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Lonely Souls

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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)vidiconFR1598780,1331581494398,95428 May 115 Jul 14No

Ancient Family Secrets

Author’s Note:

Thanks very much to my Beta, Letomo. 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.#

Well, I/We are back in business. I have lost a recommendation, which saddens me, but no doubt there were reasons. I hope to get back on my more regular posting schedule anyway. Hope you enjoy, let me know.

Chapter 81 Ancient Family Secrets

The House elf quarters of Hogwarts were quite luxurious, as House Elf housing went. Every elf had his own bed, a small dresser in which to keep some minor items and several embroidered pillow cases.

The whimpering, pale and sweating house elf that stood in the small circle of stones in a clearing high up a mountain slope yearned for his bed and the aid his fellow elves might offer. Yet it was still a great distance to travel, he had only reached the Rocky Mountain waypoint of Sanctuary. Now he needed to focus and get to the next waypoint, in the Appalachians, Repose. Then he'd have to reach Vinland Station, then Aud's Jump, Snorri's Landing, and hopscotch the Faroe Islands until he finally reached the Scottish mainland and could travel to the wards of Hogwarts. Dobby stopped by a small creek and jumped into the icy cold water, beating his head on the rocks as the biting, chill waters stung against his already clammy skin.

“Bad Dobby! Bad, bad Dobby! Scaring Master Marcus' Little Misses! Bad Dobby!” There was only one consolation in the pained House Elf's mind. Former Master Lucius was going to hear that he had three nieces, all of whom Dobby thought were magical.

Dobby took a deep breath and Apparated to the next waypoint. His ribs twinged and he whimpered as he was stretched and even more when he landed.

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Failand, Somerset, late afternoon of 30th of December

The car drove off, carrying the three visitors with it. Thomas and Lillian Giles stood looking after the disappearing lights until they could no longer be seen. Lillian turned into Thomas' shoulder. “He's free, Tom, he's finally, truly free.”

“Yes. Yes he is,” Thomas cleared his throat to hide his emotions.

“Good, that means he can procreate with Jenny and you two can quit bothering me about marrying and providing you with grandchildren,” Esther snarked from the darkness.

Lillian looked around Thomas and glared into the shadows. “Actually, I'm thinking an arranged marriage might be a good idea. What do you say, Thomas?”

Thomas Giles nodded emphatically. “Yes, quite. I've had a number of good offers from old, well-established Watcher Families. Roodtlandt was looking for a girl, I think.”

“Jaap Roodtlandt? He's a pimply little boy!” Esther replied, amusement in her voice as she dismissed her father’s ridiculous remark.

“Oh, not the grandson. Old Roodtlandt himself. He feels that seventy-nine is an excellent age to remarry and beget a second generation. And of course his wife can tend to his needs as he ages further. He made quite a good offer, too,” Thomas noted.

“Very funny. Haha,” Esther sniffed.

“Considering that neither of my daughters has managed to find a suitable partner, I'm starting to wonder if it might really not be the best solution to marry you off to a colleague such as Roodtlandt or De Graves. Or possibly young Wyndham-Pryce. You know, show the unity of the Council even in these dire times?” Thomas remarked to Lillian.

“WESLEY? ARE YOU CRAZY?” Esther shrieked.

“What’s wrong with Wesley? He’s a perfectly nice young man, even if a bit diffident. Completely different from his father, happily,” Lillian replied airily.

“He’s a filthy, good for nothing, nasty little wanking Peeping Tom! He got into my bathroom three times! And once into my bedroom as I was changing! And I don’t buy that ‘I was reading and not paying attention to where I was going’ excuse!” Esther railed. “If he comes near me, hah! I’ll personally rip off his family jewels with the fireplace tongs and roast them and feed them to him on toast with marmite!” she turned on her heel and slammed the door violently.

Lillian chuckled. “Well, that might work if we knew where poor Wesley was. Has there been any news?”

Thomas shook his head. “No, he’s not sent any messages since the first, right after Howard attacked the Academy. The lad thinks he must atone for the sins of his father.”

