, the son of Loki," Severus said bitterly, looking at Albus. "Prophecy?" The headmaster shrugged and looked clueless. "Fine."
Ethan squatted beside Draco's chair, touching his son's hand to make him look at him. "Tell us what happened, calmly this time, son," he requested quietly. "There is more to this than Sunnydale backlash." Xander snuggled in and shook his head. "Fine." He stood up. "From what I got from the babble, a blonde woman came up to him in the bookstore and said he was her brother, a son of Loki."
"That would explain so much," Draco muttered dryly, stroking his lover's back. He looked over as the door opened. "Oh, yes, let's have the rest of the group up here as well."
"He babbled at us first," Harry noted. "Some woman, a blonde, got touchy-feely with him in the bookstore, sir, said he was their brother, a son of Loki." Xander nodded and pointed at him. "He's frantic. I'm guessing she tried to do something to him."
"She tried to grope him, finally was convinced that he wasn't their brother but that he was family," Ethan said thoughtfully. "I know I've heard of Loki's children before," he said thoughtfully. "I can't remember where."
"He wasn't there when I came to be, right?" Xander asked from his safe spot.
"No, son. I assure you there was not a fourth in the room at that time," Ethan said patiently. "Ripper, do you remember anything about Loki's children?"
"I thought I remember something about a son," he said, but shrugged. "Nothing concrete."
"That added to the fact that Voldemort had three women claiming to be the daughters of Loki recently is interesting," Draco noted quietly. Everyone stared at him. "I got it off a dormmate. I thought it might be important since he was so happy about the fact."
"I'm off for the library," Ripper announced. "Ethan?"
"No, I believe I'll find where I stored my books and look through them."
"They'd be in the library in a private area," Dumbledore informed him. "That way no innocent students could touch them."
"Yes, quite reasonable I assure you," Ethan agreed happily. "Don't want Janus to come back in physical form again, do we?" He walked Ripper out, going down to the library with him.
"Huh. I thought my father's stories of summoning dark entities into the school were just his imagination since he was a weak wizard," Draco said dryly, trying to have the last word.
"Shh and cuddle me," Xander demanded.
"Of course," he soothed, stroking his back again. "So, father-in-law, what are we to do about this?"
"Shut up, Malfoy."
"Fine. Headmaster, permission to tuck my lover into my bed?" He waved a hand.
"Make sure you make it to class," Snape called after him.
"Just as soon as he's calm," Draco said smugly, walking Xander out. "Did you get them all?"
"No. I couldn't find a few," he admitted quietly, leaning on his boyfriend. He was really tired now. He didn't know why but he was exhausted. He waved at Dawn as they passed her in the halls. "Watch out for blondes."
"My sister's coming back?" Dawn asked, staring at their backs. Once they were out of sight she cooed. "They look so adorable!" She headed up to the office, having been summoned there. "Yes, Headmaster?"
"Miss Summers, do you know anything about the Daughters of Loki?"
"Hmm." She searched her mind, she still had some memories of being the Key, especially since she had gotten here. "Nope, not really. 3 women. Seers maybe?" She shrugged. "It's like it's a tickle in the back of my mind but nothing else. Either that or the History of Magic stuff yesterday was actually absorbed." Snape stared down at her. "We went over Merlin's daughters."
"Very well," Dumbledore agreed. "Thank you, Miss Summers. You may go."
"Are they why Xan looked so wiped?"
"Yes, one of them came up to him in the bookstore," Snape admitted.
"Hmm. And I thought he drew strange stuff in Sunnydale." She shrugged and left them to their plotting. She didn't plot or plan that well. Besides, she could get the full story from Harry later. He'd tell her, Ron, and Hermione everything. He always did. She grinned at the Charms teacher. "Sorry, the Headmaster wanted to know if I'd ever heard of the Daughters of Loki." He went pale and fell off his pillows. "Are you okay? Is my breath bad or something?" she asked, helping him back to his feet. "Are you all right?"
"I'm fine," he promised, patting her on the hand. "Go back to your seat. All of you read the next charm," he ordered, rushing out of his classroom and up to the Headmaster's office. "Why are those three seers here?" he demanded as he barged in. "They only show up when there's a way to bring back their father from his imprisonment and when a warrior of chaos is brought into being!"
"Well, that's certainly more than we knew before," Dumbledore admitted.
"They thought my son was their brother," Snape told him, giving him a bland look.
"With who his mother is, I'm not surprised," he said stiffly. "Anything else happen with them?"
"Voldemort had them," Harry said from his corner. "Then one of them came up to Xander this morning, a blonde, and tried to cop a feel."
"That would be Aristrine," Flitwick assured him. "The daughter of a debauched Valkyrie. And, Mr. Potter?"
He shrugged. "That's all I know. I got in this one late, professor."
"Draco did say something about a rumor of a prophecy baby," Dumbledore admitted. "That Voldemort had them in to check on a prophecy baby."
"Oh, no," Flitwick groaned. "Not another warrior born." He held his forehead and looked up at Snape. "That prophecy about your son and Mr. Malfoy. Where is the copy?"
"With Ethan and Ripper most often," he admitted. "That is not my area so I leave it to them."
"Good. I'll talk with them."
"Is my son in trouble?" Snape demanded.
Flitwick looked at him. "That depends. Were they convinced he wasn't family?" He shook his head. "Did Aristine say he wasn't her brother?"
"She said he was family when she realized her mistake."
"Then expect to be a grandfather some year soon," Flitwick told him, heading down to the library. That's where they would be. He walked in and headed back to the restricted section, pulling down the book he knew was back there and carrying it out to their table to thump it down. It was really heavy. "They're in here. I'm sure you'll make stunning grandparents." He stomped off, going to give his next class a pop quiz. This was not the best of all possible news for this war.
Ripper and Ethan both reached for the book, moving so they could see it together. If that teacher was upset and being a drama queen, something was dreadfully wrong.
Snape glared at Draco as he wandered into lunch. "I believe I ordered you to attend to your classes, Mr. Malfoy."
"I am, now that my mate is calm and resting," he said smugly. "And after I caught a nap. He was quite frantic, needed a lot of *reassurance*." He sat down in his usual spot, looking at the other students. "Yes?" he asked impatiently.
"Alexander is here?" Pansy asked.
"In my bed. He had an odd occurrence earlier and it wore on his nerves. So I helped him take a nap. Why? Going to try to kiss his arse again, Pansy?"
She sneered. "He doesn't need someone like *you*, Malfoy. He needs a strong mate, one who can give him children."
Snape glared at her. "Miss Parkinson, if that thought does not leave your mind, I will make you desire death," he hissed. "You are not worthy of my son. Mr. Malfoy is barely worthy and that is because he chose my son over many other things, including his own pleasures."
"So unless you can find other ways to pleasure him, I doubt he needs you," Draco finished with a smirk, his eyes cold and flowing hatred toward her. "I doubt you have anything he can't find readily enough with someone more worthy."
"The Dark Lord will have him," she sneered. "Just wait. He will be given to a loyal person, not a traitor."
Draco snorted. "Yes, because my dear Alexander hasn't fought on the Hellmouth his whole life. Let's be real, shall we? Not only did he side with Potter without knowing anything about the Dark Lord besides him being evil and trapping his father, but he's brought in a witch strong enough to destroy the world again. Frankly I'm more worried about those women who come up to him when he's in public and offer him the use of their wombs and other parts more than I am you. You have nothing he can't get in *many* other places."
"We'll see," she reminded him coldly. "The war isn't over yet and Voldemort hasn't been defeated yet."
"Yet," Draco agreed snidely.
"Enough," Snape ordered. He walked up to his seat, nodding at the other teachers present. "Has anything been found about this morning's contact with my son?" he asked calmly.
"Just that it had to have been Sigrid by the description," Ethan admitted. "Apparently the three are seers. They seek a way to release their father for good and always herald a new warrior born of chaos. Their last siting was about seventeen years ago in London at a royal party." Snape gave him a dirty look. "No, we were not there, Sev," he reminded him quietly. "Nor is our son a warrior for chaos. A warrior perhaps, but not on my side of the line." Severus relaxed slightly. "The problem is that if there is a prophecy baby I can't find it. I was going to pounce Professor Flitwick later, but he seems to have gone to bed with a headache for lunch."
"I don't blame him, I have one as well," Giles admitted as he joined them. "I did talk with him before he went upstairs. He said they changed their names about thirty years ago because they're being hunted again. They're quite pissed at those who try to interrupt their search for their brother Rune to be reborn because he heralds the release of their father and possibly Ragnarok." He took his usual seat between them, nodding politely at the other teachers. "Otherwise, it's not a vast subject. The descriptions vary by who saw them so it may be more than three. Like Merlin's daughters, who number five but you only ever see two at a time, they could switch out now and then. No one's quite sure about it and no mythology scholar ever seems to hear of them so no real academic work has been done."
Dumbledore coughed. "I called the Ministry's archives and the assistant who answered nearly passed out. I'm still waiting on the owl with their research." He smiled at them. "Alexander is still in bed?"
"Yes, apparently Mr. Malfoy managed to help him wear out his unease," Snape admitted. He heard a small squeal and glared at the Gryffindor table. "Ripper, remind me to get her some contraceptive potion tonight," he noted bitterly. "Before we have to teach a next generation of those three all in one child."
"That is a bad thought," Ethan agreed. "A baby Ron/Dawn/Harry child." He shuddered.
Snape shivered, feeling a feeling of dread cross his chest. "We'd have to force someone to the Dark to give them an enemy, otherwise we'd all be dead by their mischievous hands."
"Hmm, they could do what we did and all go at once," Ripper offered dryly.
"I heard that. Not happening. I'm going to sic Spike on you for even thinking those thoughts," Dawn called without having to look at them.
"Yes, dear, much more scary. The fixed vampire with a headache is so very much a nightmare," Ripper called back with a smirk.
She glared up at him. "Oh, I don't know, he managed to do some pretty mean things to Xander," she replied smartly, smirking at him. "And I can always teach him how to get to your room, Uncle Rupert." She gave him Ethan a smug look as well. "Besides, I have no doubt that any child of mine that might appear in the vast and ongoing future would *ever* be confined to only doing things inside these walls. Think about what Harry and Ron would have done without the moron patrol on their backs. Then multiply it by my nature," she sneered.
"Calm down and have some chocolate, Dawn," Ron said, handing her the bowl of pudding. "I'm sure it wouldn't be that bad. If so, we'd let the twins raise them," he promised, kissing her gently.
"Well, the twins said they wanted some new ideas," Harry offered dryly, smirking at Dawn. "Push him for me. He didn't take notes for me today." She sighed and handed over hers. "Thanks, Dawn." He blew a kiss and sat down to read the readable scrawl. Much better than Ron's handwriting but much less precise than Hermione's. He laughed when he came to her summarization of the goblin wars for the class, looking up at her. "That is very true. A bunch of little, knobby kneed, ugly things with icky blood killing each other for no reason other than it was fun." He copied the pertinent parts then handed them back. "Thanks." He smirked at Ron. "You should tell the twins that. I wanna see their faces."
"That would be cute," Ron agreed. "Next weekend in town, I'll owl 'em to come up for some butterbeers." He dug into his food, eating quickly. "We've got Hagrid after lunch," he reminded them. They dug in too, Dawn loading up on the chocolate. That had been very thoughtful of Ron. "Oooh, you missed it. Draco had to help Xan to bed earlier. He had a run-in in town with someone who upset him so much he was like a walking zombie. "
"Hmm, wondered why he wasn't in herbology," Harry said dryly, smirking at Malfoy. "Maybe we should suggest that we're going to have a quiz?"
"Rumors like that often become reality," Hermione warned. "Tell him the truth, we went over sexual plants today." She turned the page on her book, reading on. "I'm sure he'll have to go ask about that natural lubricant."
"Yeah, that's one handy plant to have around," Dawn agreed. "Fixes all sorts of squeaks and groans around the house and makes you squeak and groan when you use it on another person. I'll have to learn that one inside and out. That and the one that makes you so hard you don't come down for days. That sounded like a lot of fun." She knew some of the guys were looking at her. "For *Spike*, guys. Really. Vamps could use stuff like that and they'd probably pay a lot for it too. I'm betting Spike alone could bring in a lot of money if I could grow them well enough. Pocket change is always helpful you know."
"You're odd," Seamus told her. "Have you realized that you just suggested selling sex aids to vampires?"
"Only the ones I like," she said smugly. "You guys'll *love* Spike when he shows up next month."
"Next week," Ron reminded her.
"Ooh, that's right, they moved it up," she agreed, starting to wiggle and bounce. "You'll love Spike, guys. He's a great vampire. Also a pretty neat Dawn sitter at times. Plus, he likes to pick on Xan so that'll make him wanna pick on Malfoy too. Don't worry, he won't much pick on you guys. If he tries I'll smack him on the nose with a rolled up newspaper or something."
"Now I know why Harry likes you so much. You understand the weird things around him," Neville teased with a bright grin. "Don't worry, Dawn, I'll make sure you can grow all of those really well."
"Of course, if you make a lot you've got to host the seventh-year party," Seamus agreed. "Liquor and all."
Dawn giggled. "Sure. Once my sis is gone. She can be really fierce about some things." They all grinned at her and Harry coughed, making them smirk at him too. "Don't worry, I won't let you get drunk, Harry. You can be the good boy that night." He snickered, shaking his head and kicking her under the table. "Hey! Don't kick! If you want to play with my legs, give me a foot rub later." She smirked at him. "Didn't you like Spike?"
"I did, but he was odd," he offered. "Spike looks a lot like Malfoy, guys. We can capitalize on that." The guys all went back to their lunches, planning on catching first look at those interesting guests coming in. A vampire that looked like Malfoy and did bad things like having sex were the sort of people they'd like to meet.
Xander walked Draco down to Potions later that afternoon, leaving him at the door with a gentle kiss on the cheek. Of course, some of the girls sighed at the romantic gesture, but Draco glaring at them made them look away quickly. "Try not to blow up dad today," Xander requested. "I'm going to find mentions of these...things so I can figure out what they want with me. And possibly go suck up to one of the professors to get some more practice in." He winked and strolled off.
Pansy stepped into his way. "Vellian, if you need a research assistant, I'd gladly get permission from your father to aid your quest."
"Pansy, I'm looking for women who thought I was their brother and still wanted to sleep with my ass. Why would I need you?" he asked dryly. "I mean seriously, you're not a high ranking demon. You're not a great researcher. You're not a woman of the type I might still encourage to fight Draco for me. So, no, I don't think I need much from you, Parkinson. Sorry. Become a real woman though and we'll see." He walked around her and headed up the halls. "Later, Draco. I'll probably need calmed down again," he noted smugly as he heard his father open his classroom door.
"Vellian, behave," Snape ordered.
"Yes, daddy. You know I always *try*." He waved as he turned a corner. "I'm off to practice and research."
"What was that about?" Snape asked Malfoy.
"Parkinson offered her services as a research assistant," Malfoy said dryly. "He said since she's not a higher demon, a good researcher, or even a woman like Buffy or Willow, then he really couldn't find a use for her," he noted with a smug look at his father-in-law.
"Vellian!" His son trotted back down the stairs. "You are not going to be doing something...Sunnydale, are you?" he demanded.
"That's a good idea, dad, but I was only gonna call my ex for a chat." He gave him a smug look. "I can probably wait until Spike shows up next week if I have to, but do you *really* want to deal with another freakout when the Daughters of Loki come after me again and try to catch a grope and snuggle?"
"The Daughters of Loki?" Pansy asked, looking nervous. "They want you? Why do they want you, Vellian?"
"Miss Parkinson, I think that's a very good question. Come into my office and we'll talk about that," Xander said, snapping around and grabbing her by the arm so he could drag her into his father's office. "Now, you obviously know something. If you give it to me, I won't ask any special favors from my ex." She started to sneer. "A vengeance demon." She lost it and slumped down in the chair behind her. "Your choice. I've got an ex, a vampire, and a slayer coming next week plus a really powerful wandless witch who'd love nothing more than to save me grief and agony over this."
"Mostly because she'd not want to deal with the creatures herself," Draco agreed from the door. "I can also see Dawn getting the others into it." He stepped inside and closed the door. "Of course, if you'd be willing to help in this...matter, I might see my way clear to allow you something you've wanted."
"A night with your lover?" she asked hopefully.
"Um, no," Xander said dryly. "Possibly a kiss. If I must." He grimaced at Draco. "Will this actually be worth it?"
"Oh, it is," Pansy promised, standing up again. "I know all about why they were summoned to Lord Voldemort's side. I know all about their mission and their purposes. I know all about them." She moved closer. "For the right price I might even tell you..." she licked her lips, "everything."
Xander looked at Draco, then grabbed her and pulled her in, kissing her hard. "Now give," he ordered once he released her. She sighed and sat down again. "Parkinson, now. Or else my next move is going to be molesting Draco in front of you." She shook her head and wrote out everything she knew for him. She handed it over with a shaking hand. "Thank you. Much obliged. Go out to class now. Before my father wonders what happened." She nodded, gathering up her things and walking out.
Draco looked at him. "Brush your teeth before you even *think* about touching me. Preferably with listerine or something equally as strong."
Xander nodded quickly. "Got any in your room? That was sickening."
Draco patted him on the back as he walked him out of the office. "Sir, I'm taking Xander up to the Slytherin dorms so he can clear his head." They shared a look and Snape nodded so he walked Xander out.
Snape looked at Pansy, then sneered. She was about to have the worst day of her life. Forget what the Gryffindors were going to go through, hers was going to be much worse. He substituted a potion for the usual one, that when botched made one not only have a sudden outbreak of acne, but also made one's hair look worse than his ever had. He was sure the other Slytherins would be more than willing to help him finish off her punishment as they made sure she knew exactly what she looked like. And since the potion was harder than any of these students could possibly do, well, it was going to be a wonderful day for him. He smirked at the students as they groaned. "You have fifty minutes, I suggest you start since it takes forty-five to brew." He sat behind his desk, watching as everyone panicked but started to work.
Xander walked up to the Charm's classroom once his mouth was free of that nasty taste. He glanced inside, seeing the students in there bent over their parchments and many quills scribbling hard. He gave the teacher a pitiful look as he strolled inside, bending to get closer to his ear. "I've gotten info off Pansy about their plans. Would you help me look it over later?" he whispered.
Professor Flitwick held out a hand so Xander handed over the notes he had glanced over earlier. He glanced over them, then nodded, handing them back. "They're incredibly short on information but the plan is in there."
Xander beamed at him. "Thanks. It was worth the cost." The professor raised a brow so Xander shuddered and shook his head. "Don't ask. It was gross." The professor squeaked. "Not quite that gross, I'd be getting sick if it was that." He blew a kiss. "Thanks, Prof. I'll see you at dinner?" He nodded so Xander walked out, leaving the professor to shudder in shared revulsion on his behalf. He headed up to the library, tossing the parchment at Ethan's head since he was snoring. "From Parkinson."
"How did you get this?" Ripper asked as he reached for it.
"Just don't ask," Xander ordered as he sat next to them. "Does that help any? If not, I'm not doing it again."
Ripper gave him a long look. "Should we have you tested for venereal diseases?"
"No, I used listerine after the kiss. Otherwise I'd be sick right now." Ripper patted him on the back. "Thanks, I knew you'd understand. Does it help any?"
"Some," he admitted, scanning it again. "Ah, here we go. There's a prophecy baby that's a chaos warrior. There's a warrior who will be instrumental in which sides wins or loses. Unfortunately it'll be from a normal couple, not a same-sex one. Though...." He shook his head with a groan. "Make sure to remind me to tell your father to make Dawn a strong contraceptive."
"Oh, I will be. That will be one horrible kid," Xander agreed dryly. "So, why are they after me? Any idea yet?"
"Not yet. Let me continue reading." He read over the list again, frowning. "Hmm, in this time, it is most possible that their brother has been reborn and will be drawn to the child's parents. Possibly he's already there. Um, ah, here we are. The brother was to be reborn again exactly eighteen years ago this year."
"And I'm turning eighteen," Xander agreed.
"He was to be born in a land far from here. He was to be strong, dark haired, and a strong testament to the family's abilities. All the sisters, of which there are nine, shall be drawn to this one, as will all other family members. It is only with the brother that they can free their father." He read on. "Ah. If the brother fathers the child of chaos, then the child will win the war for the side of good, if the brother doesn't sire the child of chaos then the dark may win. It is tentative as to what they saw." He looked at Xander. "So you do technically fit but Sigrid said that it wasn't you. Correct?" Xander nodded. "Then he's got to be around your age." He kicked Ethan under the table. "Here, from an informant."
"Who?" Ethan moaned, sitting up and rubbing his eyes. "You'd think someone like Loki wouldn't mind my helping, but no, he has to counteract with my magic." He looked at the papers, starting to yawn again. "Blast. Which one is it? Potter or Weasley?"
"Well, Harry's got dark hair," Xander offered. "But he's not chaos incarnate or anything that I've seen." He stiffened as someone kissed the back of his neck, turning to look at the woman standing there. "Anya. Back to your former job?" She nodded, smirking at him. "Glad to help. Can you add to the rumors of Loki's Daughters?"
"Dawn's not having the child. The mother is in the school. The father is in the school." She smirked at him. "The brother is not here yet."
"So the Dark gains a foothold?" Ethan asked.
She shrugged. "I don't know. No one does. We're all taking bets to see if she cheats." She blew a kiss at Giles. "I left Buffy in charge of the shop. They're coming over in two days. Willow asked me to give you this," she said, handing over an envelope. "And now I get to cause mayhem and mischief."
"Leave Draco alone, Anya," Xander stated, staring her down. "He's protecting me from worse things. After all, one of the daughters came up to me and thought I was their brother."
She shuddered. "No, not quite," she promised. She patted him on the head. "Be a good boy, Xander, and I'll never have to come near you or your Draco bear. Even though you are cute when you sleep with your face pressed into his chest and an arm thrown possessively around him." She giggled as she disappeared, heading to find the local who had called out for her.
Xander looked at his mother. "Ethan, can we ward the castle against her?"
"Possibly. I'll work on that while you work on that problem. I wonder who the mother is?"
"Well, she's got to be in the upper years," Xander offered. "If she's able to have a kid that'd make her a fifth year or up, right?"
"Sixth year or higher probably," Giles suggested. "Most fifth years find themselves hitting puberty. They're only fourteen and British are a bit behind the Americans in that." He took off his glasses to rub his eyes. "That does narrow it down some. We know that she's in a relationship or will be from what Anya said."
"So we've got possibly up to twenty girls from each house?" Ethan asked. Giles nodded. "Hmm. Take this up to the Headmaster. Perhaps he can find her easier than we can."
"Take it to McGonagall," Xander suggested. "She's much more involved with the students than Dumbledore is." Both adults stared at him. "He's busy doing things for the Order. She runs the students until they break too badly."
"Good point," Ethan agreed. "Fine, start with her, Ripper. She may make you take it up with Flitwick and the Headmaster."
"That's fine," he agreed. "Xander, what are you going to do for the rest of the day?"
"Good idea, son," Ethan praised. "You could use it. Your wand is very unused at the moment." He stared him down. "You need to practice so all our skills will come out."
"Yes, mom," he agreed smugly. "Flitwick said he'd let me talk to him after dinner about this."
"Even better," Ripper agreed. "Did he see this?" Xander nodded. "Then I'll gladly buy your young man a new bottle of mouth wash for this information." He stood up and went to find the teacher, hoping to catch her between classes.
"How did you get the information?"
"Draco suggested I should kiss Parkinson. It was the most disgusting thing I've ever had. She clearly had onions and liver for lunch," he noted as he stood up. "I'm heading up to the practice room Harry's got set up. Come get me if you need me." He strolled out, heading up the stairs to the old room that had been set up for practicing. He smiled at the teacher in there with Harry. "Hey, can I borrow a corner? I need to practice too."
Professor Lupin looked him over. "Practice what?"
"See, when they figured out what was going on, all the 'rents gave me their memories so I'd know what was going on. So I learned a lot of spells, hexes, curses, and some general ass- kicking, but if I don't practice it I can lose it."
"They did what?" Harry asked in shock. "How?" He looked at his uncle. "Can we do that? It'd be more helpful than the slow and gentle training!"
"I've never heard of such a spell, Harry," Lupin admitted honestly. "Who did it, Vellian?"
"Xander," he corrected. "And Mom did it."
"Ethan?" Harry asked. He still wasn't quite sure of the whole 'parentage' issue that Xander had going. Xander grinned and nodded. "Well. Think he'd help me?"
"I don't see why not," Lupin offered. "I'll talk to him later." He looked at Xander. "Why do you need practice?"
"Because a Daughter of Loki decided I was tasty earlier. I'm surprised you haven't heard about the routine freakout I had earlier because she clearly wanted what was Draco's."
"Excuse me?" Lupin asked, looking even more stunned. "A who came up to you?"
"A Daughter of Loki. Ripper said it was Sigrid?" He shrugged. "All I know is that she thought I was her brother, but she was clearly wanting a taste of me the way most demons do, and then she decided I was family when I got insistent that her dad wasn't in the room when I was conceived. So now they're doing research on them. Prof Flitwick knows something about them so I've shown him what I got off Pansy earlier at great personal cost and a lot of listerine. They're taking it to McGonagall at the moment at my suggestion to find the mother of the baby and to try and figure out who the father is, who is different from the brother."
Lupin groaned and shook his head. "Stay up here, boys. I'm going to talk to Ripper and McGonagall. This is not the time for this. It really isn't." He stormed out, heading down to the first floor. He ran into Ripper in the hall, getting handed the parchment without having to ask. He read it quickly, then looked at Ripper. "Who made the notes?"
"Miss Parkinson apparently. She was easily bribed with a kiss, which made Xander go rinse his mouth out for quite a while."
Lupin shook his head. "Fine. And this father/brother/mother thing that's happening?"
"All we know is that the possible father is in the school, as is the mother. The brother was supposedly born about eighteen years ago this year but he's not in the school yet."
"Fine." He handed it back. "I'll get with Professor Flitwick to help you if you'll help Harry with that memory spell Xander said you did for him."
"Of course. It'll knock him out for at least a day."
"That's fine. I'll have him excused for tomorrow's classes." They looked over as the door to the classroom opened and the teacher walked out, already glaring at them. "The Daughters of Loki are back. Their brother's on his way here supposedly to father a new child of chaos."
She rolled her eyes. "We've heard that before, Remus." She shut the door. "Why this time?"
"Voldemort had three of them," Giles told her. "They were asked to check on a prophecy baby of some kind. Plus, Anya, Xander's ex, is back to being demonic again and she said Rune is on his way here to hopefully father a new warrior child." He handed over the papers. "I was going to wait until you were done." He smiled sweetly at her. "I was trying to be polite."
"You've never been polite a day in your life, Mr. Giles. Don't try to start now, it'll only cause you physical pain," she said sarcastically as she read over the notes. "What did your godson have to do to get this information?"
"Kissed her. Poor thing."
She looked up at him, shuddering. "Did the poor thing get any sort of mouth wash?" He nodded. "Good. Tell him to keep some nearby. I swear that girl was cursed to bad breath some days and it may be transferable." She reread it. "Fine." She handed it back. "I'll get with Finius later. Now, about that spell?"
"It's how we gave Xander memories of what happened," Rupert admitted. "He only needs to be prompted to remember what we know and practice it before he loses most of it."
"I'd like permission to do the same thing to Harry," Remus offered.
"Those with the Sight tend to get stronger copies," Rupert offered.
"Harry's not got the Sight," Remus said dryly. "He's got Occulmencary."
"Poor thing. Probably had to train it with Sev too." Rupert shook his head. "It might have to include a few of us. I don't know who you'd want in there. It'd have to be at least Ethan or I though."
"I'd rather have it be you, Ripper. You have some morals," Remus Lupin said dryly. "Unlike your third mate." He looked at McGonagall again. "That fine with you?"
"I'd take part in it if I could," she offered. "Though I'm not the warrior those two are."
"No, but I could probably talk Tonks into it," Remus offered with a sly grin.
"I've not seen her for years," Ethan noted as he joined them. "Who?"
"Harry, Ron, and Dawn," Ethan corrected. "You can't separate the trio, the same as you can't separate the duo." He looked at Ripper. "I'll cast it on you without being in the loop," he promised, stealing a kiss. "Definitely get a warrior wizard into that however."
Harry trotted down the stairs. "Xander just hurt himself trying a kick against the heavy bag," he panted. "Said he may have pulled a muscle."
"I'll go work with him," Rupert offered. "Come, Harry. It's time for another lesson. Come join us when you're done, Remus." He walked the boy back up the stairs, going to heal his godson's sprained groin muscle. He'd done it himself. That's how he knew what had happened before Harry had finished his explanation.
"It would be rather helpful," Remus offered.
"It would be," she agreed. "How long do the effects last?"
"The memories switched over are permanent," Ethan offered. "The effects after the spell last about a day with a need for sleep and some confusion and clumsiness. He'll need excused the next day."
"That's fine. We'll talk among the teachers tonight to see who goes in on it. Do not try it before then," she warned, heading back into her classroom. "Finish up," she ordered as she headed for her office to talk to the Headmaster.
Draco gave Xander a long look when he limped into dinner that night. "What happened to you?" he demanded. "Who hurt you?"
"Me," he admitted sheepishly. "I was trying something in the practice room and pulled a groin muscle. So I'm really not in the mood tonight, dear." He gave him a shy smile. "I'm fine. Giles healed it, I'm just sore."
"You'll bloody well be going into a long bath then," Draco ordered. "Eat a lot so you don't have to sneak out for a snack later." Xander nodded, shifting so he was leaning against his side. "Fine. You're a miserable prick and I'll treat you like our cats," he sighed, patting him on the back. "Feel better?"
"Much. Giles healed it and I tried it again. I can do a high kick or a spin kick now," he offered. "Plus we worked on more of my charms and transfiguration stuff. I'm getting really good now."
"Excellent. Then we'll work on it again later," he encouraged.
"What is a high kick?" Goyle asked quietly.
Xander pulled his wand and created a diagram with a heavy bag and a stick figure, making it do the same thing he had learned earlier. "I stretched wrong and too fast. Hence the pulled groin muscle." Crabbe and Goyle both winced and grabbed themselves. "Yeah, so I'm in a *great* mood at the moment," he said with a sarcastic grin at them. "I'm going to be in the 'rent's bathroom all night according to Ripper."
"Bullshit," Draco snorted. "You can use ours."
"Honey, I'll be in there most of the night," Xander reminded him. "That'll get inconvenient for the others. I'm not doing that to you or Blaise, you'd never get in there to fuss with your hair." Draco smacked him on the arm, glaring at him, so he smiled sweetly. "However, they never said you couldn't come check on me." They shared a small kiss until someone grabbed the back of Draco's neck.
"Boy, remove your lips from my son's mouth," Ethan growled. "You have not gained my permission to do more than escort him places. You may most certainly not visit him tonight. I think you've done enough of that recently," he said with a cold sneer. "Do you have a clear understanding?"
"Fine, mom, I won't let Draco cuddle me tonight," Xander sighed, shaking his head. "It's not like I can do very much with a groin pull."
"I don't care. I accept Mr. Malfoy being your chosen escort and occasional bed partner. I have not yet been approached on behalf of him taking you in a more permanent manner."
"Wouldn't the glue be hard to clean up?" Crabbe asked, looking confused.
Ethan looked at him, then shook his head quickly. "I don't know if you're that stupid or just trying to break up my ire, boy, but do stop now." He looked at his son. Then at his son's mate. "Until *I* have accepted your offer of him you may do no more than occasionally escort him and sleep with him. There are to be no long term plans until then."
Draco stood up, facing down the wizard who he was almost as tall as. "You know as well as I do what the prophecy said, Rayne," he retorted coldly. "What bribe do you want to let us be?" Ethan crossed his arms. "You know I take care of him. You know I pamper and spoil him. I know you've watched as I've treated him well now for months."
"I do, but that is a short term manner. You knew I was watching. I will be assured that my baby boy will be taken care of in a similar manner once a year or more has gone by." Draco's mouth fell open. "Even you must realize that love's first blush is always rosy, boy. What happens when the pink fades?"
"Then he'll still be my mate! Hell, we have matching and mated cats!" Ethan cocked up an eyebrow at that. "Oh, do not give me that look," he hissed.
"Enough," Xander said as he carefully stood up. "Mom, down, now, before you become more of a bitch." Ethan gave him a long look. "It's not like I'm going to leave him so get over it. If you don't like us making plans for after graduation, I'm sorry for you. Whatever happens does. The same as it did with the others. Even though he treats me better and he actually seems to care for me. I won't have you sneering at Draco again. He's not his father. He's not you either. So get over it now, before I have to get mad too."
"The proper path is for Mr. Malfoy to earn my trust, then to tell me of these plans, Alexander," Ethan informed him.
