Disclaimer: As always, so not mine.
A/N: I know it's been months, but I've been trying to get something written, despite RL insanity and writer's block, and I finally managed this chapter. I'm sorry I left everyone in the lurch for so long, but it doesn't look like things are going to fully settle down until probably the end of summer. After that, I'll have a bit more time, and should (hopefully) have net access at home again.
Again, sorry for the long wait. Enjoy.
“She bought a strange man, Dawn?” Joyce looked wryly at her youngest daughter. Severus hid a smile in his hand though his eyebrow twitched as he realised the possible implications.
Wide, guileless blue eyes gazed back at her, and Dawn nodded, hesitated, and then rolled her eyes. “Brought. Sorry. She brought
a strange man home with her. They showed up in the surgery on the first floor. Willa told me. She said they came in using a Hospital Portkey. What’s a Hospital Portkey?” she asked curiously.
Joyce frowned, and looked at her husband. “She brought home a patient? Why?”
Raising an eyebrow, Severus offered, “Perhaps we might ask her about that? I don’t imagine standing here guessing will be particularly helpful. And a Hospital Portkey is a Portkey that can bypass most wards and may only be used by accredited and registered and sworn healers so that they can quickly get to any patient they needs must visit,” he explained to his youngest daughter.
Dawn blinked. “Accredited, registered and Sworn? Wow, why all that?” she put her hand in her mother’s and started to try and pull her out of the room.
Joyce smirked at her husband. For a man who professed to hate teaching and children he could be remarkably patient and was very good at explaining things. “A fair point. Let’s have her explain her actions.“ Looking at her daughter, she asked, “Have you seen her – them – Dawn? Is it a patient? Or did she manage to hook a nice handsome Mediwizard already?” Placing her hand on her husband’s arm she squeezed lightly when she felt how tense he was. Severus had by necessity missed his elder daughters’ first steps on the path of love. That did not mean he wasn’t going to very carefully retrace them, and have very serious words with all those who had scattered false trails for them. A young man who a few years ago had reduced Jessamyn to tears, not to mention Angel, were going to be very uncomfortable when Severus found out just what had happened.
Dawn, still pulling at her mother impatiently, nodded. The eleven-year-old wrinkled her nose in disgust. “Yeah, yuck! She was fussing over him, because he’s all covered in burns and looks really nasty.”
Joyce blinked. “Oh well, time enough for a Mediwizard later. Burns. What… no, never mind. Let’s just go down there and see what she’s doing.”
She let their daughter drag her out of the room ahead of them, and the three walked to the Keep’s small surgery. Dawn, having seen enough of her eldest sister’s patient, no matter how much she loved Jess, opted not to join them inside, and headed back to the Gallery to talk with her grandparents some more. The surgery wasn’t large enough to be an infirmary, since there were no beds, but only a single cot, which was currently occupied by a man that, as Dawn had said, had numerous burns… though he was by no means completely covered in them. Jess was seated on a stool beside the cot, tracing her fingers over the livid red marks, making them fade a bit with each pass. When her parents stepped into the room, Jess looked up, and then stood, hugging them both in welcome.
“Though I realise that your first responsibility is to your patient, Jessamyn, a little warning of your arrival, or even a message by other means than your youngest sister, might have been appreciated,” Severus told her mildly.
Jess flushed a little and cringed. “Sorry I didn’t get a chance to let you know I was on my way. Master Brown sent us by Hospital Portkey. And I knew Dawnie would go straight to you, even if only to see how you would react to me bringing someone.” She paused, and then asked, “Did you know Master Brown was your great-uncle when you wrote that request for me to come, Dad?”
Severus nodded. “I learned of my grandmother’s brother after your birth, while I was searching for an answer to why your mother’s magic was so badly curtailed. He helped me research the matter, and in the process, we discovered the cure for Djinni Fever… just not soon enough to save your magic.” No-one who did not know Severus very intimately would have seen the tremendous guilt in his eyes as he spoke the words in a neutral, explicative tone.
Both his wife and eldest daughter, despite their long separation, knew him very well.
Jess sighed, and crossed her arms, looking very like her mother at that moment. “Dad, you have to stop beating yourself up over that. You couldn’t know what your potion would do, and you saved both of our lives. Besides, I have magic, remember?” Pointing to the man lying unconscious on the cot. “If you had seen him yesterday, you would have been sick. I nearly was. THAT is my work, my magic. So stop blaming yourself, or I’ll smack you.”
