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This story is No. 2 in the series "Waifs and strays". You may wish to read the series introduction and the preceeding stories first.

Summary: The second (much longer) installment in the Waifs and Strays AU. Covers season 1. Please READ THE SERIES INTRODUCTION!

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Multiple Crossings > Joyce-Centered(Current Donor)vidiconFR1598780,0851591501409,00328 May 115 Jul 14No

Dynasts and destiny

 Author’s Note:

Thanks very much to my Beta’s, Letomo. I couldn’t do this without him.

The following ways of notation may be found in this story. This is excluding whatever I need to represent chatting, texting and stuff like that.

Speech: “Who’s on first.”

Thought: *What’s on second.*

Vision: #I-don’t-know’s on third.#

Greek: ^Who cares?^

Ancient Egyptian: »Who’s that?«

Latin: ~Who’s who?~

Telepathy: %Who’s that in my mind?%

Well, I’ve broken one hundred recommendations! I thank you al very much for recommending me and especially my latest recommenders: ancientcitadel, CaptMcIntyre,HappyWonKinobi, kangel, martinmack and Waterwind.

Please note that Sylver is only temporarily not a beta, she’s hopefully happily otherwise engaged. ;-).

This goes up slightly later than hoped; I was preparing some walls and ceilings for painting. For those fearing that hiatus meant an end, fear not. I am currently working on chapter 81, 80 is under beta. I’m also working a lot of plot bunnies out of my head in other stories, including the sequels (one finished, on being worked on) to One beautiful morning, the three stories in A House in order, the next part of Wyrd Sisters, two prequels and two sequels in That the autumn leaves were turning and the next chapter of A kiss before dying (nearly ready for beta.) As well as some other stuff… I also have an idea of what to gift you all as a thanks for reading, loving reviewing and recommending.

Please keep pointing out mistakes. I may not always go back and change them, but I do learn from it. (I prefer writing new stuff, and sometimes it seems that the changes don’t ‘take’ anyway.)

Anyway, after that overly long Author’s note, here we go with chapter 79: 

 

 

79 Dynasts and destiny

Hogwarts, December 29th 1995

Buffy was showing off the weapons Severus had given her and Kendra. Joyce had been less than thrilled that her daughters had yet more lethal items to play with.

Buffy was moving through an intricate dance, parrying attacks made by Kendra, dodging hexes thrown by Moody and apparently thoroughly enjoying herself.

Joyce bit her lip, looking away. She felt an arm go around her waist, resting lightly on her stomach. “Rather different from figure skating, isn’t it love?” Simon murmured comfortingly.

Joyce leaned her head into his shoulder. “I must admit I never imagined Buffy would enjoy swinging sharp swords. She was always more of a cheerleader and skating type, you know colourful little uniforms, rather too skimpy skirts…”

“Hmmm, well she likes physical activity,” Simon whispered. “And who are you to complain about skimpy uniforms and skirts, my Little Girl Scout?”

Joyce turned to glare at him. “I’m gonna kill Mom! There was absolutely no need to show those albums to you!”

Simon coughed. “Actually, that was your father. He also told me to ask about the incident at the Salton Sea?”

Joyce blushed and whimpered. “He knows about that?”

Simon gave her a gentle hug. “I get the strange impression that what your father does not know about your childhood could fill a very small book.”

Joyce sighed. “I’m not gonna to win this, am I?”      

“No, I think not. It’s a conspiracy,” Simon winked.

Joyce shook her head in mock exasperation. “I’d better quit complaining then,” she grinned as she saw Willow and Rowan animatedly in conversation with their grandmothers and their great aunt as well as a number of senior witches and wizards, standing by the table where Xenophilius Lovegood’s soul was lying on an orange pillow with purple polka dots that had been transfigured by a rather embarrassed Lucius, ‘to make him feel at home.’

“It’s good to see Willow being a little less dependent. Though it would have been better to ask Rowan first, or talk to us,” Joyce smiled.

“I told you Willow was still impetuous,” Simon whispered, his breath tickling her ear.

Joyce gave him a sharp look. “I should know better than to make bets with you,” she sighed. “So what do you want me to wear? The nightgown that came with my dress?”

Simon smiled. “I was thinking of taking you to Paris and have Hubert measure you up for a special wardrobe, but he’s going to be in New York in two weeks time so that might be easier.”

“Hubert? Hubert de Givenchy?” Joyce bit her lip. “He wants to design my wedding gown.”

“Hmmm. I do want to marry you before you’re showing too much…” Simon teased. “Jed will be insufferable as it is.”

“Why? Are you ashamed of me?” Joyce pouted.

“Hardly. No, I think that the paparazzi will have a field day with our marriage anyway. I’d prefer not to give them any more ammunition,” Simon nuzzled her neck.

“So it will be a public wedding?” Joyce ventured.

Simon shrugged. “We’ll have whatever wedding you want, beloved. But even if we held one in a cave under a mountain on Antarctica there’d still be photographers.”

Joyce snorted. “A cave under a mountain? How romantic.” 

Simon snickered. “I don’t care, I’m just looking forward to the wedding night.”

Joyce elbowed him softly. “Dork,” she looked over to the other side of the Hall where a group was gathered around a large table, intently discussing the options they had to return Xenophilius Lovegood to his body. “I wonder if they’ve made any progress yet?”

Jon cleared his throat and looked around the table. “I just realized something that might help.”

Albus looked up from his close scrutiny of the crystal, flipping up the huge magnifying glass that was attached to a strange brass headgear he was wearing. *I have to ask Severus why all Lord Vicari’s children now refer to me as Doc Brown. He seemed to find it amusing too…*  “Oh? Do tell?”

“It was brought to my attention quite recently, actually. A rather nasty curse used by a group of gypsies to drag a soul from where ever it is souls go and back into the vampire inhabited body,” Jon explained. 

Lucius raised an eyebrow. “Interesting. Sounds rather dark.”

Jon gestured at the crystal. “We’re messing with a man’s soul. No matter how good our intentions, there will still be a patina of darkness surrounding practically any spell that we use.”

