Alex looked up as the front door slammed. As far as he knew all the boys were still there. He waited, whoever it was would come find him. The door opened and a very familiar face looked in, lounging in the doorway. "Morning, Arens."
"You greedy bitch, you took all of the good apprentices," he said, his voice deep, but it had that hint of 'flaming queen' in his tone.
"Sue me, I'm married to one, the grandfather of another, and the third is Bill's little brother and Harry's best friend. What did you want me to do?" he asked smartly, smirking at him. "No tagalong?"
"We broke up *years* ago," he said snidely. "If you actually quit working you'd know that, Alex."
Xander shrugged. "It happens. They want me to start playing quidditch instead." He grinned at him. "What's up, Arens?"
"Your apprentices need help. They're stuffy, they're still stiff, and Ron's a horrible liar." He grinned sweetly. "I love you, but they're turning into you and not having any fun."
"Ron's engaged," he said happily. "To my little sister."
"Pity, but I've seen in the papers. They're cute."
"I thought you were retired."
"I *am* retired, but I'm fucking bored, Alex! There's not as many pretty little wizards anymore. They're all training under you!" He smirked at the boy walking up behind him. "Hi, precious."
"Bugger off," Harry told him. "I'm still straight." He peeked into the office. "One of your exes? Should I warn Draco?"
"This is Arens, he used to be my partner, Harry. But yeah, go ahead and warn Draco he's a horrible flirt and hates boys over the age of twenty-six."
Harry nodded and walked off shaking his head. "Draco! His old partner is here and he wants your arse too!" he yelled as he walked. "He only likes pretty little boy toys!"
Arens giggled. "He's so cute!" he cooed.
"I heard that. I am not!" Harry yelled. He slammed the kitchen door.
Draco came out of the library, looking at him. "Who're you?" he asked calmly.
"Arens, his old partner," he said, holding out a hand.
Draco shook it delicately then wiped his hand off. "You're sweaty, would you mind not drooling over me." He walked into the office and stole a kiss. "What's going on?"
"He wants to teach you guys his areas. Ignore his flirting or try to kick his ass." He patted Draco on the back. "Any luck on that translation?"
"No. The dictionary is in Goblin and that's about my fifth language." He grimaced. "Can't Weasley learn this one?"
"Bastard," he muttered, heading back to it. He did turn and punch the guy when he got pinched, weathering the laughter. He pulled his wand instead, pointing it at him. "I'm not the one for you. Learn your place."
"Draco," Alex warned. "He's harmless. He just likes pretty things. You are my most pretty thing. He covets you." He grinned. Draco snorted, walking back to his job for the day. "Arens, touch my veela again and die in a way only I can give you," he said calmly. "Understand?"
"Understood, Alex. I may covet but I'll quit trying to touch."
"Good. That'll extend your life by many more years." He picked up his book again, going back to it. "Ron's hiding by now since Harry's had plenty of time to warn him. Draco's working on a translation. Harry's waiting until practice." He turned the page. "Tonight we're going to all sit down after dinner and start back on the artifact handling lectures and those things."
"Good!" He headed for the kitchen, smiling at the house elves. "Darlings!"
Me the house elf looked at him and got him some butterbeer. "Arens needs to calm down," she ordered. "Pretty boys are not for Arens. Pretty boys are for Dawn and Alex." She got back to work.
"I know and it's a pity," he said happily. He looked at the redhead coming in. "Hi, precious."
Ron looked at the skinny blond man, then shook his head and walked off. "Harry warned me. Alex, do I have a job before this evening's lesson or should I call Mum since she's fussing again?"
"Call your mother before she tries to storm this place by going over the hills."
"Sure, Alex." He went to call his mother so she'd quit worrying. Not that it'd help any, but it'd at least keep her from trying to storm the place. And maybe it'd get him cookies.
Alex put the chest in front of the kids and Arens. "Who can tell me what this is?"
"The thing that vexes me unto screaming?" Draco suggested.
"Besides that. Does it have a name?"
Draco consulted his notes. "The Chest of Darkness and Doom as near as I could translate."
Alex picked it up and looked at the side, then at him. "You need to work on your Goblin. Doom and Remorse."
"It does matter," he said patiently. "Sometimes it matters a lot." He looked at the other two. "Okay, this is cursed. Can either of you feel it?"
Harry nodded. "Yes. I can feel something slick and nasty, like it's dead."