"Well, gee, Mom, you set us up," Xander said dryly, smirking at him. He understood now. "It's not like he can get away from the family. Not with Dad breathing down his neck all day long too. What are you worried about? That he'll become a money-grubbing whore like my last girlfriend? He's got his own cash and I've got mine. As you told me about."
"You do?" Draco asked. Xander nodded. "Then why I bloody well pay for everything!"
"Because you never want me to buy you stuff," Xander said with a shrug. "It's a nice change, but I'll start paying for dates if you want." He sat down on the bench carefully, wincing only a little bit. "Mom said my grandparents left me a trust fund since they didn't like him."
"Fine. I'll let you start buying dinners and chocolate frogs now and then," Draco relented. "I would never demand that you bankrupt yourself like your last girlfriend did. I'm not the whore she was." He looked at Ethan again. "Good enough? Or should I get down on my knees and beg you prettily?" he sneered.
"It's good enough, for now," Ethan noted. "I expect my son to be as happy as possible. Otherwise I might have to get...angry with you. I'd hate to see what might happen if I did."
"Gee, would that be what might happen if *I* get mad and ask some of those demons who want my attention to step in and help me?" Xander asked coolly. "And I repeat. Leave Draco alone."
"It's fine," Draco assured him. He stepped closer to Ethan. "He will be well tended and taken care of. He is precious and unnaturally strong. I would never harm him outside of fucking him too hard now and then. Do you really have a complaint or did you need a bribe?" he hissed.
"Access to your family's archives."
"Easily done," Draco snorted. "All you had to do was ask. What's mine is his now."
"We'll see what the prenuptial agreement says about that," Ethan said with a smirk. "I'll have the family's attorney's draw one up tomorrow. Do find him something pretty as a marking band." He strolled up to the main table. "Ripper, we're heading to Malfoy Manor tomorrow to look through their library. Draco agreed."
Severus gave him a long look. "Did I hear prenuptials discussed?"
"Yes, you did," Ethan agreed smugly. "We don't want Mr. Malfoy to take advantage of our Xander, do we?"
"I'd think he'd feel the same way," Ripper offered. "Malfoy has a title."
"As do I, as does Sev," Ethan sighed, giving him a long look. "Such things have to be taken into account, Ripper. Besides, I had to make sure the boy would fight for the son. I'll not have him dating another thing like that last one we saved him from ever again."
"I don't think that'll be a problem," Ripper promised, calming him down. "Did you have a bad mediation, Ethan?"
Ethan grimaced, but he nodded as he picked up his glass. "Janus told me to keep my big nose out of this matter." He took a sip of his water. "He said it's not for me to interfere. When I reminded him my son was in the middle of this, he basically shrugged and said it would have to happen." He looked at Ripper. "I'm very close to switching allegiances."
Ripper patted him gently on the hand. "I'll stick up for whatever you decide, Ethan. You know that," he quietly reminded him. "I'd have thought this would be something Janus would be sticking both his noses into."
"As did I, especially since some of his highest of high are involved." He glanced down at Xander. "He does consider the boy his."
"Then he can jump in whatever lake is on that Godly plane he's stuck on," Severus reminded him. "I'm not putting up with such things from my son. He's a wizard, not Rosenburg."
"And what am I?" Ethan asked archly.
Severus stared into his eyes. "Forced to participate," he reminded him quietly. Ethan slumped and nodded. "Now, shall we move onto happier topics? What did the son do to himself this time?"
"The same thing I did to get a groin pull in our sixth year," Giles admitted with a small smirk for him. "I showed him the correct way and worked on his hand-to-hand today. I worked with both of them on their hexing. Lupin found out about the spell by the way."
"I heard earlier from Minerva," Snape admitted, picking up his fork when his plate appeared, already filled for him. "If it would be of service, but I do not think it should be me."
"Tonks was suggested," Ethan offered, picking up his own fork. He looked at his plate, then down at the Headmaster, who shrugged. Ethan sighed and flicked his wand at his plate, summoning his own food from the tables. He smirked at Ripper. "There, I feel better now." He dug in, eating heartily.
"What's the matter? Can't get a house elf to serve you?" Pansy sneered just loud enough to be heard. "Did you torture them too much when you were a student?"
"You know, Parkinson, picking on Alexander's mother is not the best strategy to winning him over," Draco said coldly. He glared at her. "You might want to rescind your comment now, before I have to stop him."
"No, I'm sure it'll be fine," Xander said as he stood up. "Pansy, may I see you in the hallway?" he asked coldly. She shuddered and refused to move. "What? Aren't interested in my company?" he sneered. "The only sort of women I hang out with voluntarily are those who can not only fight very well, but also ones who can kick ass. I'm not against fighting with girls since I've only been around girls like that most of my life, and if you *ever* insult either of my parents again, I'm going to prove it. Now, you can either apologize, or you can run and hide now. Your choice."
"You wouldn't hit me," she sneered.
He snorted. "Honey, I grew up with Rosenburg and Dawn's older sister, the Slayer. I have nothing against hitting girls. Not in these situations. You've got about ten more seconds before I allow someone to fix that tragic mistake that is your present face." She sneered so he grabbed her by the hair and pulled her up, pulling back a fist.
"No!" Dawn shouted, standing up. "Down, Xander! Let the girls deal with them." She stomped over there and slugged Pansy, knocking her down. "Buffy would never let you hit her."
"She and I got into it once," he admitted. "Willow and I got into a few play fights too." He raised an eyebrow. "Feel better?" She nodded. "Good, I don't." He glared down at Pansy. "You'd better kiss her ass for saving you. I wouldn't have stopped." He stomped off.
Dawn looked down at her. "Never, ever insult his parents again. It's a death sentence in the making. Xander's not often homicidal but when he gets in that mood, it's best to not provoke it. He would have killed you and we would have cheered him on." She glared at Draco when he moved. "Stay!" He sat down again. "Do not chase after him. Give him a half-hour to calm down. Right now, he's probably pounding on a wall or a suit of armor." Draco nodded at that wisdom so she stomped back to her seat, sitting down to glare at the Slytherins. "They are so crucified if they start shit with him again," she growled.
"I'm impressed," Ron said happily. "Not many girls can hit like that, Dawn."
"Yeah, well, my sister taught me," she said sarcastically, glaring at him. "I can't believe she said that to him."
"Well, it is hard to believe that a bloke carried and delivered him," Seamus offered gently.
"Hey, ask Flitwick. He was the one who found the spell for them. Or better yet, ask Dumbledore, he was there when Xan was born. They can vouch for who his parents are. There's a half-sister in New York from the stuff I've overheard. She's dealing with the paranormal like her mom, Giles, does." She shrugged at everyone's shocked look. "I think it's pretty cool that they did it. It showed that they loved each other a lot." She pulled over the meat and no one challenged her for the best pieces on the top of the stack. "Eat, guys. It was nothing, really." She watched as Draco got up and walked out carrying a plate, smirking at him. "Very well done, Mr. Malfoy. Now treat him right or else," she muttered. She handed the meat off to Ron. "Can I have the orange stuff?" He handed it off to her and took his own meat, handing it to Neville.
"No one's taken points yet," Neville said quietly.
"No one would dare," Dawn reminded him. "Otherwise it means she can start again. Then it becomes a vicious cycle and someone's going to get her ugly face killed." Ron thoughtfully grabbed the pudding for her, making her grin. "It's not a chocolate-curable thing, Ron, but thank you for being so thoughtful." She kissed him on the cheek. "Want help tonight in Defense?"
"Please," he agreed with a goofy grin. This was the Dawn he knew, not that fierce amazon warrior she had just turned into for a moment.
Harry swallowed his current bite of food. "Can I have some help too, Dawn? I've got to work through some of the advanced stuff and I need someone to help me figure out what the stupid book says."
"Sure, Harry." She grinned at him, making him grin back. "Eat your dinner first." The boys nodded and dug in, so she handed the pudding down to Hermione, who was giving her an odd look still. "What?" she asked sweetly. "It's a tight-knit family when you fight and kill beside each other. Xander may not be a literal relative but he is my might-as-well-be brother." She grinned again. "It saved him from having to hurt her too badly to be reconstructed."
Hermione nodded. "It was a very strong punch. I'm impressed. Think your sister could teach me too?"
"Ask Ripper," Harry offered. "He taught her."
"Actually, Buffy had a Watcher before him but he kinda died at the hands of an old Master," Dawn told him. "Ripper's her second one, and fourth if we're being literal since he was kinda fired in there for a bit for being too soft on her." She shrugged. "Her third one is working with Angel. He's kinda stuffy from what little I remember. I hope he's unstiffened since he went to work with Angel." She cut another bite of meat and chewed thoughtfully. "Hey, Giles?" He looked her way. "How is the other Watcher guy? Is he doing okay with Angel?"
"From what I've heard, he's been fine," he assured her. "Wesley has finally loosened up some and gotten a real life, but he's still Wesley."
"That's cool. Next time you talk to one of them, tell them I said hi."
"Of course, Dawn. We can discuss that tonight in the training room."
"I'm helping Harry and Ron tonight."
"They can bring their things up and help you," he said smugly. "Correct, Mr. Potter? Mr. Weasley?" They sighed and nodded. "Good boys. Make sure to eat well tonight but not to gorge yourselves." They settled in to eat. "Oh, Dawn, Spike will be up but he may not be allowed in the school. That hasn't been decided yet."
"Yeah, because he can't sneak in," she said with a smirk for him. "I'm *so* sure of that, Giles." She rolled her eyes. "Don't worry, we'll see Spike. He'll find a way in. He's just like that."
"Cool, I always wanted to meet a vampire," Dean said happily.
Neville looked at him. "Are you suddenly insane or did we miss it in the past?"
"She said he wouldn't hurt us. It'd be a way to study one without getting hurt or having to help one rise."
"It'll be fine, guys. Even if he suddenly snaps because of my sister Buffy doing something mean to him, then he'll be good to you guys and whoever I or Xan am with. Now, Buffy and Willow and Xan may be toasted and eaten, but we'll be fine." They all stared at her. "Relax," she sighed, again rolling her eyes. "You'll be fine. My sister was mean to him while he was helpless a few times. Willow spelled him once when she lost her Oz boyfriend. Xander used to have to babysit him in his place at night so I *know* Xan baited him now and then."
"You kept him captive?" Ginny asked. Dawn nodded. "WHY!"
"Because he asked us to help him. See, he's got a chip in his head that keeps him from biting people. So he couldn't hunt. He helped us fight demons and we fed him." Everyone had a sudden moment of their mouths falling open. "It was okay for the most part. He was more annoying than anything. I think Xan taunted him about being moist and delicious or something since Spike couldn't bite him. Buffy was unfortunately spelled to almost marry him, but that's a Willow 'oops' moment. She's got much better control now," she promised.
"Merlin," Ron hissed. He shook his head and whimpered. "I never want to go to Sunnydale if they turn you like that." She hit him on the arm. "Ow!" He frowned at her. "Sorry, but that's odd!"
"No it's not. He offered us his help if we'd feed him. We didn't even tie him up all that often. Unless he drank blood and stuff from Giles' favorite mug or Xan was trying to sleep."
"And stuff?" Hermione asked.
"Spike's a bit odd. He misses real people food so he likes to sometimes add stuff to his blood to add texture. Wheatabix. Cheerios. Popcorn. One time he got really desperate and added Lucky Charms." She shrugged. "He's a Master vampire in his own right but sometimes you gotta have the texture too according to him."
"I... am going to be sick," Ginny announced, rushing off.
"Sorry," Dawn called after her. "I'll bring you up something later." She shrugged. "Sorry, guys. Didn't mean to upset tummies."
"It's okay," Harry soothed. "Let's change the subject though. Please." Dawn grinned at him. "Ron, have you talked to the twins yet to tell them her sister is coming up?" Ron gave him a long look. "I think they liked working beside her when we went to Sunnydale to do a clean-out," he explained.
"Sure, I'll write 'em tonight, Harry," Ron promised.
"Tell them I said hi," Dawn requested, grinning at him. "They're supposed to be in next Thursday but they can ask Giles when they'll have some free time."
"You don't feel weird that his twin brothers like your sister?" Neville asked.
"No! Buffy only likes a certain type of guy and I'm happy that she's finally not dating a dirtbag commando or moping over Angel. From what I've heard of the twins, I think I'd approve of them dating her. Hey, if Willow can find a Tara witch who makes her go gooey and stop having 'oops' moments, then I'm all for Buffy finding a reason to get pretty again instead of just fighting. She never cares about her clothes or her makeup anymore."
"That's part of being an adult sometimes," Giles noted as he came down. "They'll be in Wednesday, Mr. Weasley. You may have the time to write them before you come up. An hour after dinner to give you all time to digest." He looked at Dawn's plate. "I hope you're eating more than that, young lady."
"Yes, Giles," she sighed, piling her plate higher and digging back on.
Giles winked at Hermione and Harry then strolled on. "I'm off to try to find Xander."
"Don't. Draco walked out with a plate for him," Dawn called after him. "He's got to figure out how to deal with Xander all on his own," she reminded him.
He nodded, patting her on the head as he went back to the table to share that news with Ethan and Severus. "She said Mr. Malfoy walked out after Xander with a plate?" Severus nodded. "Good. I like that in a mate for the boy. He needs someone to take care of him."
"He has your temper, Ripper," Ethan said quietly.
"No, he's been letting it build, Ethan. He has Severus' temper," he replied gently. "You can say pretty much anything about him but you do not harm what is his. That way leads to someone getting hurt, and our son is not the best brawler in the universe." Severus snorted. "Oh, he is more than effective enough to necessitate Ms. Parkinson needing some reconstructive surgery to fix the unfortunate birth defects she had, but against someone like Crabbe or Goyle I'd doubt he'd come out much better. Unless he had a weapon. He is a stunning fighter with one, or could be with some more training."
"What was his preferred weapon?" McGonagall asked. "Just in case we need him to use one?"
"Most recently he's been using a small axe. I've seen him doing staff exercises with Buffy in the past so he does know some of that. I'm working on training him better now. Before I could only train her, now she knows she needed more help at times. Though, he is frightfully good with any sort of gun." He shrugged. "It was a prior possession."
"Totally my fault," Ethan assured her with a small smirk. "I had no idea he was my son at that time; I simply decided to let Janus take control of Halloween one year. I apologized later."
She snorted. "You and Janus need to have a talk about that boy and his bad habits."
"No, I like his bad habits," Ethan assured her. "It makes him a real person, something that is sorely lacking in my family."
"In mine as well," Giles offered. "My father might as well have been a robot at times."
"Or a slave to Traver's pleasures," Ethan offered dryly, smirking at him.
"Oh, indeed," Giles agreed. "Quite often. I'm surprised that the coloring came off his nose after so many years of using it on his boss."
"Ripper, please," Severus said quietly.
"I'm sorry, Sev." He patted him on the hand. "Xander will be fine. I'm sure of it."
"As am I, but it's still not healthy for him to have a temper like mine. He's much too...nice for it not to affect him."
"Oh, it does," Giles promised grimly, "but I believe Ethan had a hand in stopping that situation?"
"And it was quite fun," Ethan promised with a smirk.
"Won't his adoptive parents miss him?" Flitwick asked from his seat.
"Not hardly. They were rather relieved to see him go. More money for themselves you know," Ethan shared lightly.
"Oh, were they a big family?"
"No, they were simply greedy alcoholics," Ripper told him quietly. "If any of us had known, he would have grown up at the manor faster than we could have obliviated those stupid muggles she sent him to."
Dumbledore looked at him. "You're not the one who usually harbors those feelings."
"You didn't know his adoptive parents," Giles said grimly.
"Ah." Dumbledore nodded, dropping the subject. "May I have the salt please?" It was handed down to him. "Thank you. We should punish her."
"She's not gloating about it," McGonagall reminded him.
"Miss Parkinson did deserve it," Madam Sprout offered. She looked at where the girl was still huddled against the wall. "Why hasn't she gone upstairs, Severus?"
"I have no idea," Snape admitted. "Miss Parkinson, do you need help to the infirmary?" She nodded, whimpering as she moved her head. "Fine. Mr. Zabini, take her upstairs once you're done."
"Yes, sir," he agreed, finishing up and helping her to her feet so he could walk her out. He helped her onto a bed, going to find the nurse. "Madam Pomfrey?" She looked up from her dinner at her desk. "I've brought Pansy up for her broken nose."
"What happened this time?" she complained.
He stopped her by putting a hand on her arm. "She insulted Professor Snape's son's mother. Alexander was going to kill her, but Miss Summers stepped in and punched her just once." She nodded, getting free and walking in to check on her. He headed back out. "Pansy, should I write your mother?" She shook her head, still silently crying. "Fine. I'll make sure your cat is fed tonight." He walked away, heading down the stairs thinking hard about which side he wanted to be on. Snape's son was strong. He had gotten his dad out from under the Dark Lord's thumb. He had gotten Draco Malfoy to switch sides. He had given the girl who was like his little sister to Potter to guard. He was clearly on Potter's side. Then again, he was one scary bastard. Apparently you didn't insult his family that way and live. Draco was probably still on his back so Alexander could wear his aggression out on that too-pretty body.
The real question was, is Vellian Snape stronger than the Dark Lord or not? If not, was he when he combined with Dumbledore, Potter, and his parents? If either of those were true then he'd better be picking another side. He was much too young and pretty to die.
Buffy walked into the school, looking around at all the paintings. "I feel like I'm in a museum on a school trip," she said, smiling at the pictures. Until one of them waved at her, then she squealed and grabbed Willow's arm, pointing at it. "It moved!"
"They do that. They capture some of the essence into the paintings so they're alive," Ethan said as he walked down the stairs. "How was your trip, Miss Summers? Rupert is in the library researching something and asked me to escort you up to the Headmaster's office." He looked at the heavily cloaked figure. "Spike I presume?"
"Yeah, I fixed the chip solidly this time," Willow said proudly. "How's Dawnie?"
"She's fine, Miss Rosenburg. She's in class at the moment. Come, this way." He led them to the office and up the stairs. "Here you are, one slayer, her witch, and her vampire."
"Don't worry about Spike, Headmaster, I fixed him good," Willow promised.
"I had no doubt you would," he said with a smile for them. "I know Miss Summers was most anxious to introduce her friends to him. I believe she called him 'neat' and 'cool' a few times over the last week." He rang a bell and a house elf appeared beside him. "Please get Miss Summers from Potions?" He nodded and disappeared again. "Have a seat," he offered happily. "No need to stand on ceremony." He smiled at the vampire. "I think you'll find the seat behind the door is out of the direct sunlight, William." He nodded, sitting down there so he could remove the heavy cloak. "How is Sunnydale?"
"Calm," Buffy said with a beautiful smile. "Thank you so much for lending me the twins and Harry. It made a lot of a difference. Are the twins here?"
"I believe they planned on popping around for a visit tonight," he said with a small wink at her. "Miss Rosenburg. No girlfriend?"
"She''s a few minutes behind us. She wanted to talk to the animals for a few minutes," Willow promised. "Hagrid said he'd bring her up."
"That's fine," he agreed happily. "Ah, I believe I hear shoes running this way. Hopefully it's Miss Summers and not another problem." The squealing as she ran up the moving stairs proved him right and soon Buffy had a lapful of sister. "She'll be here for a whole week," he promised when the younger sister started to babble. "Plus, I did allow them to bring your other friend."
"Spike!" she said happily, bouncing over to hug him. "I've got to introduce you to some of my friends. They're pretty neat and they've heard all about you and how mean and grr you are at times." She gave him an extra hug, then bounced over to hug Willow and then Buffy again. "No Tara?"
"She's with Hagrid."
"Oh, cool beans. I've got him next. Can I bring them to their rooms?"
"I was going to have Remus do so," he offered gently. "We'll introduce them at dinner." She nodded and hugged Spike again before leaving.
"She's going to introduce a bunch of boys to Spike, isn't she?" Willow asked. He nodded, smirking at her. "Are they giving her troubles?"
"No, not in the least. She has quite a plan going with a few of them to grow some very special plants she thinks he can use. That got her started talking about him and now they wish to meet him. She's promised them that they'd be safe."
"They should be," Willow assured him. "We should probably go to the rooms. The same ones?"
"That would be fine," Dumbledore agreed cheerfully, watching as they walked out together.
"Bloody hell, it's a Malfoy vampire!" Ron's voice floated up.
Dumbledore shook his head as Ron came up. "It's fine, I'm assured he's safe, Mr. Weasley. Was there a problem?"
"No, sir, I was wondering if you were going to try to keep the twins out tonight. They said they're coming up after dinner."
"No, it'd be fairly boring to try. They know too many ways in and out of this institution. Tell them I said hello when they get in." Ron grinned and nodded, heading for his next class.
Dawn walked her guys to where the extra table had been put, sitting down with her sister. "Hi. Can we eat with you guys?"
"Sure," Buffy agreed, smiling at Ron and Harry, both of who were blushing. She looked at Dawn, then glanced back, catching her eye. She blushed too. "Oh, really?"
"Prophecy," Ron said quickly. "Xander too."
"Is that why he's being followed by the anti-Spike?" Tara asked. Dawn snickered and nodded. "Goodie. Why?"
"A duo and a trio working for the good of mankind," Willow told her. "I heard about it the last time I popped around for some control lessons. Sit, guys. Spike's out on the field."
"The pitch?" Ron asked. Willow shrugged. "Probably then." He looked back at his table. "I want you to know that we adore Dawn. We'd never hurt her. Oh, and the twins'll be up soon."
Buffy grinned at that. "That's nice. I haven't seen them recently." She looked at the head table, watching Giles, Ethan, and Severus interact. "I see they're tight again."
"So very tight," Dawn agreed with a giggle. "And Xander is still just such a Xander person. He can drive Professor Snape up a wall in under a minute when he's bouncy. Giles too."
"Ethan just kinda sighs in pleasure and smiles at him," Harry shared, smiling at Tara. "Hi."
"Hi." She blushed and looked at Willow. "Harry, how are you doing?"
"Just fine, Tara. Thanks for asking. It's been pretty quiet since that lone attack. Not too many nightmares. A lot of training with Ripper and Xander, plus Dawn and Ron on and off."
"Giles is training you, Dawnie?" Buffy asked. Her sister nodded since her mouth was full. "Why?"
"Just in case. That way I'm protected in case something happens while I'm in town or something. Besides, I am very good at kicking ass. Just ask Pansy and her new nose."
"You got into a fight?" Tara asked, starting to scowl. "Why?"
"She insulted Ethan and Xan was going to kill her," Ron said honestly. "She only hit her once. Didn't get into much trouble for it. Only got a lecture. Pansy deserved it that time." He pointed her out. "Fixed her squished face too."
"He had her by the hair and had a fist pulled back before I stepped in," Dawn told her. "He so totally lost it on her."
"As he should. No one should insult his mother," Willow agreed, glaring up at Ethan. "Even if he is a canker sore on the mouth of magic."
"Oh, it's a bit more complicated now," Dawn shared, leaning over some. "What do we know of the Daughters of Loki?" Tara squeaked. "One of them came up to Xan and told him he was family. Janus told Ethan to stay out of it and he's having a fight right now."
"Damn," Willow hissed, shaking her head. "He's really not the same man who cursed us on that Halloween."
"Or who did the candy that made Giles sleep with my mother," Buffy agreed.
"He did what?" Ron asked, looking a bit amused. "How?"
"He dosed some candy to make them revert to their teenage personalities," Willow said with a grin. "So Ripper came out and Buffy's mom was there and they got together on the hood of a police car. Of course, Xander ate a lot and didn't get a lot of changes going on."
"Yeah, Giles had on a t-shirt and jeans, he was smoking cigarettes, and listening to really old rock. Like ancient stuff back when they were on records," Buffy added. "It was really odd."
"I thought it was kinda neat that Mom got down to the same age you were and you couldn't relate. I heard Mom told you to relax," Dawn said smugly.
"More than once that night," Buffy agreed bitterly. "Who told you about that?"
"Mom." She grinned. "She was warning me about being too wild when I started to date."
"Yeah, I think she'd have something to say about the three of you," Willow agreed, smirking at her. "Do we need to have a talk, young lady?"
"No, I've already had that one and Professor Snape was nice enough to make sure I knew what the wizard version of the pill was and that I could come to him to get it."
"What?" she asked loudly.
"Buffy, I was on the pill when I was fourteen," Dawn told her.
"Why? Mom wouldn't have allowed that!"
"Mom took me down there," Dawn said snidely. "She signed for it. I had to get another permission slip signed last year and Giles did it. Trust me, mom agreed with me going on the pill. She thought it was very smart of me to ask for it. So now I'm on a monthly potion. It cuts down on the PMS too."
"Hey, that's helpful. I want that potion," Willow said to break the tension between the two sisters. "You're being careful?"
"I haven't done more than kiss them a few times," she complained.
"Fine. Leave that subject in the TMI category and drop it," Buffy agreed. She couldn't go against her mother's wishes on this subject. "Tell it to Xander."
"Actually, I think it was the thought of us having a child and there not being something to occupy the kid's attention," Harry offered gently.
"Like a bad guy. Imagine all the problems we'd have gotten into if there had been no war?" Ron asked, smirking at Harry. "We'd have outdone the twins for sure."
"Probably, yeah," Willow agreed with a grin for them.
"Giles said something about making someone turn dark so a kid of ours would have something to focus on besides taunting the bad guys," Dawn offered with a smirk. "He reminded Professor Snape to make me something."
"I'll thank him for that later," Buffy noted dryly. "Right after I get the image of you two in trouble out of my head." The boys both grinned at her. "So, no twins yet?"
"Not yet. They're in town sneaking this way," Harry said, checking something inside his cloak pocket. "They should be up here in about a half-hour."
"Just enough time to finish dinner," Tara teased Buffy with a grin.
"Yup. Because tomorrow we sit down with the defense classes to talk to them with Spike." The witches giggled and dug into their dinners.
Up at the main table, Ethan looked at Giles, who was watching the small party going on. "Do you think they're sharing information?"
"No, I distinctly heard Buffy say something about birth control. So apparently Dawn is showing her men off to her big sister and aunts." He ate another bite of meatloaf. "Buffy seems so much older than she actually is."
"She's had a hard life, Ripper," Ethan soothed, stroking his arm to keep him calm. "Don't worry so much about her. She's lived longer than most and she's happy now." He looked over as the doors opened, watching Buffy's reaction. "See, she acts like a teenager sometimes," he assured him at the loud squeal and Buffy launching herself at the twins to hug them.
"Another ungodly trio," Snape said dryly, taking a drink of his wine. He needed it to keep his nerves down tonight. One Summers was more than enough to test his, two would be horrible. "Hopefully they won't breed either."
Ethan patted him on the hand. "They are Weasley's," he reminded him gently.
"Speaking of, we really should pop around on Molly and Arthur," Giles offered.
"Invite them out to dinner," Buffy called. "And that was mean, Snape."
He sneered at her. "Really?"
"We'll go out to dinner this weekend," Ethan promised. He gave her a soft smile. "Do sit down, Miss Summers." She shrugged and brought them back to their table, smiling because there were new seats on either side of her. "All this and Spike too," he sighed quietly.
"He'll be in Gryffindor soon with Dawn," Giles snorted. McGonagall looked around the headmaster's body to glare at him. "I do believe Dawn was going to introduce him to a few of her friends," he said with a smirk for her. She muttered something that sounded a lot like 'bloody hell, had better not' and sat back again.
"Yes, that does raise a point," Dumbledore said, tapping his glass since Minerva was sulking beside him. "Students, I know that our visitors are fascinating, but we will not taunt the vampire. He has agreed not to harm any of you on this trip and we wouldn't want him to come back because of some of you and force our guest, Slayer Summers, to have to come back to save us. Anyone found taunting or belittling the vampire will be in severe trouble and be spending at least a night with Mr. Filch." He relaxed again and went back to smiling at them. "Return to your dinners." He noticed Spike had wandered in and smiled, waving him inside to join them.
"Hey, Spike, you can come sit with us," Xander called, waving him over. He smirked at Draco. "I'm sure you could get hair hints from him or something."
"Behave, Alex, or I will make that pulled muscle hurt more," he warned. He looked at the vampire as he sat across from them, shuddering. "Remind me to stake myself if I ever get turned, Alex."
"Sure. Of course they'd have to turn us together," Xander assured him, kissing him on the cheek. "Hey, Spike. How's the haunts?"
"Pretty boring. Still almost no demons in town." He looked at the staring students and went to game face, making them scream and move away. He chuckled and smirked at Xander. "I feel better now."
"That's cool. Dawn has a plan to introduce you to some of her buddies tonight," Xander promised with a grin. "Did you get to meet Draco last time?"
"Only in passing when he passed out because I'm so handsome," Spike said smugly, smirking at Draco. "Morning."
Draco glared at him. "Pustule of ick."
"Hmm, is this like a word game?" Spike taunted.
"No, you're a pustule of ick," Draco said more firmly, scowling now. "Thankfully you're not eating with us."
"I'd only have to crap it out later. Not that fun when you've been dead for a few years and a bit."
Crabbe swallowed. "Mister Spike, sir, would you like anything from this end of the table?"
Spike looked down the table. "Nah, there's nothing tasty there." He shrugged and grinned at the boy, slipping back into his human guise. "Don't worry, I promised not to eat any teenagers. They taste funny from all the hormones."
"What's a hormone? I thought that's what you heard in a brothel."
"No, that's a joke," Draco said patiently.
"Hormones in this case are what makes you horny," Xander told him.
"Well, yeah, listening to that would do that," Goyle said happily.
"These are things in your blood, inside you," Xander tried again. "They prompt the response even when you're not in a brothel or surrounded by moans."
"They're what make you hard," Draco summarized. "Move on now please."
Spike chuckled. "I like you, Malfoy. Do you treat Nummy there well or do you beat him like he deserves?"
"No, he's very good to him," Goyle promised quickly. "Doesn't beat him off at all. He's very good as a lover from what we've heard around the dorms."
Crabbe nodded. "All the girls in the past have said so too."
Draco groaned and put his head on his mate's shoulder, shaking it gently. "Go away."
"Gee, Nummy, does he have a dating history like yours?"
"I seriously doubt he dated Cordy," Xander said dryly. "But thanks for asking. I don't think he was talking about that sort of beating, guys."
"He doesn't spank him either, not even in fun," Crabbe offered.
"Pity, that can be fun now and then," Spike offered. He winked at the boys, making them both pass out. "Hmm. Interesting. Cherries?" he asked Draco, who let out a louder moan.
"Hey, no sex at the table," Blaize complained.
"It's not that sort of moan," Spike said dryly, smirking at him. "You look like you'd be fun for a bit. What's your name?"
"Zabini, and no, I'm not fun. I don't like men that way unless I'm on top and I'd never shag a vampire," he said honestly, giving him an earnest look. "They're cold and clammy. I only like warm, soft lovers. Sorry, Spike."
Spike roared with laughter. "Oh, I like you," he praised. "Damn, you'd make a good vampire."
"Bad Spike!" Buffy called. "No threatening to turn anyone or I'm staking you!"
He started to flip her off but Xander caught his hand and shook his head. "There's too many little kids around, Spike. Don't. Do it later when she's sleeping and has messy hair."
"She'll have guards," Dawn called, smirking at the blushing twins. "Unless I'm missing the cues?"
"Dawnie!" Buffy said, looking shocked.
Dawn snickered. "I'm happy for you, Buffy. They're nice guys if they're at all like Ron. They're much better than Angel or Riley." She winked at Harry, then pinched Ron under the table. "We'll finish up and meet you before curfew in the training room?" Buffy nodded, trying to control her blush. "Cool. We've got a bit of homework we can do until then."
"That way you can catch up," Ron said with a smirk for his brothers. "That way Dawn can have her later?" The twins nodded. "Good. We'll bring Ginny up then."
"Ginny, we're not ignoring you," they called.
"Having dinner with your girlfriend is more important than your sister, I get that," she called back. "I'll get you later." She smirked at Buffy. "Welcome to the family. You'll like mum and dad."
Buffy blushed bright red. "Thanks."
Willow and Tara snickered, leaning on each other for strength. "You're cute like that, Buffy," Willow teased. Buffy threw her fork at her, frowning slightly, but she couldn't be in a bad mood with these two near her.
Xander wandered around Hogsmeade while every else was at lunch at the inn. Draco was taking a nap because Crabbe and Goyle had given him a massive headache earlier and not even Xander could refrain from laughing at their innocent problem this time. So here he was, wandering alone. Against his better judgement but there wasn't anyone to talk to up at the school unless he wanted to bother one of the professors and they needed their time off too. He looked in the bookstore, but it didn't look like they carried any comics at all. So he continued to wander on. He stopped to look in the window of a jewelry shop, smiling at the tasteful, simple pieces that he liked a lot. Not that he could get Draco a heart pendant, he'd be skinned alive. He started to go in there but that creepy feeling came back. He looked around quickly, finding a tall redhead staring at him. He walked over to her. "Hey. Let me guess, you know Sigrid?"