Dumbledore nodded his agreement. “I assume that you know someone who knows this spell of ritual?”

“I know someone who knows someone. We’ll be meeting with her tomorrow,” Jon pursed his lips. “I’ll call her later. You never know, we may get lucky and she’s procured it already.”

“So you think we would be able to alter this ritual to transfer Xeno from this into his body?” Lucius asked.

Jon shook his head. “I'm saying it's a promising avenue of research. I've never seen the ritual, just heard that it took place and observed the effects.”

“Hmmm, you've met this ensouled vampire?” Snape drawled. “What's he like?”

“Broody,” Jon answered shortly. “I'll call my contact tonight and ask how and if so, how fast, we can get the ritual.”

“Do that,” Dumbledore decided. “We need to approach this from different angles and hope that we find a method that at least offers some hope.”

“And what if there is no acceptable way to get Xeno back into his body?” Lucius asked coolly.

Dumbledore placed a hand on the gently glowing gem. “Then we set him free.”

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Failand, Somerset, afternoon of the 29th of December.

“How is she?” Lillian asked Rupert as he almost fell onto the couch beside her. “And don’t slouch and slump, Ru,” she admonished.

Rupert Giles straightened automatically and glared at his sisters who had the gall to snigger. They knew very well that if their mother used that tone of voice on them they still automatically obeyed as well.

“She’s… upset,” he finally supplied.

“Gee, we hadn’t noticed that, Ru,” Esther remarked sarcastically.

Giles glared at his youngest sister. “She’s been trying to get into contact with her Great-grandmother for some weeks now. She hasn’t been able to do so. Her banishment wears on her at the best of times, but during the Hols.”

“Shouldn’t that be during the vacation, Ru?” Esther teased.

Miranda put a hand on Esther’s arm. “Es, shut up. How bad is it, Ru?”

Giles hesitated before speaking. “She was banished from her community because she allowed a man to take her powers. They accuse her of ignoring her visions because of her feelings and thereby removing the blessing of her sight from the Clan. She has been cast out and told she will only be allowed back after doing penance.”

Esther shook off Miranda’s hand. “Penance? What sort of penance?” she demanded to know indignantly.

“She has to monitor the life of Angelus, now Angel. He was cursed by her clan and has a soul,” Giles explained. “You met him in the Library.”

Esther very slowly sat back, her face pale. “Angel? Liam? ANGELUS?! RUPERT EDMUND GILES! That, that thing sat next to me in the library! He’s dating Buffy!”

“Yes, her parents aren’t happy about it but they hope that continued exposure to him will lessen the mystique and make it clear how unfit he is to be her boyfriend, but that is neither here nor there,” Giles explained absentmindedly.

“WHAT? He could have bitten and drained and turned me and made me his love-slave! Dammit Ru!” Esther wailed.

Miranda began to snigger. “That sounds like you regret he didn’t do the last bit, Es.”

“MIRI!” Esther exclaimed. “Ru almost fed me to an evil blood-sucking vampire!”

“When he drinks human blood he buys it from a blood bank just before it is disposed of. Mostly he drinks pig’s blood or cow he gets from butchers. He admits it lacks flavour, though,” Giles was watching his sister with some amusement. “There is really no need to worry, the greatest danger from Angel I’ve found is that he is very depressing to be around. He’s a trifle gloomy and more than a little broody. I actually hoped your incessant cheerfulness might help buck him up a little.”

“RUPERT!” Esther whined. “Vampire! Little sister! Eaten!”

“Esther, cease your wailing, you’re distracting from the matter at hand. You weren’t eaten, and if Rupert says you were safe, you were safe, do go on, Ru,” Lillian interrupted.

“Ru thinks it’s safe to kiss a demon, he certainly does it enough,” Esther muttered, but she quieted down at her mother’s glare.

“How will they react to her taking up with you? They sound quite old-fashioned and in Rom culture they’re fairly strict about marrying outsiders, and she’s already in trouble,” Lillian asked.

“They are. Her Uncle knows about me and her meeting Angel, he’s furious and has refused to pass on her messages or requests. Buffy’s father is adamant we have access to the full ritual they used to re-ensoul Angelus. He wants to know what dangers may lurk within,” Giles sighed. “Her uncle calls her once a week, usually to berate her for still consorting with a Gadje, and to receive reports on Angel. But since she’s already banished and her only contact is with this particular Uncle she doesn’t really like very much… I sometimes wonder if it might not be better for her to make a clean break.”

Lillian grimaced. “And let me guess, that phone call she took earlier? He just finished yelling at her? What a nice man. Well, we can make her feel welcome here at least.”

Giles smiled. “I think you’re doing a sterling job of that already, Mum.”

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Hogwarts, Headmaster’s Office

The Floo flared and two figures stepped through in quick succession, followed by several others.

“Minister Fudge, welcome to Hogwarts. Minister, this is Ambassador Vicari, Ambassador, this is Minister Fudge,” Dumbledore effected the introductions.

“Minister,” Simon inclined his head.

Fudge cleared his throat. “V-Vicari? I was under the impression that the Ambassador would be a gentleman called Meier?”

Simon shrugged. “I'm the same man. We just adopted a different version of our name. Vicar, caretaker, Meier, Le Maire the difference is non existent.”

Fudge smiled. “And hiding is ever so much easier and convenient under a name that is less well known?“ He took a deep breath. “Ambassador, I would hereby like to offer my sincere apologies about the attack upon your children. It has become clear to me that using Dementors to safeguard our population is not a safe, wise or viable option. The Dementors will therefore be withdrawn to Azkaban.”

Simon lifted an eyebrow. “I must admit I was expecting a different conversation, Minister. I am surprised.”

Fudge smiled wryly. “Ambassador, I cannot in good conscience endanger the lives of the pupils of Hogwarts. Sirius Black may be a dangerous threat to Mr. Potter, but the damage that might be done by an incursion of Dementors would be far worse. And so far he has concentrated upon Mr. Potter. So it would be both safer and more economic to assign Mr. Potter a guard of Aurors.”

Dumbledore smiled. “A very wise decision. They can help with the duelling club, too.”   