"Very good," Arens said happily. "I can tell you it's not remains, it's not human, and it's blood magic."
Ron looked at him, then nodded once. He looked at Xander again. "This is the alternate magic stuff?" Alex nodded, smirking at him. "Mum said I'm not stay normal or else."
"You will. I promise you will. Even if you learn it, it doesn't mean you've got to use it," he said patiently. He looked at Arens. "Since I know you were there when I found it, would you like to tell Draco what it's for so he can tell us what you do with it?"
"Uncurse it and release the contents so they quit radiating?"
"Not in this case." He patted the top of the box. "This is an artifact in the 'unholy' category; what do we do with those, Ron?"
"We say a few prayers to Merlin and hope we're not infected."
Alex sighed and looked up. "I'm serious, Ron!" he snapped.
"Fine. We find out all we can while we keep it contained, keep ourselves from being infected, then we figure out the best methods of permanent containment or destruction. Then we pray to Merlin and pray we're not infected."
"Good!" Xander said, beaming at him. "Very good. Thank you!"
"I'm serious in the field."
"If you're faced with an unfamiliar artifact, I want you to be just as serious. I have seventy-two things in this house that, if released, could eat all of you before you're aware it's in the room. Granted, sixty-four of them are all part of the same problem, but still." They all sighed. "You guys can play *on* the job but not *about* the job. Got it?" They all nodded. "Good. We can play and joke and laugh all we want while we're working as long as we're serious about the work and what we're doing. Personally I made that same joke once in Gringotts and the goblins looked at me like I was insane." Ron grinned at that. "So did Bill when he was asked that question." He stroked the top of the box again, then looked at his mate. "You need to work on the language stuff, Draco. Seriously. It's kinda necessary around here. Starting with goblin. Tomorrow, honey."
"Yes, dear," he smarted back. "First thing tomorrow I'll call and find out when the lessons are."
"Good. While you're at it, take advanced Latin too. Harry, you get Greek, and yes I know about your practice schedule, they make books for that, and Ron you can have Egyptian since I'm sure Bill's given you some lessons before." He nodded, agreeing with that. "Yes, this is the time when you have to start getting a bit more serious. Since Gringotts so *thoughtfully* decided I should be cutting back to have more fun, we've now got time to do this instead of learning in the field. Arens is one of the best people to teach you alternative magic in the field today." They all nodded at that. "So that's what he's going to be doing. Starting with house elf." Ron whimpered. "Tough, Ron. Remember, you've got to be able to think like the person who started a curse or a spell to truly break it. Otherwise...."
"You leave contaminated magic that can harm others. I know that, Alex," Ron complained. "But I'd like to have some fun now and then too."
"Ron, language lessons are two hours a day. You can go straight from that into lessons with Arens. That gives you the other twenty hours to sleep, play, and have sex with Dawn. Okay?" Ron nodded, accepting that now. "Good! Harry, your coaches know, they've just conveniently forgotten. Feel free to bring the language books with you for those times you're bored."
"Yes, Alex." He shifted some. "I've got a letter upstairs that came yesterday asking if I would sponsor a child into Hogwarts."
"It's not unheard of. You basically become the favorite uncle or aunt of the child in question, helping them get accustomed to the world and all that. You're there to answer any pesky wizarding questions and help with the shopping. It's usually done with muggle borns." Draco let out a delicate shudder. "I know, but it can ease the kid's transition, Draco. The same as Greg's sponsoring Lindsey to Canada." He looked at Harry. "Why you?"
"The kid's parents died right before the war. She's been in foster care. She's the daughter of a quidditch player as well."
Alex nodded. "I leave that up to you, Harry. If you do, warn the aunts so they can fuss over her."
"I'm sensing the unsubtle hand of Dumbledore," Draco noted patiently. He looked at Harry, who shrugged. "No?"
"Even less subtle," he noted dryly. "Is she already in the school?" He shook his head. "Have you met with her?"
"No, but she sent me a long letter about the child. She seems a lot like Hermione in some ways."
"We haven't seen her in a while," Ron noted. "Have you?" Harry considered it then shook his head. "We should at least do lunch."
"Last I heard she was working in the archives at the Ministry and ignoring the world except for her quest for Philip," Alex noted dryly. "If you guys want, you guys can bring her to the other house and hang out some Saturday." They smiled at him. "Until then, however, we are going to work on all the treasures around this house so I have the room to collect more stuff."