Lillian snorted. “If all of us had to work those off, we’d never get any Watching done. Where is Rupert? I’m a bit disappointed he didn’t see our guests off.”

“He told me he’d see them again later and said his goodbyes earlier. Apparently Jenny needs comforting. She got a mail from her favourite cousin which was less than friendly,” Thomas looked into the dark December night. “I shudder to think…”

Lillian stood on her toes and kissed him lightly on the lips. “I’m alive, I survived the accident and you were so happy that we had another little angel-”

“A very curious and occasionally obnoxious and hideously spoiled angel,” Thomas smiled.

“So I was there to help you deal with raising our wayward son,” Lillian ignored his interruption.” Now let’s go inside. It’s cold outside and I could do with some comforting myself,” Lillian nibbled his jaw and Thomas smiled.

“The boy does have good ideas, yes. Come love, it has been a long day.”

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London, evening of December 30th

“Daddy? Is that a Catholic church?” Kit asked pointing at the looming shadow of St. Paul’s Cathedral.

“No, munchkin, it’s an Anglican one,” Simon replied absently.

“Oh. D-do you know if there’s a Catholic one nearby?” Kit asked, in a small voice.

Simon turned towards her. “Several, I think. Kit, would you like to go to church?”

Kit bit her lip. “N-not if you don’t want me to.”

Simon closed his eyes, a pained expression on his face. “Kit, how long have you been wanting to go?”

Kit swallowed and looked down. “M-Momma said I’d be old enough to go to Midnight Mass at Christmas this year…”

Simon put a gentle hand on Kit’s face and lifted it to look at him. “Kit, your Mama and I don’t mind if you want to go to church. We’ll take you there when you want. We just hold different beliefs; have different views due to things that happened in our lives. But there is no need to feel ashamed of what you believe in. We’ll respect it and try to help you conform to such articles of faith as you want to follow.”

Kit looked at him wide eyed. “B-but Willow…”

Simon looked confused. “What about Willow? She’s Jewish, not Catholic,” Then his eyes widened in realisation and he closed them. “Dammit, we forgot Hanukkah.”

Kit started to giggle, half in amusement, half in nervousness. “You forgot? T-there’s no nef-nefarious plot to make us forget religion?”

“Why would we want to make you forget religion?” Simon asked. “And where did you come up with the word nefarious?”

Kit coughed. “Errr…”

Simon sighed. “Did you get into Mama’s romance novels, Kit?”

Kit nodded, blushing slightly.

“We’ll have to lock those things up more tightly than my spellbooks,” Simon muttered. “But no, we have no plan whatsoever to make you forget about religion, though I think your Mama would like for you to join in a spirit ceremony to find out what your spirit guide is.”

Kit brightened. “I can? Cool!”

Simon smiled. “Hot, actually. I think Granpa James uses a Kiva.”

Kit smiled and put her hand in Simon’s. They walked through the cold London streets for few minutes, listening to the others chattering and Buffy complaining about why they weren’t picked up by a car. Kit looked up again.

“Dad? Can I light a candle for Mom?”

Simon looked down sadly. “Of course you can, Munchkin. Of course you can.” 

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Walbrook House, Canon streetLondon

Willow was getting dressed for bed when there was a knock on the door. “Just a sec!” she hastily pulled on her nightgown, then called out again. “Come in?” she   had no idea who it could be. It was rather too early for her to be tucked in and she was wondering what was going on. The door opened to reveal Joyce and Simon, looking slightly out of sorts.

“Hello Willow. Could you bring Rowan in here?” Simon asked.

Willow gulped. There had been quite stringent rules about her and Rowan sharing a room after the first few nights, they were supposed to turn off the Rowan cam and mic and their shared fancy new laptop was supposed to be turned off, or at least on stand-by, as well.

“I, errr…” Willow gulped again. “I’m sorry,” she said in a tiny voice. “We don’t talk. We just sleep better knowing the other is there.”

 Simon snorted. “You don’t talk?”

Willow winced. Rowan, replacing the artfully contrived faux black screen, did the same. “Well, not much,” they spoke in unison.