Fudge looked at the Headmaster dumbfounded. “What duelling club?”

“Why, the one the Aurors will set up of course,” the Headmaster replied blandly.

Fudge opened his mouth to object, and then shrugged. “If you don't mind your pupils getting a few bruises and if everybody signs a waiver, I actually see no problem with that. Might actually gain you some Aurors, eh, Director Bones?”

Madam Bones smiled. “It might indeed. Though we are always limited due to the high standards we demand,” she glanced around the room, as if looking for someone.

Snape, in his corner, snorted. “I'm not dumbing down my NEWT's course, Amelia, intricate potions are not for Dunderheads. And anyone too scared of me to take a NEWT in Potions would be an abysmal failure as an Auror anyway,”

Moody laughed. “He has a point, Director. And I'd like to volunteer to guard Mr. Potter. A little duelling with careless teens will do them good,” he eyed the teens talking in the corner and chuckled nastily.

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Giles family Manor, Failand, Somerset, afternoon of December 29th

Jenny hung up the phone and sat looking at it for a few minutes. There was a knock on the door but she didn’t react. After another minute or so the door opened on silent hinges and Giles padded in, dressed in an old pair of corduroy trousers, a thick cable sweater and a pair of huge lamb lined slippers.

“Jen-love?” He asked tentatively. “Are you alright?”

Jenny nodded. Then bit her lip and shook her head. “No. That was Jon. He wants... There's a man whose soul was taken from his body and they want to know if the ritual that called Angel's soul back to his body could be of use.”

Giles closed the distance and hugged. “And let me guess, they need it fast?”

Jenny nodded. “The longer a body is without its animus, the greater chances are of either or both being damaged.”

“So a letter will not do, will it?” Giles asked, nuzzling her hair.

“No. I'll have to call my great-grandmother, bypassing my Uncle. I'm supposed only to communicate through Uncle Enyos. But this is important. This is about a man's soul,” Jenny's firm words were diminished by the trembling of her voice.

Giles hugged her and held her close. “It will be fine, love. It will be alright.”

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Failand, Somerset, late afternoon of the 29th of December

Jenny Calendar had a small, black book open on her knee and a phone by her side and a hesitant expression on her face. She had been expressly forbidden to use these numbers, to try and contact any of her family. But for the past weeks she had tried to get into contact with her great-grandmother, the Phulo Dai of her branch of the Kalderash clan. All her attempts had been in vain, blocked by her Uncle Enyos, who felt very strongly that she had betrayed the family by her relationship with Janosz, and now again with Rupert.

But it was essential that she speak to the old woman, that she get her message across. The Concordat was now aware of what her family had done to Liam O’Connell’s soul and what they were still doing. And they were not amused. Such magic was among the Blackest and Jenny shuddered at the very notion that she had indirectly helped in its continuation.

She took a deep breath and dialled. After a few rings the connection was made and a woman’s voice answered. “Hello?”

“Maialen? This is Janna,” Jenny replied in a nervous voice.

“Janna,” came the cold reply. “You were forbidden to contact us. Only Uncle Enyos is allowed to speak with you.”

“I know that, but this is urgent. This is important and urgent and if I don’t speak with Daki Dey it may be the end of our family. Please, Maia. I need to know where she is staying,” Jenny pleaded.

“The end of the Family? Where did you get that notion from?” Maialen asked dismissively.

Jenny closed her eyes. “My powers are returning.”

“Impossible!” Maia scoffed. “The Elders couldn’t even find how you had been stripped of your powers, it went far beyond the mere loss from an inappropriate choice.”

“None of you objected to Janosz! All of you thought he was a good, traditional choice. I will not bear the guilt for this alone anymore, Maialen! And I will tell you now that I’ve found a new family and if my old one continues to ignore me, I will mourn you when you are dead and be done with you and your memories. I’ve mourned your loss before, I can deal with your deaths. Now tell me where she is or you will bear the guilt of the death of our Family, for that I have Seen!” Jenny barked angrily.

There was silence. “She’s staying with Amra and Jakob,” Maia finally, grudgingly and rather fearfully told her cousin.

“Good, thank you,” *I’m glad to hear you’ve not lost all your intelligence to tradition.* Jenny wisely withheld her last comment. She wrote down the number and with shaking hands and breath put down the receiver.

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Hogwarts, Severus Snape's quarters, evening of the 29th of December

“Severus? May I come in?” Albus' voice called out over the Floo.

Snape sighed and made a gesture, temporarily disabling his wards. “You can come through, Albus.”

Dumbledore stepped into the room, flicked the soot and ashes of his robes and back into the fire with his wand and looked at his younger colleague. “How are you holding up, Severus?”

“Holding up? Since when have you been interested in my sexual prowess, Albus?” Snape asked dryly.

Albus chuckled. “My dear boy you are in rare form.” Then he sobered. “No, I meant the fact that all of a sudden you've gone from one of the most disliked and lonely men in our society to one who is apparently unconditionally loved.”

Severus chuckled harshly. “They will drop me like a stone once they realize the true depth to which I've sunk. As soon as they know what the Dark Mark really means-”

“Did you know that your biological father used a Flesh Devouring spell to scare Tom out of the Colonies, Severus?” Albus interrupted him.

Snape's eyebrows rose. “Nasty. No, I didn't. But what does that have to do with anything?”

Albus gestured at a chair in question and Snape nodded. The older man sat. “Moody mentioned your mark and your past. Neither your brother nor Jon Carnahan seemed particularly distressed or worried. They were discussing how to remove it, but they weren't worried.”

“Remove it?” Snape sounded astounded. “Impossible!”

“They think not. I'm going to be witnessing a Ritual of Disavowal tomorrow. A circle of young channelers will break their allegiance with the Demon Eyghon. If they can do that, a bond made to tie you to a mere mortal should not be a problem, they are sure,” Albus replied quietly.

Severus sat down with an unaccustomed thump. “Oh.” He looked at Dumbledore. “That would rather disrupt our plans.”