"Is Bill finishing Malgadesh?" Ron asked. Alex nodded. "But he woke him up!"
"Yeah, but the goblins want me to clear out some of the stuff here. They seem to think I've got a hidden storehouse. Which I do," he admitted with a grin.
"Beyond downstairs?" Harry asked. Alex nodded. "How many?"
Alex just smirked and went to get the language texts, handing them the ones they'd need. Arens laughed at that and got his own book. "Alex, are you adding onto the library?"
"I need to," he admitted. "We need to do another expansion spell since we've reached the limits of the last one. Otherwise we'd have a whole 'nother floor already. We've already overflowed a few of the bookcases." He shrugged and went to the card catalog to look up the family history to see how he had done it the last time. His pensieve came down and he took it back to his study to watch the event.
Draco got up to walk around the table to see where that had come from. "I'll be damned! There's another room up there!"
"There's a whole floor between the ballroom and the living spaces," Arens noted dryly, smirking at him. "It's full too. They started there and this got built later. I think he should knock out the far wall and just build on again." He waved a hand around. "This is more knowledge than the goblins keep," he said happily. "Since we've got some in storage...." He grinned at him. "It'll also keep up with the expansion spell." He stood up and went to remind Alex of that. He could easily build onto the room.
"Maybe Hermione can come update the card catalog," Ron told Harry, smirking and putting his feet up on the chair across from him. "That way Draco doesn't go to sleep with hand cramps."
"He used to have a library elf," Draco noted bitterly. "It's time to get another one." They chuckled at that and he went to tell Alex about that idea. "We need a library elf."
"We had one," Alex told him. "She died when the house burned. What're they saying now?"
"That Granger should update the card catalog."
Alex smirked at him. "Why? Philip's going to have time off this summer," he said innocently. "So will Greg if he's got his way. So will Sev and Methos. The Banes have a lot of book nerds, dear. I'm sure we don't have to do a permanent invite for Granger. She gives me the creeps."
"Thank you for keeping your good taste in that too," he noted, going back to the library and to his research. He looked at the clock, then at Harry. "Practice?" he reminded him. Harry jumped up and ran off, heading out to the floo port. He rolled his eyes. "His coaches will be yelling I'm sure." He sat down to get back to work, moving the chest away from him for now. He really did need more language skills to do this job well.
Draco accepted the letter from the owl the next morning, smiling at it. "Thank you." It was fussy and always wanted to be thanked. It hooted and took off to roost on top of the castle. He poured himself some tea and sat down to drink it with his breakfast while he read it. He groaned. "Bugger, why do they need in the family jewelry?" he complained. Alex lowered the side of his paper to look at him. Draco handed over the letter, looking at the paper. "Why is it in Russian and German?"
"It's printed on the border and that's where we're doing a raid to get back some of the family's assets." He handed it back. "Inside the book on that is the key. You bring the book with you and use it to summon the piece you want."
"In the bank?"
"Yup, sorry, dear. I know you don't like to spend time down in the vaults but it shouldn't take you that long. If you have to, summon by the setting and then sort by hand." He turned the page and got back into his reading. "Arens, Ron, and I are headed to the border area later today to retrieve that stuff. You might want to have a healing potion ready, just in case they shoot at us again." He turned the page again. "The Russian soccer team is doing well this year."
"I don't pretend to understand muggle sports," Draco reminded him. "Is there a special significance to that piece?"
"Aunt Nadia has a date. She's scared to leave it at the house. The unicorns don't like it."
"Can't we just *buy* her a new one?"
Alex looked at him. "You can try if you want," he offered dryly. "She won't take the hint from me."
"I'll try that first." He got down to eating his breakfast. "Where are the annoyance twins?"
"Bed, still. Harry got home late from practice and he's got a game today so he's sleeping in with permission. Ron's going to sneak off and go with Arens to watch him play. Tipsy's going too with one of the twins and the kids. The twins'll switch out during the game so the other one can watch too."
"That's good I guess. What're we doing until you leave?"
"Nothing much. I'm going to do a general look over the storehouses while you work on your language lessons and write Dawn about Easter." Draco smiled at that. "I'm going to talk to someone about doing the building spell on the library once I've got the books moved back here. That's what the house elves are doing today, along with some goblins who're on the bottom of the ranking so they get the shit jobs."
"They're in the bank too?"
Alex smirked. "You didn't look at those lists very carefully, did you?"
"I tried not to. My head started to hurt with the counting."