Severus flushed, and while he worked to formulate a response, his wife, trying to hide smirk at the way her daughter handled her father, stepped into the room. Glancing at the patient, whose head was turned toward the wall, obscuring his facial features, Joyce asked, “Who is he?”
Jess smirked and shrugged. “A former Gryffindor who is, in the words of Master Brown, too stupid to stay away from Dragons.”
Severus stiffened. “Please tell me that you did not bring Charlie Weasley home with you.”
“Sorry, Dad, I can’t tell you that. You wouldn’t want me to lie to you, would you?” Jessamyn told him, half impishly and half fearful she’d be taking Charlie back to St. Mungo’s in a coffin.
“For the love of Merlin, why?
Why does the first boy you bring home upon our reunion have to be Charlie Weasley?”
Jess glared at her father for a few seconds as the implications of his remark sank in. Then she pretended to think about her response, then said tartly, “Because my dad sent an ‘insistent’ message to St. Mungo’s to have me come home less than three hours after Master Brown instructed me to have this man healed enough to get out of his ward by today, and since I was needed so immediately at home, he said that if Weasley wasn’t up to going back to his dragons, he would have to come with me. Because he’s MY patient. Master Brown decided that a severe burns victim would be a good test of my skills. As of this morning, his life is in no danger, and the rest of the work is accelerated reconstruction of soft tissue. And for the record, I’m not interested in a Weasley who is not smart enough not to have to duck!”
Joyce flinched, turning faintly green, and Severus wrapped his arm around her. Smiling wanly at their eldest child, Joyce commented, “I hope you don’t mind me saying so, but I’m glad I never went into Healing. Touching those burns would unnerve me too much.”
Severus chuckled. “This from the woman who followed in her father’s footsteps and joined the Quidditch team as Seeker after James Potter left school. You can fly upside down at over one hundred and fifty kilometres per hour, but you can’t stomach the idea of touching a burn.”
Jess blinked. “Mom, you never said anything about playing Quidditch.”
Joyce scowled at her husband. “That’s because I never played. I joined the team, and there were a couple of months of practices, and two days before my first game, my parents died. I gave up my place on the team, rather than try to play a sport I no longer had any passion for. Without my dad, flying wasn’t fun, anymore. I didn’t get on another broom until shortly before your father and I married.”
“Oh my God, Mom, I’m sorry! I didn’t know...” Jess trailed off, looking stricken.
Joyce crossed to her daughter and pulled her to her feet, hugging her gently. “Of course you didn’t know, sweetheart. I never told you, how could you have known?” Holding her daughter gently, she smiled sadly. “My mother was so upset when I made the team. She never wanted me to learn to play Quidditch at all. The only time my parents ever fought was after Father bought Luce his first adult size broom. She hated it when he bought me a child size racing broom and taught me to play.” A wry laugh escaped her as she added, “I think Father sided with me over Quidditch because she backed him down about... other things. He said if I was old enough to choose to behave like an adult in every other aspect of my life, she couldn’t reasonably demand that I let her decide whether or not I would play Quidditch.”
Jess backed away from her mother, and took in both her mother’s wry smile and twinkling eyes, and her father’s very faintly pink cheeks, and quirked an eyebrow. “Interesting logic, mom. Your parents negotiated a lot, didn’t they?”
“Well, they didn’t always agree, so they found ways to compromise on most things. Dad was demanding and stubborn, but he adored Mum. Mum was pragmatic and just as stubborn in her way, but she was completely devoted to Dad.” Shrugging slightly, she explained, “They loved Luce and me to death, but to each other, they were everything.”
Jess sighed. “Sounds like a fairytale. I hope I find someone who loves me like that some day.” A sad look darkened her features for a moment as she added, “I thought I had with Sam, but...” Glancing at her father, her eyes lightened as she smirked faintly. “Someone who’ll love me the way Daddy loves you.”
Joyce smiled, “I hope you do too, honey.” Reaching out one-handed, she seized Severus’ arm and tucked herself under it. He wrapped both his arms about her waist, and the two of them watched for a few minutes as Jess returned to her work. Severus cleared his throat. “Jessamyn? Dragon burn scab can be used in a number of potions…”
Jess blinked, then wrinkled her nose in a way that was almost identical to her youngest sister earlier. “DAD! Yuck!”
Joyce was now more than slightly green. “Tell me I didn’t ever drink any of those potions, Severus!” Jess’ pleading look showed she was hoping the same.