Joyce crossed her arms. “Well, we’ll talk about that later. But…” she took a deep breath. “We need to apologize, to both of you. We forgot about Hanukkah, and we both knew how much it means to you. We’re very sorry, Willow, Rowan. We’ll try and make it up to you.”

The two girls gaped. Then Willow’s chin began to wobble. “You-you forgot? It wasn’t a plan? To- to make me forget my birthparents?”

Joyce winced. “No, we’d never do that to you. Even Danielle, even if she doesn’t go to the synagogue and disapproves of many parts of the Jewish faith, doesn’t deny her roots. We’d never ask you to do it either.”

Willow looked at them, then sprang into Simon’s arms, nearly bowling him over. On screen Rowan burrowed deep into the arms of ‘virtual Joyce’.

It took a few minutes to calm them down. “Better?” Simon murmured into Willow’s hair.

Willow nodded and leaned back, wiping away a few tears. “I never used to cry this much,” she complained. 

“There have been a lot of changes in your life,” Simon smiled. “So, would you two like to go the Temple? Or have a Menorah by the Christmas tree?”

Willow nodded. “That would be nice,” she bit her lip, hesitant. “C-can we have a present?”

Simon and Joyce exchanged a look, Joyce, the arbiter of ‘not spoiling the children’ nodded. “Well, not too expensive, but yes.”

“Nothing expensive,” Willow said softly. “j-just… if we don’t talk too much, and-and we behave-”

Joyce put a hand on Willow’s shoulder. “Willow… If we’d been really upset about Rowan being in your room, we’d have put a stop to it earlier, hmm?”

Willow and Rowan squealed and Willow now threw herself into Joyce’s arms and Rowan into Simon’s virtual double.  

After another few minutes Simon and Joyce rose and smiled. “Now we’ll be expecting the two of you to behave,” Joyce admonished with a smile. “I’ll be up again in half an hour to tuck you in.”

Willow and Rowan watched them leave and then let out twin whoops of joy.

Outside the door Joyce looked at Simon. “And not a word that we didn’t know about Rowan spending the nights in there, understood,” she told Simon mock-severely.

Simon nodded and zipped his lips, a grin tugging at them, humour lighting up his eyes.

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Night of Saturday December 30th, Hogwarts

Severus Snape stood looking down from the height of the Astronomy Tower at the men gathered below. They were old men, Dumbledore, Kettleburn, Moody, Flitwick, and they were discussing dark things. Severus didn’t feel like discussing Dark things. The suggestion that Lucius had made had shocked him and chilled him to the bone in such a way that he didn’t even feel the freezing cold. And he had much else to think about besides.

January the first was traditionally the day on which new Patriarchs of Noble Houses were introduced to the Wizengamot. The day that the Leaders of Houses officially took a seat if the previous incumbent had died or retired. *Do I take on the name and the responsibilities? Simon will claim his seat and Lucius will swear his oath before all. But what will I do?*

He looked down. The Ambassador had left with his family. And the Ambassador’s family was his family as well. His nieces had hugged him, Buffy still wildly enthusiastic about her sword and never shutting up about it. Kit and Dawn were agog over the copies of ‘Basic Potioneering’ he’d dug up. He’d seen that Piper was jealous and made a mental note to get another copy, and ‘Magical Drafts and Potions’ as well. He’d have to speak with Penelope and see if she was sufficiently versed in potion making to get a more advanced text. Or maybe she owned one. Severus shook his head. He was distracting himself from the matter at hand. Come Monday he would either be a Vicari, or still Severus Snape.

He leaned forward to lean on the parapet. The only warning he had was the soft ‘hoot’ and then Hermione Granger’s infernal owl flew at him with the intent to maim.

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Malfoy Manor, night of Saturday December 30th

Lucius Malfoy spread the blanket around his wife’s knees while two scandalized and horrified house elves fussed behind him. Draco was in bed, had been for a while, and Lucius wondered what was wrong with his wife. He didn’t ask. He knew this mood and she wasn’t going to talk until she was good and ready.