Alex nodded. "Mine too. That's why I'm looking forward to you doing it. Don't forget the household accounts this month."
"Of course not. I'll do that first." He ate another bite and chewed slowly. "Are we having the same people who put up the barn and redid the house do the extension and expansion of the spell?" He nodded. "Have they been here before?"
"Yup. That firm replaced the stables when they burned the first time."
"Good, they can put up a small one this time." He looked at him. "Or some sort of pulley system so we can haul things back from the floo ports."
"Arens has my horse but we can get a cart pony and a cart." He smiled and went back to his reading. "I should call Justinius this morning."
"They were on his side of the family and the people who stuck up for him. I should see if he wants any of it."
"Again, why?" he asked dryly. "He hates you."
"Good point." He smiled at him. "You're so smart this morning."
"You're not having more sex, Alex. Three times was enough." That got a loud snicker from behind them so he looked back to find Arens there and dressed in jeans and a loose t- shirt. "Going already?"
"Prepared so I don't have to change." He smiled at the elves. "Can I have some too? My last boy left me and no one feeds me." The house elves drug him to the table and sat him down, going to find him a large plate of food. "No boys yet, Alex?"
"Harry's got a game today. I figured we'd go during the game. Maybe during the second quarter break."
"Sure. Will it take long?"
"Shouldn't. It should come at my call." He shrugged. "We'll just have to obliviate the muggles." That got some smiles and a nod. "Before then I was going to do a walking tour of the caverns. See what Great Aunt Emma left." He got up and found his sealed mug, pouring the rest of his tea into it and adding more, then fixing it properly. "I'll be back by lunch." He headed out toward the caves.
"They're out there?"
"No, the entrance is out there somewhere. No one but the curse breakers in the family know where they really are. Katya might not even know and she's in the field now." He shrugged and dug in, smiling at him. "You coming to the game?"
"Probably not. I've got to find Aunt Nadia's favorite broach."
"It's in a blood red velvet box the last I knew." He ate another bite. "Find her something prettier, Draco."
"I'm going to try. I don't like being so far underground for any length of time." He finished and got up, going to look at the accounts and call Nadia to see if she wanted to go shopping. The poor dear burst out in tears and he soothed her, but said that she deserved something pretty and new to impress her friend with. He managed to talk her into it, including some new jewelry. Then he went back to the accounting problems the family had. He found the entries for the book vaults and stared at the six pages of entries. Then he banged his head on the desk a few times. Why did he love such a book nerd? Even worse than Methos, Severus, Philip, and Granger combined!
Alex looked at the shelves that now stood empty, and had the spells placed on them. The contractor had been paid and just left so he was all alone with the extra space. It was nearly double what it had been, and all empty. But that was fine, he had things to fill them with. He touched his tatoo, sending out a general call. It was Sunday. A good day for this. "If any of you ever want to borrow another book again, I expect some help putting up the new books that I had in storage and updating the card catalog," he whispered. "All eighty vaults of them." He let it go and found the stack of already charmed cards for the catalog and knew at least that would expand. He heard the front door slam open and smiled at the man who moved past the boxes littering the room and stacked in the hallways. "Hi, Prof. We had to expand. We ran out of room on the old expansion spell."
He looked at all the boxes and loose books. "How many more do you have?"
"This is only two vaults," he said happily. "Do you need a summer project?" Then he smiled sweetly. "The elves can shelve but we'll have to write out the cards for the catalog."
Greg and Emilia walked in with the kids, stopping to stare. "Oh, shit," Emilia said in awe.
"No, this is only two vaults worth," Xander said happily.
Greg walked over and kissed him. "I love you, Alex. If Emilia dies or leaves me, will you have me?"
"You'd have to fight Draco for me," he said, patting him on the back. "By the way, most of the potions books are in vault eighteen. I had them sorted by subject. These are the language ones and starting on the charms section. That'll take up the next six vaults, then we'll go to specific area charms, like there's a vault with healing books that include charms and potions. Like I said, the elves'll shelve and the goblins will haul the next vault up whenever we're ready. Elf handwriting is messy and I can't read it so this part has to be done by human hands."
Severus stormed in, looking at the piles and stacks of books, then at his father. "You've got to be joking."
"This is only two vaults," Methos told him.