Severus shrugged. “You never drank any of those potions, nor did Jessamyn,” he told them, voice flat, in the way he had when telling her something that was not strictly true.
“Severus!” Joyce shuddered. Jess almost gagged.
Severus flashed a grin. “Why Jocelyn! Not so long ago you bragged you always knew when I was being ‘creative with the truth’.”
Joyce gasped, then slapped his arm in mock anger. Jess shook her head ruefully. “Were you telling me the truth about those scabs, Dad?”
“Yes. They’re ointments used in healing burns on Auror Thestrals and Hippogriffs and a potion for soothing toothache in dragons,” he replied with a smile.
Joyce and Jess let out a sigh of relief. Joyce leaned forward and kissed Jess on the cheek, Severus did the same. “Take care of him, sweet. I’d hate to think of all the time I otherwise would have wasted in teaching him about potions,” Severus squeezed Jess’ shoulder and Joyce gave her an encouraging pat.
“But don’t overdo it,” her mother warned. Then, they left her alone with her patient.
After breakfast, Hélène led the four teens out onto a flagstone patio behind her house, and Harry looked around in awe. The semicircular patio took up an area roughly twenty meters across, and overlooked a spectacular view of pastoral French countryside... at the bottom of a not insignificant drop off. Blaise and the girls settled themselves comfortably on chaise longues
near the southeast corner of the house, and Buffy and Calypso began trying to refine Blaise’ French. Leaving them to their impromptu lesson, Harry walked to the edge of the patio. He looked down, and realized that the sheer rock face descended farther than the distance from the Quidditch stands to the ground. At the bottom, he spied a road, winding along the base of the cliff. He guessed it was the same road that dead ended in front of the house. Looking over his shoulder, he asked, “Dame Hélène, are there any homes farther up the mountain? I thought the road ended in front of your house...?”
Hélène smiled, stepping lightly across the stones to stand beside him.. “Non, cher.
There are no homes beyond mine. I inherited this property from my father when he passed. There are protective wards around the entire top of the mountain, to discourage stray Muggles from wandering up here. It’s peaceful, if a bit dull, living up here alone. Ah, well, at least I have my flat in Lyon. It’s not far from the Mal Foi label’s French vineyard... my Octavius bought it for me, when Abraxas was born. He thought having a residence in the city would suit my tastes more than staying at le Château Mal Foi
whenever he was required to come attend to business there.” She smiled wryly. “I managed to convince him not to do so for the Italian vineyard. It is quite close enough to Salò that I was more than able to keep myself entertained,” she raised an elegant eyebrow and Harry smiled, recognizing the gesture. Apparently not all his beloved’s habits came solely from the Malfoy side of the family.
“You will need to know wine if you are to be a true King and a worthy husband to my little Calypso. Have you any knowledge of vines, species of grape, of storage and pressing?” Hélène asked.
Harry flushed uncomfortably. “Errr, no. I can tell three brands of Butterbeer apart, though?” he offered, sheepishly.
Hélène laughed. “Well, that is a beginning... there is hope you may develop a palate yet. Any other heavenly nectar you like the taste of, Harry?” Her eyebrow lifted again and she glanced meaningfully at Calypso.
Harry made a soft, embarrassed whimpering noise and Hélène laughed again. “Ah, my dear boy, you are so easy to tease. You will need to work on that. Come, let me show you something,” she moved to a wood-framed engraving and pointed at it. “This is the Italian vineyard, as it can be seen on the label on the bottles,” She smiled sadly. “Ermy designed that. Had she had her way she would have embroidered every label, I think. It is a marvellous place. It lies overlooking the Adda River, in the Valtellina, near Sondrio.”
Harry nodded wisely, memorizing the names to look up later. Hélène smiled. “That’s in Lombardy, near the Swiss border. It is a large property, or I should say that there are several, each dedicated to making a special, highly exclusive wine. Some of it is mixed, like Chianti, but most of them are made from a single grape. The Nebbolio Grande Rosso
is one of those. In English that might be ‘Deep Dark Mist’... the wine is a deep, full-bodied red made from a very old variety of the grape Nebbolio that the Muggles use. It has to lie in a cask for at least five years to be at its peak.”
There was a hoot of laughter from Buffy and when Harry looked, Blaise had an offended expression on his face. Then Calypso said something in a tart but quiet voice, and Blaise blushed furiously, stammering and stuttering.