Albus nodded heavily. “It would. But Severus, we need to think carefully if the information you would gain for us as a spy would be outweighed by having the full, open support of your relatives. And the fact that your biological father did not get along well with Tom and bloodied his nose may or may not be an additional problem.”   

Snape’s steepled his fingers and looked at the flames in his hearth. “I need to talk to Lucius. He’s the only one who might understand, is on our side and knows Riddle well enough to make a judgement.”

Albus smiled. “You trust him that much?”

“He has very good reason to hate Riddle, I’m Draco’s godfather, he’s my friend and lastly he’s a Bedell. Yes, I do,” Severus replied evenly.

Albus tapped his fingers on the arm of the chair. “Lady Malfoy has asked me to be godfather to one of the triplets…”

Snape’s eyes narrowed. “And you won’t do it?”

Albus blinked. “Oh, Merlin, yes. No I was just wondering if I’d prefer a goddaughter or a godson.”

Severus shook his head. “They’re all squally brats at first. And as long as you don’t pass on your horrible taste in clothes, I don’t think it should be a problem what sex you choose.”

Albus smiled and rose. “Very well, have a good night,” he chuckled. “And tomorrow I understand your nieces are planning to drag you out into the snow for day of winter fun.”

Severus shivered and glared. “Begone, Albus, and leave me to contemplate my fate.”

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Malfoy Manor, Wiltshire, evening of the 29th of December

Lucius Malfoy sat looking out into the still, cold night, the stars and moon in the dark sky the only light. But the reflection of the moon on the snow was enough to bathe the estate in a silvery, almost magical nimbus. He was dressed in slacks and shirtsleeves and sipping firewhisky, his eyes occasionally roaming the park beyond the window, but always returning to his left arm, to the Dark Mark.

“Lucius? Are you coming to bed?” Narcissa asked gently.

Lucius didn’t answer but shook his head.

“Lucius, you are coming to bed,” Narcissa commanded.

A slight smile lifted the corners of his mouth in spite of the situation, then they dropped again. “No. I have to think.”

“About what?” Narcissa asked, confused.

“How I can resolve this mess. How I can save my family,” Lucius answered.

Narcissa sighed and walked to sit next to him. She was wrapped in one of his deep blue robes, the padded velvet, he noted, and wore a pair of his slippers and the thick socks he wore while playing Quidditch when it was cold. His smile returned. “Cold?”

Narcissa sniffed. “If my idiotic husband fails to come to bed I need to find a different way to remember him and keep warm,” she replied haughtily.

“Idiotic? I do have a lot to think about, Cissy.” Lucius defended himself.

Narcissa gave him a sceptical look.

Lucius sighed. “I need to find a way to get into the service of Lord Vicari, Narcissa. I need to lift this oath, this curse, from my family. And I doubt very much he’ll want a Death Eater, no matter how reformed, as his usher,” he concluded moodily, staring at his bare arm where the Mark seemed to writhe in the moonlight.  

Narcissa sighed. “They seem to accept Severus well enough. And he hasn’t decided to abandon the… Riddle, like we have. The Malfoys have been waiting for this moment since the death of The Sainted Slayer. I know that Lady Joyce will not let Draco or the Triplets suffer, she will convince her husband. You must face him, Lucius. You must ask and receive his forgiveness for the Great Betrayal. If he decides you, and I, must suffer the consequences of our choices, so be it. But your family, our family, must be released from the Soul Oath.”

Lucius nodded, then reached out to take her hand. “You realise that whatever happens the chances are very slim that I will survive?”

Narcissa didn’t react, except that her hand tightened around his.

“I don’t mind dying, Cissy. I deserve it, Merlin knows, for what I did, however unwillingly. But I mind not being with you, seeing Draco grow into manhood, the Triplets born…”  Lucius continued.

A single tear coursed down Narcissa’s cheek. “I know. But the Lineage is dying, Lucius. More and more of the Souls are fading. They need their final rest. They need to be released.”

Lucius nodded. “I know, love. I know. I’ll speak to him tomorrow. I just hope he’ll allow me to say goodbye before my execution.”

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Walbrook House, Canon Street, London, evening of the 29th of December

Willow and Rowan were chattering and drawing, one on paper and her laptop, the other on a second screen next to her primary one. Several magic books were propped open beside them and the older generation was watching with some amusement as Amy and Evy joined the two and started to discuss the use of Patrick’s Werkyng to create workable computers in Hogwarts, possibly even internet connections. Patrick and Victor were conferring quietly to the side, considering the more practical aspects of wiring, electricity and phone coverage.

“Well?” Cecilia asked her sister. “What got you so upset that you attacked that boy?”

Penelope gave her younger sister a look. “Caught that, didn’t you?”

Cecilia smirked. “I remember what happens when you get upset and can’t act about what causes it. So what caused it?”

Penelope rubbed her face with her hands. “You know I can sense and see wards, right?”

Cecilia grimaced. “And tattle about them, too.”

Penelope shrugged. “I thought you had a boy hidden in there. I was worried. You were only fourteen.”

Arlene grinned. “And what was she hiding? Or doing?”

“A puppy. Restrain your dirty mind, Arlene Barbara Ellis!” Cecilia warned, though with a slight grin of her own. “But what did you see?”

“You’d think that in a castle used for so long to protect something of such value, the children of an entire culture, the wards would be stupendous and all-encompassing, wouldn’t you?” Penelope asked.

“They are stupendous, Penny. I could feel them tingling whenever I came near them,” Danielle interrupted.

“Oh, so could I,” Penelope agreed. “But they’re not wards to keep something out. The oldest, most powerful wards were created to keep something in. To keep something imprisoned. And they’re all centred around that mezzanine in the Great Hall that everybody seems to conveniently forget about.”

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Failand, Somerset, evening of the 29th of December

 

Jenny picked up the phone and took a deep breath. She had waited until a time that she knew her Great-grandmother would be awake and possibly inclined to speak with her. She had used the intermediate period to talk with Lillian Giles, among other things getting permission to make a possibly long, long-distance call to America.