A third house elf appeared with the cup of hot chocolate Lucius had ordered for Narcissa and put it on the little table next to the chaise-longue that Narcissa was occupying. A second cup was placed on Lucius’s right and the wizard lifted an eyebrow at the old elf responsible for it. It lifted an eyebrow right back at him and eyed the chair. Lucius sighed and sat down, glaring at the elf. “Thank you, Biddin.”

“Master is welcome,” the old elf said with a small bow. “Master must take better care of himself,” then he bowed again and Disapparated with a small pop.

Narcissa smiled. “Really Lucius, you should give up. Biddin will always have an edge on you.”

Lucius snorted. “Blasted elf thinks he’s the boss of me just because he changed my diapers.”

Narcissa bit her lip. “L-Lucius? I-I may have done something very stupid.”

Lucius gave her a thoughtful look. “Now that is rare. Tell me?”

Narcissa took a deep breath. “Apparently in Sunnydale there lives a man called Marcus Kendall, who has three daughters and looks a great deal like you. I asked Dobby if he could detect M-Marcus on a Hellmouth that far away. He said he didn’t think so and then left to see if he could if he was closer.”

Lucius sat very still. “And what is the stupid part here?” he asked cautiously.

“Y-you aren’t upset?” Narcissa sounded relieved.

Lucius shook his head. “Love, if anyone can convince Marcus it is safe to come back its Dobby. I might not have as good a chance.”

Narcissa sighed. “But Dobby hasn’t returned yet…”

Lucius snorted. “I can think of several reasons for that. It would take a lot of time and energy to get there, and get back. He might just be resting. And he certainly won’t come here. We’d have to meet him at Hogwarts. And can you imagine what Dobby’s reaction would be to finding Marcus, his wife, and three daughters of House Ma- Bedell?”

Narcissa smiled at the proud correction. “Well, considering how all the elves reacted when Draco was born…”

“He’s probably making them all cocoa and getting to know them,” Lucius added, hope in his voice. He shook his head. “Leave it to Marcus to find a way to hide from even the strongest scrying spells,” he murmured in admiration. “He always had an excellent grasp on the theories of magic.”

Narcissa rose and then curled up on his lap. “Don’t get your hopes up too high, beloved. It might be a false alarm again. You know there are strong family resemblances that run between you and even your distant relatives.”

Lucius smirked. “And aren’t the self-righteous bastards going to be surprised at the return of the Vicari.”  

Narcissa shook her head in exasperation. “And won’t you love lording it over them all.”

Lucius puffed out his chest haughtily. “With due reason. We remained loyal all these years,” then his chest deflated. “Though personally I’d be happy enough to know that the souls of my and their ancestors can rest in peace. The crystal looks quiescent but I’d like to know where they are residing.”

“We might ask if someone can find out,” Narcissa suggested. “Maybe Mr. Ellis, he seems to be quite connected to natural way of things. Or possibly some of the older Hogwarts ghosts can help?”

Lucius nodded thoughtfully. “I may just do that. It will relieve my mind.”

Narcissa cleared her throat. “You do realise quite a few of them might have attracted the attention of some of the nastier denizens of the lower dimensions?”

Lucius grinned rather ruefully. “Yes, I had realised. Many have been less than stellar in their personal conduct.”

Narcissa grinned back. “I have a few suggestions that would have had us burned in the Dark Ages…”

Lucius smirked and rose, causing Narcissa to squeak in alarm despite his strong hold on her. He carried her out of the room at a fast pace. “That, my dear wife, is definitely something I wish to explore.”

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Walbrook House, Canon Street, London, night of December 30th

Jon Carnahan sat in front of the fire, looking at the flickering flames. The room was silent except for the crackle as they consumed the heavy logs on the grate.

“So, how did it go?” Penelope asked.

“It was a successful day on the whole,” Jon replied. “They are free of his mark and the taint. Jenny got into contact with her family and they’ve sent the ritual. It’s in old Rom, so we’ll need a translator as my own Rom is more than a little rusty. But a cousin she thought would be the most likely to forgive her was… very offensive to her in the e-mail she sent it with.”