Hélène sniffed haughtily. “With a mother like his, it is no surprise that what little French le pauvre garcon
knows are highly inappropriate words or those with risqué meanings. Eh, we were talking about wine, and the virtues of patience and waiting until something is quite perfect to drink…”
Harry nodded again, wisely keeping his mouth shut.
Hélène smiled. “There’s another wine made by the Domaine
in Italy, called Sforzato Monte Disgrazia,
it is an Amarone
made from dried grapes. It takes great skill, great insight, great patience to get such a wine to its true pinnacle of nose and flavour. It may lie in a cask ten years, that wine, before it is drunk, five before it is first tasted. Bunches of grapes that are rotten must be removed, a task that can only be done by a skilful and knowledgeable worker. A single bad bunch of grapes may destroy the labour and value of an entire harvest. Such a thing must not be allowed to happen, mistakes like that must be discovered and quickly dealt with…” She let her voice trail off.
Harry nodded again, his mind desperately trying to keep up with the grape varieties, locations and skills. *No doubt there will be a test later…*
Hélène placidly continued her exposition. “The DuBois label is much less exclusive. We do make Rosé, of course, but my family has also produced a delightfully rich red from this same vineyard. My father used to say our wine was infused with the magique d’amour
, and that anyone who drank it would fall passionately in love immediately thereafter, if they were not already so.” Her eyes sparkled with mischief. “He also said that Château DuBois wines made perfect wedding wine, because any marriage begun with Château DuBois could not fail. We had all three labels at our wedding, my Octavius and I.”
Harry blinked. After processing the wealth of information the Dowager Lady Malfoy had imparted, he asked, “The Malfoy family owns two vineyards?”
Cocking an eyebrow at him, she asked, “Does that shock you? The family is old, and many men of the line were canny businessmen. Their money comes from making prudent investments, and buying profitable properties,” for some reason she seemed slightly disappointed.
Harry thought about that. “I suppose it surprised me. I guess I never really thought about where the money came from.”
Hélène smirked. “You should, though money is not always the most important thing. You are the grandson of Charlus Potter, n'est-ce pas
Harry frowned. “I guess so. I know my father’s name was James, but nobody really told me anything about the rest of my family. I know he was a pureblood, but that’s all.”
Hélène shook her head at such ignorance and tutted. “Hmmm. Charlus Potter was nearly forty when he married Dorea Black. She was twenty-four. Of course, after my son broke off negotiations on their marriage contract, she spent nearly six years rejecting potential suitors. Her family did not approve of her marrying one of her cousin’s lesser vassals, either. Charlus Potter was an officer in the Black family’s private army, as his father’s line had been for generations. Charlus held the rank of Captain, until he eloped with Dorea. Orion Black was a good-natured young man, but he was quite strict with his family. He was also one of my son’s dearest friends, so I remember it well. When Dorea chose to marry without his blessing, he cast her from the family.” By this point, Harry was staring, open-mouthed, at Hélène. She smirked at him, and placed her finger under his chin, closing his mouth with a snap. “You need to know your family’s history, if you are to rule, young King. I see the love you have for my hot-tempered great-grandchild and it does you credit, but you will need more than love to survive the coming troubles.” Then, giving him a cheeky wink, she added, “Although if Calypso is anything like my husband, son, and grandchildren, you will need that love… and a great deal of endurance to keep up.”
Harry blushed, and snorted. “We’re working on that,” he replied, then covered his mouth as he realized just what he’d admitted to Calypso’s great-grandmother.
Hélène simply laughed, and patted his shoulder. “Ah, with the British one has to be a trifle blunt. Do not worry, such things come… or do not… with time, cher
. She gave him another wink and Harry felt that his face might be used to melt a ton of iron.
After slightly recovering his dignity he faced the old lady. “You do not mind? About Calypso and me?”
Hélène looked over at the table where a prim looking Calypso was correcting Blaise yet again as Buffy giggled. “My granddaughter, and my Great-granddaughters… The wine they drink is made of grapes. And there is nothing new under the sun, Harry, nothing that has not happened before between young people in love. Or in lust,” she gave him a sharp look. “My little moon is precious to me, and if she dies of a broken heart… I am not British and your Kings?” she snapped her fingers in front of his nose. “We ‘ave a tradition ancienne de la Revolution
in this country.”
Harry gulped. “I will kill myself before hurting Calypso!” he told her angrily.