Her parting with her great-grandmother had been acrimonious, to say the least, and Jenny wasn’t certain her call would be welcome. Or if she ever would be part of her birth family again. Great-grandmother Zaranya was not the most forgiving of people. The family was notorious for having an overdeveloped sense of vengeance. Inigo Montoya would be considered a forgiving young fool by most of her relatives. She smiled as she remembered dragging Rupert to see the Princess Bride. He had complained, stating it was not his sort of movie, but she’d heard his sniggers and knew he’d enjoyed it.

Jenny shook herself and caught her wandering thoughts and  she needed to get past the Cerberus that guarded the access to her Great-grandmother. She glanced at the number in her address book and tapped on the keypad until she heard the phone on the other end ring. It was picked up on the third ring.

“Amy Gest, good afternoon,”

“Amy? This is Jenny. Hello. I-is Dàki dey staying with you?” Jenny asked hesitantly.

“Jenny?” Came the suspicious answer. “Your Ban hasn’t been lifted! Why are you calling?”

“It’s urgent, Amy. Very urgent. I wouldn’t call otherwise, you know that,” Jenny pleaded.

There was a moment of silence. “Very well. But if this is a hoax, my curse will follow you for a thousand years,” Amy grudgingly allowed. “Wait and I’ll try and convince her to speak with you.”

“Yes?” the harsh old voice, so very familiar since her youngest days, spoke.

“Good afternoon, Dàki dey. I hope you’ve been well?” Jenny began.

“Duryardò!” the answer was hissed. “You have no right to address me in that manner! Why do you call me, Outcast?”

Jenny winced. “Because there is a man who needs our help, Phulo Dai. I need to know the ritual that put the Dji back into the shilmulo. A man’s soul has been stolen and put into a stone and needs to be put back in his body. The body still lives,” she hurried out in a single breath.

“And what is this man to you, Duryardò?” Zaranya jeered.

“He is nothing but a man, a stranger to me, Phulo Dai. But he does not deserve to die, nor does his daughter deserve to suffer,” Jenny replied calmly.

“Pah!” the old woman scoffed. “Men have died without deserving to do so for millennia, and their daughters have suffered for as long. The Shilmulo suffers for what he did to a daughter of our Familia, this man’s daughter will suffer as well. There is no justice, only vengeance!”

Jenny shook her head, despite knowing that her great-grandmother could not see her. “Vengeance is empty, Phulo Dai. It would have been justice to destroy the Shilmulo, but to condemn an innocent soul to bear the weight of the demon’s crimes? There are those in the Concordat who would punish us severely for that, for allowing that to continue.”

There was a hiss. “So. You have become Gadje, have you Janna? Your heart bleeds for the Shilmulo and you think the ways of the Concordat are better than ours, do you?”

Jenny swallowed and took the leap. “I have spoken with him, Phulo Dai. He may not be the best of men, but the soul is innocent of the crimes of the demon! So yes, I think that in this case the ways of the Concordat would have been better! The demon would have been dead and the soul would have as much peace as it deserved.”

The old woman snorted. “You have never spoken with a true Magister of the Concordat, Janna. They do not like our kind, do not accept us. They never will.”

“Oh? Then why do I get more kindness from Magisters of the Concordat then I get from my own family?” Jenny was bristling now, her dander up.

“Hah! Lies. They may speak beautiful words, but all they want from us is our power and to bind us to their will, to make us like them, pale and insignificant and without honour,” Zaranya replied.

“They at least can forgive, can look beyond vengeance! They would even help Angel!” Jenny argued. And then she realised what she said as she heard the angry, heavy breathing on the other side of the line.

“I see. So you are friendly with the Concordat now, are you? And no doubt helping the Shilmulo will gain you much goodwill with them. But what will it gain us, the family, rather than you, the Outcast?” The old woman asked coldly.

Jenny winced at her continued exclusion and the mistrust shown towards her. “You will not be prosecuted by the Concordat. You know what their opinion of this will be. We will be lucky if the family is not dispersed, the Elders executed, the children of the tribe taken from us and taught the ways of the Gadje.”

There was a moment of silence. “And how do they know of what we did, Duryardò? Did you tell them? You were told to observe and to report, not to stick your nose into the business of the Elders,” Zaranya’s voice was cold, but now the underlying anger was clear.

“The shilmulo told them, while I was there and together with several members -high-ranking members- of the Concordat. They were not happy to hear it. The Shilmulo has known the family of the bitcherin' mush for generations. The Concordat have Drabarnì themselves. They will not allow the curse to stand. The bitcherin' mush has vowed he will destroy the Family, to the last child. He says that the punishment harms the innocent and not the guilty,” Jenny replied.

“Hah! The bitcherin' mush lacks the will to do such things. He lacks the backbone,” the old woman scoffed.

“A few days ago he performed a ritual that has condemned the souls of hundreds to hell for centuries and before that will torture their bodies for years if not decades. He has driven off Màrtje and shilmulo. He ripped the Magic out of the Five. He lacks no backbone. Until now, he did not know how the shilmulo got his soul. Now he knows he will not sit idly. He will destroy the Family unless the Family comes to its senses! We were cast out from the Tribe and the People for this act of vengeance, Phulo Dai! If what we did was good, would they have done that? We were allowed to take vengeance under the Laws, Phulo Dai, but like this?” Jenny argued. “This has harmed us more than it has the shilmulo!”

There was silence for a few moments. “You said the man has a daughter? How old is she?”

“Yes, Phulo Dai. She is twelve,” Jenny sounded wary.

“They will have a debt to us, that will be good,” the old woman noted.

“It might be better for the Family if we asked nothing in return, Phulo Dai,” Jenny ventured. “It will make a better impression with the Bitcherin’ Mush.”

“Do not interfere with matters you do not understand, Duryardò. You have no notion of the true value of debt and obligation to the Clan, the Familia,” Zaranya reprimanded.

Jenny winced again. “Yes, Phulo Dai, I apologize Phulo Dai.”

There was a heavy silence before Zaranya spoke again. “I will have Tsuritsa send you the ritual by that infernal machine. We can negotiate about the price later.”