Greg pulled out his cellphone and called his boss. "I know it's sudden but I'm going to be coming in late three days from now. No, Alex just expanded the library. We've got about a million books to make cards for. Grissom, this is a million books with at least sixty in Potions that I haven't seen before, man. I'll ask." He looked at Alex. "Anything on forensics or bugs? Gris wants to know."
"Um, yes and yes. In the potions section I think and the other's in creatures, which would be vault sixty something."
Greg put the phone back up to his ear. "Yes, there are. It may take me a week to get to the bug books, but should I ask him if you can borrow some?" He grinned. "No, we've got the kids with us. Yeah, if you need Night, go ahead and ask him or Nippy." He hung up and grinned at Philip and Blair as they came in. "This is only two vaults worth."
Philip swallowed and looked around. He crossed himself and said a quick prayer for taking the Lord's name in vain in awe at the sight before him. He looked at Blair, who was drooling. "He lets us borrow too," he said, nudging him.
Blair walked over there and hugged him. "Anything on sentinels or guides?"
"Mystical artifacts are vaults forty-eight through sixty-one. You're in there somewhere. Did Jim come back?" He nodded. "Did you kick his ass?"
"Yeah, and I'm still on the edge of sanity. What do we have to do?"
"Make cards." He enlarged one and made it float in the middle of the area. "There, a sample. Some may have some. The new cards are in the middle of the table. The faster we get done, the faster they get hooked into the magic by staying here for a full day and the faster you can borrow." They settled down to take a box and work on it while the elves took the kids back to the other house to play with them. The aunts always liked children and they would like the unicorns.
Harry walked into the library three days later, coughing loudly in the quiet room. "The headmaster would like his Charms, Defense, Runes, and Potions professors back before he's forced to declare you dead and find a replacement," he announced. "Greg, Lindsey called after speaking to her mother and your boss. Her mother thinks you had a suspicious accident as well. They'd like you to appear at work on time tonight so they can make sure you're alive."
Greg got up with a groan and nudged the others. "We've got to go back to real life," he complained. Draco glared at him. "You've only got one vault's worth left."
"And the shelves are already full!" he complained, pointing at the lack of space.
"Use some free-standing bookcases to create reading nooks," Philip suggested as he stood up and stretched. "Thank you, Harry."
"Welcome, Philip. By the way, Nick called and said to kick your ass since you missed the Hufflepuff/Slytherin game."
"Who won?" Draco asked.
"Dawn. She killed your house's seeker. Almost literally." He smiled. "He was trying to run her over so she dodged, did a very nice Wronski feint from what I was told, and he ran into the ground. Madam Pomfrey had to send him on for treatment." Draco snickered at that. "Greg, your boss wanted you to bring him back something to prove it was time well wasted."
Greg snorted and picked up his pile. "I'll send them back soon, Alex." He got a grunt and a snore. He snuck off, leaving his wife to sleep on top of the book she had been working on. Methos and Philip walked out with theirs and Severus took two with him as well. Professor Flitwick floated out a small stack on Egyptian curses and charms. Everyone else went back to sleep. Greg appeared at the station in the locker room, smiling at his boss since he had just jumped. He put down his stack and handed over the top six then headed for his lab with the rest. "You have a week, Griss," he called as he walked. Nick looked at him and whimpered. "Alex unpacked the books he had in storage. He had to double his old library. We cataloged over sixty thousand books between us." He walked into the chem/DNA lab and dropped his stack onto his desk, making Hodges come over to look. "Alex just doubled his library."
"He has books?"
"He has a ten story library filled with books and he just doubled the base square footage. We unpacked about sixty thousand more books over the last few days." He smiled at him and patted his stack. "Healing potions and alchemy. Plus one for you. You can't have it long," he offered, digging it out. He handed it over with a grin. "Alex is picky about his books."
"I'll treat it well." He went back to his lab to read while he waited on the tests he was running to finish. "Someone did the beginning work on how potions and chemistry are related," he said happily. He could build on this!
Warrick walked in a few hours later, watching the book be read by the pages turning themselves while Greg worked on something. "Hopefully you're paying attention to the samples?"
"I am," he said, handing back the reports he needed. "For you."
"What was it?" He looked at it. "Elm sap?" Greg looked and nodded. "It wasn't a wood sample, Greg."
Greg found his marked sample and handed over the bottle that contained the sample. "Run it yourself if you don't believe me. It was Elm tree sap." He got back to work on his present sample, then went back to reading once it started to process.