Hélène gave a Gallic shrug. “The same result, you die, she dies, or becomes a hollow shell unless she has a great deal to live for. It is better to prevent hurting her, or make sure it does not fester, does not affect the whole of your love,” she eyed him closely and sighed when he gave her a blank look, barely veiling the defensive hostility in his hard green eyes.
“For now, I wondered if you and Monsieur Zabini might like to see more of my home? The vineyard and winery, perhaps? It is part of the property my father left to me and will one day be divided among my descendants. No doubt you can take Calypso to see how wine matures and is made and becomes the beverage of love later, eh?”
Raising his eyebrows, Harry asked, “Your father left you the DuBois vineyard? Château DuBois?” Glancing at the house, he commented, “That doesn’t look like a castle to me.”
“Ah, the young and the English, always so literal minded! Is not every Englishman’s home his castle? So why can’t the French do it the same way? Et finalement, Château DuBois
sounds so much more impressive than Maison DuBois
, don’t you think?” She grinned, that mischievous sparkle in her eyes again. “I was the only member of the family with the desire to cultivate grapes. There is a reason, after all, that my land is so heavily warded. If I left it wild, there would be no point to deterring Muggles from hiking up here, the vistas are quite lovely. A large portion of the south and west faces of the mountain are terraced for grape growing. I use very little magic in my vineyard, of course. Grapes are notoriously fragile, and aside from ensuring that they are properly misted each morning either by rains or water brought from the underground river inside the mountain, attempting to encourage growth, or tamper with them magically will spoil the vintage. In wine making, as in love, Muggle and Wizard are much alike. Come, I’ll show you.” Tucking her hand in the crook of his arm, she led him back across the patio to the others, handing him off to Calypso when the younger blonde stood. A brief spate of French had Buffy and Blaise rising as well, and Hélène smiled. With an expressive gesture toward the path leading south from the corner of the house and a nod toward Harry, she said, “It’s a perfect day for walking, and the vineyards are just around the ridge. Let us be off.”
After telling her parents about her sister’s arrival, Dawn decided to go exploring. The ancient Keep had many rooms, and aside from the many, many bedrooms, there was a wealth of interesting things to see. Her grandparents still danced in their ballroom in the Gallery, and as much fun as it had been to watch for awhile, Dawn was bored. Her mother had told her this place held their family’s history, and since they'd been here for a couple of days already, she was on a mission to discover where her mother’s line began, and anything else she could find out about the ancient family seat.
The first few rooms she peeked into were relatively mundane, being obvious sitting and drawing rooms. When she found her way to a library, however, she immediately popped through the door and closed it behind herself. If her parents needed her, they could send Willa to get her. She was going to see what she could learn from the family book collection.
She found dozens of shelves of Wizarding law books, and basic references on everything from growing magic flowers to maintaining a broomstick. She found a couple of potions books that were all scribbled with notes, the way the one she’d seen Harry studying from was, and she spent a little time paging through them. There was one whole shelf of volumes on the care and treatment of Dragonpox victims, and she wondered why for a moment, before she remembered that there had been a major epidemic of the illness around the time her grandparents had died, according to her mother.
Thinking about the letter she’d found a few weeks before, Dawn examined the edges of the bookcases, and the big, old, cherry wood desk she discovered in the corner for secret compartments. While she was disappointed in her search for secret caches of terribly important documents and such, she did find a small box that had no visible lock or catch, but that would not simply open when she tried to lift the lid. Tucking the box into one of the deep pockets of her robe, she continued riffling through things until she found a book that wouldn’t lift from the shelf it occupied. Tugging hard, Dawn overbalanced herself, and fell to the stone floor with a startled grunt.
The tiny voice startled her, and her head whipped around so fast she slapped herself with her ponytail before her eyes settled on the form of the little House Elf. She’d introduced herself as Willa upon their arrival at the Keep, and informed Dawn that “Master Harry Potter” had set her to looking after the ‘littlest Malfoy’. With a bit of prodding, Dawn had discovered that Willa was not a Malfoy elf, but rather a Black elf. She was bemused to learn that, with the exception of Dobby, none of the Malfoy Elves considered Harry to be Lord of the Malfoy estate. She wondered why, but the elves refused to explain.
“What? Did you need something, Willa?”
The petite House elf frowned slightly, pleating the edge of her pillowcase with worried fingers. “Miss Dawn isn’t supposed to being in the Malfoy Library. Mistress Jocelyn said so. What is Miss Dawn doing here?”