Jenny shook her head in resignation. *Not making yourself popular with the Concordat or the focus users,* but out loud she replied humbly. “Thank you, Phulo Dai.”

“You will be present at the ritual. You will make certain they do not harm our Familia,” Zaranya commanded.

“Yes, Phulo Dai,” Jenny replied obediently. “Thank you.”

“You sound happy…” Zaranya mused. “Your Uncle stated that when last he spoke with you there as no happiness in you at all. He seemed pleased with that. Tell me what changed.” 

“Changed, Phulo Dai? I am just happy for the little girl.” Jenny tried in her most innocent tone of voice.

“That tone of voice hasn’t worked on me since your grandmother was ten, Janna. You are happy. Why?” Zaranya asked bluntly.

Jenny closed her eyes. “I met a man, Phulo Dai. He makes me happy. My powers are coming back.”

There was a gasp. “But, the spell?”

“Is broken. We do not know how, but whatever was that was done to transfer my power to Janosz, it has gone,” Jenny spoke softly.

“It’s a Gadje, isn’t it?” Zaranya said resignedly.

“Yes, Phulo Dai,” Jenny answered.

“I see. But if your Sight is returning… Janna, did you see what would happen if we did not help?” Zaranya asked quietly.

Jenny closed her eyes. “The Family would end. I Saw it, Phulo Dai. Last night, in my dreams.”

“Then it is well I decided to help her. Call me again after the Ritual has taken place. We must speak more of your returning powers,” Zaranya commanded.

“Yes, Phul Dai,” Jenny agreed.

“Oh, and Janna? I will want to meet my future Great-Grandson in law soon,” Zaranya said just before hanging up.  

Jenny looked at the phone in bemusement and then placed it in the cradle, rose and went to find Rupert. She would have to prepare him for meeting her family, not something she had ever expected to do.

 

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Failand, Somerset, morning of the 30th of December

The old green car wended its way carefully down the driveway towards the neo-Gothic manor. Rupert Giles stood watching on the front porch as it approached, his thick Burberry and scarf well wrapped around him. He watched as the car parked in a space cleared of snow and the engine stopped. The man who came out was solid, with blondish, slightly thinning hair and a beard. Giles smiled. “Philip! It’s so good to see you!”

“Rupert! You’re looking great!” The blond man smiled in return and walked up the stone steps, holding out a hand which Giles shook eagerly.

“Come in, come in. You’re the first. Deirdre called to say she would be a bit late, her youngest daughter is feeling a bit under the weather.”

Philip smiled. “Well, my family isn’t too happy about me being gone. Frida is definitely unhappy about me meeting with the old crowd, especially Deirdre.”

Giles winced. “Ah… Jenny is less than happy about that aspect of the matter as well. We’re lucky none of the Groupies are here. I think she’d have my balls.”

“Jenny?” Philip asked, curiously. “Rupert Giles are you telling me that you actually have a steady?”

Giles grinned. “No, Philip. I’m telling you that I’ve got a woman I’m going to marry.”

Philip smiled. “Well, it’s about time.”

There was the honk of a car horn and a rather flash BMW sports car coupé roared up to the steps and swung in place next to Philip’s elderly Volkswagen. Philip sighed. “Show-off,” he muttered to Giles, who grinned.

A tall, well, set up man exited the car, wearing a designer suit and shoes. “Philo! Ripper! Good to see you!” He called out and athletically bounded up the stairs.

“Tom, it’s been too long,” Giles held out his hand and Thomas Sutcliffe shook it enthusiastically, before pounding Philip on the shoulder.

“You’re looking great, Phil. How’s Frida and the kids?” He asked.

“Wonderful. How’s… errrr… Bernice?” Philip ventured.

Thomas shrugged. “Past. Twice past, actually. I’m with a beautiful lady called Lorene now.”

Philip shook his head. “Well, if Ripper has decided to settle down you might follow soon.”

Thomas looked at Giles aghast. “Settle down? Ripper! Tell me he’s joking?”

Giles shook his head. “I fear not, Tom. But at least she’s hot.”

“Fear, Rupert? Fear? Hot?” an icy voice came from behind him.

Giles whirled, seeing his mother standing there, a disapproving expression on her face. “You are very lucky to have a woman as lovely and wonderful as Jenny willing to put up with you, Rupert Edmund Giles! Now get inside here before I lose my temper! And that goes for you two unrepentant reprobates as well!” she glared at Philip and Thomas who hastened inside, murmuring greetings and nodding politely.

“I swear, the three of you haven’t grown up since you first went to Eton! I suppose I’m just lucky Ethan isn’t here as well!” Lillian sniffed. As Rupert passed her, she lightly slapped the back of his head.

*********

Thomas Giles stood watching as the large, black Rolls Royce rolled up the driveway, silently except for the noise of crunching snow. It was an older model, clearly much loved and well taken care of. The car stopped and a driver got out, opened the door and let out three men, all elderly. The first one out he knew by sight, name and reputation, though looked frailer than the last time Thomas had seen him.

Jon Carnahan still carried himself with the grace of his youth, even if his hair was thinner and completely white and he needed two heavy canes as well as the chauffeur’s aid to help him out of the car and up the steps. He wore a thick coat and heavy scarf and a hat. Immediately after him followed a tall, longhaired and bearded man in a violet overcoat and almost fluorescent green suit with brown shoes. His hat was wide-brimmed, deep purple and bore a yellow feather. His blue eyes twinkled behind steel-rimmed spectacles and he looked around with keen enthusiasm. A third man, taller than both the others and stocky and broad in the shoulders followed him, also hatted and coated, though much more conservatively.

“Sir Thomas Giles? Jon Carnahan,” Jon stated after the other two men helped him up the stairs, holding his hand out.

Thomas shook it. “It’s a pleasure and an honour to meet you, My Lord. Might I ask who your friends are?”

Jon smirked. “Certainly. This is an old friend of mine whom I served with in Korea, Albert Moder. He was instrumental in the defeat of the Shaszat that was active there.”