"How do you know her real name!" she demanded.
"Because she thought I was your brother and we're researching it since I'm not and I have it on good authority that he's heading this way but not here yet. Can you maybe tell her that coming onto someone who you keep calling your brother is really freakworthy too? I mean, totally creeped me out when she did it in the bookstore in Diagon."
She shook her head quickly. "Walk with me, young man. What is your name?"
"Vellian Snape technically. I've went by Alexander Harris since I was sent away."
She cooed and hugged him. "I'm so sorry, Alexander." She sniffed him. "You are definitely related."
"No, my mom's into chaos." He pointed at the person stalking him up the street. "That's my mom."
"Mother?" she asked, looking from the clearly male figure to the other one. "How?"
"Um, mom?" he called, waving him over. Ethan looked at him, then scowled, stomping over. "Hi, mom. This is.... um, didn't quite get your name?"
"My original name was Alfhild." She shook Ethan's hand. "He said you are studying why my sister considered him family."
"I am. I'm Ethan Rayne."
"Ah!" she squealed. "I know why now! You called upon my father and all the other chaos gods to aid you in his conception?"
Ethan squinted, then shrugged. "Quite possibly. It was a very difficult chaos spell. Is that why he reads as a member of your family?"
"Quite probably. I can see the marks on him from my father and your God. How is he?"
"Pissed at me because I wanted to know why your family was so interested in mine." She cooed and hugged him. "Thank you. By what name should we call you?"
"You are both family, you may use my proper name. I will speak to Sigrid on your behalf, Alexander." She kissed him on the cheek. "Be safe. Am I allowed to see your research?"
"I asked Anyanka, Vengeance of Women Scorned. She said that your brother was coming this way, that it was the matter of the child's fatherhood. She said the mother's up there, the other potential father is up there, but that he's missing."
"Interesting. I shall check into that. Thank you for your help. Have a nice day, Alexander, Ethan." She smiled at him and caressed his cheek before leaving.
Xander waited until they were alone, then pointed. "See! Groping!" He stomped off, going to the jewelry store. He gave the woman behind the counter a disgusted look. "I need something to make my lover, Malfoy, pounce me later and make me forget that strange women like to watch me on the street."
"Draco Malfoy?" she asked, sounding breathless. He nodded, looking a bit happier. "Then you're," she swallowed. "Vellian Snape?" He nodded, grinning now. "Oh, wow. What do you think he'd like?"
"I don't know, I used to only buy stuff for women. Got any suggestions?"
She walked him over to a darker case, letting him look at the silver things in there. "How about one of these?"
He bent down to look at it, glancing back when he saw her staring over his head. Yup, there was a mirror behind him. He coughed and tapped the case. "What's that mirror?"
"It's to see spirits and demons."
"Hmm." He straightened up and she pouted. "Okay, let's try some focusing. Draco's a pushy bitch sometimes. He's picky, he's exacting, and he's fussy about what he accepts. I need something nice, something that says 'pounce me' and something that'll make him either howl in laughter or cackle in joy."
She frowned, looking at the case. She pulled out a dagger. "This one will kill anything it cuts, even a little scratch is it enough." He shook his head. "No?"
"No. Something nicer. Nothing deadly. Nothing to make him cackle in evilness."
"Hmm." She looked around the store, then shrugged. "We don't really have a lot of things in this store that would suit someone like him. We run more toward either really nice things or things like that knife."
He pouted, looking around. "Nothing?"
She looked like she was melting. "I tell you what, get him something nice and something naughty and make him pick," she suggested. He grinned and nodded at that. "Necklace? Earring? Bracelet? Claiming pieces?"
"Mom said he can't have one of those until he propositions him."
"Him?" she asked cautiously.
Xander beamed at her. "Ethan's my mom. Of course if Drac and I ever decide to go that way, we'll have to get a surrogate. Mom and Ripper were both cranky bitches while they were stuffed up."
"Oh, you're from *that* time," she said with a grin. "I heard about that. I was about three then." She led him to a cabinet, pointing at something inside. "The box can trap things, the dagger and mirror can go inside, along with a pretty claiming earring and a nice necklace."
"Okay," Xander agreed. "Do you take muggle credit cards or just galleons?"
"We can do a draw slip," she soothed, patting him on the arm. He was too strange, she'd do one readily and not charge him for it. "Do you have your key?"
He patted himself down, then pulled his wand and pointed it toward the inn. "Accio Xander's vault key." A ring came flying in the door when he opened it, letting him catch it so he could look through it. He finally found his little gold key and handed it over.
"Vellian!" Severus hissed as he walked in.
"I'm getting Draco presents," he said, looking pitiful. His father scowled at him so he grinned, hugging him. "Thanks, Daddy."
"I'll take it from your allowance this week. Your vault isn't finished being set up yet. Take it from 16498." She nodded, changing the vault number on the form. "What are you getting him?"
"An earring and a pretty box and a mirror for when he's having a vain day," he said, being mostly honest.
"What sort of earring, son?" he asked patiently. The young woman held it up for his inspection. "That's a bonding ring."
"And yet again, I push that prophecy back in Mom's face," Xander said dryly. "If not, I'll pierce my cat's ears."
"Fine," he growled, taking back the keys and shoving his son out of the shop once he had signed the slip. "Come to dinner. Your mate has appeared as well."
"Draco is eating with the Weasleys?"
"Yes, he came looking for you and Ripper made him play nicely to prove to Ethan how much he's changed." He walked his son into the tavern and back to the private room. "Here he is. He was thoughtfully buying his mate a present."
Ethan glared at his son. "I haven't agreed to you two being mated yet."
Xander kissed him on the cheek. "If you don't, I'd end up with someone like that woman that you just met."
"Never mind. Have him, Draco, you keep him out of trouble and away from Loki's daughters." He glared at Xander. "Sit down, behave, or else."
"I wasn't doing anything!"
"Sit down, behave, or else," Ethan repeated. He smiled at the mother of the other group. "How do you deal with such issues?"
"I let my children decide for themselves," Molly offered. She smiled at Xander. "It's nice to finally meet you. I was at your christening, Vellian. Though I know you wouldn't remember." She held out a hand and he kissed the back of it before shaking it, making her giggle. "You're very sweet, dear. Sit, join us."
"Actually, I was going to spoil Draco by taking him away and having a picnic with him, if only my parents had released my trust fund." He looked at Ethan. "Then I wouldn't have to do things like steal the key ring."
"They said Tuesday, Alexander. Sit." He pulled out the spare chair, handing the box to his mate. "Later."
"Of course." He put it under his seat, patting him on the arm. "Who did you run into?"
"Alfhild. She figured out why they think I'm a relative. She saw I was marked by both Janus and Loki, and she's agreed to tell Sigrid that what she tried in the bookstore in Diagon was creepy."
"Alfhild?" Ripper said dryly. "Where was she?"
"On the street staring at me so I went to ask her questions about this situation. She was nice, she only kissed me on the cheek. No groping."
"That is a nice change," Ripper agreed. "No demons this time?"
"No, but I referred her to Anyanka."
"So you created a direct link instead of having to come through you?" Ripper asked. Xander nodded quickly.
"Are you a Watcher as well?" Arthur asked.
"No, I'm a trouble magnet," Xander said with a grin. "For some reason, demons like me. Lots and lots of demons like me," he sighed.
Draco patted him on the back. "If another of them touches you ever again, I'm going to kill them horribly then tie you to the bed to make sure you don't want to go with them, no matter how strong the spell they cast is."
"I think that's the nicest promise I've ever gotten," Xander said, looking really happy at that. "Not even Buffy ever swore to drive the demons off."
"It was kinda hard, Xan. We were on the Hellmouth. They were all around. Only Spike never tried for you." Xander let out a nervous chuckle. "When?" she squeaked.
"A few times. Why do you think he calls me Nummy?" He spit at his mother. "See, Draco will *protect* me."
"Fine. He'll protect you from the hordes of demons who want your bum. He'll spoil you, make you have great pleasures, and then spank you for putting yourself in a situation where you might have been killed. While that does make me happier, he still hasn't asked me for your hand yet, Vellian."
"Fine, how about this?" Xander asked, bending over to get the box, kissing Draco's thigh when he ran into it. He opened it without letting him see inside. Then he grinned and handed it over. "Here, naughty and nice things."
Draco opened the box, smiling at the things written on the inside. "A capturing box." He looked at the mirror, checking his hair, frowning when he saw the thing behind him. He looked at Xander, who grinned. He put it back and picked up the dagger.
"Don't cut yourself with that," Dawn said quickly. "I can see the spell on it."
"I didn't plan on it." He put it aside, on top of the mirror. "The mirror sees spirits?" Xander nodded, grinning at him. "Ah." He looked inside, finding the last two small boxes. He licked his lips as he picked up the larger one, coming up with a simple silver necklace. "It's pretty, Xander."
"The girl helped me pick them out." He plucked out the other one. "Protect me forever?" he asked, holding it out.
Draco opened it and gasped, pulling up the obsidian and silver earring, holding it up in the light. "It's beautiful."
"It doesn't *exactly* go with your skin but that'll just make sure things like Pansy see it and know what it means." Xander leaned over, kissing him on the cheek. "Please?" he whispered.
Draco pulled his lips around, kissing him hard. "You adorable fuckup," he said with a grin. "Of course I'll protect and spoil you, but you've got to agree to not complain and let me deal with your severe wardrobe issues."
"Fine, I'll accept that," Ethan groaned. "What does the dagger do?"
"Cuts anything that it even scratches," Xander said between kisses.
"Enough!" Snape snapped. The boys pulled apart and Severus held out a hand. "May I?" Draco carefully placed the earring in his palm. "It is very pretty, Vellian." He handed it back. "It is also self-piercing. Which side do you want to place it?"
"The left is traditional for rings," Xander said with a shrug. "I have no idea."
"The right would be appropriate because it goes directly to the heart," Draco assured him.
"They do on both sides, boy," Ripper sighed. "Just hit him with it, even if it's on his forehead that would be fine." Xander glared at him so he raised an eyebrow. "You had an opinion?"
"Wherever he wants it, even if he wants to pierce his nipple and run around naked to show it off." He took the earring back and undid the back of it. "Your choice, Draco."
Xander carefully placed it in his ear and then hitched the back when it popped through. He kissed him again. "There. Now you're mine." He let out a small chuckle. "Any other statements can be made later."
"Fine with me," Draco agreed, gathering things back into his pretty box. He put on the necklace and picked up his glass to drink his juice. "Drink, Xander."
"I hate pumpkin juice." He looked around then walked out to the main bar area. "Madam Rosemerta, may I please have some water instead of juice? I hate pumpkins."
She smiled and poured him a glass of cold water, handing it over. "There you go, Vellian. Are you all right? We all saw you talking to that strange woman."
"Yeah, I'm fine. She made me want to mark my mate," he shared with a grin. "It's a very pretty earring." He winked as he walked back into the room. "Sorry." He sat down again. "I hate pumpkins." He grinned at Ethan. "Okay, so how are we doing Dawn's?"
"When she's graduated," Buffy said firmly.
"And are you going home again?" Xander asked her with a grin.
"I don't know yet," she defended. "It is still the Hellmouth and I'm still a Slayer." She sipped her juice. "That is really odd. Doesn't taste like pumpkin pie at all." She smiled as the little house elf creature brought in their food, cooing at it. "You guys are so adorable! Like a kitten on two legs with big, floppy ears." She scratched it on the head. "I hope you don't mind but you guys are adorable."
"Butterbeer not mind," she squeaked, hurrying out.
"Did I insult it?" Buffy asked, looking hesitant.
"No, they're not used to being admired that way," one of the twins told her.
The other kissed her on the cheek. "We agree, they're cute and useful."
"Enough," Molly warned gently, smiling at Buffy. "I like you already. You made them dress up decently and forget to play any pranks."
Buffy grinned. "I don't mind pranks, as long as they don't wake me up or drag me from the bathtub when I'm trying to soak." She grinned at them. "But you guys would *never* do that to a girl, right?" she asked with a grin.
Xander gave them a long look. "If you don't realize how bad that is, ask the last person who did it. Spike. He was very sorry. She chased him down to shave him bald."
"He snuck in?" Ethan asked.
"No, we were all in the same house at that time," Xander said dryly. "All of us. It was really scary. Even worse than when she made Spike come live with me."
"Why didn't you stake him then?" Draco asked patiently.
"Because I'd have been forced to go on patrol more often. Can't you just imagine me taking on some of the demons that Spike did?"
"You'd be dead by now," Buffy said sweetly, smirking at him.
"Really? You sure about that?" he asked with a smirk. "Because I was so dead before then?"
"Enough," Giles said patiently. "Xander, you are not going back to Sunnydale. You are not the best of fighters and losing you would destroy your parents." To forestall Buffy's smug look he decided to go on. "However, you were not as worthless as some people thought. You did help quite a lot and were responsible for some of the most decisive victories. If it weren't for you, the world would have went to Hell many times by now." He saw the light pout Buffy sent his way and raised an eyebrow. "Graduation," he said simply. She piped down, slumping in her seat.
"Every pretty girl needs help now and then," one of the twins said loyally. "Otherwise they get nasty wrinkles from the worry."
The other nodded. "Indeed. Plus, she'd have no time to deal with her beauty regime to combat them."
"Or her clothes."
"Or her shoes."
"Or her studies."
"Or her sister."
"No, that wasn't really the agenda. That's why she had Xander," Dawn offered.
"Dawn," Xander warned. He stared her down until she ducked her head. "We all tried to do what we could when your mom died. It's not our fault that the world started to go to hell and it wasn't yours that you ended up in the middle of it."
"It's not like we forgot your birthday," Buffy offered. "I tried, I really did."
"I know, but sometimes it was sucky," Dawn told her.
"That is life," Draco said quietly. "Even mine wasn't the greatest and most idyllic."
"And he had everything he could pout his way into," Giles said dryly. "Let's move onto happier subjects. Shall we?"
"Rupert, how did you get along in Sunnydale without magic?" Arthur asked.
Giles smirked. "Ethan's not the only one who can do both sorts, Arthur." He saluted the laughing man with his cup. "Besides, I also was training a witch at the time. Not that she *listened*, but I did try now and then."
"Where might Miss Rosenburg be now?" Snape asked.
"LA, visiting Cordy and Angel," Buffy offered with a grin for him. "The scary vampire needed her help with something."
"Ah." He looked at Rupert. "Which one was he again?"
"The non-blond torturing vampire," Xander offered. "Sire to Spike and Dru."
"Who we heard was coming back again," Buffy put in.
"I had wondered why Spike was so eager to come," Ethan said dryly as he sipped his juice. "Eat, boys. If you're being mated, we've got to work on the agreements tonight."
"Agreements?" Dawn asked.
"Yes," Ethan said, smirking at her. "My parents decided I wasn't worth an inheritance so they left everything to my son. Plus when we finally pass on Vellian will have things from all of us. Plus, Mr. Malfoy has pointed out that he is quite wealthy as well. This way their assets don't have to mingle too often and they can agree to an equitable split in case anything happens to force them apart."
"Speaking of children," Molly said with a grin for the boys. "Are you planning on doing what your fathers did?"
"I don't think so," Xander told her seriously. "Mom and Giles were cranky bitches while pregnant. Even Dumbledore and Flitwick called them that at one time from their memories," he added with a bright grin for her. "I think that I'd probably be worse. I'd be whining day and night."
Draco nodded. "Most likely either of us would. I can't imagine it myself. What did the cats say on that matter, Alex?"
"Asgard overheard someone talking about that and asked if we were having kittens. I told him we weren't and that it'd be a long time before kittens came into being. He said that was very wise because we were noisy humans who still had to learn to hunt for the family pack."
"Who's Asgard?" Buffy asked.
"Xander, you can talk to cats?" she asked, looking a little stunned.
"Apparently," he agreed with a grin. "I didn't know I could until I talked to ours. Draco has a male and I have a female and they're a mated pair. Mine's Perfect and his is Asgard. Asgard's a little thief sometimes, but he's a neat little guy who likes to bathe my Perfect."
"Your cat Perfect?" the twins asked.
"That's what she said her name was," Xander said with a grin and a shrug. "She mostly is, except for her habit of nibbling on Draco's ear when she sleeps." He leaned closer. "It makes him cranky the next morning and the rest of the Slytherins give me this look like it's my fault."
"That's because she wakes me up and I have to use you to put me back to sleep," Draco said dryly. "I doubt they want to know about our sexual habits either, Alex."
"I'm being good. I was good when I talked to Alfhild to get information, I wasn't even groped this time. I was good when I was shopping, I didn't get anything horribly charmed except the dagger, which can come in handy in a fight. There haven't been any attacks in a few days. No one's come for me except the Daughters of Loki and they seem to be mostly harmless, if a bit on the touchy side. I even did the disgusting thing to get information from Parkinson. I've been good."
"You have been very good," Snape praised. "You didn't even burst in on my class when you were panicked."
"I didn't wan tot be blown up on top of that incident," Xander said with a smirk for him.
"See, he can learn," Draco agreed. "Are you over your shock now?" Xander nodded, grinning at him. "Good." Someone out front screamed and Draco watched as the Sunnydale contingent sighed, put their napkins back onto the table, took one last sip of their drink of choice, then headed out to deal with whatever was going on. "All of them do that?" he asked Ethan, who grimaced, but nodded.
"On now?" the twins asked.
"Sounds like an attack," Snape said grimly. "Shall we, Ethan?"
"No. Let the Slayer work off her nervous tension," he said wisely. "If it's demonic, it'll be sorry."
Draco stood up and put his napkin back onto the table, going to at least watch from somewhere safe. Buffy had taken on the eight-foot-tall thing and was trying to hurt it from the front. Rupert and Xander both had weapons and were attacking from the sides. He licked his fingers and pulled his wand, freezing it for a moment. "Are we no longer wizards?" he asked sarcastically.
"It'll grow with magic," Ethan said from behind him. "Ripper, knees, stomach, forehead."
Xander grimaced and got it in one knee, making it howl and break the freezing spell to get away from his wood axe. He went for the other one, ducking a blow from a balled up paw, and got that one as well.
"Try for the back, see if you can cut it off," Dawn offered, cheering them on from the sidelines, where someone was holding her.
Draco looked at the wizard. "Let go now." The wizard sneered at him so he pointed his wand at him. "Now," he ordered at his coldest. The wizard let Dawn go and he stomped over there to grab her, pushing her back into the room. "Someone watch her. She's not up to par yet in Defense." He moved closer, freezing it again. Xander's blow got it in the stomach this time and the creature's bellow broke the spell, but he wasn't moving. Not with his brains spilling out onto the floor. "Well, that's disgusting," he noted dryly. "Are we finished or do we have to clean that up?"
"Well, it needs to be burned so it can't come back," Buffy offered, pushing her hair back. "I hate these things, they stink really bad when you burn 'em. Makes you smell for days."
Xander looked at her. "We do have cleaning spells that can help with that," he offered with a grin, turning it on the barkeep. "Madam Rosemerta, the demon was really sorry he barged in here. Do you have a handy place we can burn it so it won't stink up our dinner later?"
She slowly shook her head, one hand still up near her throat. "No, not that I can think of," she said weakly.
"Hey, dad, can you use any of this thing?" Xander bellowed.
Snape came to the door to look at it. "I could possibly use some of it and sell the rest," he offered the barkeeper.
"Please, take it," she offered quickly. "And go ahead and tear up those floorboards to get the blood, or whatever, out of here too." Snape nodded, letting Ripper and Ethan cast a transport ring around the thing, taking the floor with it. "Thank you," she said, starting to smile again. "Did you want dessert now?"
"Actually, Draco and I were going on a picnic," Xander said with unrepentant grin. "Can we have bags for dinner?"
"Sure," she agreed. She went into the back to get a drink and get those for them, hoping it would encourage the rest of them to go soon too.
"Where are we having a picnic?" Draco asked.
"By the lake looked pretty," he offered.
"Very mundane though," Draco noted.
"Well, then, pick a spot. As long as we can get there it'll be fine."
Draco considered it. "There's a beautiful spot not far away."
"He's to stay in the village or near the school," Snape ordered, glaring at Draco.
"I was thinking that pretty little glade on the other side of the school's lands," Draco offered mildly.
"No, absolutely not there," Ethan shouted, hurrying out. "He was conceived there, I doubt he needs to see the spot."
"The lake would be fine then," Draco agreed happily. He didn't need those images either. Xander grinned at him and walked him off, taking him and their new bags of food back up to the lake by the school. They'd be safe there and no one would need to have a weapon. Xander did have to jog back to give back the axe but Madam Rosemerta waved it off so he could keep it. Even though everyone gave them some very odd looks as they walked away with the bloody axe. "Is all demon blood blue?"
"No, a lot's green, some's red. Some's a funky purple or silver color. We lucked out, the ones with green blood are usually ickier and spray much more."
Draco looked at him, then nodded once. "Take off the robe. There's ick on it."
"There's some on my shirt too. I'll take it off once we're up there," Xander promised, blowing a kiss. "Then you can make sure I don't freeze when a sudden breeze comes up."
"My pleasure," Draco agreed. He looked at the bags. "Blast! The presents!"
"Mom'll bring 'em," Xander said with a smug look. "If only to make sure you know you can't leave me now."
"Of course I can't. You'd probably hunt me down like that demon did to the slayer." They walked past a few students, who turned to stare at them.
"Demon, down in the inn, already dead," Xander said to make them quit staring.
The kids gaped at their backs, they could feel it, at least until they ran off to tell everyone else what those two had said. This was some of the best gossip yet!
Draco shook his head. "If you're not careful, you'll have girls mooning over you for being such a hero."
"Yay. Been there, done that, was really upset when they all tried to kill me afterwards."
Draco snickered. "With your dating history, I'm not surprised." He smirked at his lover as they passed up Dumbledore. "The fight's over with," he said with a smirk and a wink for his lover. "No need to hurry."
Dumbledore stopped and turned to look at them. "Alexander, why do you have a bloody axe? And is that demon blood on it?"
"Yup, that's why it's blue," Xander quipped, shooting him a quick grin over his shoulder, which meant that he nearly tripped over a stone in the middle of the path. "It's handled," he said once his lover had steadied him. "All gone." He jogged ahead. "Tag, you're it!"
"Idiot, don't run with the axe!" Draco shouted, jogging to catch up to him. He saw some Gryffindors turn really pale. "The assault was already handled," he complained as he ran past them. "Alex, you're causing a panic, stop that!"
"Sorry, guys, just getting away from the icky demons and the slayer in town." He waved the axe. "The fight's already over with." He rounded a decorative bush and hid behind it, calming his breathing down while he visually picked out a spot for the picnic. He smirked as Draco ran past his spot, whistling to make him stop and turn around. Draco frowned at him so he grinned and nodded. "How about over here?"
"Fine. Now take off that bloody robe and shirt, Vellian!"
"Yes, sir," Xander said in his best 'meek little boy' voice. He set down their lunches and took off his robe and shirt, using Draco's robe as a blanket for their picnic. "Now, whatever shall we do with our spare time?" He looked over as the axe disappeared. "Huh. I guess there's another one." He grinned. Then he kissed the scowl away. "See, I don't jump into trouble."
"Bull. You did that time." He pulled his lover closer, shaking him. "If you leave me I'd have to turn into a bitter, nasty human being who could never fight on the side of the light beside anyone else. So don't you dare get dead."
"I'm trying very hard not to, Draco," Xander promised. "I wasn't the only one who reacted that time."
"No, but you were doing the dangerous things. Your first instinct should be magic, not weapons."
"But I've had weapons longer, Draco. It's my training."
"Then we'll just have to retrain you," Draco said firmly. "Should I use positive reinforcement or negative do you think?"
"I think the first time you punish me you're going to be sleeping alone forever," Xander said dryly.
"Negative reinforcement is where you take away something bad, like a chore. Positive gives you good things for being good, like blowjobs and wonderful nights of sex. Which would you prefer?" He slowly smirked. "Or should we wait to see if your father throws a fit over you fighting that thing?"
"He can't say much, Ripper was there with me."
"Ripper's his lover, you're his son," Draco said smugly. "He'll yell at you more."
"He hasn't yet." He covered his mouth. "You didn't hear that," he demanded.
"Hear what, Vellian? That you've been going out hunting the vampires in the woods?" Draco smirked at him. "Fairly obvious now and then, dear. You can't smoke enough to be that covered in ashes." He stroked one cheek gently. "Now, if you behave, I won't have to leave you hanging tonight for an extra long time." He kissed him again. "Yes, I believe positive reinforcement will work wonders with you," he noted smugly when his boyfriend tried to follow him to get another kiss. "Leave the nasties to Ripper and Potter, love. Or else I won't blow you again this week."
"Then I'll take the cats and go to Mom's again," Xander said with a wicked smirk. "All by myself in London."
"Bloody hell you will not!" Draco shouted, looking very offended. "There's no fucking way I'm letting you go to London by yourself for the afternoon, much less to stay at your mum's place, which is in the middle of all those nasty, sweaty clubs. You could be kidnaped within a day! Or worse, go buy ugly clothes without me around!"
"I won't have to go if you don't nag and you don't try to punish me," Xander said gently, trying to calm him down. "Remember that. I'm not sticking around to be nagged at or to be punished. I won't put up with it."
"Fine," Draco said stiffly. "Even though you do things that need to be nagged about I won't."
"I don't do many of them," Xander reminded him, shifting closer. "Now that we've had our first fight, can we make up now?" Draco frowned at him, starting to look like he was pouting. "Please?"
"You'll cut back on those things that would make me nag, like staking vampires and hunting demons?"
"Draco, that's part of who I am."
"Yes, but it's not all of it now. You've got a brilliant new life here and you're wasting it by bringing your old life into it. When necessary, like today, I can stand it. I'll simply worry a lot," he admitted. "But not every night when you're frustrated."
"Fine, I'll cut back on it," Xander agreed quietly. "Are you done pouting now?"
Draco frowned at him. "No! You do stupid things!" He laid out their lunch, waiting to see what Xander would do. He found himself on his back being kissed stupid. That was a good response. "Fine, I'll quit scowling at you. I do not pout."
"You do pout and your bottom lip hangs out so cutely," Xander told him with a grin. He leaned down to nip on the lip. "See?" Someone coughed. "Trying to have makeup sex here," he said impatiently.
"If you didn't do things to upset him, you wouldn't have to have makeup sex," Hermione said dryly. "I've just shooed away a group of third years watching you. Do you think you might try a privacy spell soon?" She flounced off.
"What? Did it get you hot?" Draco called after her. Her shriek made him chuckle. "I like baiting her. She's fun."
"I'd say, but she's an easy target, Draco. Try for harder ones. And do a privacy spell so lunch can get cold." Draco looked stunned, then burst out laughing and did a concealment spell on the area around his robe, which meant that someone's foot was always outside of it but they didn't care. What was corrupting a bunch of gawky third years compared to what they usually did?
Ethan walked into Draco's dormroom, stunning his roommates. "Where is my son-in-law, the moron?" he demanded.
"He was studying but he and Vellian may have taken off for a dark corner," Goyle offered honestly. He'd heard rumors about this man and didn't want to piss him off any more than he possibly could avoid.
Crabbe opened his curtains to show that he was naked and had been having fun with himself. "They said something about Vellian practicing his flying. Maybe they're on the pitch? Or was that earlier?"
"No, that was earlier," Goyle reminded him. "That was right after dinner, then they came in laughing really hard and pink faced, so Draco could work on his Potions homework, and that's the last we saw of them, sir."
"Fine, thank you. Mr. Crabbe, in the future could you not expose yourself to me?" he asked, waving a hand at the boy's unclothed and aroused body. "I didn't need to see that." He walked out, heading back down to the common room, which was nearly empty. He scowled at the open portal he could feel, heading for it. The concealment charm was very clever in this case. He walked into what had to be a Prefect's room, and stopped cold. His son was being fucked quite hard. "Oh, sweet chaos," he moaned, covering his eyes and stomping out. He went down to the dungeon, barely making it inside before he gave up and moaned, collapsing onto a stool.
"Sir, are you all right?" Ginny Weasley asked. She had detention and was currently scrubbing tables. "That table may still be damp, I just got done with it."
"I just saw my son having sex. Loud, messy, noisy, back ripping sex," he complained. "I did not need to see that, young lady." He looked at her. "How much longer do you have?"
"Until Professor Snape decides I've suffered enough and gives me something for the hives I've got from the cleaning potion," she said honestly, showing off her arms. "There's a headache potion in his top, left desk drawer," she offered. "He's had to take some of it before."
"It won't erase that image, it's not strong enough," he sighed, getting up to get her something for the reaction. He found Severus in his office. "Would you make me something to erase the image of our son having sex while I make something for Miss Weasley, who is having an allergic reaction to the cleaning potion you're having her use?"
Snape got up and went to check on the girl, berating her as he got something for her and sent her off. He came back with a small gold bottle. "How bad was it?"
"Remember Easter of our Seventh year?" Ethan asked. "The time you and I spent alone and Ripper walked in on us? That bad."
"Take the whole bottle then, it should blot out the last few hours," Snape advised as he sat back down. He made a note of the allergy to pass on to the infirmary, just in case. Then he went back to his grading as his lover drank the potion. "Feel better?"
"Much," Ethan admitted, sitting down across from him. "Why did I come in here? I was looking for Xander to practice with him."
"You caught him having sex with Draco and took something to erase it," Snape reminded him with a smirk as he marked the scroll and tossed it aside.
"Oh, good. Sensible of me I suppose. Think it's safe for me to go looking for him again?"
"Not with how you described it," Snape said dryly. "I doubt they noticed you at all." He scribbled on the next one and tossed it aside. He rang the bell on his desk, bringing a house elf. "Get Ethan a cup of tea and tell my son that he's needed for practice once he's done."
"Yes, sir, professor sir," the house elf babbled, going to do as he had ordered. A house elf did not talk back to that one. He knew scary things to do to them. He might even tell those icky humans who liked house elves too much how to hurt them and where their secret places were. He started the water for tea then popped into Slytherin to find the son. He found him easily enough but it was hard to get his attention. He ended up poking Draco and got swatted for it. "Sirs, father says 'tis time for practice. Hims having tea." He disappeared, the message delivered.
"First my mother and now dad too," Xander said in disgust. "I'm having an icky moment, Draco."
Draco leaned down to kiss him, incidentally pushing himself fully back into his lover's body. "That's fine. We can have them together. Just let me finish off, Alex." He moved harder a few more times, getting off quickly, then worked to get his lover off. It was only polite after all. They laid there for a few moments, then got up and got dressed, heading to the dungeons. Draco could stay awake by helping him practice.
"Dad, mom, do you *have* to have such bad timing?" Xander demanded as he walked into his father's office.
"Yes, son, we do," Snape agreed dryly, making one last scroll before putting them all aside. "Mr. Malfoy, I do not believe your presence was requested."
"It's keeping me awake," Draco said with a yawn. "He wore me out again."
"I did not need to know that," Ethan noted from behind his tea cup. "What smells like mint?"
Xander sniffed his armpits, then Draco's neck. "The lube?" he asked in confusion.
"Was mint scented," Draco admitted, checking his lover over. "Someone missed a fashion step."
"You're the one who ripped my underwear," Xander said as he zipped himself up, having to adjust himself so he hung more comfortably.
"I did not need to know that fact," Snape said firmly. "Do not use such things again!"
"You want me to take your son dry?" Draco asked, sounding smug. "I would have thought you might prefer me taking care of him and making sure he was comfortable and not torn during our times together. If you want, and he agrees, I'll gladly quit using it however."
"Fat chance," Xander said dryly. "I like the fact that we use lube. It's a very nice thing to be sildey and wet back there."
Ethan moaned. "I didn't need to know that either. I think I'm having flashbacks, Sev."
"Don't you have homework to do, Mr. Malfoy?"
"I did it and then I shagged your son senseless. I do have *some* restraint you know," he said sarcastically. "He was reviving my brain for Transfiguration actually."
"Another fact I didn't need to know," Snape said, scowling at him. "Vellian, go practice please. Draco and I have to talk about the nuptial agreement."
"Can I have something to take this conversation as well?" Ethan asked miserably.
Snape got up and got something from a small cabinet, handing over the little silver bottle. "Here, it will block all of today. Take it and go to bed. I'm sure he can find someone to beat up on for now."
"Why do I have to work on the agreement?" Draco asked.
"Because you're the only heir to your family, boy. We thought you might like to protect that. Shall we add a monthly disinterest spell to the agreement as well? Just to give him time to relax back into a normal shape again? Ethan asked snidely. "Perhaps a fidelity charm as well?"