Glancing at the clock, Dawn realised that it was already mid-afternoon. Rolling her eyes, she got to her feet and replied tartly, “No, Mom said I wasn’t supposed to go wandering into the secret
library alone. This one was right there, at the end of the hall, not hidden or anything.”
Willa huffed. “Miss Dawn, this library was protected under very specific wards. How did you even get inside?”
Dawn blinked. She hadn’t noticed any magical wards. “Are you sure, Willa? I didn’t have to Finite
any wards to get in…”
Willa shook her head. “Miss Dawn isn’t supposed to be in this library. Mistress Jocelyn said so. Miss Dawn should go, or Mistress Jocelyn will punish Willa for failing to do her duty.”
Dawn let out a startled laugh. “Don’t be silly, Willa. Mom wouldn’t punish you
for me being in here.”
“No, but I might ground you for breaking the boundaries I set. How did you even get in here, young lady?”
Dawn’s eyes widened as her mother stepped over the threshold. “Mom!” she yelped. “I didn’t know this was the secret library when I came in, honest! The door appeared as I walked past it, and opened when I tried the knob, without any problems from wards or anything. Willa just told me there were wards, but I didn’t feel any, or do anything to break them, or – or anything, I swear!”
Joyce frowned. “That’s strange. Dad used to keep this library tightly warded. It was his private collection. I wonder what happened. If the House Elves haven’t been able to get inside that means they’re still active… you shouldn’t have been able to pass the wards.”
Dawn matched her mother’s frown. “Well, there was one book I couldn’t budge, but I really didn’t do anything to get in, Mom.”
Joyce sighed. “I believe you, Dawn, but now that you know where this room is, I want you to stay out of it. Much of the knowledge in these books is dangerous for even experienced witches and wizards. Come, I’ll show you the OTHER library, my curious little monkey. Maybe in a few years, you’ll be ready to use this library, with supervision.” Joyce held out her hand, waving Dawn out of the room before her.
With a longing look at the shelves full of magical texts, Dawn heaved a deep sigh and plodded reluctantly from the library. Or rather, she tried to. She stepped across the threshold, and her robes caught on an invisible barrier, trapping her. Puzzled, she looked down, and realised that the small box in her pocket was holding her fast. Looking up at her mother, she winced at the eyebrow Joyce had cocked in her direction. Stepping back over the threshold, she reached into her pocket, and withdrew the box, placing it in her mother’s outstretched hand, fidgeting sheepishly.
Joyce gasped, and fingered the highly polished wood. “Where did you find this?”
Dawn bit her lip, and pointed toward the desk. “It was in a drawer. I couldn’t open it.”
Joyce stroked the box reverently. “You wouldn’t. This box will only open for the Master of the House of Malfoy. It’s the case for the Malfoy Wand. But...” She bit her lip, and tried to open the box. Her eyes filled with wonder, as she drew an awed breath. “I thought it was destroyed when my parents died! Willa, fetch Severus for me, please. This is too important to wait.” Wrapping Dawn in a one-armed hug, Joyce clasped the mahogany box to her chest.
Dawn squirmed slightly, and returned her mother’s hug, eying the box curiously. “Mom, if the box doesn’t open, does that mean-“
“The Malfoy Wand is inside, waiting for the Lord of the House of Malfoy to open it and claim the wand.”
“But I thought wands choose their users. That’s what Mr. Olivander said.”
Joyce nodded. “That’s true. But sometimes, an especially powerful wand is created, and it matches itself to a witch or wizard who becomes important to history, and the wand becomes something else. Almost like a familiar, it gains an impression of the witch or wizard it belonged to. In very rare cases, the wand becomes bonded to the line of its bearer, and can be passed from witch to witch, or wizard to wizard, down the line. The wand becomes more powerful with each successive handler, and the cumulative power becomes accessible to the new handler, if they are worthy. The Malfoy Wand is as old as our line, although it wasn’t always the Malfoy Wand.” Smiling softly, Joyce added, “My father took excellent care of this wand. It was precious to him, and to all of us. It’s part of our heritage.”
Dawn breathed an impressed, “Wow!” and looked up at her mother. “But if that’s true, shouldn’t it belong to Harry now?”
Joyce frowned. “No, I don’t think so. This wand can only be inherited if its last handler is dead. Like the title the Head of a Family carries. Harry was settled with all the wealth and goods of the family, but the Ministry couldn’t have made him Lord. They don’t have the authority to do that. In fact...” Joyce trailed off, looking thoughtful.