Thomas cleared his throat and looked at the heavily scarred and disfigured man. His eyepatch and the piece of metal that filled in the hole in his nose made him instantly recognizable, not to mention the limp, that he was sure was caused by the loss of a leg. “Mr. Moder. Delighted to make your acquaintance.”

Moder gave him a shrewd look as she shook the elder Giles’ hand, and Thomas felt that the scrutiny of that one eye was almost sharp enough to feel like two.

Jon smiled. “And this is Mr. Albus Dumbledore, a powerful magical practitioner who was active during World War II. They’re here to help with and witness the ritual.”

Thomas frowned as he eyed the bearded man. “Albus Dumbledore? Augustus Travers mentioned you might come by… I was not expecting quite this sort of guest.”

“I wasn’t expecting to bring them myself, but neither has ever seen a Ritual of Disavowal. As both of them have had experience fighting Demons of various kinds and are powerful adepts I thought it might be good idea to bring them. And Bert and I fought together in Korea. Though I did think he was dead,” Jon declared airily.

Dumbledore smiled. “And the last thing on my mind is to hinder the Watchers’ Council in aiding and guiding the Slayer. You do not exist to fund the Ministry, nor to abuse your power to control mankind’s greatest defence against the denizens of hell,” his eyes, twinkling as she spoke, were fastened on Thomas’ and his gentle tone carried a warning that Thomas understood all too well.

“Oh, I wasn’t complaining. I was just thinking I should call the Augustus and let him know,” the elder Giles hastily reassured Dumbledore.

Moody snorted with amusement. “Ah, this would be the gentleman who finally told the Ministry to stuff it? I wouldn’t mind meeting him.”

Thomas smiled. “I think he’d be delighted to meet you both, but he’s in Clare at the moment and I doubt his wife will let him come over.”

“It never ceases to amaze how otherwise strong men can be ruled so extensively by their loved ones,” Albus mused as he stepped inside and removed his overcoat and hat with the assistance of a footman.

Jon smiled. “You’ve never done anything foolish for love, Albus?”

There was a moments silence and then the old wizard nodded. “Actually, I’ve done tremendously stupid things for love. But that’s not important right now. Shall we go meet the subjects of the ritual?”

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Latchetts, Clare, morning of December 30th 1995

Quentin Travers picked up the phone in the library with a rather annoyed look on his face. “Travers at Latchetts,” he spoke into the horn.

“Augustus Travers? This is Lassiter,” a deep, old voice spoke.

Travers sighed. “This is an official report, Archie?”

“I fear so, Quint. And its bad,” Archie commiserated.

“Very well. Watcher Travers, in absence of a current Legate, I hereby order you to report to me, in my function as the Augustus,” Travers replied.

Lassiter spoke in a dry, official voice. “Pursuant to my orders I travelled to the United States of America to inventory the available resources and to liaise with Watchers stationed in America. While there I made contact with Diana Dormer, who has been given charge of Miss Faith Honoria Lehane, formerly the foster daughter of Frank and Gladys Howard.”

Travers closed his eyes, mentally preparing himself for the news.

“I did not receive the agreed upon second report from Dr. Dormer and had tried to contact her twice when the New Orleans Police Department contacted me. Apparently a savage attack was made upon the house where they were staying. Several corpses were found inside, including that of a dark harried female around Dr. Dormer’s age, another female, dark haired and teenaged and of an elderly male. All showed extensive signs of torture and have yet to be positively identified,” Lassiter reported, his voice barely controlled. “Their fingers have been removed and their teeth…” Archie swallowed heavily.

Travers’ shoulders slumped. “Bloody hell. I’m sorry, Archie. She was a good friend, a good person. There wasn’t a better watcher to take care of that poor girl than her.”

There was a quiet sob. “She was so proud of how Faith was doing, how well she was recovering… It was the Hound, Quentin. I know it. I don’t care if the Council wants him to track down Potentials, I’m taking him down!”

Travers cleared his throat. “As Augustus I’m hereby rescinding the standing orders to capture Marcus Simplicius Secundus and instituting a kill on sight order instead.”

“Thank you. I’ll remain here until the final identification is made,” Lassiter replied wearily.

“You can’t supply the identification?” Travers asked cautiously, knowing full well the Hound’s penchant for torture.

“They hope to reconstruct enough of their jaws to use dental records…” Archie’s voice trailed off.

Travers swallowed. He really didn’t want to know in what state the bodies were. He’d seen one set of victims of Marcus Simplicius Secundus and had no desire to see any more. Neither had Archie, and certainly not a woman he cared for as deeply as Diana. “I understand. My condolences, Archie. She was a fine woman.”

“One of the best I ever trained,” Archie replied and hung up.

Quentin put the horn down and sighed, rubbing his face. “Meier is not going to be pleased. And I hope to God that Ursus never finds out.”      

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Hogwarts, Main Hall, morning of December 30th

 

Lucius and Narcissa Malfoy had entered the Hall minutes before, accompanied by their son. Lucius had three elves with him, each carrying a large double trunk with ease. The elves placed the trunks on the ground on the ground and opened the double leaved lids, showing a collection of leather sized books of different sizes.

 

Willow ran up immediately, her eyes shining and let out a small squeal. “Oh, they’re wonderful!” she reached out towards one of the books but Lucius’ cane whipped out, stopping her before she could touch it.

“My apologies Lady Willow, but some of those books are dark and cursed. You should not touch them,” he told her firmly.

Willow let out a disappointed squeak. “B-but can I look at the trunks? They’re so awesome!”

Narcissa chuckled. “You can study them in depth once Lucius has removed his mouldy old books.”

Lucius sighed in exasperation. “My books are not mouldy! The Family Library, all of them as a matter of fact, are all perfectly climate controlled to make absolutely certain that no book in the collection will ever be damaged by damp. The fire repression charms are state of the art-”

Narcissa smiled and put a hand on his arm, halting his flood of words. “I know love, no one can hurt your little bookie-wookies.”

Lucius glared and leaned over, whispering something into his wife’s ear, then gestured at the elves to untie the bands that held back the books and started to transfer them to the table personally.

Narcissa gave him a slightly uncertain look, a tiny flush on her cheeks. “Ah. Well, Lady Willow, once the trunks are empty, you can look them over to your heart’s content.”