Warrick ran his sample, finding it was what the first one said. He sighed and walked off. It didn't make sense in the least. His victim lived in a steel, glass, and aluminum modern house. No wood anywhere and no recent visitors that could be documented. He heard Hodges cackle and stuck his head in that lab. "Are you all right?"
"Yeah, someone figured out something I've been trying to work on for the last year and now I can build on it," he said happily. "It saves me a lot of work for the harder problems and thoughts. Which are, of course, more suited to my brilliance." He held up a piece of paper. "On your wood sample."
"What wood sample?"
"From the body, Warrick. Did Greg obliviate you again?"
Warrick snatched it and walked off, going to check his notes. He didn't remember any wood sample. Maybe Greg had magiced his mind again. He found it in his notes and sighed, shaking his head as he went to ask the doctor if the victim could've been allergic to elm.
Philip looked up as someone tapped on his door, smiling at the usual teacher. "Back already?" he asked quietly. "They're having a test." The teacher walked in and put his bag down, leading him back to the office. "You're back early."
"I got summoned. A friend in the Ministry said there's about to be a shakeup and they needed you free for something else." He shrugged. "What's going on?" Philip handed over the official notice of his summons. "Why? He's always been good."
"Alex Dumass was deaged *after* Harry was orphaned," he said quietly. The man looked horrified. "That and some other things that've come out. It's been a strange few years, old friend."
"Where was the woman I chose to replace me?"
"She irritated everyone, especially Dumass when he had to come back for a year. She was using Budge and getting him extremely wrong while she worked out some intermediary language. All the students were going to fail their tests so I got asked to come. For Thinial I've been using the base language skills and some of the books from the bank."
"Interesting. So, I take it Dumass is officially back?"
"He was here to protect his nephew and his new spouse, Draco Malfoy." The teacher burst out in giggles. "Who's a consort veela. Alex's." He smiled. "Excuse the mess, we were helping Alex shelve the stuff he had in storage and I picked up a few books I wanted to read and translate."
"Not a problem. Are you in my rooms?" He shook his head. "Then I'm going up there. I'll sit in the rest of this week and get a good feel for where they are so you're free for whatever reason. If that's okay?"
"They're your students," Philip assured him with a smile. "I'm only the substitute. Not that I haven't enjoyed it, they're mostly good kids and Miss Granger is still very persistent whenever I see her."
"Yes, that was one of the reasons I left when I did. So I could miss her last year." That got another smile. "Go back to the test, Philip. We can chat tonight." Philip nodded and he went to get a copy and take it with him so he could unpack.
Later that night, at dinner, the Ministry's representative showed up to make an announcement. He coughed and nodded at McGonagall, who tapped her glass. "Students, attention please," he called. Everyone stared at him. "It is my sad duty to note that Headmaster Dumbledore will be retiring as of the end of this school year," he announced. "We at the Ministry have been looking long and hard for a replacement and it has come down to two teachers, both of whom are here at this moment in time." He smiled at the teachers. "As the present structure has stated that they are happy in their current positions and rolls, we have had to look outside the normal few who'd usually take over for him." He saw the shocked looks. So he turned around, still smiling. "It is my pleasure to announce that the new Headmaster of Hogwarts will be none other than Philip Callahan. His new Deputy will be Professor Methos." That got a small clap and Dawn cheered loudly, prompting more of them. They were fair, if a bit grumpy, teachers. He smiled at Professor Snape. "One of the reasons they were chosen is that they will not play house politics and will be fair to all houses. We at the Ministry feel that this fairness is needed at Hogwarts and that the school will benefit with it." He clapped his hands.
Dawn stood up. "It takes effect at the *end* of the school year?" He nodded. "Then should we be planning a celebration?"
"We should," he agreed happily. "That's a very good idea, young lady. I know the Hufflepuffs among you always enjoy a good party." She beamed happily. He turned back to the two teachers, who were missing now. "I'm sure they've went to arrange that and let their friends know." He smiled at the headmaster and McGonagall again. "I do hope that the teachers of Hogwarts can work with the new headmaster."
"I'm sure we can," she agreed, realizing why he had been passed over.
He smiled and bowed. "I'll see you at the celebration." He left, heading back to report his duty was done. Even if the two teachers were making a run for it. They'd be found by someone soon. He did stop to call Alex Dumass on the way. Their friends would turn them in.
Greg walked into his house and slammed his door. "Emilia?" he called.
"Upstairs, Philip's sick!"