Dawn cocked her head. “Maybe that’s why the Malfoy elves don’t think Harry is their Master. Because they’re Malfoy
elves. Like the Malfoy Wand.” She scratched her head. “But then, why did Ubbut and Talla obey Harry and go to stay with Uncle Lu and Aunt Cissy?”
Joyce hummed. “Hmmm... well, if they’re refusing to acknowledge Harry as Lord, then Ubbut would have wanted to go look after Lucius, and Talla would rightfully belong with Narcissa, since even though Cissa divorced Luce, she keeps her claim on the title until Luce remarries, or a new Lord marries. It’s complicated, but Talla will look after Cissa because she’s been the Lady’s Elf since before Bonne Maman married Grandfather Octavius. So they might have obeyed Harry, but only because he was telling them to do what they were meant to be doing anyway.”
“Then why did Ubbut call Harry Master?”
Joyce sighed. “House Elves have their own way of doing things, sweetie. He may have been giving Harry the honour due him as a King. Elves aren’t bound by our political structure, but they tend to respect it. In any case-“ Joyce cut off as Severus entered the room, following Willa.
Severus looked inquisitively at his wife. “You needed me, my dear?”
Joyce nodded. “Yes. I need you to go to Bonne Maman’s, and tell her that we need the children back right away. Tell Harry that we need to go to Sunnydale, or send for Luce and the others right away.” She held up the wand case, and added, “It’s important.”
Severus looked at the wand case contemplatively. “I see.” Giving her a faintly ironic half-smile, he sketched a brief bow and replied, “As my lady wishes, I shall hasten so to do.”
Joyce laughed, rolling her eyes, and Dawn giggled. “Daddy, you’re silly.”
Winking at his daughter, Severus mock-whispered, “Shh, don’t tell anyone. They’ll think I’ve gone mad and clap me in St. Mungo’s.”
Joyce shook her head, releasing her daughter in favour of giving her husband a light kiss before walking to her father’s desk to put the box on it. “Go on, then. The sooner you’re off, the sooner you’re back.”
Grinning, Severus nodded and left. Joyce looked thoughtfully at the box for another moment, and then led Dawn out of the Library. She paused, and waved her wand at the door, murmuring a few words.
Dawn’s eyebrows rose as the door shimmered and vanished. She touched the wall where it had been curiously, and asked, “What did you do, Mom?”
Joyce smiled. “I adjusted the wards to keep all but Luce and me out. They shouldn’t have let you in to begin with.” Her smile turned wry. “Dad had to ward it against us when we were small, because I was notoriously good at getting into things. Very much like a certain curious little Ravenclaw I know.”
“Oh. That makes sense, I guess.” Worrying her lip between her teeth, Dawn asked, “Mom, do you think it might be a... a Key thing? Me finding the room and getting in, I mean?”
Joyce blinked. “Well, it could be, but it’s more likely that it’s a Malfoy thing, sweetie. Luce has been the only person coming up here for years, and he’s probably simplified the wards for convenience. A basic blood ward will keep most everyone out, except for members of the family, so if he was the only member of the family coming up here, he wouldn’t have needed to use anything more specific.” Giving Dawn a penetrating look, Joyce asked gently, “Have you been worrying about that, honey?”
Dawn shivered. “Kinda. I guess. I mean, I was born with witch magic, and then those monks stuffed all that extra energy into me, and now I’m not sure what’s mine, and what’s Key-stuff.” Scowling, she added, “And I can’t even remember how it’s supposed to work most of the time. I get these... flashes, I guess, of knowledge, and sometimes I can just look at something and see
the enchantments on it and how to break them, but mostly it’s just... things happen and I don’t mean to, and I don’t know if it’s me or the Key thing again. I scared Daddy when I first got to Hogwarts because I went all ‘wisdom of the ages’ on him, and told him a buncha stuff I shouldn’t have even known. Him and ol’ Dumbledore both.” Dawn wrapped her arms protectively around herself and finished, “I wish those stupid monks had never stuck me with the Key.”
Joyce sighed. “Me, too, my little pumpkin belly. But Key or no, you’re still my little girl, and we’ll figure this out, okay?”
Dawn smiled slightly. “Okay, Mom. Um, do you think you could show me the other library while we wait for Daddy to get back?”
Joyce smiled and turned to walk down the hall. “Sure, sweetie. It’s this way.”
When Lucius and Narcissa made their way to the kitchen the next morning, they were greeted by the sight of Jacinthe LaVelle standing before the gas range making pancakes, bacon, and eggs the Muggle way.