"Well, I will have to father a child someday, as will Alex," Draco reminded him smugly. Both men fought over the bottle and he wandered off to help his lover practice. He loved to watch him work. He was amazing at it. As long as he wasn't playing and joking around with Weasley, like he was when Draco got up there. "Don't do that, you might catch something," Draco said as he opened the door. "Let's work on Transfiguration since I've still got to do a paper on it," he suggested at the shocked looks.
"Why should we help you with that?" Ron asked.
"Because this way you won't have to copy off Granger yet again," he said dryly, smirking at his lover. "Besides, don't you think he'd make a good little yappy dogs?"
"That's mean, Draco," Xander said patiently. "Besides, if you change him then you'll be open to having it done to you." He glanced around. "How do people change forms?"
"You mean like animagus?" Ron asked. Xander nodded. "It's not that hard, you just gotta study some stuff and see if it works for you. I've got the scrolls in my stuff," he offered.
"You? What would *you* turn into?" Draco sneered.
Ron looked at him, then changes into a bear, standing up on his hind legs to scare the stupid boy. Draco squeaked and backed away so Ron changed back. "That," he said smugly. He looked at Xander. "I can help you with that if you help me with defense and charms, Xander."
"Sure, Ron. What are you guys up to?"
"Clever hiding places and ghost dispersal." Ron pulled his wand and pointed it at the door. "Accio Ron's special blue bag." It came flying in the doorway and he caught it, sitting down to find that scroll. "Here it is." He handed it over and tossed his bag aside, which sent a magazine flopping out of it.
"My, my, Weasley, Penthouse. Fancy a loose woman do we?" Draco asked dryly.
Ron looked at it, then at him. "No, Ginny bought it and I stole it off her so Mum wouldn't find out. She wanted to know what the big deal was. Those girls are disgusting and horribly stretched out of shape." He smirked at Xander again. "But I'm guessing you've seen a few of those."
"Oh, yeah. My ex, Anya." He grinned and sat against the wall to read over the scrolls. "This isn't that hard."
"No, it's not," Draco agreed, taking it. "Come. Let's work on these things. That way we can go back to what we were doing." He looked at Weasley when Xander stared up at him. "Fine," he complained. "I'll help you work with him if you'll help me."
"Sure, Draco. You're trying too hard. Ethan had that problem. That and he was flexing his wrist right instead of left." Draco considered it and tried it that way, and it worked. "See?" he asked with a grin. He smirked at Ron. "We cast that concealment charm earlier. You've got to define your area. Otherwise it's like a curtain hanging in the middle of nothingness." Ron shuddered. "What?" he asked, looking around, seeming worried. "A bad ghost?"
"No a flashback to a curtain," Ron told him, shaking himself free. "It was a few years back, Xander. Don't worry about it."
"Huh?" Malfoy asked.
"The Veil, what got Sirius Black. It's a tatty old thing of fabric in a frame. You pass through it and you're dead."
The others shuddered. "I know what that is!" Draco said suddenly. "Who has that?"
"The Ministry. He fell during the battle there," Ron said bitterly. "Harry had to watch it actually. So don't start on him about that. He slapped someone for it recently."
"I'd do that too, especially since I know what his parents are like," Xander agreed bitterly. "Been there, done that," he explained when Ron looked at him. "Want to help me plan something for them?"
"Sure, mate, whatever I can help you with they deserve," Ron agreed happily.
"Again, huh?" Malfoy asked dryly.
"Potter's relatives are like mine," Xander told him.
"Oh." Draco sighed. "Since when?"
"Always," Ron told him. "Another thing that'll get you punched."
Some gears in Draco's head clicked and he hit himself on the forehead. "Fine. We'll work on that present for Dawn later. For right now, let's get back to the schoolwork. I'll give Xander some of my books that can help you with that, Weasley."
"Thank you, Malfoy. That's decent of you."
"I'm doing it so Xander can do it for his family. If he decides to share them, that's his business. Potter can go leap for all I care, except now he'd take Dawn, which would lead Xander to chase and I'd have to follow him." Xander kissed him gently. "Thank you. Now, let's get to work." Xander whispered in his ear and Draco relaxed, smirking at him. "Naughty you. I'll hold you to that later." He looked around. "The only place we can do the concealment is on the doorway in here. You have to define it to attach itself to the framework, but leave the bottom open so air can get through, otherwise you've created a hermetic seal." Ron nodded, walking over to try it. "Outline it," Draco ordered. "Like we did with the shifting spell."
Ron concentrated, using his wand to outline the door, casting the small charm to mark that area for a spell, then did the concealment charm. It worked and he beamed. "That's easier than it had been."
"It is," Xander agreed smugly. "Damn handy too." He had a sudden flash of memories and looked at Draco, eyes wide. "Oh, Gods, I just saw a really neat spell. Long distance moving things. Like taking people and shoving them into holes."
Ron lowered the barrier and squeaked when he saw Remus Lupin standing there. "Sorry, sir, we were practicing."
"I didn't think you'd cheat on Dawn," he agreed phlegmatically. He walked inside and looked at Ron's bag, then at him. "Are you supposed to have that?"
"I took it from Ginny after she bought it. They're nasty and horribly stretched out, definitely not my thing." He looked at Xander. "Tell him, we can trust him."
"No, they had a problem with it. I want to check on that first," Xander said, still thinking about it. "I don't know what the problems were."
"That's okay," Draco soothed, patting him on the back. "Go ask your father."
"See, it was Ripper and Ethan. It's their sort of magic," he said, starting to frown. "I'm going to talk to Ripper." He walked off, heading for their rooms. He was polite enough to knock since that time he had caught Ripper and his dad kissing.
"Ah, there you are. Why are your cats in our rooms?"
"Because you have the comfier bed," Asgard, Draco's cat, told him.
"He said you have the comfier bed. That moving spell, what was the problem with it, and did you ever figure out how to compensate? I'd like to send someone into the pits of hell the next time the Hellmouth opened. Or possibly into an enclave of demons."
Ripper blinked a few times. "What?"
"Moving spell? Long distance, yours and Mom's magic style, did around May of your senior year? You had problems with it?"
"Yes, it tended to turn things inside out," Ethan said as he walked over with Perfect, handing her off. "She was on my cashmere sweater again."
"It's soft, it'd make for a perfect nest for our kittens," she told her human.
He looked down at her. "Kittens? What kittens?"
"Kittens?" Ethan echoed. "She's having kittens?"
"Soon," Asgard said smugly. "She was quite pretty while she was in heat."
Xander groaned. "Okay, not the point. Asgard, hop up and I'll take you to Draco so you an explain to him what you need him to buy for a nest for your upcoming kittens."
"His sweater's darling," Perfect assured him.
He stroked her head. "We'll see if we can find you something like that then. He loves that sweater too much to give it over." She settled down with that promise, curling up on his chest. "Mom, did you ever figure that one out?"
"We did, but the problem was the feeling behind it."
"Hey, if it'll turn old stinky butt inside out, I don't think we'd be that upset," Xander offered. "Especially if it left him living for a few weeks. Oh, speaking of, Draco's got some books he's handing me and Ron to deal with Harry's family and so I can see if there's anything worthy of my adoptive ones. Do you mind?"
"No," Ethan said, smiling at him. "Not in the least. Just leave your adoptive ones to us, Xander." He grinned at Ripper. "I believe he had some ideas in store for them."
"Oh, definitely," he purred dangerously, smirking at their son. "Potter's family?"
"As bad, if not worse."
"Then I'll be *happy* to help the boy myself," Ripper assured him.
"Don't try that spell on your own, Vellian," Snape ordered. "We'll look it over to see if it's a useful tactic in a battle."
"Yes, sir. C'mon, guys, let's go tell Draco he's going to be a proud Godhuman to your kittens. Asgard, want a ride?"
"No, thanks though, pet. I can trot with you. That other cat needs to be pissed on anyway." He followed, swishing his tail grandly as he strutted after their shared human pet. "If you can find her something like that sweater, see if you can find a comfy napping spot like those three have on their bed. Preferably one without mating scents on it, but it'd be very nice."
"I'll see if I can find you an afghan later," Xander promised, blocking the rest of that notice from his memories. He didn't want to know what mating scents were on their afghans. He really didn't need to know that much about his parents' sex lives. He walked into the practice room. "Draco, bad news. We need to find Perfect a soft cashmere sweater like Mom's for her nest."
"She's a cat, why would she nest?" Draco asked, smiling down at his cat. "Hello, Asgard. Were you on the afghan again?"
"Yes, it's quite comfortable, even with the mating scents on it. Very soft. Get us one of those, pet, if you can."
Draco looked at Xander, who was blushing. "He said it's very comfy and he can ignore the mating scents on it and he wants you to find them one of those too. Here, have the momma kitten for a moment," he said, handing her over so he could pick up Asgard and keep him from Ron's stomach. "Don't stomp on him, he's obviously not feeling good."
"He managed to knock himself out by miscasting the reflection charm," Draco offered. "It wasn't me. This time."
"Mother to be?" he asked, looking at the cat. "When did you go into heat?"
"How far along is she, Asgard?" Xander asked.
"Nearly six weeks," he said proudly. "She's nearly there."
"How long do cats stay pregnant?" Xander asked. "He said she's six weeks along."
Draco frowned. "I don't know. I can find out. Be right back," he said, taking Perfect with him. He walked up to the library, startling the librarian when he walked up to her. "Are there any books on cat gestation? She's six weeks along and we're wondering how soon it'll be."
"Another two to three weeks usually," she told him with a smile. "She is adorable. Is that Vellian's or yours?"
"Perfect is Vellian's. Her mate, Asgard, is mine," he said, stroking her ears for her. "This is Perfect, Asgard's silver."
"I've seen them, they're adorable," she offered. "They'll have stunning kittens. Let me get you a new parent's book, Mr. Malfoy." He nodded so she got one for him and checked it out for him, handing it over. "There you go. I hope she has many healthy kittens."
"Many?" he asked, starting to look alarmed. "Like ten or thirty, or more many?"
She chuckled softly. "No, usually not more than six or so from what I've heard."
"Six?" he demanded, looking at the cats. "How many are you carrying?"
"That's why it's called a litter," someone said as they walked past him. "Hi, Perfect." Luna Lovegood scratched her ears. "Thanks for the confidence booster earlier. Congratulations." Draco scowled at her and stomped off with the book and the cat. Luna giggled. "He's so cute when he's flustered. I'm sure Vellian will have quite a lot of fun with him later. Though, someone has *very* good taste in bonding earrings."
Madam Pince smiled at her. "They do. It did suit him very well. Did you need something, Miss Lovegood?"
"That stupid herbology book. I can't find it again."
"Of course. Let me find it for you," she agreed, taking her to the herbology section to look for that reference book for her. It did like to move itself.
Draco stormed in. "We'll have *many* kittens. Like six or seven."
"How soon?" Ron asked.
"Probably two or three weeks. I got a book." He handed it over and looked down at the cats. "You need to find better humans to hang about with when we're not around. Loony Lovegood is not a suitable companion for you two."
"Which one is she?" Xander asked.
"The blonde who never blinks," Ron said from the floor. He sat up with a groan. "If they're pretty cats, Ginny might like one," he offered. "Mum can't complain too much with the twins gone and she'd take good care of one. Mum'd probably see it as practice for grandbabies."
"If she asks," Xander told him. "We'll see. Mom and dad get first pick, along with Ripper. Dawnie too."
"Sure, mate," Ron agreed with a grin. "Remember, it's got to get on with Croonshanks, the big, fluffy orange demon in cat form."
Xander looked at Perfect. "Do you guys get on well with Croonshanks?"
"She keeps trying to entice my Asgard," she said with a delicate sniff. "The next time she does I'm going to claw her squashed little nose up. Let's see her sniff out demons and bad people then."
"Might be a bit of a problem, Ron. Perfect hates Croonshanks. Said she keeps hitting on Asgard."
"You've got better taste than that," Draco reminded his cat. "They'd be ugly kittens with Croonshanks and beautiful with Perfect."
"Yes, but she keeps putting out mating smells," Asgard told him.
"Ron, tell Hermione her cat's in heat," Xander ordered. "Filch's cat might not like that either and the stink'll cling to her clothes."
"No wonder the scrawny old thing hisses at her now," Ron said, smacking himself on the head. "I'll be right back. Thanks, Xander."
"Not an issue."
"She was in the library," Draco admitted.
"Where else would she be?" Ron asked with a grin for him. "On her back and screaming for more?" He chuckled at his own joke as he jogged out.
"That's a second nasty thought," Draco decided, sitting down on some practice mats, petting the poor little thing. "So, she likes the cashmere?"
Xander grinned and nodded. "Yup, she loved it. I told her you'd see if we could find her something that soft."
"I'll go to the pet store this weekend, and if not, I'll head to the clothes stores," Draco promised her. "You deserve the best for your kittens."
"They wanted an afghan too," Xander reminded him.
"We'll see what I can find," Draco promised his cat with a smirk. "Better?"
"Just fine, pet, thanks." He rubbed against Xander's leg. "You could sit and cuddle me since your human has my mate." Xander sat down, letting Asgard into his lap so he could be petted. "Thanks, pet, very kind of you." He purred and stretched as Ron came back. "Done already?"
"Did he just ask me if I was done?" Ron asked.
Xander nodded. "Yup, sure did. Draco, we'll need an emergency pack just in case something happens and one gets stuck."
"They have specialists who deal in such matters," Draco said firmly. "I'm not doing time in a labor room, not even for this precious one. If she's having problems, we'll get the best to help her."
Xander grinned at him. "Good." He went back to petting Asgard. "How was Hermione?"
"Getting wet from the books she was working in," Ron admitted as he sat down too. "Hi, Asgard. I told my sis the good news and she said if you didn't mind she might want one of your kittens. You could even come visit the house to make sure it's got proper hiding spots."
Asgard purred. "I like him."
"He likes you," Xander translated.
Ron beamed. "I like you too, Asgard. You're nicer than your human pet is." He winked at the cat and looked back at Draco, who wasn't paying any attention as he felt her stomach. "Are they moving?"
"No, just seeing if I can tell. She doesn't look fat in the least."
"Which is the important thing from what I overheard in high school," Xander agreed.
"You had pregnant people in your high school? They allow them to go with the other students?"
"Yeah, we didn't have a special school for them," Xander said, smirking at him. "So they had to go to regular classes just like everyone else. We had one girl who had triplets in ninth grade. She was huge!" He held out a hand by his knees. "Out to here and the kids *hated* PE and science class so they'd kick. You could see them doing it too. It was freaky in a lot of ways."
"Women in such delicate positions should be protected from the general rabble who might want to touch their stomachs and taint the children. It's more proof that the Americans have their heads up their arses," Draco said firmly, going back to his belly scratches.
"Oooh, not there, it'll make me pee," Perfect complained.
"Draco, you're going to make her pee, quit," Xander ordered.
"Sorry, dear. Let me work on your back then. I'll brush you tonight." She purred as he stroked her back and side. "There, how's that?"
"Very nice. Thank you, pet."
"She said thank you, that was very nice," Xander reported. He looked over as the caretaker stomped into the room. "Yes?"
"It's curfew. Get out now before I take points and give detentions."
"Oops, sorry. We were admiring my Perfect's upcoming babies." He stood up, picking up Asgard as he went. "C'mon, guys. Let's go to bed so Ron doesn't get into trouble." Ron grinned and gathered his things, heading back to his house with them. "C'mon, Draco. We can work on your paper before we go to bed." Draco gave him a wicked smirk but picked up his cat and left with her.
Filch went to report to the headmaster about the upcoming kittens. All familiars in the school were to be under a charm to suspend going into heat, the same as his cat was. It wasn't fair.
Snape looked up as his son walked into his office, putting aside his book. "Filch is in a snit."
"Why?" He sat down across from him. "What did I do wrong this time? Last time I straightened out a crooked painting."
Snape nodded. "So I heard. All animals in the castle are supposed to be under a charm so they can't go into heat. Even his."
"Ah. Well, I didn't know that, did I? It's too late now anyway. Besides, I'm not a student or a teacher. I'm a visitor until we figure out where I'm living."
"You'll be taking a flat in town so you can stay close-by and help," Snape told him.
"Dad, that's going to be expensive. I can stay with mom and 'port in."
"No, son. London is too dangerous and Ripper will be there as well, all for show of course," he noted at the dirty look his son sent his way. "You are old enough to live on your own but we need you close-by to work with you. There are three choices open in town at the moment. I thought we'd look at them today."
"I still say it's too expensive."
"Thank you. Now, let's go. Did you want to bring Perfect so she can look the area over?"
"No, that's okay. She's curled up on Draco's old cloak. It's got fur and it's very soft. Since Ethan hid his sweater she's been pouting."
"She is quite a strong cat," he noted dryly, walking his son out and through a back entrance that few knew about. It took them closer to the forest and down a little path that was a shortcut to the town. "Not many know about this but it is a charmed path."
"How very Xanth."
"Book series. It's got puns," he said happily. "Charmed paths. Food and clothes trees. Lots of great things, like love springs and human crossbreeds."
"You need to read better material," Snape said, sighing in disgust.
"I like my comics, dad."
"Not the issue, son. At least try to read things that will help you in our world?"
"I have been. I've been working my way through a couple of books on box construction."
Snape nodded. "Good. I like that hobby."
"It's called a job, dad."
"Son, you don't have to work."
"Then I'd go further down the garden path of insanity. I might end up like a fun-loving version of Draco. Then what would you do?" he asked with a smug look.
"Make you something to fix that," Snape reminded him. "As I've done in the past for others." They came out in the town and he walked his son to the rental board, letting him look at all the openings. He tapped a few of them with his finger. "This one, that one, and the one above the bookstore."
"This one sounds nice and it's cheap," Xander offered, tapping another one.
"It's above a Dark Arts store, son. No." He walked his boy on, taking him to his first choice, which was above the bookstore. It was fairly cramped but not too bad. It was actually the most roomy of all of them, even though it barely had a kitchen and the bathroom was so cramped you could stand in the shower and wash your hands in the sink without stretching. Snape looked at all three critically, managing to find something seriously wrong with all of them. Mostly the size. His son would go insane cooped up in something that small. He was too much like Ripper for that. "Back to the board." They went back there and found Draco coming out of the sweet shop. "What are you doing out of class?"
"Flitwick sent me away, said I was being a smug bastard with intent to harm others. It's not my fault my flame charm went toward Potter," he said smugly.
"Draco!" Xander sighed. "You can't hurt Harry. I'd get upset." Draco pouted at him. "See, you do pout!" he said smugly. "You still can't hurt him." He kissed him gently. "Remember, Dawn will get you back and now she's got the twins on her side since they like her sister." He kissed him again. "Come help us look at apartments. Dad said I'm taking one in town."
"It'll make it easy enough to sneak out," Draco agreed. He looked at the board, then shook his head. "Why doesn't he just stay in the Malfoy flat?"
"Malfoy flat?" Snape asked.
"Ah, father never showed you. Yes, he used to keep his mistress there while he was in his seventh year. Since then he's used it for rites he didn't want to do at home." He led them to the back of a small shop, just behind the clothes shop, and up the back stairs. He opened the door and let them inside, waving a hand around. "We own the building. The shop pays us rent."
Snape looked around at the totally open area. "It's a loft."
"It's spacious, which was something the others weren't. It's also cheap, which the others weren't," Xander offered. "Dark Arty stuff?"
"Not in this building. Unless he left something on the floors." He walked Xander inside and looked at the floors. "I don't see any diagrams or anything. Then again, my father hated clutter."
"We have some spare furniture in storage," Snape agreed. "Vellian?"
"It's nice," he agreed. "It's big and open and free."
Draco gave him a wicked smirk. "Well, not *free*. I'm sure we can come to a compromise about what you'll be paying me for rent, my little toy." Snape slapped him across the back of the head. "Ow!"
"No sex with me around," he reminded them. He walked into the kitchen. It was rudimentary at best but workable.
"No microwave?" Xander asked.
"Muggle devices?" Draco reminded him. "Don't work in the wizarding world."
"Not true, you have radios," Xander said smugly.
"True," Snape agreed. "There are places to get those devices already charmed as well." He looked around. "You'd let him stay here, Mr. Malfoy?"
"He's my husband, it's his," Draco reminded him dryly. "The same as the manor is and the house in the South of France."
"Fine. I'll arrange for some furniture to be sent up from storage. I know Ripper has quite a lot."
"A lot of books," Xander corrected. "We cleaned out the library before we blew up the school."
"Fine. I'll find a good couch and chair, plus a bed and those things," Snape agreed, looking at his son. "I'd never let you read books on demonology. You might get into trouble again."
Xander stuck his tongue out. "I don't do it on purpose. They just like me."
"I'll have one of my house elves pop around one a week to clean," Draco offered, ignoring the open invitation to refute that statement. It'd keep him from having sex that night.
"Thank you, Draco. I'll tell Ethan and Ripper to find things in the storage areas for him." He walked out, leaving them alone.
Draco looked at the alcove where he'd put a bed. "The bed should go there."
"I'd like some sunlight to hit the bed," Xander offered, pointing at a spot next to it. "There. If we can find a chair and a lamp we can put it there as a comfy reading spot or put Perfect's new nest in there since she hates light most mornings."
Draco compromised. "Fine. We'll see how it looks." He glanced around. "There's no place for them to hide in here. They'll hate it."
"There'll be plenty of places to hide," Xander said smugly. "Wardrobes, dressers, couches, chairs, the bed. Remember, Asgard likes to play scary bed monster sometimes and Perfect likes to pounce him when he's under the covers." That was their favorite game at night, pounce the moving things under the blankets.
"Fine, I'm sure they'll love it. I'll have a house elf scrub it out today." He walked over to the fireplace, turning on the floo. "Malfoy manor," he called out. One of the house elves answered. "The Hogsmeade loft needs cleaned up. My husband is taking up residence during my last year." The house elf nodded and disappeared, then four of them appeared with cleaning implements, getting started on the windows first. "There, it should be habitable by later today," he said smugly. "Shall we get lunch?"
Xander kissed him. "If you skip class, dad'll get in trouble."
"Fine," he sighed, heading back to the school via the floo. It was faster than walking and Slytherin had their own outlet. He found his cats napping on a couch and gave them a pet. "You two are going to live with the other human slave in town. I'll be down all the time of course," he assured Asgard when he peeked up at him. "Dumbledore said so. She wasn't supposed to get pregnant while here." His cat muttered something and he had to laugh. He hadn't needed translation for that curse. "It's very nice, very open. It's got windows so you can watch things. No hiding spots yet but I'm sure you'll find some that we humans miss." Perfect stretched so he gave her an extra pat to the belly before grabbing his books and leaving them to their naps.
"We should torment the smelly slave who got our pets in trouble," Asgard noted.
"Later, I need to finish my nap first," Perfect ordered. "We'll be exploring later."
"Good point. Remind me later to see that bird man chap. Perhaps his bird would help us." He yawned and curled up in a different position, one of his back paws pushing on her head. So she shifted, putting her head on his back hips, getting very comfortable and falling back asleep. "Fine, you rest on me, love." He fell asleep again, happy for the moment.
Xander looked around the loft, frowning at the placement of furniture. "Fine, that's not right though."
"We help move?" the house elf asked. "We do many times for Missus."
"No, that's cool. I need the practice," Xander told him, reaching down to pat him on the head. "Give me ten minutes and we'll have something for you to do." The house elf nodded so he pulled his wand, frowning at the furniture. First, the bed was moved to where he wanted it. The morning sun would wake him gently and the evening stars would be visible. He shifted the couches and 2 chairs to face the window so they could stare out them. The other three chairs were clustered around the coffee table and some nice lamps were spread around. He looked at the kitchen, then fingered the keys his mother had given him. "Okay. How's that look?" The elves went to work, shifting things slightly so they looked more balanced. They looked at him and he shrugged. "Okay." He looked around. "All right, we're setting up a nest for the kitties in the alcove. We're setting up the kitchen today as well. Can you see anything else we need?"
"Another couch," one elf offered. He pointed at a blank spot. "There, master, sir."
"Just call me Xander. Sir if you must," he offered at the hurt looks. "I'm not used to having house elves so we'll deal, okay?" They nodded. "Cool beans. Okay, let's go shopping, guys. I've got to hit the bank. We've got to get food. Dad said that we could find some charmed appliances, like a microwave. I'm hoping you guys know where?" They all nodded. "Cool beans. Let's go do that."
"I goes to bank," one house elf offered.
"I haven't been there yet," Xander told him. "We can all go together." They nodded, leading the way out to do this for him. He was much nicer than most of the family, especially their former masters. They found the bank's hidden spot in Hogsmeade and led the way. "Hi," Xander said, holding up his keys. "I'm setting up my apartment."
The goblin gave him a long look. "Name?"
The goblin looked him over, then in his eyes. "Very well then. Keys?" Xander handed over all of them. "Are you getting into all of them?"
"No, I don't think I need to. Do I?" He looked at the elves, who shook their heads in unison. "Okay, I'm going to go with them since they've been doing shopping stuff much longer than I have here."
The goblin snorted but wrote down one of the key's numbers, checking the balance. "You have your own key?"
"I don't know where it is," Xander admitted. "Mom only gave me those."
The goblin checked his books, then held up one. "This one is yours, the funds are transferred in as of today."
"How much?" Xander looked then winced. "Is that a lot or a little?"
"It's a fair amount. You could probably live comfortably on that for at least five years." He looked at the book. "That's your yearly available draw limit."
"That's your allowance, boy," the goblin told him. Xander sat down suddenly. He peered over the end of his desk. "It's not unheard of, young man. It keeps the young and brash from wasting things."
"I was making less than that a decade before!" he complained.
"Well, now you don't. In the future, you can have your house elves come for you."
"They're, um, my mate's. I'm borrowing them for today and when we're married they'll be mine." He looked around as he heard a cough, finding Ripper standing there. "I have money?"
"You do," he agreed dryly. "I came to help you shop." He looked at the goblin. "Let him into his if he's got the keys." The goblin nodded and corrected the entry. "Give him a fifth of it, he shouldn't need much more."
"Sirs needs couch, kitty things, and kitchen things," one of the house elves said loyally.
"Then a fifth should be more than enough," Ripper assured him. He hauled Xander up. "You'll figure it out later. While he's at it, I need into mine as well. I've got to do some minor shopping as well." He handed over his key. "Thank you."
"You don't want to go down?"
"He'd probably get sick again. He did the last time."
"We goes," the house elf said. The goblin nodded and the house elves headed for the carts, running to do what was needed. They came back with a few bags, one handing one over to Ripper. "We goes now?"
"Sure," Xander agreed. "Thank you. Food first or last?"
"Last," Ripper reminded him. "What did you need? A couch, a cat bed?"
"A microwave if we can find one, kitchen supplies like pans and plates. Perfect wants something like Ethan's sweater for a bed, preferably that soft if possibly. Asgard wanted an afghan. I could use some sheets and pillows and stuff. Draco's mother apparently liked crunchy sheets. Speaking of, do we have space for a washer and dryer?" he asked the house elves. They nodded. "Then if we can find those we need one of those too."
"We knows where." They led the way out of the bank's hidden spot and to the edge of the village. "We goes to London."
"Of course. Diagon?"
"Yes, wes go there," one agreed. "Wes meet you at gateway." They disappeared.
Xander shrugged and looked innocent. "They'd know more than me." He grinned and disappeared. When he got there, Ripper was waiting and the elves were looking around. "So that way *is* longer. Good to know."
"It's also safer for you for now," Ripper said firmly. "Lead the way please." The house elves headed for the shop they wanted, tucked back in a corner of the main alley. They walked in and led Xander right to the appliances. "Ah," Ripper sighed, looking around. "Wonderful things. Would Arthur get upset with these?" he asked shop keeper.
The keeper grinned. "Most of it. Appliances aren't on the restricted list."
"Hey, do we get cable?" Xander asked.
"No," Ripper said patiently.
"But you can get a satellite connection," the shopkeeper offered with a grin. "You're Vellian Snape." Xander beamed and nodded. "Where are you setting up?"
"In Draco's family's loft in Hogsmeade. These are his house elves, they're very helpful."
"As they should be." He walked around the counter. "What were you looking for?"
"A microwave, a washer and dryer, and possibly a few more lamps if possible." He waited until Ripper had walked off. "Satellite? What sort of cost." The keeper winked and nodded at the display behind him. Then he led him to the microwaves. Xander took one of the brochures and stuffed it into is pocket as he walked. He pointed at one. "Will that one fit a plate?"
"It should." He opened it to show the plate inside. "How's that?"
"That's good. Does it have memory buttons?" The keeper looked confused. "Like ones for popcorn, drinks, or if you push one it cooks for one minute?"
"Ah, you lived in a higher technology area."
"I was in Sunnydale."
"The hellmouth!" He glared at Ripper.
"It wasn't our fault. We didn't figure it out until I'd known him for a year." He looked over. "Arthur can have you arrested if you get a tv if it's on the forbidden list, Vellian."
"I'm thinking about it." He looked at the top microwave they had. "Do you have something between these two? I've never used this high of a machine."
The shopkeeper hid his smile and led him to the middle-range microwave. "How about this?"
"That's good," Xander agreed. "I had one of these. It lasted nearly two years until Spike broke it. Okay, that one, washer and dryer, then we've got to go to the pet store."
"How much laundry do you plan on doing?"
"I live alone, but I have a cat and there's a husband who I'm working on things with."
"Okay, so maybe six loads a week?" Xander nodded. "Fine. Let's look at this set. It's got settings for delicates. It's got also got settings for soaking and for rinsing."
"That'll be handy."
"Indeed," Ripper agreed. "The next time we have things with demon blood we'll be coming to your house."
Xander nodded. "Me too." He grinned. "Did Draco burn that shirt and robe?"
"Wes cleaned," the house elves offered. "Still working on stains." They pointed at one. "We use these."
The shopkeeper nodded. "Those are top of the line but they don't have the good features this set does," he offered. "That's more expensive but this one is more useful."
"Then we'll take the useful one," Xander decided. "Anything else we need in here?" He looked up at Ripper and grinned.
"But, Giles, what else would I have to do but play with the cats, have lots of sex with Draco, and read books that I probably shouldn't."
He had a sudden vision of Xander doing what Ethan had and summoning some succuba by accident and then making them follow him around like moping cheerleaders. It was a horrible thought. "Get him one of those systems and a tele big enough to hold his attention for hours on end."
"Yes, sir," the shopkeeper agreed happily. "Is this cash or charge?"
One of the house elves handed over his bag. "Couches next," he ordered. "We carry back."
"They can deliver and set it up," Xander said with a grin. "After this, we've got to go to the pet store, where you can help a lot, possibly to the clothes store, and then food shopping, where you can *definitely* help." They nodded, smiling again.
The shopkeeper smiled at him. "It's an extra ten sickle fee."
"Okay. And? I can't move the washer or dryer."
The shopkeeper laughed and nodded. "That's true. Our house elves are used to it." He filled out the slips and counted out the coins, handing back the vastly deflated bag. "There you go, including the satellite system and tv. Do you know where the pet store is?"
"Reasonably," Xander admitted. "Across from Olivander's." The keeper nodded. "Thanks. See you later." He walked out, heading after the elves to the pet store. He walked in and grinned. "Perfect's pregnant," he said happily. "She's due in about two weeks."
"Then you'll need some sort of whelping box."
"She likes cashmere that's been worn a lot." The shopkeeper gave him an odd look. "She adopted Mom's cashmere sweater."
"Well, we can't help you with that. We can do the box and things. Has she been getting supplements?"
"We've been feeding her ground up chicken and steak with stuff. She's been doing a lot of begging recently. She's taking shameless advantage of her condition." A jar was put in front of him. "What's that?"
"Supplements. It'll help the babies." He walked them back to the back of the shop, handing over things they'd need for the kittens.
"We need claw clippers," Ripper told him. "They've been kneading and catching on the afghans."
"Yeah, we need one of those too," Xander agreed. "Hopefully without the ...homey scents on yours."
"Anything on the bed will get those scents," Ripper said sarcastically. He looked at the bags of dry food. "Shouldn't they have some of this as well?"
"It wouldn't hurt."
"They get lots of stuff to chew," Xander reminded him. "Speaking of, we need some more chew toys." The shopkeeper nodded and got him things, letting the house elves take it back to the apartment for them while Xander paid. Then he headed to Madam Malkin's. "Hi," he said as he walked in, grinning at her. "My cats need some cashmere." She gave them an odd look. "Perfect, my cat, is pregnant. She's adopted Ethan's cashmere, worn, comfy sweater. She wants something like that or she's going to be stealing his again for her upcoming kittens."
She blinked a few more times then led them to some fabric spools she had. She patted one. "This one, with some soaking, will be as soft as cashmere, but it's washable." Xander held up a finger and disappeared, coming back about ten minutes later with Perfect. "Is that necessary?"
"It is if Mom wants to keep his sweater," he said with a grin. He put her paw on the suggested fabric. "That?"
She kneaded it, then looked up at him. "It's not quite as soft."