Willow nodded. “Thank you!” She stepped closer, eyeing the trunks with giddy delight.

Joyce waved to Narcissa who moved towards the other woman. “Hello Narcissa, those are wonderful trunks,” Joyce greeted her.

Narcissa smiled. “I know. The books inside are rather Dark though. I could feel them all the way here,” she added with a shiver.

“Simon says that with practice I should be able to sense things like that too. Not sure if I want to,” Joyce replied. “Anyway, we apparently need to go to the Infirmary.”

Narcissa chuckled. “Ah, Poppy seems to have discovered a deep-seated need to tend to pregnant women. I think she primarily wants to fuss over us. She doesn’t get many pregnancies to deal with, thank heaven. It’s a bit ridiculous, really. I mean, she did give me a thorough examination yesterday.”

“So you don’t think we need to go?” Joyce smiled in return. “Professor Trelawny said she thought it would be wise.”

Narcissa stilled. “She did? Oh. Then we’d better go,” she immediately led Joyce away. It was only because she was so close that Joyce could see the faint tremor in Narcissa’s lips.

“I’m sure it’s a small thing,” Joyce soothed the other woman.

Narcissa looked at the High Table where the pale and ill looking Divination teacher was sitting between Hagrid and Flitwick, deep in some discussion. “I hope so. But I have noticed that her visions are seldom about good things.”

*****

The Infirmary, shortly after

Madam Pomfrey clucked over the two women as they sat on opposing beds. “Now Lady Joyce you haven’t undergone such an examination before. Do you want your husband to be present?”

Joyce smiled. “Well, it might cheer him up a bit. He gets a bit down from working on trying to get Dr. Lovegood back into his body.”

“I’ll summon him. Just a second,” Poppy concentrated and then moved her wand, summoning her pelican patronus. The bird squawked and took off.

Narcissa looked after it. “I never managed to learn to cast that spell,” she stated a bit regretfully.

“I’ll try and teach you at a later time dear, but it isn’t good to experiment with spells of that intricacy and power while pregnant,” Madam Pomfrey noted absently.

Joyce smiled ruefully. “That’s what my mother told me. At least you have some magical training. I have to try and catch up. Dawn was really excited by that spell they used to drive off the Soul Leeches. I assume this was the same one?”

Madam Pomfrey nodded. “Yes, Expecto Patronum, though I understand that it has a different name among channelers.”

Joyce nodded. “Yeah, Dad explained that it was adapted from an old Native American ritual. It’s called Revelio Anima Animalis, Reveal Animal Spirit.”

“Interesting. Do you have any idea of what your Patronus or Spirit animal would be?” Narcissa asked as Poppy bustled off to make a few more preparations.

“Not really. My father is a Grizzly and my mother a boar. Arlene’s is a Bald Eagle and Charlotte is a Big Horn sheep,” Joyce grinned. “I just hope I’m not a sheep too.”

Narcissa leaned forward and whispered. “Lucius is a peacock…”

Joyce blinked and then started to laugh. “Oh, dear… Oh, I’m sorry but that just fits so well!”

“Doesn’t it, just?” Narcissa remarked impishly.

Simon entered the room then, looking between the two women. “Do I want to know?” 

Joyce smiled at him. “Depends. What’s your Animal Spirit?”

Simon smiled back. “I don’t know. I lack the power to cast the spell on my own and I never did a Spirit Quest.”

Joyce winced and rose, giving him a quick hug. “Sorry, that was thoughtless,” she brightened. “Oooh, I know, I’ll ask Uncle Colt to take you on one!” Then she frowned. “Wait, you mean that your spirit guide is your spirit animal?”

Simon pursed his lips. “Mostly. Why do you ask?”

Joyce gave him a pleading look. “Don’t laugh, okay?”

“Why would I laugh at your spirit animal?” Simon smiled.

“It’s a gorilla,” Joyce admitted.

Simon looked at her thoughtfully for a few seconds. “Possibly the most maternal of all the animals. It fits.”

Joyce tightened her hug. “Good answer,” then she turned in his arms and looked at Madam Pomfrey. “So, you wanted to see us?”

Poppy nodded. “Sybill said it would be wise for me to see you. And I asked Lady Malfoy so you could see that the spell won’t hurt the baby. Lady Malfoy?”

A slight scowl appeared on Narcissa’s face. “Couldn’t you just have told me that? I was worried!”

Poppy put a hand to her mouth. “Oh dear, I’m so sorry! I should have realised. You poor dear,” she quickly gave Narcissa a hug.

From the startled expression on her face Narcissa hadn’t expected it, but after a short moment she returned it. “You’re forgiven. But please don’t do it again.”  

“I won’t,” the Matron assured her. Then she gestured at the bed and Narcissa hopped back onto it. A few moves with her wand and a few muttered words and three small, green floating balls of light appeared over her abdomen. Narcissa looked at them with a tender expression on her face.

“It’s just a spell that shows if everything is alright and the baby, or in this case babies, is progressing normally,” Madam Pomfrey explained. “Now, let’s see how your baby is doing.”

She concentrated and then gestured with her wand again. There was a short moment of silence. Then Joyce cleared her throat. “Errr… Two lights?”

Madam Pomfrey nodded happily. “Yes my dear. Twins.”

End note:

For the record, I don’t hate Faith. As readers of Oh Ye of Little Faith me realise. But it seems that in this story her life is strewn with cowpats from the devil’s own satanic herd. And they all have diarrhoea… Please don’t kill me…

I’m not an expert on Romani/Rom culture. I’ve consulted a Rom friend, who winked and told me that any story is as good as another. In any case, below is given a list of the words used, taken from:

Dàki Dey: Great Grandmother

Duryardó: Traitor, banished one

Phulo Dai: Elder Woman, Matriarch

Dji: Soul, Spirit

Shilmulo: Vampire

Gadje: Non-Rom

Bitcherin’Mush: Magistrate, Judge, ‘The Man’

Drabarni: Seer(s)

Màrtje: Demons, ghosts

 

 
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