From the table, Faith grinned and waved her fork at the couple. “Mornin’. Have fun?”
Beside her, Drusilla tutted. “Don’t tease, dearie. It’s wonderful that my William’s shining boy has begun to heal. Soon, we shall have a grand party, and all the broken dollies will be mended and dance in their best finery as the monsters scream.”
Snorting at the less than comprehensible flavour text, Faith shook her head, and acknowledged the rebuke nonetheless. “Sorry, Aunty Dru. You’re right, I shouldn’t poke fun. It’s about time somethin’ went right around here.”
Resisting the urge to roll her eyes, Jacinthe looked at her old yearmate. “Would you like to join us for breakfast? William and Angelus are feeding the patients, so you have time, Cissa.” Cocking an eyebrow, she added, “You’re welcome as well, of course, Lucius.”
Nodding politely, Lucius settled a bit stiffly into one of the vacant chairs at the breakfast table. He smiled mildly at Faith, who’d begun to grow on him, to his surprise. The brash young Slayer was forthright, honest to and beyond the point of bluntness, and once he had come to see beyond her prickly exterior, he realised that she was a great deal like his son had been – insecure and defensive – though he had failed to see it in Draco until it was too late. His silver gaze settled on the vampiress sitting beside the teen, and he cocked his head as he considered her. She was the one who’d made William Shawe into a vampire, thus in a fashion, she was one of his ancestors. She seemed quite vague most of the time, although in his opinion, she was much more self-possessed than Sybil Trelawney, and a genuine Seer, as well. He was disinclined to trust her, but she interested him, nonetheless.
When he met the violet eyes of Jacinthe LaVelle as she set a plate before Drusilla, she gave him a tiny smile, and asked, “Do you have any preferences, Lucius? Faith and Dru asked for pancakes, but I can make whatever you like.”
Studying her thoughtfully, he asked, “Why are you cooking the Muggle way, Jacinthe? Why aren’t you letting Talla and Ubbut cook?”
Snorting, Jacinthe replied, “I haven’t had a House Elf cook for me since I left Hogwarts, Lucius. And magic is too unpredictable here to try to use it every day. Thus, I cook the normal way. With a stove and skillet. What would you like for breakfast?”
Lucius frowned, then said, “So long as you don’t try to poison me, I’ll try a short stack of those pancakes. Do you have coffee?”
Jacinthe pointed toward the auto-drip coffeemaker with an arched eyebrow. Lucius prepared himself a cup, and poured one for Narcissa. He knew many of his peers would be shocked at him preferring coffee over tea, but with a French mother, his father had passed along the habit of coffee at breakfast and after dinner. Settling down again, he took a sip of the fragrant brew, and smiled to himself. If nothing else, his diet had improved drastically since he’d been spirited away from Azkaban. Jacinthe made excellent coffee, when she was moved to do so.
Narcissa had just lifted her cup to her lips when the door to the back half of the house opened, and a somewhat rumpled Spike poked his head through. “Cissa, pet, I thought I ‘eard you in ‘ere. Could you be a luv an’ come settle your sister down? She’s bein’ a mite contrary this morning.” Then, sniffing exaggeratedly, he smirked at the blond couple. “’Bout time you two got yourselves sorted. The wanting was gettin’ a bit thick hereabouts.”
Narcissa pinkened, and Lucius glared mildly at his ancestor. “I don’t believe our personal affairs are any of yours, William.”
Spike grinned cheekily and riposted, “Wouldn’t be any fun if they were, son. Grandfather’s job to embarrass the bride, innit?”
The pink deepened, and Narcissa leaned slightly toward Lucius, looking like she wished but wasn’t quite game enough to hide her face in his shoulder. Instead, she settled for turning her face away from the teasing vampire for a moment, before rising and murmuring, “I’ll return as quickly as I may, darling.”
Lucius smiled at her. “Be sure Bella’s resting comfortably, I’ll wait until you return to eat.”
“Awww... that’s all cute an’ sh- stuff,” Faith grinned. “I hope I can pull off cutesy and badass at the same time when I’m as old as you, Lucy.”
Narcissa lightly cuffed Faith as she walked past her to go attend to her sister. “Brat.”
Faith smirked. “Love you too, Aunt Cissy.”
Lucius raised an eyebrow. Faith turned her smirk on him, and tipped him a sassy wink before turning back to her breakfast.
It amazed Lucius just how natural it all felt.
Let me know how it felt. Did the tone shift too much?