"This is washable and it'll soften as it washes a few times." She kneaded it then jumped down to walk across the other bolts, stopping at one. She kneaded it some more then sat down. "That one?" She purred, seeming to smile at the shopkeeper. "What's that one made of?"
"It's a cashmere blend with angora," she told him.
"That's got to be horribly expensive," Ripper complained.
"I'm going to be a grandfather, Giles. It's not a problem, I can splurge. Is that one washable?" Madam Malkin shook her head.
"We can take them both, set up areas around the new house," Perfect suggested happily. "The other for when I deliver and this one after and on the couches and things?"
"That's a good idea." He looked at Madam Malkin. "Okay, can we have the first one for her whelping box? Like a big pad of it?" She nodded, holding in her smile. "And the other one with pillows and some throws for after the birth and around the apartment."
"That would be fine," she agreed. "I can have those made up within a day."
"That'd be cool." He handed over the money bag, watching as she counted out a lot. "What's left?"
"Couch," one of the remaining elves said.
"We pick up tomorrow?" the other asked. Madam Rosemerta nodded and smiled. "Good. We be back after lunch." They walked Xander out, taking him to the furniture store and right to a couch that would suit his present furniture. "That one," one ordered.
The shopkeeper looked at Xander, who nodded after taking a test sit. "Okay. Where is it going or are you taking it now?"
"We take," the house elf said, handing over the money. Then they got together to take the couch. They came back a few minutes later, walking them to a special grocery store that took both galleons and cash. They took the carts from them and helped them shop, not arguing but suggesting many nice vegetables. A few of which did made it into the cart because they knew they'd be cooking for them now and then. It wasn't like Draco could cook. They took everything back to the house, putting it away and making sure everything was in place.
Xander landed with the precious burden peeking up out of his robe pocket, so he grinned down at her. "Welcome home, Perfect. We'll go snatch Asgard soon."
"Ooh, this is nice," she purred, wiggling out until Ripper released her and set her down gently. "Thank you, pet's uncle." She trotted over to the bed, sniffing it. "Hmm, mating scents but different ones. Uncle and someone else."
"It wasn't mine, it was Ethan's and we've had it in storage for years, Xander," he said patiently. "It's been descented as many times as we could. Only she and the other beast could smell it."
Perfect hopped onto the bedside table, then to the chair and down, trotting over to the couch facing the window and plopping down to stare out at the trees. "This is very nice."
"Good." Xander pointed at the alcove. "Put the box in there." The house elves put everything in it's place for him, then let the cat examine it. "How's that?"
Perfect walked inside, sniffing around. "What's this for?"
"For when you have the kittens. So you don't have to chase them all over. It'll give you a nice place to deliver safely and be comfy with the kittens. As opposed to my bed," he said at her look.
"Fine. I suppose it'll do once you get the comfy spots set up."
"That's the plan."
"Then I'll reserve judgement until then," she decided. "When will they be here?"
"Tomorrow. Why? Is it time?"
"It is?" Ripper asked.
"No," she snorted. "Just wondering. It's soon but not quite that soon." Xander relaxed. "Trust me, I'm a cat, I know these things." She went back to the window, hopping up onto the couch to settle in and watch the trees and birds. "Oooh, a squirrel!" she said, swishing her tail. She chattered at it, tensing up to pounce.
"There's a window but I'll try to put out a feeder to draw them over," Xander told her. "Soon but not quite that soon." He flopped down next to her, petting her gently. "Did we get dishes and sheets?"
"We get!" the house elves called.
"Get soft stuff," Xander called before they could disappear. They nodded and disappeared, going to finish the shopping. They came back twenty minutes later and puttered around the kitchen, making a snack and fixing a dinner that could be put in the refrigerator for whenever they were ready to eat. "Thanks, guys. I'll tell Draco that you guys were very helpful and very good. I'll try to talk him into a treat if you want." They covered their ears and seemed to blush and disappeared. One reappeared with Asgard, the litter box, and all the kitty toys he could find.
Asgard jumped down and wandered around. "What's this thing?"
"Kitty birthing box. It'll have soft stuff soon," Xander called. "Come see." The cat jumped up onto the couch behind him, nuzzling him, then walked down him to stare out the window. "You like it?"
"Oh, I do, pet. Thank you. This is riveting. Wait until my human pet sees this."
"There's more soft stuff coming. He took me to help pick out the soft stuff for the birth and afterwards. We'll even have soft pillows."
"Good job, pet. We appreciate your slavery in our benefit. Very nice."
"Glad you like it, Asgard." He petted them both, smiling at Giles. "How's this?"
"This looks good," he admitted. "Very nicely conformed. It seems balanced. You did good."
"Thanks. The house elves did some minor shifting after I was done but this was mostly my idea." He looked over as his mother and Snape appeared. "Hi. See, we're done."
"So I do," Ethan agreed, looking around. "It's wonderful. Very nicely done, Xander." He walked over to pat the cats. "This view is wonderful as well. How much is this place?"
"Draco's," Xander said smugly.
"Ah, so you can pay the rent on your back. Excellent. How much did you spend?"
"Less than we took out," Ripper admitted. "Also," he said, flipping on the satellite system. It warmed up and then he turned on the tv, smiling at the picture that came on. "Something to give him something to do besides have sex."
"I like that idea much better," Snape agreed. He looked at the cats. "Greedy beasts."
"Dad, they're cats," Xander said dryly.
"Good point." He wandered around the loft, looking at everything. "The birthing box?"
"Yuppers. Perfect got to pick out her fabric. She decided to splurge on something really soft and nearly as good as Ethan's sweater."
"Cashmere and angora blend," Ripper told them.
"It's not my sweater, that's all I care about," Ethan said. He checked the refrigerators. "I take it the house elves made dinner."
"They did?" Xander craned his neck. "Cool. Dad, can I have Draco?"
"We'll see. He was expelled from Charms today," he said bitterly.
"Was it his fault?"
"Indeed," Ripper agreed. "He bollicked up greatly and got caught this time." He sat down on the free spot on the other side of the cats. "Enjoying it?" They purred at him and went back to watching the trees. A squirrel ran past the window ledge and Asgard pounced at the window. "There's glass there, Asgard."
"I know that, but it was too good to resist. We need some of those, pet."
"We'll see what Draco says. We may have some mice or something," Xander offered.
"Mice can be fun," Perfect agreed. "Do the windows open to get some fresh air?"
"I don't know. Do the windows open?"
Ethan walked over to look at one of them, and it did open but there wasn't a screen. He left it cracked some. "Apparently."
"Oh, give it a bit more, maybe some of those toys will come in."
"No, not right now," Xander told him. "Let's let Draco see it before we have you two destroying things chasing a squirrel." Someone knocked on the door. "Yeah!" The door opened and a nervous looking man wearing a tweed robe poked his head in. "Hi, I'm Vellian." He grinned and waved. "Come in, you don't look like a vampire and it's daytime." The man came in and closed the door behind himself. He walked over. "Hi." He shook his hand. "I'm staying around while I finish my leftover training and while we get the wedding set up, just as soon as Draco finishes his training."
"Oh, that's fine then. I was hoping that Mr. Malfoy hadn't moved in a concubine or something. His father was like that you know and it's bad for business."
"No, I'm cooler than a concubine," Xander said with a grin. "Hey, dad? Can we get a Draco moment of approval or do you have him scrubbing the dungeons?"
"Unfortunately he'd whine me to death if I did that." He called up to Slytherin's house's floo. "Draco, get over here," he ordered. He got out of the way, letting the boy come out.
"Well, this is wonderful," Draco said in appreciation, glancing around. "The elves did very good."
"I did very good and they helped do some minor tweaking," Xander corrected. "It's a mark of a good construction worker to be able to move furniture. We pick up some of that when we're doing the final work on a place." He grinned. "The kitty birthing box is set up and we've got fabric coming. The house elves were *wonderfully* helpful and they deserve a treat for doing so much to help me today when we went shopping."
Draco gave him a kiss. "I'll consider it." Xander pouted at him, giving him the big, wet, puppy eyes. "Fine, they can have a treat for being so helpful." He looked at the shopkeeper. "Ah, you've met. How much was my father charging you?"
"Three hundred galleons a month," he said timidly.
"That's outrageous," Ethan said in disgust.
"We *are* talking about my father here," Draco said sarcastically. "What's the one for the bookstore?"
"Fine, expect to have your rent lowered probably. Did you have further problems?"
"No, sir, thank you, sir. If you need anything, just let me know, Mr. Malfoy."
"I will. Thank you." He nodded and left, but Draco jumped when something hit the window. "Asgard! What are you doing!"
"There's a squirrel," Xander told him, pointing at it. "It's baiting him."
Draco walked into the kitchen, getting something out of refrigerator, then opening the window more. He put it just next to the window and stepped back, watching and waiting. The squirrel sniffed it and dashed inside to get it, but Asgard was faster and pounced him. He proudly carried it over to his mate, letting her have the still-wiggling creature. "Good job, Asgard." He lowered the window again, leaving a crack. "There, that's better." He flopped down, watching as Perfect got down to play with her cute, wiggling toy. She let it go, but pounced it again, giggling madly.
"She likes it, it's great fun. Just don't destroy stuff." Xander kissed Draco again. "They even made dinner."
"They're house elves." Xander kissed him until he had a dopy look on his face. "Fine, they can have a good treat. They went above and beyond." He got up to look around again. "No throws?"
"They're coming tomorrow. I took Perfect to pick them out."
"I'm sure the fabric shop was thrilled. Did they give you much trouble?"
"We went to Madam Malkin's to find her a new sweater. We found bolts of fabric instead. She's making us throws and pillows, plus a big pad of fabric for the kitty birthing bed."
"Good. That's very useful to know. When will she have them done?"
"Tomorrow afternoon." He stole another kiss. "Staying for dinner?"
"No, unfortunately I've got detention tonight and for the next week." Xander pouted. "I have to serve it."
"Okay. I'll eat alone tonight and watch some tv."
"I'll try to sneak down later," Draco offered.
"That'd be cool." Xander got up and went to get the food, coming back with the snack since it looked more like food to him. "Here, try." He sat down again, nibbling while he watched the cats play. "If you don't eat it, then you'll have to toss it back outside as a warning to others."
"That's fine," Asgard said, sounding distracted. The squirrel tried to get away again so he pounced. He sniffed, getting up to hunt something. "Mice too, love."
"Hmm, tasty." She killed the squirrel and started to chew on it. "Fresh meat, I needed this."
"We got you some vitamin stuff too," Xander warned. "To make the babies healthy."
"If I must." She went back to chewing. "This one is very tasty, very young." She looked outside. "Birds!" she said in awe.
"I'll get some bird feeders so you can watch them," Xander promised. He looked at Draco. "We had better never break up. We'd have to break up the cats, the stuff in here, and I'd have to undecorate."
"Don't you dare," he said with a smirk. "If we break up, I'm keeping everything in here." He stole another kiss and a bite of food, moving closer. "Of course, if you ever dump me, I'm going to have to hunt you down and paddle you before dragging you back in strong chains and tying you to the bed."
"What do I get to do if you leave me?"
"Malfoys are stubborn creatures. If my father could stand my twat of a mother for so long, I can stand all your little quirks, including the demons who like to hunt you to try and grope. So therefore the only way we're parting is if you leave me. And then you'd better pray that you destroy me or else I'm going to have to get rather upset and start to hurl insults and things. Understood?"
Xander grinned and nodded. "Sure, Draco." He'd never had anyone who wanted to be possessive of him. It was kind of nice.
"As long as you don't do it just because he went shopping, we won't have to hurt you," Snape reminded him.
"Yes, don't attempt to become one of those abusive spouses," Ethan agreed. "I would have to get...creative." The other adults shivered at that pronouncement.
"I'd never do that," Draco reminded him, looking back at him. He smirked. "You're staying for dinner?"
"No," Ethan admitted. "We're on our way out to dinner."
"You should head back to dinner," Snape ordered.
"Let me nibble first," Draco told him. "I'll make it up in time for detention."
"Good. Make sure you do." They went through the floo, leaving the couples alone.
Xander looked at his kitty couple. "So, do you think I'll be able to talk to the kittens?"
"You should be able to. You can talk to Mrs. Norris."
"Good point but I can't talk to Croonshanks."
"Why would you want to?"
"Security?" Xander suggested, sounding hopeful. Draco snorted. "Fine. You know, her cat's not demonic."
"It's not a real cat either. It's a half-cat."
"That probably explains why I can't talk to it. So what is Croonshanks?"
"In denial. She refuses to believe she's not a full cat," Asgard told him. "She is rather pretty when she's in heat however." Perfect batted at him and growled. "Sorry, love, it's the hormones."
"I'll hormone you," she threatened. "Remember, I'm having your kittens and I'm your alpha bitch. If you touch her, I'll have you fixed permanently."
"But, love, you look so good like that," he offered, licking her on the nose. She batted at him. "You do. You look very good like that. Still very sleek and very happy."
"I foresee a doctor's visit in the future." He gave a look then padded off to check out the water dish. "Come back," she sighed.
"I'd never go to her permanently, love," he offered, coming back. "She'd only be a thing for when she's in heat. The same as I wouldn't want that smelly thing Mrs. Norris either, but she does go into heat once a century apparently." He sat down next to her and licked her head, making her purr. "I'd never go for anyone but you , love. You're all I want to curl up with and bathe each night." He licked her again. "Forgive me?"
He trotted back to the bowls, then patted at them. "Pet, they're empty."
"I'll call the school to get your food. They apparently forgot that earlier," Draco told him, getting up to do that.
"We got some food in the fridge, since we were out and all," Xander said with a grin. "And the supplements are in the big jar of white stuff."
Draco gave him a look but did find the jar and added some to the food after reading the directions. He brought the food bowl back and put it down. "Don't blame me if it tastes bad."
Asgard sniffed it and took a bite and then trotted off. "Not too bad, but it had better be excellent for the babies." He nuzzled her. "Come try some of this, love."
"If I must." She brought her squirrel over to the bowl and dug into it. "It's not bad." She ate more and then went back to nibbling on her squirrel. "It goes well with the meat."
Her mate sat down and took a bite, weathering her swat. "It's not as good as usual, but it'll be fine."
"I'll put some down without the additives," Xander promised.
"Thanks, pet. This is very nice." He ate another bite of squirrel then sat down to watch the trees move. They were fascinating.
Xander snuggled into Draco, watching the cats and the trees. It was a pretty sight.
Xander was running around the town when the next contact happened. He was bored, he was stuck on his current training list and it was making him insane, so he had stopped and was now wandering looking for a diversion. That's why he was in the sweets shop. That's also why he ran into a raven-haired woman who squealed and hugged him. He looked at her. "I'm not a family member, it's the spell that was used to conceive me. How's the other sisters?"
She pulled back, looking up at him. "How did you know?"
"I've run into two others of you," he said with a grin. "I'm Xander." She laughed and hugged him again. "Thanks. So, what's going on? Have you found him?"
"We have. We know where he is." She patted him on the cheek. "You're still very important. To this war and others. The child will look up to you as a paragon and a lesson on how to do things properly." She stroked his cheek again. "Therefore you must train all you can and then do what you must."
"I am, I'm just taking a break due to frustration." He looked around. "Can I buy you a piece of candy?"
"No, that's all right, Vellian. You might as well be one of us. The only thing you don't do is see."
"I do see, but only for family," he told her. She cooed and gave him a beautiful smile. "Is it soon?"
"No," she assured him. "The end is not soon." He stared her down and she shrugged, smiling softly. "As in any war, there are always battles. This is merely a series of battles in the overall war."
"Which sucks when you're a foot soldier in the war," he pointed out.
"We are all soldiers, some of us merely are more aware of it. All you care about will come through, even if you have to make it so. Not that you should have to, but you may. Be forewarned that there are things that may happen and things that may not happen as you wish. But everything that is presently yours will continue to be yours, even those adorable kittens. You will make a very good grandfather to their family, and to your own, including a brother or sister." She winked and strolled off.
He turned. "Should we attack?"
"No," she said, turning to look at him. "Do not use a preemptive maneuver. It is not time for that yet. That time comes, but not until the baby is on it's way. The height of light and beauty is not time. Nor is the height of the sun or the moon. It will come to you. When it does, remember that all is not lost and that you have *three* means of powers." She winked and walked out.
Xander looked at the counterboy and frowned. "Can I have some chocolate and some peppermint sticks?" He put a galleon on the counter. "Add more peppermint sticks. I've got to visit the 'rents."
"Of course, Mr. Snape. Who was she?"
"Important. A seer who knows my family." He took the bag and headed up to the school, nodded at Hagrid as he walked past him. "Another contact and more information." He headed directly to the dungeons, tapping gently since he wasn't sure if his dad had a class now or not. The door opened. "I met the dark-haired one." He was pulled into the office past the first years. "She said it's not time for a preemptive strike. She said that I'll keep everything that was presently mine, that I had three gifts and to remember that when it came time to do that. That it wouldn't be until the baby was on it's way. She also said it wasn't at the height of light and beauty, or of the sun or the moon. She said this is only a battle in the overall war of good and evil. That I'm going to be a good influence in the baby's life," he added with a grin. "That the baby'd look up to me."
"So you met another one of them?" Snape clarified. Xander grinned and nodded. "No funny touches this time?"
"Some cheek stroking and she hugged me. When asked, I said she was a seer who knew my family."
"A reasonable assumption and explanation," Snape agreed, still going through the new information. "So the last battle of this one is soon?" Xander shrugged. "You don't know?"
"That depends on when the child is born. They said they've found their brother."
"That's good. No other hints?"
"Well, that depends. If you can figure out the clues about light and sun and moon then maybe we'll have a time." He stood up. "Here, give mom some of the peppermints I'm assuming he's going to be in the library for quite a while." Snape frowned at him so he shrugged. "It figures. It's what they do."
"They do," he agreed. "I always hated that they could get lost in there." He patted his son on the back. "Try to behave and practice what you need to know. You know how battles go better than most people do."
"Dad, remember, you can't go this time," Xander reminded him. His father scowled at him. "Just pointing something out. You can always give valuable information." He smiled sweetly. "You have to come see the future kittens soon. Speaking of kittens, is Draco free sometime soon?"
"I'll have him sent down tonight," he promised. "You did good. I'll see you later."
"Sure. Oh, she said something about future brothers and/or sisters too," he said smugly as he nodded and took the remaining treats with him, heading back to the house through the floo. He came out the other side, looking around. "Perfect? Asgard? I'm back."
"Hurry, pet, she's doing this now."
"Shit!" He turned and called out for his dad. "Dad, she's in labor. Can I steal Draco now? And possibly Mom?" He hung up and went to help his poor baby. "Hey, princess Perfect. Are you feeling okay? Should I bring the water bowl over?" She nodded so he got her the water bowl, putting it next to her but out of the way. "There. What else can I do?"
"Just stay calm. It's not the first one but the others went to the person who was our former owner." Asgard sat on the edge of the box, staring down at her. "Are you coming along?"
"Fine." He slinked over to the fireplace, waiting on his pet. His pet needed to be here, he was always a calm human. He paced until his human came out with the pet's mother. "Good, she's having them now. You must help her."
"I've got it, Asgard," Ethan assured him, scratching him behind the ears. "Draco, turn off the fire." He walked over to the kitty box and squatted down. "Have you had one yet?" She meowed pitifully.
Xander touched her stomach. "It feels like they're coming." She scratched him. "I'm sorry, just trying to help. You know men can't do this, we never have."
"Just go sit somewhere and wait," Perfect ordered. "You're distracting me."
"Fine, sorry." He went to gather some towels; they always showed helpers with towels on the Animal channel. He came back with the hand towels and a damp washcloth. "Here, in case we need them."
"Go sit down, Xander. Pet Asgard." Xander flopped down on the bed to watch them. "Without staring."
"Fine. Just stay out of the way." Draco and Snape came through the floo, Draco sitting on the bed to help keep Xander calm while Snape got down to help. "She'll be fine, boys."
"Has it been too long? Should we take her to a vet? Is she having problems?"
"No, Xander. Calm down." He smiled. "Ah, there's the first one. It's a redish one. Where did that color come from?"
"Her sister was that color," Asgard said helpfully.
"He said her sister was that color but he loved her more."
"Good to know. Ah, here's a second one and it's as silver as the mommy. Hmm, and a third very quickly. Ah, this one is black it appears. And a boy!" Xander hugged Asgard. "Ease off on the new father, son."
"Fine, dad." He let Asgard be taken by Draco, leaning against his side too. "Are they okay? I haven't heard any kitty protests."
"They're fine," Snape said firmly. "Quit bothering us."
"She's my cat! They're my grandchildren!" He shifted so his head was in Draco's lap. "It's not like I'll get to deal with any kids until you guys have another one or the new chaos warrior is born."
"Repete, por favor?" Ethan demanded, glaring at him. "Who told you that?"
"The dark-haired Daughter of Loki and I met in the sweet shop today. By the way, I left some peppermints on dad's desk for you. She said that it's not time for an assault. To remember that I have three forms of powers not two when it comes time. That this is only a series of pitched battles in the war of good against evil, nasty idiots. She gave me some time clues and said that everything I loved would come through okay, but that the new chaos warrior would be looking up to me." He grinned at them. "She also said that I'd have a new brother or sister to take care of too. Aren't you supposed to be helping her? She doesn't sound like a happy mommy cat."
"She's fine, son," Ethan said patiently. He helped the next one being born, smiling at it. "Number five is a boy as well."
"What happened to four?" Draco asked. "Did it just suddenly apparate out?"
"No, it was a girl, another redish one."
Snape held up one of them to look at her. "Breathe, now," he ordered. It complained loudly. "Thank you." He put it back and checked the others, tapping another one to make it breathe too. "Don't get your hopes up on another sibling, Alex."
"I'm not yet," he said with a big grin. "But if it happens I wouldn't mind."
"Fat chance," Ethan said dryly. He looked down at the meowing, helping another kitten out. "Here's number six. He's an adorable silver male. Ah! And a black female." The cat relaxed and he gently probed her stomach. "I think she's all done." He found another lump. "No, one more I think." She growled at him. "It's not my fault, there's another lump."
"Lump?" Xander asked.
"It's a kitten, Xander."
"All right, Perfect. Do you think you're going to have the other one soon or do you think we could weigh the others?"
"Leave them to me for a few more hours."
"She said leave them for a few more hours."
"Fine. But we should probably weigh them soon." He helped one find a nipple and she bent back to lick at them, making sure they were all clean and breathing. He shifted another one closer to a teat and stroked down Perfect's back. "There you are, my dear. We'll wait on the last one to appear if you don't mind."
"Fine," she agreed tiredly. "They need to know what being worshiped is like."
Asgard hopped down and came over to peek into the box. "Done, love?"
"One more they think. I'm still cramping too." She shifted and there was a small moan then another kitten was coming out. "Owowowowow!"
"Shh, little one, we're helping," Ethan soothed, helping that one come out. Then he cleaned off its nose and handed it back. "There you are." He gently touched her stomach. "Completely empty from what I can feel." He sat back, looking at the boys, taking the wet washcloth to clean off his hands. "There we are. Want us to help rub them?"
"No, they're fine," Perfect assured him, tired sounding meows to his ears, but Xander told him what it was. "Food?" she asked. Xander hopped up and got the food dish, bringing it back to put in the corner of the box, next to the water. "Thank you, pet."
"You're welcome," he said, scratching her behind the ears. "You're very special and so good! You're like some Goddess."
"I'm a cat, it's synonymous," she said sweetly. "Let them sleep, I'll make sure they're clean."
"That's fine. When they're squeaky clean, I'll take the pad and wash it again, then put it back for you."
"Good boy, pet," Asgard praised. He climbed in and sniffed the kittens, then licked them all. "They're adorable. I'm wonderful." She swatted at him. "So are you, love." He licked her head, making her swat at him again. He laid down behind her back, watching his new kittens. "They're good and healthy kittens, Perfect. We did good."
"You did great," Xander agreed, scratching their heads. "Yell at us if we get too clingy. Did you want something special for dinner tonight?"
"No, just soft food," Perfect said happily. "Go take a nap or bathe off the scent of that other pet."
"That was the person who said that you guys would be okay through the battles and all of that. She's the same one who said I could help solve the bad guys this time." He stroked down their backs again. "I'm so happy," he said quietly. "When do you think they'll start talking?"
"By the time their eyes open." Asgard licked Perfect's ears again. "Go nap, pet, I've got it for now."
"Yes, sir." He laid down on the bed, pulling Draco into his arms. "He said they'd start talking when their eyes opened."
"That's good," Draco agreed, stroking his mate's stomach. "I'm staying down here for a bit, Snape."
"Fine. Be back by curfew or I'll have to report you." He looked at Ethan. "You may need to hypnotize him to get a full account," he offered.
"I'll do that tonight, when he's calmer." He glanced at Draco. "Keep him from fussing too much." They left, going back to the office so Snape could repeat what little he had been told this time.
Xander got up and went to the floo, calling down to the inn. "Hi, Madam Rosemerta. Do you have anything that's suitable for my new mommy kitten for dinner? She likes ground things."
"Well, I've got some baked fish and some stew on in the other fireplace."
Xander looked at the cats. "She's got fish and stew."
"What's stew?" Perfect asked quietly, nearly asleep.
"It's meat, veggies, and stuff in a soupy/gravy sorta base."
"That sounds good. Make sure the meat's in little pieces."
Xander looked at the fire again. "Can we do the stew but get the meat chopped into really little pieces?"
"Of course," she agreed with a gentle smile. "How many?"
"Seven," he said proudly. "All adorable." He beamed at her. "I'll be down in a while. As soon as I calm down."
"That's fine, Vellian. I can send some up. I know how tiring it is to watch things give birth." She disappeared from the fireplace.
Xander walked back to the bed and flopped back down. "I'm happy. Right?"
"You should be," Draco agreed, stroking him on the back. "So, what else happened today?"
"I got frustrated so I went to the stores. I saw her in the sweet shop." He snuggled in. "There's money in the box on the dresser if I fall asleep."
"That's fine, pet," Draco agreed calmly. He continued to stroke Xander until he fell asleep, then pulled his wand to take care of the door and things. Madam Rosemerta came up a few minutes later and knocked gently. Draco opened the door with his wand and waved her inside. "Money's in the box," he said quietly, pointing at the box. "They're in there."
She found a bowl in the kitchen to pour the stew into, setting it into the whelping box as well. "There you are, dears." She patted them both on the head. "They're adorable. Very pretty. You did excellently. Eat the stew, I put the meat into tiny bites for you and I strained out most of the veggies for you both. Asgard, let her eat most of it. It's hard work having babies." She gave them one last pet and took a few knuts from the box on the dresser. "They're very pretty, Mr. Malfoy. Congratulations to you both," she said with a smile. "I saw Ripper in t own, should I send him up?"
"Snape and Ethan were having dinner I think."
"That's fine." She left, closing the door softly behind her. They all needed naps. New babies, even kitten babies, were stressful to have born. She headed back to her inn, stopping Ripper on the way. "She had seven beautiful kittens today. I brought her some stew. They're so cute. Mostly red, black, and silver but one's got patches of black and silver and is perfectly beautiful. I wouldn't mind having that one if it's not spoken for." She left him there with a smile on his face, going to share the gossip.
Ripper walked up to the loft apartment, tapping gently before walking in. "Ah," he said in appreciation when he saw the kittens. "They're adorable, Perfect. Very nice, the both of you. Madam Rosemerta said she wouldn't mind the patchy one a bit." He stroked them on the head. "You rest. Does Ethan know?"
"Yes," Draco said patiently. "They were here for it because Xander panicked. Let them sleep, having babies is tiring work." He stroked Xander's stomach for him. "He had another run-in with one of those sisters. She apparently said there's a chance of a sibling."
"For the cats?"
Draco raised an eyebrow. "To him."
"Excuse me?" He saw the boy's eye roll. "The sister said that we're having another one?" Draco nodded, smirking at him. "Not bloody likely! I'm not going through that again!"
"Hush," Perfect ordered.
That had sounded like his mother's hiss so he obeyed. "Sorry, love." He walked closer to the bed. "She told him he'd have a sibling?"
Draco nodded. "So he said. He said something about some hints." He shrugged. "I wasn't there, he said he met her in the sweet shop."
"Fine. I'll come back tonight to hypnotize him. It's the only way to get a coherent report." He left, locking the door behind him. He walked into the Great Hall right before dinner, tapping Dawn on the shoulder. "Perfect had seven kittens and Madam Rosemerta is already pushing for one of them." She squealed and bounced, hugging Ron, who was beside her. "They're down at the loft. If you get permission I'll take you down later."
"Thanks, Giles." She beamed at Ginny as she came in. "Perfect had seven kittens, all adorable."
"That's wonderful news," she agreed happily. She smiled at Giles. "Hello, sir. Professor Snape canceled his earlier classes so I'm assuming they're eating in his office again."
"That's fine. Thank you, Miss Weasley." He walked out, heading down to find them. They weren't in the office but Snape was tucking Ethan into his bed. "Headache?" Snape nodded so Giles gave him a pat on the back. "I stopped in to see the kittens, I'll go back to hypnotize him later to get a full account. Did he tell you disturbing prophecy about another child?"
"He did and I'm still nauseous," Snape admitted. "Dinner?"
"Please. Are we eating in your office or up in the Great Hall?"
"In the office. That way Ethan doesn't have to wander around like that." He led the way back to his office, ringing a bell for a house elf. "Bring dinner."
"Yes, sirs." It disappeared and came back with two plates and two drinks. It set them on the desk then left again. A few minutes later it reappeared, head hanging. "Dumbledores say he see you later, sir. He very smiling about it but he said he see you later."
"That's fine," Snape agreed. The elf disappeared and he rolled his eyes. "What now?"
"He probably wants to know what Xander knows," Giles pointed out. He dug in, eating quickly. "The boys were nearly unconscious. Xander got them some stew from Madam Rosemerta, who said she wanted the patchy one probably. I told Dawn I'd bring her down with me if that was all right with McGonagall."
"I don't see a problem with that, I didn't give her detention today." He ate a careful bite, tasting it to make sure it wasn't poisoned, then dug in. "They did very well tonight."
"The house elves do a good job most nights," Ripper reminded him. "You're just too cranky to appreciate it most nights." They shared a look and Severus looked aside. "How was your day?"
"Tiring. I started with third year Hufflepuffs and Slytherins, then a double class of first years, then moved on to the birthing."
"Hmm. I'll give you a backrub later if you'd like."
"Please," Snape agreed. "We still have to work on the nuptial agreement as well, even though Draco is loathe to do so."
"He's a foolish young man who believes nothing can ever come between them."
"He told our son that he was stubborn so Vellian would have to leave him, not the other way around. He was quite convinced of the fact. Pointed out that his parents had stayed together, they could as well."
"That's hopelessly romantic for that boy," Giles said dryly. He ate another bite of dinner. "I'm wondering if they're celebrating yet."
"Quite possibly, but our son was looking very exhausted," Ethan said as he wandered in. He sniffed dinner, then sat on Giles' lap, stealing his fork to eat something. "Is there anything planned for tonight?"
"Hypnosis of Vellian and I've got a meeting with Dumbledore," Snape said. "You could come if you liked."
"No, thank you. I may go nap on the son's couch for a bit while you work with him but I don't think I could stomach the headmaster's office tonight."
"You can easily go with myself and Dawn," Ripper offered dryly.
"She's going as well?"
"She wanted to see the kittens. You know how girls are about babies."
"True. I had forgotten about that. I'm sure she'll be squealing loud enough to wake the dead."
"There's an idea, put Miss Summers, Miss Weasley, and all of the Hufflepuff females in the final battle and have them squeal Voldemort's forces to death," Snape said sarcastically.
"It would be a scary sight," Ethan agreed, smirking at him. "Definitely unexpected. I'm not sure he'd know what to do with so many squealing young women. It might at least make him pause and make that ghastly sound unpopular again after a few die."
"That would be nice, but there will always be squealing young women," Snape reminded him. "We still must break Xander of that prophecy of a sibling."
"It's not an idea I had thought of earlier but it's not a *horrible* idea that makes me shudder in horror," Ethan offered. "Definitely not until the war is over."
"He said it's another series in the battle of good versus evil," Snape reminded him.
"At least we'll get a breather before the next series comes," Giles offered.
"We hope," Snape reminded him.
"Quit being so pessimistic, Sev. It's not that bad. We always get some sort of breather," Ethan offered gently.
"Yes, even on the Hellmouth we got a few days at the very least." Ripper smirked at him. "After all, I am the *master* of apocalypses by now. I've even talked Buffy into coming back to help."
"I'm sure the twins will be thrilled with that," Severus said dryly. "They'll be horrible if she dies, Ripper."
"She's come back to life before," he said with a shrug. They stared at him so he nodded. "She was brought back by Xander."