"Yeah, that's because he's the new Headmaster. He's wanted back at the school tonight!" He walked into the kitchen, smiling at the elves. "Can I have some food?" Night handed him a plate straight out of the microwave. "Thank you, guys. Everything okay while we were gone, Night?" He nodded. "Good. Any other news?"
"A few messages wondering where you were," he offered. "Your boss. Brass." Greg nodded. "Do they need more elves? There were many elves at the shelter."
"They're thinking about a library elf," he admitted. "They're still arguing about it." He grinned and went to eat, smiling at his baby girl, who snuck up onto the couch to cuddle against him. "Not helping Uncle Philip feel better, Cassandra?" She smiled and shook her head. "That's okay. I could use baby cuddles." He gave her a hug. "Help daddy eat, 'San."
"I'm a big girl."
"I noticed you're growing up."
"I went pee pee."
"Good job!" he praised, letting her have some of his dinner as a treat. She smiled and hugged him. "Would you like to help me in the lab the next time we teach Uncle David his next potion?" She beamed and nodded. "You're so cool!" he praised. She just beamed happily. "This summer, Uncle Sev's coming over for a long visit. You can help him too." She wiggled at that, she loved working with him. "Lindsey will be back then too."
"Cool." She beamed at her mother when she came down. "Daddy said I could help Uncle David in the lab, mommy."
"You deserve the treat," she promised, kissing her on the head then her mate. "He's freaked out. I've already gotten him straightened out and taking a nap." She sat on his other side. "The boys are in the continuously napping phase. It's been quiet since we got back. No books?"
"I sent half of them back after I made notes," he offered, grinning at her. "The rest are locked in my desk so the kids don't demand I read to them from them. They really aren't ready for magical contraception and disease protection."
"Good point." She smiled at their daughter. "You were so good."
"Fank you," she said happily. "Can I call Uncle Sev?"
He checked his watch. "Sure, he should still be up." She wiggled down and went to the fireplace to call while her parents finished daddy's dinner. She didn't know why but they were always cuddling together and sharing their dinners. She smiled at her uncle. "Me not wake you?"
"No, you didn't wake me. I was sitting down reading. Is there a problem?"
"I went pee pee," she said proudly.
"That's a very important step," he agreed, sounding the slightest bit amused. "Are your parents hiding?"
She shifted closer. "No, daddy and mommy cuddle and eat his dinner. I not know why they cuddle and eat off same plate but they do it lots. When you coming over? Daddy say I can help you in the lab while you're here."
"This summer, Cassandra. When it gets very hot again." She pouted. "Perhaps sooner if I could manage it, but this summer definitely," he promised. She beamed and wiggled again. "You should be in bed."
"Nope!" She shook her head hard enough for the hair to whip her. "I'm a good big girl so I get to stay up. Big girls get to go to bed later." He nodded, smiling at her again. "Can we come see you again? I miss the castle."
"Not this summer. Perhaps next year."
"Or perhaps this easter since we're going to be doing something in the library," Greg called. Severus smiled at him and he smirked back. "I've got to integrate it with what I was already doing. Those books are in the school's library and I'm sure Madam Pince won't mind...much." He put down his plate and pulled his wife into his lap. "How's Holly?"
"Mad that I disappeared for three days without warning."
Emilia laughed. "She knew where you were, Sev, she wants to be spoiled." He raised an eyebrow. "It's a blatant, womanly way of asking for affection and attention."
"I see. Shouldn't you come with Magical Creature labels? Since your care and feeding are so complicated?"
"Many men think so," she said wisely. "Say good night, Cassandra."
"Nighty, Uncle Sevvie!" She waved and turned off the floo like her daddy had taught her. Then she ran back and climbed up into the joint lap. She smiled at them, just the most smug little smirk. "We should go visit."
"We should," Greg agreed. "We'll go during the holidays." She beamed and he patted her on the back. "You should be in bed."
She spit, then giggled. "Not sleepy."
"If you get a book, we'll read," he offered. She ran to get a book and he got to kiss his wife again. "Once she's down, you're going to let me go down, right?" he asked in his most teasing voice. She purred and nodded, letting him do whatever he wanted. She enjoyed it when he got creative. Their daughter ran back with her favorite book and climbed back up them, settling in to let them read to her. It didn't take long, it never did when they read Shakespeare. The future was bright, smart, and cuddly, even if she was a dragon when upset. Their kids would make excellent Banes. Someday.
The End. End of Series.