"Interesting," Ethan noted quietly. "Is that why we have Faith as well?" Ripper nodded quickly, taking his fork back so he could eat some of his own dinner. Ethan smirked at him and took the fork back, feeding him choice bites of food. "Perhaps we could have both slayers back?"
"We'll see," he offered. He ate another bite and smirked at him. "You are so naughty, Ethan."
"I know," he replied smugly. "What did the son get as a treat for his cat?"
"Stew. Madam Rosemerta brought some up herself and said she wanted the patchy one if they didn't mind."
"One down, six more to find decent homes for," he agreed happily.
"Weasley, Buffy, probably a few others at the school as well," Snape noted. "Though Draco may not want to give one to Weasley."
"He'd do it when Xander and Dawn pouted at him," Ethan pointed out with a smirk for him. He fed him a bite of dinner as well. "What did the Headmaster want this time?"
"I have no idea, unless it's about the meeting today."
"Quite possibly," Rupert agreed, taking another bite while Ethan was feeding Severus. Ethan smacked his hand and fed him. "Sorry, but I'm hungry."
"That's what you get for missing lunch," Ethan smarted off. "Next time don't lose yourself in that catacomb you call the library at your family home."
"I wasn't. I did leave to talk to Wesley to make sure everything was fine in Sunnydale still. I went to Diagon to do a bit of minor shopping." He ate another piece of meat in his fingers. "Then I went to find our old stash." Both of them stared at him. "Still untouched. If Lucius found it, he never got into it."
"Well," Ethan said finally. "That's interesting. Everything was still in there?"
"Including your wand, Ethan," he said with a smirk for him. "You were always losing that thing."
"No, when I turned to chaos, I put it in there," he admitted, looking down at his hands. "I haven't used a wand in so long that I'm not sure I can anymore. My new one's pretty but I never seem to get around to using it."
"There are refresher courses available," Snape said quietly, patting him on the arm. He took a bite of his dinner, weathering the smack. "We'll look at it later."
"I've resealed it to the rings," Ripper told him. "The way it should have been." He ate a bite, then Ethan started to feed them again. "Thank you, love."
"Welcome," he said, sounding like he was thinking. "There's things in there that we can't let out, Ripper," he said, looking at him. "My beginning journals and the like."
"I know. Actually, I have one of those as well. I taught Willow out of it when she started to go wild recently, hoping for some concern and noticing that she was doing chaos magic. She never did."
"Well, more fool her then," Severus noted. "Is she still?"
"I sat her with a group of Wiccans I like locally," Ripper admitted. "Her and Tara both actually. They both needed the reinforcement. Tara needed someone to back her up while she was trying to hold Willow down."
"Hopefully they're fairly strong and patient," Ethan said dryly, feeding them another bite of food. Someone tapped on the door. "What!" he snapped.
Dawn stuck her head in. "The Headmaster just got an owl and said that he needed to talk to Professor Snape, Ethan. He wanted to see him ASAP." She grinned at Giles. "Willow was being muttered about."
"Wonderful," he said grimly. "We'll be up soon."
"Ah, no," she told him. "He said Professor Snape and only Professor Snape, Giles. Apparently it's something mean and bad."
"Fine," Severus agreed, taking the next few bites. "Wait for me here and we'll go down to hypnotize our son together." He got up, following the young girl up to the Headmaster's office. "It's a joint council?" he asked when she kept going up the stairs.
"Blast," he muttered, taking the stairs up. He walked in the door she had opened, shutting it. "You wanted to see me alone?"
"There was a powerful blast of magic earlier, Severus. Not fully dark but we can't be sure it wasn't Miss Rosenburg. I'd like for you to check it out."
"I can't, in case you hadn't noticed my cover was blown," he reminded him.
"I said we'd go," Harry told him, "but he's being stubborn. We'd even take Vellian if requested, sir," he said when Snape glared at him.
"That's not an available option, my boy. You all have tests tomorrow," the Headmaster said gently.
"What good are grades if we all die," Dawn said dryly, crossing her arms. "We'll check in with Professor Snape and his mates when we get back, but he can't go. If it's Death Eaters he'll probably be tortured and die. That would make Ethan go all bad guy again and I'm betting he could probably cause more hell on earth than even Willow could. So, whoever the seer was who saw Willow trying to destroy the world, ya might wanna have them look for other causes too."
"Vellian's very strong and very much attuned to both types of magic. It's not unheard of to have people like him turn to the dark after personal tragedies either," Snape told her. He looked at the Headmaster. "Let the children go, Albus. If it was only partially dark magic then they should be fine. That doesn't sound like the Death Eaters I know."
"Which was my point, which really makes it a job for the Aurors," Ron admitted from his corner chair. He grinned at Dawn. "She just wants to get out and be sneaky though."
"We can go investigate and if it wasn't Death Eaters we can call in the Ministry," Harry offered, more to soothe Ron than anything. "Or I can go alone if I must."
"Fat chance," Dawn and Ron said in unison, both sounding sarcastic about it.
Snape had to hold in his snickers at that. Those two were going to make him laugh some day soon with how they kept Potter in check. "That is the best solution you have. Unless you want all three of us to go, Albus."
"I don't think Ethan should," he said grimly. "You did say he had a headache."
"Yes, and we've medicated him."
"He was up and feeding them," Dawn offered. "Besides they've got a lot more battle experience together than most anyone."
"I still don't like them going," Harry put forward. "If it is Death Eaters then Professor Snape's as good as dead, no matter who's with him, and then we'd see Vellian go insane."
"He's more stable than that."
The door slammed open and Draco walked in, scowling at all them. "Something happened near Malfoy Manor. One of the house elves just called the loft." He crossed his arms. "They said it was an explosion of chaos magic."
"They're sure it was chaos?" Snape demanded.
"I'd assume they'd know. Father tried it a few times but never got the hang of it," Draco noted. "Speaking of which, what is that horribly shiny thing on the edge of town? Vellian said he saw something that way earlier but didn't go searching for it yet. He was going to watch it to make sure it wasn't a demonic egg or anything."
"It's our storehouse," Snape admitted. "We all stored some things there that we were working on, including the fertility charm." Draco shuddered. "You must think of that sometime in the future."
"The family line can die out for all I care," Draco said coolly. "I'm not carrying one and I doubt I want Xander to." He looked at Dumbledore. "Who am I taking so my mate doesn't jump in to try to help?"
"Us," Harry told him. "Or maybe just me. Ron?"
"Fat chance, Harry. Whenever you go by yourself you nearly die."
"He did?" Dawn asked.
"Yeah, he went to save my sister his second year and nearly died. He went during the Tournament and nearly died." Harry winced. "And someone did die before he could stop them. So he doesn't get to go alone anymore."
"Cool with me," Dawn said with a shrug. "Let us change, Draco. We'll need dark clothes to sneak around in."
"Fine," he agreed, getting out of their way. He looked at Snape. "How is Ethan?"
"If it was chaos magic, that could explain why he had the headache," he noted. "I'll ask him, see if he wants to go." He glanced behind him. "Where's my son?"
"I left him with the floo turned off and unlit."
Snape groaned. "He can fix that, Draco. Go back now. I'll send them to the loft." He nodded, using the Headmaster's floo to head back down. "I'll be back." He left, going to gather his mates. They'd have to lead the children if Xander had went. He met them in the hallway lounging, both of them dressed. "You've heard?"
"Xander called up to have someone come watch the cats for him," Ethan said with a shrug. "Said chaos magic exploded near Draco's house and he was going to help him search."
"Which means that Mr. Malfoy was too late and he's already there," Snape agreed. He noticed the others coming. "Come. We're going with you. Vellian has already left." They nodded, following him to the nearest door and outside so they could portkey off. They landed on the manor's front lawn and saw a figure disappearing into the woods. "Go, stop him," he ordered. Dawn took off at a dead run, her boys following her. The adults took off at a slower pace. They couldn't run at their ages, not like when they were eighteen. Once they caught up to Draco, who had the tracking charm, they went as a group. Ethan went with Draco, just in case it was someone actively practicing chaos magic. The others fanned out to search the woods around them for anyone. Ron found someone and knocked them out, then bound them to a tree, then waved Ripper over, pointing at him. Ripper nodded and tested the bindings, nodding that it was a good job. They continued on until they found a newly cleared space in the woods, and Xander sitting on a rock staring at someone.
"Vellian Alexander Snape!" Ethan shouted, making their son jump. "What the bloody hell are you doing!"
"Watching her change," he said, pointing at the crystal on the ground in front of him. "She exploded and was starting to crystal up when I got here. She said to watch her, not touch her or else she'll come out funny looking, and make sure she hatched again." He shrugged and went back to his watching. Then he glanced over. "Hey, Harry, Ron, Dawnie." He went back to his watching.
Snape stormed over, looking at the crystal. "It's a chrysalis," he announced.
"I'll call," Ripper offered.
"No, she said no Ministry. That they'd already tried to kill her once."
"Fine," Ethan said patiently. "We can't help her though."
"Well, we can't leave her out here unguarded," Draco noted. "It's much too dangerous. Who did you find in the woods, Weasley?"
"Some bloke in all black but without a hood. We tied him to a tree."
"He's got some very good bonds," Ripper praised, making Ron grin at him. "Had to do one of your brothers?"
"A few times. The twins liked to prank me in the middle of the night so I ended up tying them to their beds so I could sleep. Mum was not happy but she stopped 'em pretty quick after not seeing them for a day and finding them strapped down like the lunies they are." He grinned at Dawn. "Just think, you're going to be related to them," he said happily. Ripper choked. "They want to marry her sister, mate, not another way yet. That'll be at least a year."
"Does that mean that Xander will be an honorary Weasley relative since he said I'm like his little sister?" Dawn asked innocently. She saw Ethan, Snape, and Draco all shudder in horror and cackled. "Gotcha!"
"I'll get you back later for that horrible nightmare," Draco said, shooting a glare in her direction. "How long does this take?"
"Usually not more than a night," Ripper admitted. He pulled his wand and created a small fire, then pulled out some floo powder. "Headmaster." Dumbledore's head popped up. "It's a chrysalis situation. We've got it. She asked Vellian to be her guardian."
"She said not to, that they've tried to kill her," Ripper interrupted. "Until she breaks free, we can't really do much more. So we'll be staying here tonight. What subject is the test in?"
"Charms," Ron said helpfully.
"Got your back there," Xander said happily. "Is it on theory or doing?"
"It's a practical," Harry admitted. "I still suck at two of them."
"You and me both," Dawn sighed.
"We'll be tutoring them while we wait," Ripper said dryly, cutting the connection. "Come, let's build the fire a bit higher so we can stay warm, children, and we'll work on those with you." He looked at Snape. "Go help Vellian watch. We'll hypnotize him later." Snape nodded, going to do that since he didn't want to teach charms.
"Which charms?" Ethan asked.
"Love, go get the stash, before Vellian gets into it. I have no doubt he felt me get into it earlier," Ripper told him. Ethan nodded and went to get them. "Children, it's time you learned some things that Dumbledore does not want you to learn. We found it ourselves and it is something that will be helpful."
"Are you sure?" Severus asked.
"I'm sure. We're too old to be on the front lines this time, Sev. They need to know what we did."
"Are you talking about the animagus things?" Ron asked.
"No, my boy, I never went that way," Ripper said with a smile. "I'm thinking about doing that now however. I'm presently looking for something fun to research."
"You and Ethan would probably be foxes and would just screw on your midnight runs," Xander said with a smirk for him. "Are the ants that're drawn to her bad? She said we couldn't use magic around her."
"We can't and yes they are," Ripper agreed, but let Severus handle it for him. He was better at this stuff. He ringed the body with a line of fire, leaving her alone after that. The magic had been cast far enough away that it wouldn't hurt her but the fire would protect her from nearly everything. Ripper put out his fire and walked them over to that one since it was brighter. He looked at Harry. "How are your studies?"
"Confusing. It's like I'm missing the key to get it right. Even Remus got frustrated with me when things refused to work right."
"Hmm, that's usually a translation problem. What one sees as necessity isn't always for others." Ripper pulled the boy apart from the others and sat down to work with him on the stuff he had been learning. "That bloody moron," drifted over a few minutes later, but no one went to interrupt them since Ripper was in teacher mode and Harry was paying rapt attention. At the end Harry nodded and pulled his wand to cast something, getting a glowing spot in front of him.
"Yes, he'll need to know," Severus sighed. He looked at the others. They were nothing like him, but they were the trio that had perfect balance, the way he, Ripper, and Ethan had been in their days. Somehow, one of them would be taking his place. Harry was obviously taking Ethan's. "Weasley. Do you feel torn between what they do and what I do?"
Ron looked really confused. "No, sir. I hate researching and I'm very bad at potions, as you very well know."
Xander snickered. "Dad, Dawn's you. Ron's Ripper. He's got his temper."
"Ron's not me, Ron's Ethan," Ripper called. "Harry's me."
"Um, confused here," Dawn called. Ethan came back with a locked box and she stared at it. "I know that thing!"
"Good for you," he agreed dryly, putting it down. "Which one is which?"
"They're debating it. Ron's got the fiery temper but lacks potions skills. Dawn's probably decent enough in it, but it's not her life and she's great at fighting the dark but so's Harry, and then you've got Harry," Xander told him.
Ethan pulled out the wand holding the back joint of the box closed, using it to levitate something out of the box. "Touch it," he ordered patiently. Dawn touched it and a small picture formed. "Very well. Vellian?" He did so, frowning at what he saw. "Draco?" That one touched it carefully and smiled at the picture he got. He floated it over to the other two, letting them get it. "Very well. Yes, the trio is now in two groups. The lesser trio, which is a warrior's trio, and a higher trio, which is knowledge and power," he announced. "Draco and Xander are a merge of us, Ripper, with Ron being Snape in the lesser group, Harry being me, and Dawn being you. Apparently they went on their other skills, not their personalities." He floated the crystal back and closed the box again, putting his wand up his sleeve.
Snape looked at Draco. "That makes sense as you're the only one who can brew a decent potion."
"Tell me about it," Draco said dryly, frowning at Potter and Weasley. "I can work on Dawn's skills."
"She'll need it," he agreed. "Start her slowly and work up to healing potions."
"Yes, Professor. What of the others?"
"I want to know why I got put in as knowledge?" Xander interrupted. Ethan looked at him. "Hello, not exactly the bookiest of people. Always been known as 'that human who jumps in and gets hurt' by the demon community."
Ethan groaned. "Just trust me on this, Xander. You carry great knowledge in your little, pointy head and you can use it when you wish."
"The memories are already starting to fade," he admitted.
"They're being integrated," Giles corrected.
"Not really. I can't remember why you did that flame charm in your last year, but I also can't remember how to do it. I was working that earlier in the fireplace."
"We can fix that, son," Snape assured him. "I'll teach Draco how to brew the fixer for memory loss." He looked at his protégé. "Very well, we'll set out to work with you five tonight. Then, when she is hatched, we'll question her and do whatever we must."
"Is there any way I can do what Xander did since nothing is working to teach me the advanced hexes I'll need?" Harry asked.
"You have them, you simply don't practice them," Snape told him.
"No, he doesn't," Ripper retorted, looking back at him. "Not in the least, Sev. They didn't teach him how to shield. They didn't teach him how to block. They didn't teach him half of what we were taught. Someone should have been giving him an extra defense lesson since day one."
"I suggested that, Dumbledore said he had it in hand."
"Fat chance," Ethan snorted. "It's not going to work this time, Severus. He's not got the strength to fight anymore. He's sent too many young into battle and he's trying to save this one by coddling him instead of teaching him. We've got to teach him."
"But there's no one who can," Severus pointed out. "Those sort of lessons usually come under the heading of family magic. There's no Potters left to teach him."
"And we can talk to the dead," Xander reminded him. "Would that work or were they destroyed?"
"No, they came out of his wand," Harry said tiredly. "Is this intentional?"
"I think he's trying a new track with you but it's failing miserably," Ethan told him. "Either that or you've got to be weaker to win the war."
"I've never heard of a weak warrior being the one who won," Dawn said coolly. She glared in the direction she thought the school was. "Is he trying to get him killed?"
"It may take his death to solve it," Snape told her. "The prophecy says only one will survive."
"Then it means that one has to survive," she told him. "If it's not Harry, then it's *HIM*."
"Good point," Ethan agreed. "Don't worry, Miss Summers, we do have it under control. Losing the war is unthinkable." He looked back at Ripper. "I see your point."
"Thank you." He looked at Sev, who nodded slightly. "Fine. Gather around, children, let us show you what we've found. You need to keep this quiet. Harry, I'll start working with you myself. Remus is good but he's more a light-duty hexer. I'm a warrior where he's not." Harry nodded. "Good boy." He floated the box over. "Only those who are called with a destiny can touch this box. We found it in the castle when we were second years."
"Professor Snape would have been a first year, right?" Dawn asked, getting comfortable between her guys.
"Yes," Snape agreed. "My coming in made the trio start. Without me, they'd have been dead by the time they were fourth years."
"It's not our fault the old potion master tried to poison me," Ethan noted. "Or that Ripper was using polyjuice to cover for me doing research." He got comfortable next to his son, who was next to Draco, who was next to Snape and Ripper, who was next to Ron. "This box holds some specific information for those with a destiny. Including specific books of defensive spells and things of that nature." He stroked the top of the box. "We hid it the week after our finals, hoping it would be found by the next group."
"Was that why there was a shiny spot on the edge of the woods?" Xander asked. Ripper nodded. "Okay. So now what? Do we take an oath, add blood? What?" he asked at the looks sent his way. "I'm used to Willow magic, guys."
"Good point," Ethan admitted. "No, there's no oath to take, Xander. There's no potion to brew, though there is a book with potions in there. The problem is that the knowledge can be...damaging to those who only see nice things."
"That leaves us out," Ron told him. "Dawn's seen demons, Harry's been tortured, and I'm a Weasley."
"Good point," Ripper agreed, taking up the story. "The box also contains some things that can help you, like how to make charms to keep you in constant contact. It also changes some things so that you never have to worry about information you don't need." He shifted the box closer to the trio. "Try to open it, Harry."
Harry wiped his hands off and reached for the lock, wincing at the zap he got, but it was a light one and the box let him open it. He looked at the stack of old books. Some had ragged edges. Some were simply scrolls. Something in the bottom of the box glowed to him so he pulled it out, holding it up. "What's this?"
Dawn snatched it, looking it over. "It's me!"
"It's a kept part of your energy," Ethan corrected gently. "Someone did it years ago. Stupid bloke named Merlin." Ron gasped. "He was. Always meddling in things he shouldn't have in his youth. His young life was much different than his later life." He took back the necklace and put it on Harry's neck. "There, now you control part of her, but you can't use it to control her," he said smugly.
Ron picked up Dawn's hand and kissed the back of it. "That's pretty cool." He looked in the box. "What's that scroll?"
"Pull it out," Ripper encouraged, smirking at Sev, who groaned and shook his head.
"Wow, it's a map." He looked at it, then up. "Where is this?"
"It's wherever whatever next battle you're planning will be," Severus told him. "I know exactly what the Chamber looks like because of that thing."
"It's a bit slimy down there," Ethan agreed.
"See, I'm not the only one who's been down there," Harry said smugly, smirking at Ron.
"I still doubt I'm going, Harry. I don't want to see where You-Know-Who went to live." Ripper smacked him on the back of the head. "Ow! Bloody hell, what was that for!"
"For not saying his name. He's a fear creature, like a boggart. He lives off the fear his name produces. Dumbledore does have that correct. So say the blasted name or make him stronger."
"Yes, sir," he said, hanging his head. "I'm sorry, Harry."
"We're all scared of stuff," Dawn soothed, stroking his arm while giving Giles a death glare. "Meany."
"It's true and something that had to be addressed," Snape told her. "He was being gentle. He could have hexed him. He's quite good at it."
"He did me a few months ago, hurt like hell," Ethan agreed dryly. "He's a master of the quick hex in the halls."
"You deserved it, you were being a prat," Ripper defended.
"Not to break up this happy, joyous bout of admitting to boyfriend abuse or anything," Xander interrupted, "but time, ticking slowly away like sands in the hourglass."
"You watched Days?" Dawn asked.
"I was home for a few weeks and that's the only channel the tv got when the cable went out."
"I'm sorry. What was happening with Bo? I hate having to catch up during the summer."
"Enough," Snape said loudly. He shook his head. "I knew we should have risked it and kept you. Then you'd not be so odd." He frowned at his son, who stuck his tongue out at him. "Behave."
"Because it's necessary," Ethan told him. "Though I can see my part in you now."
"No, you never were a serious wizard," Snape agreed bitterly. "Dawn, do you see anything in the box that glows?"
"It all glows," she told him.
"To me too," Draco admitted.
Xander peeked and scratched at the back of the box, pulling out a thin book that had been hidden back there. "What's this one on?"
"Death magic," Ethan and Ripper sighed in unison.
"Well, I've been accused of it before," Xander said with a shrug, tossing it back into the box. Draco gave him a long look. "Vampires all love me. I bought Buffy back because I knew she wasn't dead yet. I could feel her floating above her body." He shrugged again. "Seemed like the right thing to do at the time."
"It probably was," Ripper agreed. "It may go along with your abilities to see for the family you've chosen and talking to your cats somehow."
"I noticed something during the birth," Draco offered, staring at Ethan. "Someone else was hearing what she said. He didn't need to be told what she was meowing."
Ethan blushed and shifted. "Sometimes I can understand, when it's necessary. I can't carry on conversations with them. I lost that ability when I quit believing in the monster under the bed."
"Whereas I know what the monster under my bed is, it's Spike," Xander said dryly. "By the way, thanks Giles."
"It's not my fault you had him sleep under your bed. I thought you had him in that uncomfortable recliner you used to have."
"I did. I even tied him into it most of the time so I didn't have to worry about him cuddling and other nasty things."
"You don't mind it when I do it," Draco noted.
"You're not a cold, dead thing who has homicidal thoughts about me." He looked at his boyfriend. "Are you?"
"Not presently. But don't worry, if I ever get turned, I'll turn you, pet."
"Thanks, Draco. That shows true love. Maybe we'll become the next Spike and Dru."
"Boys," Ripper warned.
"That's a rather nasty thought," Ethan put in, shaking his head quickly. "Oh, Gods, was that horrible. I just saw you in some of her dresses. Quick, someone give me another image."
"The candy factory where you created chaos and turned Ripper sixteen again," Xander said dryly. "Or how about a early American lady Buffy."
"Ah, those sweet moments of chaos," Ethan said smugly. "Thanks, son."
"Welcome, mom." He looked at Giles, then at Dawn, nodding at Ron to cover her ears. "So, I've always wondered. Why did you pick Buffy's mom, Giles? Did you like her *that* much?"
"Shut up, Xander."
"I *so* did not need to know that information," Draco announced, shuddering. Xander kissed him, making him moan and forget all about that thought.
"You did what with the potion you asked me for?" Snape asked his lover.
"I put it into chocolate bars and Ripper ate a good portion of a case," he said smugly. "He and Buffy's mother got together. We saw the return of punk Ripper, the one we saw in our fifth year. He and Buffy and Dawn's mother got it on on top of a police car."
"I'm going to agree with Draco, I need a brain wash," Dawn said, shuddering. "Ron!" He kissed her gently, making her smile. Then she stole a kiss off Harry, who was trying to read the book on death magic. He grinned at her then went back to reading. "Ick, Giles."
"Blame Ethan, it was his brilliant idea to put youth potion into the candy."
"By the way, putting that into chocolate and cooking it further makes it regress you mentally, not physically," Ethan told Severus. "Just for future reference."
"I'll make note of that when we get home." He shook his head, unable to see that one himself. That was just too mean.
Xander coughed, breaking up the cuddling going on in the other trio. "Now that we've got the box how do we start? Do we just pick up books randomly? I noticed Harry's liking the death magic book a lot."
"I figure it'll come in handy," Harry muttered. "You can turn a vampire back to life after centuries." He turned the page but Ripper snatched that to look it over. "Sorry. Disturbing thought to me."
"Hmm, suitable punishment for Spike," Xander mused out loud, looking up. "It'd surely piss him off."
"Quit, Xander. No more torturing Spike," Giles snapped. He looked at Harry, then at Xander. "I was thinking more along the lines of Angel personally."
"Buffy would kill you," he pointed out dryly. "That would kill her. Angel or the twins would be a hard choice. Her first love versus the new one."
"Angel would run and hide," a voice said from behind them.
"Hey, Wills, come sit," Xander offered, shifting closer to Draco. He knew who it was without even having to ask. "We're watching the chrysalis girl."
"Sure." She plopped down, sitting Tara in her lap with a grin for the adults. "Hi, guys. Is the big magic explosion thingy what brought you?" They all nodded. "Cool. Us too. New books?"
"Chaos oriented," Ethan cautioned, so Tara stopped her. "Thank you, young lady. You are?"
"That's Tara. She's a Willow snuggly witch," Dawn told him. "She's a great witch, she helped me tons when I was thinking about bad things." Harry hugged her this time. "Thanks."
"How's school?" Tara asked quietly.
"Pretty good. Oooh, Xander's cats had kittens! Seven kittens."
"Really?" Willow asked, grinning at him. "When?"
"Today," he said proudly. "And the first thing Draco's cat said to them was that he had done a good job, so she swatted him." Draco snorted and shook his head.
"I said much the same thing," Snape admitted. "Most fathers seem to." He shrugged off the curious looks. "Nothing that need concern you." He snatched the book from Ripper's hands and handed it to Xander. "Perhaps you should hold onto that."
"Then we'd get invaded by vampires again," Xander told him.
"If Hogsmeade gets invaded, I'm all for you killing them all," Ron assured him with a grin. "You were really impressive with the axe."
"You were?" Willow asked.
"Yeah, I was," Xander said smugly. " I got the demon down and killed while the others distracted it. Got really nasty doing it," he admitted, "but I did get it dead."
"Remind me to give you part of the profits of it's sale," Snape told him.
Tara looked at her girlfriend and pinched her lips closed. "Don't," she warned.
"Yes, Tara," she mumbled, kissing the fingers.
Xander saw Ron watching him and shrugged. "I once took out some zombies too. I stopped them from blowing up the school. Then Oz kinda ate one, but I made him stop blowing up the school. Told him I liked the quiet. It freaked him out because he realized that he'd be dead for real this time."
"When?" Willow asked, noticing Giles was staring at him in horror. "I don't remember that fight."
"You guys were dealing with a big tentacle thingy in the library."
"Oh, Gods," Giles whispered. "That was you!" Xander nodded, giving him a calm look. "I'm sorry, Xander."
"Just think, if you hadn't sent me away as being useless, you might have all blown up."
Giles nodded. "I'm sorry about that night."
"For what it's worth, thanks." He looked at Ron again. "Want to help me with axe practice this week?"
"Sure," he agreed happily. "It's got to be better than trying to throw Harry on his ass."
"You like him on his back," Draco said smugly.
"Do not!" Ron told him. "Hardly ever!"
"Oh, so *you* like to be on your back?" he sneered.
"Draco, unless you want them to comment on your sex life, shut up," Dawn said sweetly. "After all, I know you've enjoyed the Xander-lovin' every which way you can." She glared at him. "What we do in our bed is no business of yours, the same as we don't need to hear what goes on in yours."
"Fine," he agreed, waving a hand.
"So, Ron, what's your weapon of choice," Xander said, blatantly changing the subject.
"My wand. I'm not much outside of a brawler."
"I'm betting you learned from the twins," Dawn teased.
"I learned to defend myself against them," he assured her. "That's also how I learned to use a wand."
Harry nodded. "It was self-defense. Then again, Percy probably made it worse."
"No, I used to steal his wand and use it on them," Ron said happily. "Kept my butt out of trouble with Mum all the time."
"She ever catch on?" Dawn asked.
"Yeah, but she only smiled at me for being so sneaky," Ron said with a grin. "She caught me putting it back that time."
"I'll teach you how to summon it without your wand," Ethan told him dryly. "It'll save on that." He looked at his son. "How goes your studying?"
"Slowly. I keep feeling like I'm missing stuff. Like there's something just out of reach."
"I felt that earlier," Harry admitted. "It was how I was thinking when I was working on things."
"Xander would have a much different mindset," Giles told him. "Being where he grew up and all that stuff would change him some from yours, Harry."
"I'm glad no one else had to grow up with the Dursleys. I can't imagine it if I had been a twin."
"He doesn't have to go back, right?" Dawn demanded.
"No, he's more than welcome to spend the summer at my house," Giles told her gently. "The same as you will be and I expect to see a lot of Weasley there as well. Just as long as I don't hear what you three do and I don't have to see him naked, it should be fine." He went back to reading another book he had pulled out. "We really do need to see if the memory spell didn't work on him, Ethan."
"Good point. We'll break up into groups. Xander, come with me. Severus, work with Draco, and Ripper can work on the others for their tests."
"I've still got one I need to learn better," Draco said bitterly. "That destruction one gets out of hand with me."
"It's a matter of self control and controlling your desires," Snape told him simply. "The more controlled you are in your desire to destroy the easier it is to control the charm."
"Then I can't get it to go off at all," Draco told him.
"Maybe you're over-controlling. Let it go totally," Xander suggested.
"The last time that happened, someone had to reconstruct part of the school," Ethan said smugly.
"Yes, I remember doing that block-by-block," Giles agreed bitterly. "When it was *you* who did it."
"Boys," Willow said, frowning at them. "It can't be as fun as blowing up our entire high school was."
Draco looked at his mate. "Did you get to cackle evilly when you pushed the plunger?"
"I didn't get to, Giles had that honor," he said sadly.
"And for some reason it didn't work the first push, there was a short lag in there," Giles said, staring him down. Xander shrugged but didn't say anything. "You didn't have a second button?"
"No, but I was hoping really hard that it worked like planned." He looked at Dawn, then back at him. "Did you remember to hit the arming switch first? You had me put in one as a safety precaution so it wouldn't go off in your pocket."
"Why do I want to run away screaming?" Willow quipped. "You made sure it went boom?"
Xander nodded. "Yup, either that or I had hit the wall and was slumping directly afterwards from being so tired after the battle." He shrugged. "Whichever interpretation you like."
"Okay, now I'm scared," Tara teased, pinching him on the ear. "You make big things go 'boom'."
"That's something I'd like to see the look on the Headmaster's face when he hears," Harry said with a smirk for Ron.
"Why not? After all, someone in the paper wrote in saying that they thought I was helping you because I wanted to take over afterward," Xander said bitterly.
"I thought I had snatched that paper in time," Draco told him.
"You did, I wondered why we hadn't gotten a paper so I bought one." He looked at his parents. "There's apparently some paranoid people who think I'm a bad guy in disguise. They cited my parentage and my present lover. They think I'm only using Draco for social climbing too."
"I saw. I'm the one who had Draco snatch the paper," Snape told him. "I know it's not true, son."
"Thanks, dad, now how do we stop the paranoid people?"
"You won't. There's people who think the same thing about Harry," Ron told him. "Probably the same people. They're the same people who hide in their basements and pray to the house fairies to keep them safe."
"House fairies?" Dawn asked.
"Like protective sprites and the like," Ethan explained. "Brownies, sprites, and those things. The sad thing is that I've seen a few Gryffindors who did the same thing."
"Not everyone's meant to fight, mom. In every battle there's got to be nurses and cheerleaders." He grimaced down at his lap. "Occasionally the cheerleaders get turned around and cheer for the wrong side, but they come back once they're shown the error of their ways."
"Every hero should have their personal cheering section," Draco agreed. "They need it more often. Otherwise the battles start to wear on them and they die faster."
"Well, Harry and Ron have me and I'm a *great* cheerleader," Dawn said promptly, squeezing their hands. "It runs in my family to cheer."
"And to fight," Willow reminded her gently.
"Yeah, well, you're not getting me out of this one, so just don't worry about it," she said, trying to sound tough and strong. "They'll need me."
"They will," Giles agreed. "That's why you're part of their extra defense lessons, Dawn. Expect those to take over your holidays."
She nodded. "Sure. I'm sure Buffy will come over."
"I have no doubt of that," Ethan agreed dryly. "She may get Ron's room if he stays with us."
"Mum would throw fits," Ron said dryly, smirking at him. "But do suggest it, mum hasn't had a good scream in a bit."
"I'll explain it to her and we'll throw a joint holiday dinner," Giles told him.
"Tape it so we can see it," Harry told him, grinning brightly. "She hates that Ron fights."
"Most sane mothers do," Giles assured him dryly. "Even ours."
"Please don't bring my mother into this," Ethan sighed, rolling his eyes. "She only wanted me to get killed."
"Did she hate me too?" Xander asked.
"I don't know, I never told her about you," he admitted. "Fortunately she's dead now so we don't have to worry about being haunted. I made sure she moved on." He looked at his lover. "Thank you for that as well."
"You're welcome. I hated your mother just as much as you did."
"My mum loved you both," Giles reminded them. "My dad hated you, that was my big problem. The old fart nearly killed me when I came out to him."
"Can we go torture him for you?" Ron asked.
"No, he's dead now," Giles told him. "Wesley's father tries now and then but he's not as successful with me as he was with his son. Maybe we can get him into the battle to spare him more agony."
"I kinda liked Wes, stuffy idiot though he was," Xander offered. "He seemed a lot like me, only forced to be tweed guy."
"He was. Wesley has a wild streak but it was beaten out of him at a young age. Some day soon he'll explode."
"Would that be demon hunter Wesley, who rides a motorcycle?" Willow asked with a smirk for him. "Quite different."
"Perhaps," he agreed. "He did need to finish growing up. His own was stunted by being in the Watchers." He scratched the back of his neck. "Let's get back to work. Sev, Draco. Ethan, Xander, and I'll take the rest."
"Can we help?" Tara asked shyly.
"We're studying for a practical exam," Ron told her. "Destructive charms. Digging charms, things like that."
"Those are pretty fun," Willow told him. "I like the lifting ones better, they help with cleaning and dorm moving." Tara nodded at that. "We'll help since we're here." The groups broke up and went to their separate parts of the fire ring.
Ethan looked at his son, then smirked. "Don't hope for a sibling, Xander."
"Sure, mom. Do you want to do the hypnosis as well?"
"We probably should," he agreed. "Do you trust me enough to do that?" He shrugged. "Fine. Let's try it then." He pulled his wand and carefully put it next to him. "Sev, do we have any paper and quills?"
"In my bag," Harry told him, pointing at it. "It's also got a few flasks of water and some bandages. Just in case we got stuck out here."
"Good thinking, Mr. Potter," Ethan praised. "If I could give you points I would." He summoned it over, taking out a muggle pen and a piece of parchment, charming it to write without his having to do it. "Now, Xander," he said quietly, trying to sound soothing. "Let's get calm and centered." Xander sighed and closed his eyes, relaxing but remaining a bit tense. "Calm yourself completely." He shifted closer, taking the boy's hands as he continued to talk him down into the right state.
Xander woke up feeling much more calm and like his head was unstuffed for the first time since he had found his true parents. He looked beside him, noticing Draco was sitting up reading a textbook. "Don't you have classes?" he asked sleepily, shifting to put his head on Draco's thigh. "What time is it?"
"Breakfast. I had the house elves bring us some." He put down his book so he could stroke his lover's hair. "I'm allowed to bring you up to my tests. Professor Flitwick wanted to talk to you."
"Sure, Draco." He yawned. "What happened after I went under?"
"You spilled all sorts of dark secrets," he said with a smirk, "including how you liked to be on the bottom when we go on for hours." Xander groaned and shook his head. "Were you lying?"
"No, I like to be begging and pleading for you," he admitted sheepishly, "but I like other things too."
"I'm sure. As a reward for me passing my tests, I'm coming back down tonight to make you beg and howl at the new moon."
"Sure," he agreed with a grin for him. "Feed me?"
"Of course." He grabbed the tray and put it across Xander's lap, watching as he tore into his food. "I've already eaten. You've got a half-hour to eat and shower." Xander ate faster then hurried into the bathroom. "I laid out clothes for you," he called after him.
"You forgot the socks."
"They're inside your robe pocket."
"Good, where's my underwear?"
"What underwear?" Draco called back. Xander peeked his head out of the bathroom. "You don't need underwear."
"I do, otherwise my balls stick to my legs."
"They won't, it's chilly up at the school today. Besides, you don't have any clean." He picked up a piece of toast and his textbook, going back to his studying. "You're wasting time."
Xander withdrew with a mutter but did as his lover had planned. The pants were very soft and he felt himself start to get hard, willing it to go away. He didn't want to be hard all day. He'd have to pick up more underwear later and do some laundry as well. He came out with his hair damp but fully dressed except his shoes. He found those under the couch and slid into his loafers. "You ready?"
"Just about," he noted, turning the page to get the last few paragraphs. Then he closed his book and got up, looking his mate over. He walked over to adjust his vest, then gave him a gentle kiss. "Come along. We're flooing to your father's office then heading up from there."
"Sure, Draco." He took his mate's hand, letting him set the doublefloo. He hated to floo. He always had the feeling that he'd end up in the wrong place. They stepped out the other side and dusted off with a simple charm, heading up to class. It was Xander who noticed something was wrong. "It's really quiet today."
"It is," Draco admitted, checking a nearby classroom. "Transfiguration isn't in." He frowned and headed for the front hall, finding most of the students out there. They were watching a dragon that had landed on the front steps and was trying to eat Potter apparently.
"Shit," Xander said, heading that way.
"No, Vellian, stop," Draco ordered. But his mate kept going. He followed, rudely pushing people out of his way. "Vellian, do not make me stun you."
"Whine, Draco." He pulled his wand, glaring at the dragon. "Let him go!"
"No, Xander!" Dawn shrieked. "She's in heat, you can't magic her! She's immune!"
Ron coughed and handed over a long stick. "Here, I didn't get much effect but maybe you will."
Xander studied it then went for a swing at her chin, making her head snap back and making her drop Harry when she screamed in pain. "I told you to let him go!" he snapped. "Back off!" The dragon growled and snorted some steam. "Hey! I could use a good pressing because I know the floo rumpled me, but really." She sniffed him and made a grab for him so he pulled out the dagger Draco had put in his pocket, slicing into her paw. She howled and backed off, licking it and giving him a dirty look. "Do we look like male dragons to you?" He put his hands on his hips. "Go home! Shoo! Now!" He flicked a hand. "Go somewhere that there's more dragons." He blinked when the dragon disappeared. "Oh, man, not again," he whined, dropping the stick. "I've got to stop doing that!" He shook his head as he went to tell on himself. "Dad! I banished the dragon! Without my wand!" he called as he stomped down the halls.
Behind him, most of the students were staring at him in awe, some in fear but mostly in awe.
"Wow," one girl whispered. "He's strong."
"He's mine," Draco snapped. "Get your head out of your panties and keep out of his." He stormed after his mate to comfort him. He knew that Xander hated doing accidental magic. He found the three adults staring at him in horror. "What? It was an accident."
"I thought I was bad," Ethan said finally. He shook his head. "Take him to calm him down, Draco. First class was pushed back today."
"Sure." He walked Xander back to Slytherin's dorms, taking him up to cuddle him. "I'm sorry you did that, Xander. I discouraged those people who wanted your ass afterwards."
"But it was an accident. Why would they hate me?"
"They don't want your bum that way, Vellian," Snape said from the doorway. "Is he all right?" Draco nodded, stroking Xander's stomach. "I'm glad you hadn't stripped him yet to prove your claim on him. Flitwick is still holding his test. You're up in a few minutes. He's doing it by house since things are so disorganized." He grimaced at his son. "The headmaster called the only dragon preserve he knew to warn them about her. They'll pass it on to the others." He turned and left them alone.
Draco snapped his fingers. "I was about to strip you naked and lick you all over too."
"After your classes and before the special defense lessons," Xander said, giving him a gentle kiss. "Thank you for trying to calm me down."
"You're welcome. You were quite impressive. As long as she doesn't pop back later we should be fine." Xander gave him a look. "Usually, when you do accidental magic to displace something it'll pop back into place later on. So as long as she either comes back sated or asleep, we'll be fine. Dumbledore will send her somewhere."
"Hopefully she finds a good mate and gets to stay with him."
"Dragons aren't like that, Xander. They mate and then wander off again. They don't get married." He kissed him gently. "Come, let's go to charms. That way I can show off too," he said with a brilliant grin. "After all, I'm still destroying things." They headed off together, Draco pausing outside the classroom to straighten him out again. "That vest needs refitted. It keeps scrunching up." He tapped on the door and walked in with his lover right behind him. "My turn?" he asked with his usual Malfoy sneer in place.
"Yes," the teacher said patiently, pointing at a mark on the floor. "Dig the hole there, please, Mr. Malfoy. Your lover may sit in one of the chairs to watch you until I'm ready to test him."
"But I haven't studied," Xander quipped. Flitwick gave him an odd look. "Fine. I have been studying but I keep getting frustrated." He sat, after giving Draco a kiss on the back of the neck and a small nip too.
"Because that's *so* going to help my control," Draco said, shooting him a smirk. He pulled his wand and closed his eyes, casting the digging charm while contemplating the hole he wanted to dig. He heard the squeak and opened his eyes, moving the materials off the teacher and back into the hole. "Sorry, sir."
"That's quite all right. You're not the first one today. Now, try for the repairing charm." Draco cast that. Flitwick put on a helmet. "Now, for the destruction charm." He summoned over an old chair. "Do just that please, Mr. Malfoy. Try not to do what you usually do and destroy everything *but* the chair."
Draco concentrated and felt the magic lay dormant. So he did what his lover suggested and let go of all control. The magic leapt at his command and the chair exploded. Along with the floor. The walls. The windows. The lectern the teacher was standing on. In fact, everything in front of him went flying outward. He grimaced as the teacher went flying. "I got the chair," he called after him. "Sorry!" Others came running to see what had happened. "I got the chair," he offered, then burst out laughing. "I don't think letting go of all control is the best idea, Xander."
"Apparently not," he agreed, grinning at him. "But it was very pretty. Someone really needs to find the poor professor to see if he's okay." Most of the teachers went running to do that so he shrugged at his parents, the remaining teachers outside of McGonagall. "He tried to control it."
"I thought I was bad. I left the teacher so he could grade me," Ethan said smugly.
"It didn't want to work at all when I tried to control it," Draco explained, still giggling. "It was rather funny."
"Mr. Malfoy I believe you'll be having detention tonight while you attempt to fix the mess you made," McGonagall told him, her lips pressed tightly together. "Needless to say, I doubt you'll be having it with Professor Flitwick so I'll let someone with experience oversee your reconstruction job. Mr. Rayne, I believe you should still remember how to do that."
"Poor baby," Xander cooed, patting his poor baby's back. "You poor thing. You just went boom all over, didn't you?" he soothed, pulling him on top of the desk so he could hold him. "You poor thing. It's all right. I promise it's okay. I'll help you with the construction stuff since I used to do that stuff." He frowned at the big hole. "It was really impressive though. I'm pleased that you did it so thoroughly. You're dynamite."
"That's a bad joke," Draco told him, kissing him gently. "No more bad jokes, Xander."
"Sure, Drac." He scowled at the mess. "It shouldn't have been that powerful. I wore you out last night." Draco snickered. "Did it energize you?"
Ron stuck his head around his Head of House. "Thanks for this, Malfoy. It gave us an extra few days to do ours." He winked and disappeared.
"Detention, Mr. Weasley, and ten points off," McGonagall yelled after him.
"That's unfair. If you got to blow up the professor, they should," Xander complained, snuggling into Draco's chest. "That's really, really unfair. They should get a chance to make him go flying too. You should get extra points for how far you send him too," he added with a grin to cheer up his sulking mate.
"You'd probably lose points for that," Draco told him. "You're not supposed to send the teachers flying, Xander. It's supposed to be controlled."
"Ah, but now that you know what it feels like, you can control it and damp it back down to where it should be," he said wisely, smirking at him. "Not even Mom made him go flying. He left his lectern fully in the clear. I'm damn impressed." Draco kissed him to stop the babbling, making Xander moan and stand up to get a better bit of leverage on him. He clutched Draco by the hair, keeping them going.
"Not again," Ethan complained. "Boys! I do not need to know this much!"
Xander pulled off to pant. "Sorry, mom, but he's so damn impressive."
"Xander, do you think maybe you could wish the room back in place?" Draco asked smugly. "Like earlier?"
Xander shrugged. "Okay, I wish the room were back in place." He went back to kissing his mate, wincing as someone zapped him so he pulled his wand and hit them back, then let it fall to the floor as Draco grabbed his ass to pull him closer again. "Hmmm, Draco," he moaned against the soft lips. "More."
Draco chuckled. "I am rather impressive, aren't I?" Xander grinned and nodded so Draco rubbed against his lover's thigh. "Almost as impressive as you sending the dragon off."
"Very impressive and studly, Draco. Makes me want to beg and plead now," he said in his best sultry voice.
"Boys!" McGonagall said, sounding shocked. "You cannot do such things in a classroom!"
"Oh, hush," Draco ordered absently, stroking up his mate's back. "Really? You think I deserve that sort of reward?"
"And more," Xander said huskily, diving back in for another kiss.
"The next time they pull apart, create a barrier between them," Ethan ordered. "I'll shrink the libidos."
Snape coughed. "Boys. We do not want to see you make a child on that desk and the Headmaster has promised that if you two have sex in this school the fertility charm that we used will go off so you end up as parents."
"That's cruel," Draco told him, scowling at him. "Someone needs to have a word with him."
"Indeed, why don't you do that so you can talk about the explosion you created," Snape told him. "Before my son ends up pregnant."
"Tough, Vellian. Go with him. Or better yet, come with me. I wanted to test your potion making abilities." He dragged his son off, pouting the whole way. Draco stomped up to the office to yell at the Headmaster about that convenient lie he had just told. Hopefully the old coot would actually do that. That way he wouldn't have to hear more complaints about those two having loud sex in the dorms. Unfortunately the peace only lasted ten minutes because Draco walked in and drug his mate off to have loud and noisy sex in the dorms, muttering the whole way about what he was going to do to his mate. "My poor son," Snape sighed, finishing up the potion his son had started. "Not horrible for an untrained wizard," he admitted. "He has much room to grow however." His son did not have the precise nature that potions demanded but he could apparently follow orders.
"You've already checked on the cats, you can spend some time up here helping the special defense class," Draco ordered as he pulled his mate along behind him. "You called the cats on the floo and Perfect said they were fine, Xander."
"I know but I still worry. What if someone breaks in to hurt them?"
"Then they've got parents and no one would be that stupid, especially with the protections on the door, Xander," Draco said impatiently. "Come! Now!"
"But I can't do that again, Draco. You wore me out!" he teasingly whined as he drug his feet.
Draco smirked back at him. "For that, I'll make you howl tonight for real before I let you get off." He walked them into the special classroom they had all taken over. "Here, help Weasley. He could use it." He gave Xander a small shove toward Ron then walked over to where Giles was standing. "How is Professor Flitwick? Nobody would tell me anything."
"He'll be fine, fortunately for you. It seems the lake cushioned his fall."
"But the lake's halfway around the school," Xander butted in.
"Yes, I'm aware of that, Xander, but Mr. Malfoy made quite a bit of the classroom hit the lake. Including the teacher. Do have fun cleaning up after yourself, Draco," Giles said, patting him on the back with a smirk. "Not even Ethan was that bad."
"He said he left the teacher. I wonder what grade I got."
"I still think you should get extra points for how far you threw him," Xander offered. "Like extra credit."
"At least I got the chair this time," Draco said with a shrug. "He can't fault me for not getting the target. I wonder if you were going to be getting the same test."
"If so, I'm sure the good professor is doing his outside," Giles said, shaking his head. "Let's get to work since we're all here but Remus." He looked at the five students. "All right, let's work on the more basic hexes that apparently you lot were never taught. Let's try to all face the back wall, and let's try to keep it intact this time, Mr. Malfoy."
"So, we can blow it out in one big piece?" Ron teased.
"If you feel that strong, go ahead and try," Giles promised. "I'll submit grades for you. For now, let's work on a dissolving hex. We used to use them on each other's clothes in the halls...which is why I suppose it was taken out of rotation. You'll find that simplest hexes can have a big effect."
"Does it work on wands?" Harry asked.
"It has in the past," he offered. "It is a good strategy in a duel," he agreed. "I've used it myself against one over-eager boy. Namely your father, Harry." They shared a look and Giles smirked. "He had nothing on our group, trust me. Now focus on the padding and do just what I've drawn on it." The students followed the instructions written on the walls, taking apart the padding. "Good. Now, let's move on."
"I didn't get it," Xander admitted. Giles gave him a look so he shrugged. "I didn't."
"Let me see your wand," Draco ordered. Xander handed it over, watching as he examined it. "It's cracked," he announced. Ron shuddered in horror. "It'll need fixed." He looked at Giles.
"He can use Ethan's for now," he offered, handing that one over and taking the broken wand to put aside. He'd get it fixed tonight. No one trusted Xander to go out on his own anymore. They all watched as Xander tried the dissolving charm and the wall melted. "Interesting," Giles said finally, cracking the other students up. "Now, let's work on the repairing charm since two of you will be using it tonight." Draco and Xander both sighed and cast the charm, fixing the wall. "You three as well," he ordered the trio. They giggled but did so, making him shake his head as the padding repaired. "Wonderful, we'll be moving onto the other forms of stunning charms."
"You mean besides flashing someone?" Dawn asked.
"Yes, besides that one. That one only works once unless you're someone like Lucius or you've painted yours gold or some such. Which I hope you haven't," he said, staring her down. "I'd hate to have to report that to Buffy."
"Nope, not me, I'm a good girl," Dawn said innocently. "I realized I had done that earlier today and poor Neville is still stuttering."
"Hell, I nearly stuttered for the next three classes too, Dawn," Ron complained. "You've got those pretty, sparkly nipple covers on and they're very pretty on you."
"I did not need to know that," Giles interrupted before he could get more information he didn't want or need. "You will apologize later, Dawn."
"I already did, and I gave him a hug in apology and everything, so he blushed and whimpered," she said with a small shrug. "Sorry, but it was an accident."
"As long as it doesn't happen again," he ordered calmly. Now he remembered why he didn't have any other children of his own. He's either have a version of Willow or one just like Buffy or Dawn. Then he saw Xander's smirk at his mate and decided that he was the real reason he didn't have children of his own. He'd hate to have another son like Xander. "Stunning charms come in many forms, not just the standard stupify you've used to date in classes," he said, moving on before that image stuck in his head. With his luck, his godson would have another bout of accidental magic and make it twins. A baby Willow and a baby Xander. The thought started to give him a headache and fortunately Ethan came in to rescue him.
"Let's start with the older forms of stunning spells. There's the light stun, that's basically like hitting them in the face with a textbook. There's the medium one, that's like a cricket bat to the head. Then there's the heavy one, which is actually more powerful than the stupify one you use presently," he ordered. "The difference is the last syllable. So repeat after me, children." He picked up Xander's wand.
"It's broken," Draco said before he could cast anything. "Xander's got yours."
Ethan looked at it, then at his son. "Does it work for you?"
Xander nodded. "Very well actually, mom. Thanks for letting me borrow it."
"Fine. I'll not cast, just do them separately. The wand movement is more of the flick and swishy sort but it's got a stab at the end." He demonstrated it. "Like that. Now you try it. Ripper, go get some water or something."
"Thanks, love." He went to take something for his headache.
"You know those little mewling noises he makes are a lot like a kitty," Xander told him with a smirk. "He said it's a good thing I don't do accidental magic and make it twin siblings, a baby Willow and a baby me."
"Son, focus. That sort of torture is unacceptable in this family. Do that to Dawn, not us," he said patiently.
"As long as they're not baby Fred and George's," Ron said with a shrug. "I don't think I could take them."
"Me either," Harry agreed. "They'd be horrible kids to have someday."
"Some day *far* in the future, yes?" Dawn demanded, nodding to show that she was serious.
"Of course," they agreed, grinning at her.
"Not until you're totally ready," Ron assured her.
"Not until we're done with the war and everything's going wonderfully in the world again," Harry promised. Giles had walked in and let out a moan before walking back out. "Sorry. Ethan said to wish the twins on us."
"Xander, do not read minds," Giles called.
"You were making kitty noises, Giles. I simply interpreted," he called after him.
"Well, quit!" Giles yelled. He stomped back in. "No more this week, Xander, or I'm grounding you and Draco to stay apart. Do we understand each other?"
"Yes, stepdaddy," he said, mimicking pitiful very well. "I'm sorry."
"Good." He looked at the others, then at Ethan. "That one's broken, someone told you, correct?"
"Yes, they did, fortunately before I knocked myself out. We'll take it to get it fixed later. After all, each time Xander goes out alone he comes back with worse news." He glared at his son. "Now, let's get back to work. Everyone work on the movement, at the wall!" he said when he saw Dawn facing him. Dawn faced the padded wall and did the same movements. "Now, for the light one, it's butti giù facile. For the cricket bat version it's colpo leggermente. To knock them out so hard they'll wake up in a few months, stordisca addormentato."
"If you're serious about not wanting them to wake up for a good, long time, you can also use a different spell, sonno permanente," Giles said, glaring at Ethan. "Which is usually kinder to the person you're doing it to and leaves them without brain damage."
"War is hell," Xander quipped. "Sonno permanente?" Giles nodded. "I'll have to remember that."
"Isn't that what the witch used in that story to knock Snow White out?" Dawn asked dryly.
"Something like that," Ethan agreed. "I'll expect no version of this one roaming among the petty females who attend here."
"Remember when we knocked out Parkinson's mum so hard it took most of a term to wake her up?" Giles chuckled.
"Ooh, indeed, and that's why if it's cast again inside the school on a student, I'll get in trouble," Ethan said with a smirk.
"So it's perfectly fine to get Filch with it?" Ron asked. "Or a teacher maybe?"
"Dumbledore only said a student and inside the school," Ethan informed him. "So I'm supposing outside in Herbology or in Magical Creatures would be fine as well."
One of the paintings on the wall tsk'd gently. "I doubt it," she sang in a clear soprano operatic voice.
"Do be quiet now, thank you," Giles snapped. "We all know there'll be bad students who are participating in the war. If they're attacked, we'll expect them to defend themselves. Isn't that right?"
"Yes, Uncle Ethan and Uncle Giles," Dawn and her boys said in unison, grinning like the angels they were at him.
Xander looked at them. "Does that mean I'm officially related to you guys now?"
"If you are, we're breaking up," Draco said calmly. "I refuse to be related to Potter."
Dawn glared at him. "I could always hex you. Remember, I got *your* memories, Draco."
"Bet there's some scary shit in there," Ron muttered.
"Yeah," she agreed, nodding. "Pansy tried to jump him a few hours before he came to join us. That's why he was up and showering so early."
Harry reached around and patted him on the back. "If you want, I'll help you get her back. No one deserves that, except maybe Voldemort. Or do you think that's too mean for him?" he asked Ethan.
"No, I believe they deserve each other." He looked at Draco. "Are you all right? Still having nightmares?"
"No, a few good shags of your son cured all that." Xander pinched him and shook his head. "Sorry, but it did."
"I try," he said smugly. "What else can I make you forget from brain cells dying after pleasure?"
"Hmm, I've got some childhood memories you can suck out."
"Enough," Ethan said impatiently. "Stun the walls please." They sighed and went back to work. He leaned closer to Giles. "How did you put up training a bunch of teenagers?"
"They settled down when it was time. I let them get the silliness out then refocused them. Try the second one." They upped the stakes and Xander's blew out the wall. "Xander. Please try not to destroy the rest of the school," he said patiently. "Your boyfriend has already done quite a good enough job for the day."
"Yeah, thanks again for getting us free of that test for a few days, Draco," Harry said with a grin for him. "Good job."
"Thanks, made me happy too."
"I still say he should get extra credit for distance," Xander said dryly, trying again on Draco's part of the wall.
"Xander, sit," Draco ordered.
"I'm not some half-demon who likes school girls!"
"You'd better not be," Draco growled, while Dawn giggled. "What's so funny!"
"It's an anime. You'd have to see it to understand," she said, shaking her head.
Above them a loud gong rang. Everyone looked at each other. "Okay, who's going to go check?" Harry demanded. "That's all students to their dorm if there's three, or just run inside if it's two." The gong rang again and they all paused, waiting for a third one. "Good. Anyone up for it?"
"Going," Ron announced.
"Me too. I'm tired of destroying the school." They headed outside and looked out the nearest window. "Uh-huh. Looks like Draco was right, they come back after they're displaced. Ron?"
"No thanks. It didn't like me. It only wanted to eat Harry and you. Harry?"
"Behave, children," Ethan said as he glanced over their shoulders. "Ah, the dragon's back." He looked back toward the classroom. "The dragon's back!"
"Coming," Giles agreed, coming out with his wand in hand and his leather jacket on. "Anyone coming to learn how to stun the dragon?"
"She's already asleep, stepdad," Xander taunted, following along. At least until Draco caught him and drug him off to kiss him stupid again. "Draco!"
"You did it earlier, that was enough. Let the adults get wanted for a bit." He kissed him again, getting in a good grope too.
"Do you two need help finding hidden areas?" Harry asked as he walked past them with Dawn. "There's a hidden portal next to you if you did. It leads to a storage area."
"Really, where?" Draco asked.
"The portrait, the lock is on the right," Harry called back.
"Interesting." Draco found the lock and opened it, letting them inside, giving Xander a little nudge. "Go find a soft surface. I don't want to take you standing up yet." Xander grinned and headed down the tunnel to find a soft spot.
Xander snuck into Ollivander's, grinning at him. "I had an accident. But I do very well with Mom's wand." He handed over his wand to the master crafter. "I suck very much badly some days. How would you fix that? Is it a smoothing over or a healing of the wood?"
"I was in construction before I got pulled over here. I'm working my way up to magical construction. Draco wants me to specialize in boxes and things."
"That is a very good hobby and it can make you a lot of money, and be quite useful," Ollivander assured him. "Come, you can watch me fix your wand. I'm supposing no one knows where you are?" he asked as he walked the boy back to his workshop.
"Nope, they're scared I'm going to run into another Daughter of Loki and get more bad news. The last one had me getting a sibling," he said with a shit-eating grin. "For some reason my parents didn't like that."
Ollivander chuckled. "I'm not surprised. Ethan had a lot of trouble carrying you. His magic went wildly out of control a few times and created chaos sweet enough to make his present God sing."
"He wasn't always into Janus?" Xander asked as he sat on a stool to watch the master at work.
"No. Not always." He also sat on a stool. "If you're going to be doing boxes, you'll need something a bit less ornate in your workshop, but I can tell you where to get your equipment."
"Please. I'd like to have something to work on at home. I could probably put together boxes and then charm them at the house right now."
"No, you must imbue the magic into the wood. The wood must be magic-filled before you cut it, and then you'll seal the wood together instead of nailing it or anything so mundane. Like this, Vellian." He showed him on a new wand he was working on. Xander's mouth gaped as the wood wiggled into the shape and then set itself. "Sometimes the wood will not cooperate but most of the time, if you do this properly, it will be a thing of beauty. It can even carve itself sometimes, saving you quite a bit of detail work." He smiled at him. "Of course, you always seem to get Moorish designs when it does it itself." He focused on Xander's wand, making it seal back together again. "There, try it again." Xander took the wand carefully and swished it at a blank wall, trying for a small fairy light. Nothing. "Oh, dear."
"Apparently it's broken itself to come back. Apparently it doesn't like you as much as it had thought. Very rare." He got up to get a few boxes, handing them over. "Try that one." He noticed the pitiful look. "The wand chooses the wizard, my young boy, but sometimes adoptions don't work well. It doesn't happen often and usually requires the wizard to have changed dramatically."
"I don't think I have. I've become a grandfather," he said with a small grin. "My kitty had babies."
"Congratulations. Are they well?"
"Very well." He pulled out the picture he had taken earlier. "That's my grandkids." He tried the first wand while Ollivander looked at his family, trying to float a feather off the table.
"Not that one, do the owl feather, Vellian."
"Sure." He turned it to the other feather, but it wouldn't move. "I don't think so." He put that one back in the box and tried the next one, which blew up the feather. "Sorry." He put that one back carefully and tried the last one, and it too tried to blow up the new owl feather that had been put down for his use. "Huh. It hates me?"
"The exploding means it's for a weaker wizard. Too much power and it can only come out as an explosion."
"That's cool. Does that mean I don't have a wand?"
"No, you do, but you obviously take after your mother more than your father. Have you tried potions?"
"Dad had me try one but I don't think he was impressed. He had me try to make something with a lot of herbs and stuff. It had this tofu-looking stuff in it too."
Ollivander stared for a moment, then nodded suddenly. "I think I know which one you speak of. You could ask Mr. Malfoy to help you learn if you wanted. He is supposedly very good in them and his wand shows the same rigidity of nature that being a potions person requires."
"Maybe, but I like wood." He stroked the new wand Ollivander had showed him on. "Wood is nice, and it's warm, and it's like it's living." He looked at him. "You understand what I'm saying, right?"
"Oh, indeed, that's why I became a wand maker. Though my version of the craft is much more particular than creation is. Everything must be evenly balanced out." He patted him on the back. "Let me try another wand, Vellian."
"You can call me Xander. I'm more used to that and only Dad calls me Vellian, unless Mom's throwing a tantrum or trying to correct me."
"Of course, Xander," he said with a smile. He went in a different direction, going into a large safe. When he came out, the vault door was closed again and he carried over the tray in his hands, carefully setting it before the boy. Instantly the boy picked up a small rod of purple crystal with lines of red and gold in it. "Ah, I had wondered who that would go to. We will work on your wand together, young man."
"Sure, Mr. Ollivander. I'd be honored." He handed it over. "That one's for me?"
"Did it draw you?"
"I thought it was really pretty but the black one draws me."
"Hmm." He held them up, looking at the boy and back to them. He laid one in each of the boy's hands, making him shiver. "Which one tickles your hand?"
"Both of them, but the black one is making my hand feel like it's just waking up, like the pins and needles."
"It is very strong," he agreed, removing them from his hands. He watched as Xander scratched his hands. He gave him a gentle smile. "We'll make them both." He walked over to the wall of coreless wands, finding two that he wanted. He came back and let Xander see them, but the boy shook his head and got up to get a different one, bringing it back. "An ebony wood? With which one, Xander?" The boy pointed at the black stone. "Are you sure?"
"Yeah, it seems right. I'd put the cherry with the other one, they look pretty next to each other."
"Hmm." He laid the wands next to the crystals, letting the spare one sit above them so he could look them over. "It is pretty together," he decided. This boy had some skills in the area of crafting if he had seen the glow that put them together. He let him handle the black crystal one. "Now, we imbue the wood with magic, like this," he instructed, slowly handling the wood and concentrating on putting some of his magic into it. The boy concentrated. "No, like feeding it some of the energy to give it a life of it's own." Xander nodded and tried again, and the wood opened for him. He gently settled the crystal inside and shifted it around some, letting it settle inside into the niche the wood had created. The wood shifted a bit more and he grinned, shifting it once more. Then the wood closed. Mr. Ollivander smiled at him. "Very good, Xander. Now, try to use it on the feather."
Xander used it on the feather, floating it easily. "Wow. That's so much nicer. It doesn't tingle the way my other one did but it's wonderful," he said with a goofy grin, hugging him. "I love this one! It's neat and it feels wonderful and it's like a happy buzz."
"Well, then I'd say it was your wand, young man," he said with a smile. "No additional charge, Xander, and thank you for helping me."
Xander hugged him again. "Thank you, Mr. Ollivander. I think you're the neatest wizard there ever was." He trotted out, leaving him to his duties.
Ollivander smiled at the wand he was creating, making it gently take the crystal. "Yes, he'll do wonderfully in the crafting field. Once he has more experience we'll talk to him again, my precious." He set that wand and gently placed it in a box, leaving it uncovered for now. "What sort of witch will you go to, my precious? Perhaps his sibling? You could have been his but his powers are much too broad for you." He stroked it once, then sealed it up until the witch was found for it.
Xander was waiting when Draco came out of potions, holding up his new wand. "I helped make it myself," he said proudly. Draco's mouth fell open. "It's very pretty. Dad busy?"
"No, not in the least. Blast, I've got McGonagall."
"I'll share it with you later," he said, giving him a gentle kiss. "Go to class, Draco."
"Fine." He left him, following the other students.
Xander walked in and held up his wand. "Ollivander let me make it myself," he said proudly, stunning the few remaining students and his father. "It has a really pretty jet black crystal and ebony wood. He taught me how to imbue the wood with magic and how to make it one whole piece." He slid up onto the edge of the desk, grinning at his father. "So, I need to start my box stuff too."
"I'm impressed, Vellian," he said gently, taking the wand to look at it. It was seamless. It was perfect. And it was very powerful. Even he could feel the power coming off it. He carefully handed it back. "I'm very impressed with you."
"Thanks, dad." He grinned at him. "Mr. Ollivander slipped a card into my pocket for the wood place. Wanna come with me later?"
"If you'd like. Crafting must be a meticulous thing, the same as potions are."
"Not really. It's more about feeling and creativity, within limits."
"Ah. Then it's more like transfiguration?"
"Somewhere between if the transfiguration lectures I remember you having were correct. I can't change it into *anything* I want, but I can change it within the limits of it's form." He crossed his legs. "So, what were you doing this afternoon?"
"I've got to restock the infirmary, but most of that can simmer and I can brew much of it during detentions." He patted him on the arm. "Was there other news?"
"Actually, I almost ended up with a pretty purple crystal with red and gold flecks in it with a cherry exterior, but this one liked me more."
"Interesting," Snape said slowly. "Was that a chaos crystal?" Xander nodded. "Are you sure?"
"Pretty, yeah. It felt like mom when he was drunk the other night."
"Oh." He sat down, looking up at his son. "You're absolutely certain?"
"Yeah, and I heard Mr. Ollivander say it was going to a witch."
Giles walked in while they were staring at each other. "Did something else happen?"
Xander held up his wand with a grin, watching as Giles blanched. "And I got to create my own," he said proudly.
"You did! That's unheard of!"
"No, he has let other crafters back there, he's testing them for when he finally retires," Severus said quietly. "It's a very good choice. It called out to him more than the chaos crystal with gold and red flecks, that ended up inside a cherry wand."
"Then I'm quite impressed, Xander." Giles gave him a clap on the back. "That is very stunning. A bit dark, but it's very stunning. Quite powerful."
"I know," he said proudly. "It liked me more. Mr. Ollivander said the other one would be going to a witch. He taught me how to imbue the wood with magic and he gave me a card to tell me where to get stuff to do my boxes and other pretty things. My first really pretty one will be going to him." He slid off the end of the desk. "Want to come with dad and me to pick out stuff to start working later?"
"If you'd like," he assured him with a smile. "No Draco?"
"He had McGonagall."
"No, you don't want to keep her waiting," Giles agreed. He smiled at Xander's back. "Why don't you go figure out where you're doing your work? We'll pop down between last class and dinner." Xander nodded and grinned at Snape before leaving them alone.
"He said that the other wand felt exactly like Ethan when he was drunk," Snape said quietly, staring up at Giles, who finally got the point and suddenly had to sit down. "Plus, Ollivander has only let four others craft their own wands," he continued. "Two of them have went on to craft wands in other locations. One of them is dead, lamentably so. He's the one who made my wand under Ollivander's tutoring. The last is still missing."
"Oh, my," Giles breathed. He might be Ollivander's next apprentice? That was something to be extremely proud of. "You think?"
"I don't know. Perhaps. He needs more experience first. Especially in the field of magical construction. He may be waiting until the boy comes back with a box."
"Maybe," Giles agreed happily. That news had made his day.
"So, when is the daughter being born, sirs?" one student asked from her seat. Both adults glared at her. "Sorry, sirs, but I couldn't get out. Mr. Giles is blocking the doorway," she pointed out gently.
"Fifteen points off for eavesdropping," Snape growled. "Out!" She trotted out and he sneered at the doorway. "Students!"
Giles smirked at him. "What would you do if not teach, Sev?"
"Good point." Giles got up. "I'll tell that to Ethan."
"Tell him the second wand felt exactly like him when he was drunk the other night according to our son."
"Oh, I will. I'll also make sure he's got plenty of headache potion available," Giles said grimly, heading out to tell Ethan the bad news. Either they'd be having a granddaughter or someone would be having a daughter soon.
Severus calmed himself and got up to let the next group of students into the room. Before he ended up considering this for too long and drove himself insane.
Xander looked around the crafter's shop, wincing at the prices he could see. "Wow, this is a really expensive job," he complained.
"The grade of materials influence the end product," the shopkeeper said helpfully.
Xander looked around a pile of woods at him, grinning when he saw the mousy guy standing behind the counter. "I'm more used to muggle construction techniques and to how I was taught there." He stroked a finger across the top of the wood. "That's already got magic in it?"
"Most people prefer it that way. It takes less energy to create things like rooms."
"I'm being told I need to go into boxes and things," Xander told him. "Ollivander showed me how to imbue magic into things earlier when he was fixing my wand." From his father's reaction he didn't want to spread around that he had made his own wand, his father had acted really oddly afterwards. "Like I said, I'm used to building houses from the ground up with hammers and saws."
"I understand. If I may ask, are you a serious crafter?"
"I'm learning to be," he admitted. "I'm going to be doing real work, not just as a hobby now and then."
"Hmm. Let's look at the tools first."
"You mean we can't bend the wood into shape?"
"Only for some things. Some things you'll still want to cut and do joints, then meld it together," the shopkeeper told him, pointing at a row of books. "You might want to stop there too, young man."
"Thanks. I've found a few beginning texts and I've been working through them," he admitted, pausing to pick up a few of the books. They went back to the tools section, letting him see all the muggle tools that had been enchanted to run in a purely magical environment. "I've got my old tools, but I do need some chisels I suppose," Xander admitted. The guy gave him an odd look. "Sorry, I grew up on the Hellmouth."
"Oh. You're *him*," he said, nodding briefly, moving to the more expensive tools. "We do have this entire power line for fast crafting."
"Fast leads to shoddy workmanship most of the time," Xander snorted. "I used to run my own crew on the construction site, mostly inside work." He walked around the tools. "I will need a new workbench," he admitted, touching one he liked. It was charmed too. "Wouldn't it be better to work on things in a sterile, non-magic environment? That way the magic in the tables and tools wouldn't interact with the things you were trying to create?"
"It could, but that's harder going," he offered dryly.
Xander shrugged. "I'm all about the end product, not the speed of the spell. I'd rather have quality than quantity. Multi-taskers are also wonderful," he admitted. "Less clutter that way."
Giles walked back to where they were, looking around. "Won't you need a bigger space for some of this, Vellian?"
"Yeah, but I don't need all this. I'll need a small saw for the delicate cuts. I may actually go with an imbedded table saw instead of some other things just because they're so damn handy. I loved the site's version." He frowned, looking around. There were only a few things in there that he felt he *had* to have. He picked up them, including the seven books of plans and the new chisels, then headed up to check out the wood. "I do have that backroom," he told Giles when the older man gave him an odd look. Xander gave up on the 'ready' wood and went back to the plain wood, picking out a few pieces that he wanted to start on. Then he splurged and got a few extravagant pieces for Ollivander's present, bringing them up to the register. "These," he announced.
"You're sure you want to go with unspelled wood?"
"Yeah. It'll be easier for me to make it into what I want. The flooring 'ready' wood is really pretty but how could you make a containment box out of it?" he quipped, flicking a hand around. The guy gave him an odd look so he grinned. "What? I worked with a slayer. I've seen all *sorts* of nasties."
"If you say so, sir. Is this charge or coin?"
Xander patted himself down and Giles sighed, handing over the bag he had confiscated. Xander had been a lot less extravagant than he had feared. "Did you bring one of Draco's house elves this time, Vellian?"
"Nope. I can pop it home and then we'll go look for a new saw guard. That one didn't have the one I'm used to," he admitted. "My former one at work had all sorts of forms already on it. Like how you could make dovetail joints easily."
"We have those for routers," the guy suggested.
"Yeah, but you can't really cut with a router. I use those for mass removal for decorations. I've got a nifty handheld one at home that's wonderful for that sort of thing."
"All right, on your nerves be it, working with unspelled woods." He rang the boy up and let him pay, then boxed everything for him, watching as he took it away. "He knows what he's doing?"
"He used to run a construction crew," Giles admitted. "He's helped build twenty houses in his short career in muggle construction. I'd say so." He walked out, going to wait on Xander to return. When it'd been an hour he groaned and went to pull the boy away from Draco's grip, but he found the loft empty. He nearly started to worry but he found the note sitting by the cat's birthing box. "Went to Home Depot, be back soon, Xander," he read, shaking his head with a groan. "That boy!"
"Which boy?" Ron asked as he walked in with Xander, helping him carry in some wood. "Sorry, he coopted me by telling me I could pick out which one went to Ginny." He grinned, letting Xander order him back into the back room. "How did you get all this here, Xan?"
"Um, house elf. Giles reminded me that they're really handy and nice creatures. So I offered two of Draco's a chance to come help me lift and tote things, if they'd go grocery shopping again. They decided it was a neat idea. I've got to make some of them a special box though. He wants to keep his found things in it."
"Sure," Ron agreed, nodding. The boy made house elves go strange too. Interesting. "Have you met Dobby?"
"Yup, sure have. Gave him a head rub too," Xander assured him with a grin. He looked over as the house elves came in with the remaining items, waving a hand around. "Set them up around the walls and I'll charm them later." They nodded, doing as he had ordered. "Move that table out. It's got to be able to hold a whole board and give me room to move around it. The support goes on the end of it," he said, frowning as his workshop slowly took shape. "Good job, guys. Thanks. Now, which one am I creating the box for?" One shyly raised his hand and then dropped it when the others looked. "Sometimes you've got to have special stuff," he reminded the others. "He's got stuff to keep specially hidden away. How big? Let's draw out some dimensions." He grabbed some parchment and a pencil from the pack he had just bought, drafting out what the elf whispered. "Sure." He grinned at it. "Right after I do my workbench, okay?" It nodded and quickly disappeared. The rest went to take the moneybag from Giles and go grocery shopping. They liked this one quite a lot. He never yelled and never demanded.
"Xander, is this really going to do for you?" Giles asked patiently. "They're muggle."
Xander opened a book and cast the complicated charm on the plugs, then turned on the table saw, giving him a long look. "Yes, I believe so." He flipped it off and then put the 'breaker' spell on that one. It would keep it from being accidentally turned on by little elvish fingers. He grinned at Giles. "So, I'm working on my worktable first. Then I'm working on that box, then a rack for my tools, then a box for Ollivander. That way I make sure I've got the carving stuff down pat before I hand it to him."
"Good idea," Ron agreed, looking around. "What's that one, Xander?" he asked, pointing at a big box.
"That's a router. It's to carve out things quickly, but you can't do the really fine detail work with it. Oooh, Giles, I found some planes and things," he said happily, pulling one out. "I've always admired the guy on PBS who did everything with eighteenth-century tools. It always looked so great when it was done."
"Did you remember sandpaper?" Giles asked patiently. Xander nodded, holding up the big boxes of them. "Fine. Do you need help with your table?"
"Nah, it's a simple thing," Xander assured him with a grin. He grinned at Ron next. "Wanna watch?"
"No thanks, mate. I'm gonna go play with the cats." He walked out, leaving them to fight with each other. Giles was sounding really parental and nearly impatient with his son. He grinned at the parent kitties. "Xander said I could pick out which one of the kittens would go to my sister. Can I look?" Asgard stared at him as he sat in front of the box. "I promise not to touch. Are any spoken for?" he called quietly.
"Madam Rosemerta said that she wanted the patchy one," Giles called back.
"Fine." He looked at the rest, then touched one that was pure black and one that was red. "Which one do you think, guys? Think she's like one like our hair or one like midnight because she's a night baby?"
Asgard moved closer and sniffed him, then turned around and headed back to his nuzzling the kittens.
Xander came out of his workroom, staring down at the cats. "Ginny's his sister, she's the one who Dawn squeals with. He's with Dawn so he's helping pick out hers too."
Perfect looked up at him. "He smells off, like he's sick."
Xander frowned at Ron. "She said you smell like you're sick."
"I was in herbology and something got on me but I feel fine," Ron promised.
"It's better to be safe than sorry," Giles decided, taking him and dragging him to the floo. "Take the silver one and the black one."
"I wanted the red one and one of the black ones."
"Which ones, Ron?" Xander asked. Ron came back and pointed them out to him. "Fine. Give the black one to Dawnie. Trust me, she's got a thing for black leather." He grinned. "Now go get checked out before she has to throw a fit." Ron nodded, heading back to the school to get looked over. He looked down at the cats. "Think the black one would do good with Dawn?"
Asgard nuzzled one. "This one for Dawn. She's active and likes high-pitched noises. Plus she's the one who nibbled on Dawn's hair. The red one would go well with his littermate though. It's a very good choice."
"Thanks, guys. Let me put a ribbon around them. Did you like Madam Rosemerta for the patchy one?"
"I did," Perfect admitted. "She seems very nice and she's come up a few times to look him over."
"Then I'll bring him down to visit when his eyes open," Xander agreed happily. "No playing kittens in the workroom, guys. There's too many sharp things that could kill you if you stepped on them. Got it?" They gave him looks. "I mean it. I'm going to have to be firm about this one. My work area is off-limits to all furry bodies, even werewolves."
"You know those horrible eating things?" Asgard demanded.
"I know two and they're both very nice when they're human. So if Oz ever shows up, make nice with him. He's a great guy, he just doesn't like to talk a lot." He went back to his workshop. He looked out when the howling started, giving them a long look. "I told you guys you wouldn't like it." He went back to work making his first project, a table to work on. It wasn't going to be that hard. Doing the sanding would take longer if he didn't try out his new planers first.
Draco came out of the floo late that night and stopped to look around. The loft was quiet, but there was a covered plate on the counter. The cats were asleep, curled together with Asgard's paws over Perfect's head. His snort at the homey scene woke his cat up and made him trot over to him, meowing frantically. "What's wrong?" Asgard continued to meow, so he picked him up, but the cat jumped back down and headed for the back storeroom. Draco, of course, followed. He tapped gently on the closed door before walking inside.
"What?" Xander mumbled. "No cats in here," he said when Asgard hopped up in front of him and nuzzled him. He looked at the cat. "You knew I was all right. I came out for some soda earlier."
"But the noisy creatures keep coming back," he complained. "The next time you might not survive and beat them back."
Xander chuckled and pulled him closer to cuddle him. "It's not monsters, Asgard. They're tools. Humans use them to cut things like wood." He stood up and brought him over to sniff at the tools. "These are the sharp things and why I don't want the kittens in here. Stand back, Draco. I'm going to turn it on, Asgard, and it'll be *very* loud," he instructed, flipping the switch. The cat flinched and he stroked it, letting the cat calm down. "See? The noisy thing cuts wood." He turned it off. "It's also sharp enough to cut kitty paws, that's why I didn't want you guys in here." He kissed him on the top of the head, giving him a better squeeze for a hug. "Is that better?"
"Did the scary monster come back?" Perfect asked from the doorway.
"No, it's a tool," Asgard said. "It goes round and round, that's why it makes that noise."
"It cuts wood and it's very sharp, more than sharp enough to cut a kitty in half," Xander told them. "That's why I don't want you guys in here when I'm working on them. You can come in when I'm at the table or doing the minor stuff," he offered.
"Just keep the monsters away and fight them when they come back," Perfect ordered, going back to her kittens. She checked them over but no monsters had gotten them. Yet. She curled up protectively around them.
"I'm sorry I scared you guys, Asgard. Try to keep the kittens out of here and I'll leave the door open, okay?" His cat licked his fingers. "Thanks, big guy. Want your daddy or your babies?"
"I'll sit on the table and help you if you'd like," he offered.
"Sure. I'm working on a box for a house elf." He set the cat on the table and gave Draco a quick kiss. "Come see. I made the table myself."
"I see I've lost you to that nasty work stuff," Draco said bitterly.
Xander pulled him closer and kissed him as best he could, making Draco melt. "Work is important to me, but so are you, Draco. I won't ignore you for it, and if I do then you can pout and I'll quit. Okay?" Draco sighed and nodded. "Thanks, babe. Now come see. One of your house elves needed a spot to keep special stuff."
"A house elf doesn't have special things," Draco said smartly. Xander frowned at him. "Fine. Which one?"
"I'm not sure," Xander admitted. "I'm still having trouble telling them apart. This is what he wanted and this is what I'm thinking about. Do you like it?"
"I do," Draco admitted, looking at the sketches of the family crest and the other treats Xander had put onto the drawing. "Will it turn out exactly like that?"
"Yup. And the panels are interchangeable. So it can change them out for more plain ones and I'll use the decorated ones on something for you." He stole another kiss and got back down to figuring out what he'd need.
Draco got a sudden idea. "I don't think you'll need a lid," he announced, striding back to the fireplace to call the manor. He frowned at the elf who answered. "Is that supposed to have a lid? Or is a cradle for a baby house elf? I'm not mad, but Vellian needs to know."
"A cradles, master," she said, covering her face.
"That's fine then," Draco decided. "That doesn't displease me. He's planning on putting the Malfoy crest on it." She nodded frantically. "That's fine?" Baby house elves were considered free creatures until they took on adult roles and attached themselves to a family. There was a law saying that he could not predispose the baby to work for the family if it didn't want to.
"Yes, sirs. He's work for you. He's need to, you need more house elves."
"That's fine," Draco agreed dryly. "How soon is the cradle needed?"
"It's a cradle?" Xander asked as he joined him. "I can put rockers on the bottom."
"No, house elves don't like rocking things," Draco told him. "They loathe rocking chairs. How soon?" he asked again.
"Now," she squeaked.
"Give me until tomorrow night," Xander told her. "I may not have the best decorated one by then but I can get the basic one done and it'll have panels so we can change them out if you want something less plain." She nodded and disappeared. "Wow. My first piece of baby furniture. Should I put it on a stand so it doesn't lay on the floor?"
"No, they'll put the baby on a shelf or a chair," Draco told him. "But that does mean that box is a bit too big."
"She gave me the measurements."
"Fine. Do you need help?"
"No, I'll cut it out tomorrow and work on it all day. It'll be good practice for my present to Ollivander." He snuck in a quick kiss. "You can help me sand since it'll be Saturday."
"Fine, coopt my freedom with work," Draco sighed.
Xander leered at him. "If we get it done, I'll reward my faithful helper."
"Really?" Draco asked as he loosened his tie. "Shouldn't you prepay for that?"
Xander grinned. "I was thinking more about celebrating my making my own wand and living through the snide barbs of the construction shop guy."
"What did he say!" Draco demanded.
"He didn't think I knew what I was doing when I picked non-magical woods and didn't want to buy the top of the line products."
"They're usually the best."
"No, they're the most expensive. In tools, form and multitasking means more to me than a single use, bland, overpriced tool I'll only use once or twice a year."
"Like what?" Draco asked.
"Like there's a machine to just cut the spots for hinges to go. How often am I going to use that tool?" Draco looked clueless. "Most things have the hinges into the wood so you've got to carve out a spot for them to sit," he explained, leading him to the main door to show him. He saw Asgard looking at the tools and tapped on the spell he had put on the door that kept the tools from being powered up unless he was in there. "Safety precaution," he explained at the clueless look. "It'll keep the cats from accidentally turning on the machines." He opened the door, showing him how the hinges were recessed into the doorframe. "See, you set them into the wood so they don't stick out and you don't have gaps in the closing."
"Oh. Okay. There's a tool for just that?" Xander nodded. "Why?"
"Because some people don't want to adjust the depth on their routers and put on a different bit. I have one that I can do that with and it'll work even better because I know what I'm doing with it. It saved about a hundred dollars muggle by not buying that and I've got everything I could need with just what I got today." Asgard walked past him, sniffing at the halls. "What? Does it smell off too?"
"No, blood," he said grimly. "Animal blood."
Xander got a sudden flash and grabbed Draco's hand, leading him downstairs. "The kitties. He's going to kill one of the kittens who'll end up liking him," he said, leading him into the shop using Draco's landlord's key and to the back, where the shopkeeper of the herbal store had hung all his prizes, dead cats' skins. "You sick bastard," he breathed. The man jumped and glared at him.
Draco looked around. "I agree, this is disgusting," Draco told him. "And to think, we thought one of our kittens might like you."
"They do but they're foul creatures!" the shopkeeper complained. "You keep those pestilent beasts away from me!"
"Sure," Xander agreed, glaring at him. "As soon as you pack up and move." Draco gave him a look. "If he skins cats, what's to keep him from hurting other things, like me?"
"Good point," Draco admitted. "And I do agree. I can find someone who would *love* to have this shop to rent. You've got a week." He walked Xander away, going to call the family's barrister to inform him of that so he could monitor the situation. He counted the cats and rescued the two parents from the stairs, and one kitten who was trying to go down the stairs, carrying them all back to the box. "You leave him alone, he's evil and he kills cats for spite."
"He's a bad man," Perfect agreed, licking her kitten's head. "He'll not get this one."
"No, he won't," Xander agreed, sounding very firm about it. "Oooh, that's a pretty bird," he said in awe as one landed on the windowsill.
Draco glanced over. "That's Dumbledore's, let it in."
Xander opened up the window, letting the phoenix in. "Hi. You must be Fawkes. Welcome to the loft. Is everything okay? Are we under attack?"
Fawkes shook his head and handed over a message, then went to sit on the posts to the bed, looking around.
"Thanks," Draco told it. "Don't you dare mess on the bed."
Xander read the message and smirked at Draco. "Dumbledore heard about my new wand and he congratulates me and wanted to know what I was working on."
"Hmm. He's always got a plan up his sleeve," Draco said bitterly. "He probably wants you to make him something." He looked around. "What should I put in down there?"
"How about a good pizza or a chinese place? Hogsmeade could use one," he offered when Draco gave him an odd look. "We don't have many places to eat but the inn and the whorehouse."
"When did you find the whorehouse?"
"Last week when I was wandering around. I saw someone go in there and asked Madam Malkin. She was sure I was too nice a boy to go in there."
"Good," Draco agreed, glaring at him. "I would have to complain if you went there. There are nothing but skanky bitches in that place." He sat down on the bed, looking at him. "Are you nearly done for the night so we can celebrate?"
Xander put the message on the bed. "Tell him I won't be up before lunch," he told the bird. "Thanks, Fawkes." He pounced his mate, pinning him to the bed. The bird above them ruffled his feathers and stared down at them.
"He can't talk, you'll have to write out a message," Draco said between kisses. "Otherwise he'll stare like a vulture."
"Sure." Xander got up and wrote out a quick message, handing it over. "Thanks, Fawkes. Come back anytime but you can't watch us have sex." He let the bird out and saved the inquisitive kitten who came over to see what the draft was from. "You're too young to go outside," he said as he shooed her away. He looked out the window and then sighed, sitting on the ledge so he could lean out and capture the other one who had snuck out, bringing her back inside when Draco caught him and drug them both back inside. He shut the window and put her down, looking at the parents. "No wandering onto the ledge or outside yet, guys. It's not time yet." He drug Draco back to the bed and had his way with him. They needed to celebrate such a momentous occasion - they had the weekend together.
Two weeks later, Xander walked in with the three students he had paid and coerced into helping him, nodding at his father to open his office door. "Now, dad, it's heavy," he complained, shifting his hands on the burden they all were carrying. Snape let them into his office, watching as they carefully set down the solid object that was covered in bright wrapping paper. He paid the kids with a grin. "Thanks, guys. You were a great help." They walked off chatting about how nice he was to be Snape's son. So he grinned at his father. "Someone told me it was your birthday last week," he chided, but he was still grinning. "So I put my skills to good use to do this for you. The only charms on it are anti- rot, anti-mildew, anti-moisture, and an anti-wrinkle one," he said proudly. "Otherwise it's purely just regular wood." His father gaped at him. "The usual thing you do with presents is to open them," he prompted. "I want to see your face when you do. Especially since one of the kittens kept trying to help me wrap it." He reached behind him and rang a bell on the desk, bringing a house elf. "Are Giles and Ethan busy?" It shook its head. "Can you ask them to come down so they can watch dad open a birthday present?" It nodded and hurried off. Xander looked out in the room, grinning and waving. "He'll just be a minute more." He patted his dad on the arm. "We'll wait."
Snape shook his head quickly and went back to his lesson, deciding he must have imagined it. His son was not in his office. He had that thought all the way up until Ethan walked in and grinned at him, making him growl. "Quit smiling."
"No. I'm happy, it's a good day." He walked into the office, smiling at the size of the present. "Your father doesn't really like presents," he offered as he closed the door. He tried to explain to the boy something he didn't really understand himself, but his son snorted when he told him of his aversion to wrapping paper.
"I couldn't wrap it in a plain sheet after I spent so much time working on it," Xander pointed out dryly. "It wouldn't have suited it at all." His father and Giles walked in together. "Mom told me you don't like wrapping paper so you can delegate to them to unwrap it."
"I didn't need a present, son."
"Dad, suck it up. This is what kids do," he said patiently. "And if you don't like it, I'll pout and whine." He and his father locked eyes and he won, this time, because his father knew he was proud of what he had done. "Thanks. I left the inside unfinished so you can tell me what you to have it covered with. I'll cover it this weekend and you can start using it the next day."
Snape gently pulled a chair over and forced himself to touch the slick paper, noticing this had a texture. It wasn't the usual wrapping paper. "What did you transfigure this from, son?"
"Parchment. Some of the rough stuff I use for design cutouts." He grinned. "Good job, huh? I know it's got some texture but that was on purpose. It's easier to carry stuff that's not absolutely smooth."
Snape nodded once and opened the top seam, careful not to tear it. He could use it later he supposed. He let the paper fall to the floor and gasped at the chest standing there. It had large 'button' style feet and it was carved very nicely all the way around. It had brass hinges and a leather covered top. He looked up at his son, who was bouncing slightly. "This is exquisite. What is it meant to hold?"
"Clothes," he said patiently. "You know those things that Draco *swears* I don't have enough of and keeps trying to get me to buy more of? Those things. Now, you can decide to have a fabric cover on the inside or have me use the cedar panels I found last week, your choice. Once it's covered it'll be fully finished."
Snape raised the lid. "It's still rough."
"You needed that roughness to make the glue work better," Xander told him. "So, what did you want me to bring up to cover the inside with? Cedar panels? A certain type and color of fabric? Whatever you want, dad."
"Son, this is... this is too much," he said calmly, standing back up. "I did not need something this extravagant."
Xander beamed at him. "Complain some more, watch me tie you down from a distance to let Mom have his way with you again," he said sweetly. Snape went slightly pinker. "A gift is just that, dad, a gift. It's not like it's Freudian." He grinned at Giles. "He gave me the dimensions to fit best at the foot of your bed." He grinned at his father again. "So, what should I bring up to cover the inside with? I don't suggest leather like the top, but if you want I can do that too. I'll just add a small layer of padding so it won't have to stretch too much."
"The cedar will be fine, Alexnader," Snape said quietly, pulling him closer to give him a brief hug. "Thank you. It is very thoughtful."
"Yeah, well, I had to be told by a house elf that it was your birthday last week. Don't keep those things from me," he said with a light pinch to his father's arms. "Now, I've got one more to do. I've got one for Ollivander." He grinned and slipped away, leaving them there to look at the present in shock and awe. Draco would be impressed with how nice it was too.
"The carvings are a bit lopsided on this side," Giles admitted. "There was a split in the wood when he had to canter an edge, according to him, so he let it be the imperfection."
"It is very tasteful and useful," Ethan agreed.
"I like it," Snape assured them. He looked at them, then back at his present. He could see the dovetailed joints and the care his son had taken with his gift. He would treasure it, even if it weren't so good. "Cedar you think?"
"He's got some pretty velvet for a new throw," Giles offered. "It's midnight blue. He said Perfect adored it the last time Draco took her shopping."
"Maddy must be having fits, having cats in her store," Ethan said dryly, smirking at his lovers.
"Oh, quite, but you can't really tell a Malfoy no or else they'll never go there again," Giles reminded him. "Xander seems to be liking that attitude in some cases."
"Parkinson tried to jump Draco again," Snape admitted. "She's sure that he'll come back to her."
"Then we must hold the bonding sooner," Ethan decided. "Better a pale, pasty, nosy, drama queen of a bitch than that bitch."
"Yes, I rather like him and Xander," Giles agreed. "He makes the boy quit bouncing. For that much I'd kiss him myself."
"Um, sickening thoughts beside the point, are we not having class?" Harry asked from the doorway. "Professor Snape, sir. Malfoy sent me. He said to tell you that he wanted to see the present too. He hadn't seen anything but the top when he helped hold down the leather."
"Out, Potter, and you've just lost another twenty points."
"Fine, sir. Are we having a study hall?"
"No!" Harry wisely left before Snape could get more upset. "At least Vellian isn't taking up with *him*."
"Actually, I rather like Potter," Giles admitted sheepishly. "Nothing at all like his father and a lot like Ethan in many ways. We've got to help those twins with his relatives."
"Of course we will," Ethan said smugly. "I've been giving them some *wondrous* ideas."
"As long as I don't have to see them," Snape ordered before walking out to torture another class.
Giles and Ethan smirked at each other. Xander had cured him of his dislike of presents so they'd have to work on finding him something. They used the floo in the office to go to Diagon, hoping to find something nice there.
Xander tapped on Ollivander's door before walking inside. "Hi," he said at the quizzical look around a bookshelf of wands. "I've made you a present for teaching me," he offered, pulling it out of his pocket and handing it over. When the other man had it, he pulled his wand to cast the expanding charm, making it grow back into a normal size. "The shrinking spell is on the handle," he explained. "It's a field case, in case you have to go out to gather ingredients for new wands." He looked very pleased with himself. This was his best work yet. All magically melded, but you could see where the original joints were. The hinges and locks were pure silver, just in case they had to be spelled.
Mr. Ollivander opened it and gasped in surprise. There was a lift-out tray with shallow compartments, but not so shallow as to be useless. Underneath were a few collection jars and a few empty holes to hold things, just long enough for the average piece of wood to make a new wand. A little bit bigger around too so he wouldn't have to worry about squeezing them into tiny holes. On the bottom were two trays that pulled out from the front and the back, both single compartments. He put the tray back in and noticed the lock. "It locks?"
"Of course. You wouldn't want just anybody to get into your special stuff, or I know I wouldn't. The cats about drive me nuts when I'm sanding."
Ollivander smiled at him. "This is beautiful work, my boy. Your first?"
"Well, I did my own workbench so I wouldn't have to worry about magic in the wood. I made a cradle for a house elf first because they helped me carry tools, and I practiced some of the carvings on there to make sure that I could do them. Then I found out dad had a birthday last week, so I made him a trunk at the same time as I was finishing your gift. That's what kept me from delivering it earlier this week."
"That's fine. It's magnificent. How do you shrink it?"
"The usual way. The charm's already laid so you only have to tap it with a wand. The enlargement needed a more obvious piece. I wanted to put it on the hinges but I didn't know if you needed specifically unmagiced stuff. So that's not got much magic on it at all, almost none except a preservation and that shrinking one, and the preservation one is on the bottles and nothing else," he said at the opening mouth.
"This is wonderful. I have an old carpet bag that I use but I've broken much wood in it. Thank you, Xander. This was most thoughtful." He gave the boy a hug. "How is your wand?"
"Wonderful," he said happily, pulling it to show him. "Sorry." He wiped it off. "Nursing kitten decided to try it earlier today."
"They can do that," he agreed happily, looking it over. No splits, not even a tiny bit of dryness. The boy was very good. "Well done, Xander. Would you like some tea?"
"Not today, but I'll be back again," he promised with a grin. "I've got to find something to keep us from having more kittens. Perfect's about ready to go into heat again according to her."
"Ah. Yes, that can be inconvenient."
"Especially when you only know so many people," Xander agreed dryly, smirking at him. "By the way, the guy who used to run the herbal shop under my loft is gone. Draco and I kicked him out because he was killing cats and hanging their skins, with heads, in his back room."
"Are you taking it over?"
"No, I'm not ready for that. Not yet anyway. I was thinking there might be a few shopkeepers around here who might want to expand that way. If you didn't know of anybody, I was going to talk to the twins."
"I can't think of anybody off hand," Ollivander admitted. "Is it a large store?"
"Not really. It's the bottom of the building but we're the one behind the robe shop. That herbalist was the bad guy."
"Yes, I remember that one. Where did he move? He carried some things that no one else did."
"He moved to the outskirts of town, beyond the Three Broomsticks. There was a dusty old shop over there that he went into. So that leaves ours open. Draco was complaining that he didn't know anybody who could fill it."
"The twins might know of someone, and if not, I'll ask around," he offered.
"Have them talk to Draco. I know he owns a few buildings that way, even though he won't admit it. We've got two open at the moment that I know of." He grinned again. "You have a nice day, Mr. Ollivander, and I'll pop back around soon, when I'm ready to show off again." He winked. "My next thing is a capturing box for Dumbledore. My first fully magical project."
"You have a wonderful future ahead of you, Xander. This is very well done," he praised. "Did you want to consider changing fields?"
"I might but I kinda like working with boxes and decorating. The wand thing was great and fun, but I like the carving stuff. It's like neat art that I can do really well, even though I seem to do a lot of birds." He shrugged but stayed happy. "I'm not sure what it is but it works for me. I had to exchange two of the panels for yours because the phoenix came out looking funny. The first looked more like a big chicken and the second came out looking like a fat bird." Ollivander chuckled at that. "Wandmaking is really precise and right now I want to be free and explore. I didn't upset you, right?"
"No, Xander, it is a wise man who knows what he wants to be when he grows up."
"Must have inherited that when I got the 'rent's memories," he quipped happily. "Have a nice day and happy crafting. If you need something let me know." He headed off, going to find out if there was such a thing as kitty birth control.
Ollivander looked at his new specimen case and sighed in pleasure. That boy was honest about what he wanted and he wasn't going to push him to take him on as an apprentice. It had been a gift of thanks, not of coercion. It was a nice change and a very useful and pretty gift. He brought it back to his workshop, setting it on a table so he could examine it later. Xander had interrupted his latest wand but that was fine. He had ideas for a few new ones now.