“Ah. Should we tell Joyce?” Danielle, seated next to Penelope on a large, deep couch wondered.

Jon’s mouth quirked. “Well, maybe tomorrow, I doubt either she or Jenny would like to be disturbed right now,” he glanced at the clock which showed it was just past midnight.

The door opened and Arlene came in, seating herself in front of the fire. Jon looked at her with a smile on his face. “So, did you get her to settle down?”

Arlene rolled her eyes and returned the smile. “Eventually. She’s completely excited about seeing a Wizarding celebration of the New Year.”

Jon hesitated. “Have you thought about visiting Evelyn and Rick?” he asked hopefully.

Arlene gave him a look. “You do remember that I’m an archaeologist, right? What do you think? To be able to say I’ve met all three of the discoverers of Hamunaptera? And Alexander O’Connell as well? Not just his disreputable uncle?”

Jon preened. “Disreputable? From you that is high praise, my dear.”

Arlene rolled her eyes. “And even if that wasn’t the case, Evy wants to meet her great-grand Aunt and Uncle. And I’m not going to refuse her if I’m already in the country anyway.”

Jon smiled his satisfaction. “Good, I’ll call them tomorrow. I doubt she wants to give up on the Wizarding celebrations, I think it might be better just to go there on the second, when the hordes of O’Connells have departed.”

Arlene nodded. “That many strangers still frighten her. It took her a while to get used to all those Weasleys.”

Jon’s eyes narrowed. “Yes… those Weasleys…”

Penelope grinned at Danielle. “You owe me a Dollar, Dani. I told you he’d see those Weasley Twins flirt with her.”

“They touch her and I’ll use their balls for cricket,” Jon declared.

Arlene shook her head. “She was far more interested in those stories about dragons that Charlie Weasley told than in the innuendo of his Twin brothers.”

“They’re far too annoying and untrustworthy for her,” Jon grinned. “Now if only they were girls and a few years older…”

Penelope sighed. “You’re an incorrigible old goat, Jonathan Carnahan!”

“Very virile creatures, Billy goats,” Jon noted as he modestly buffed his nails on his dressing gown.  

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Tyntesfield House, Failand, Somerset, Morning of December 31st 

Jenny looked wan and tired at breakfast that morning. Rupert was looking worn out as well. He also kept glancing at where his new tattoo was located. Lillian gave Esther, who was about to make a snide remark about young love, a glare and the youngest Giles shut her mouth with a click of teeth.

“So, did you think about staying a bit longer?” Lillian asked hopefully.

Jenny looked at Rupert, who nodded. “We talked about it last night. Jenny wants to see a bit more of the country, so after New Years Day I was wondering if we could use the Town house?” 

Lillian nodded. “Of course, can’t they Thomas?”

Thomas lifted an eyebrow at Rupert, a slight smirk on his face. “Planning something Rupert?”

Jenny looked confused while Miranda and Esther laughed and Rupert blushed. Lillian gave her husband a reproachful look. “Really, Thomas. Behave.”

Jenny crossed her arms. “Okay, what am I missing?”

Rupert cleared his throat. “My, ah, Father is referring to the fact that the past four generations of Giles family heirs have all been… begotten in the Town House.”

Jenny flushed, looking down at the table, her hands gripping the silverware.

Thomas Giles reached out across the table and gently lifted her chin with his hand. “Jenny, some time ago I decided that the happiness of my son and whoever he chose to share his life with was of greater importance than any dynastic considerations. I’m very happy that you and Rupert have found each other. So accept my teasing Rupert as teasing, the silly remarks of an old man, and just be happy together, hmmm?”

There was utter silence at the breakfast table as Rupert looked at his father in disbelief. Thomas cleared his throat, breaking the tableau. “That still doesn’t mean I don’t intend to marry off Esther, however. How about Egidius Gaius Pemburton?” 

“DAD!” Esther shrieked as Rupert and Miranda stifled their laughter behind stiff upper lips. The rest of breakfast was spent by the elder two siblings discussing possible matches for Esther, who got progressively more and more annoyed until she launched a half-eaten sausage at Rupert. Lillian felt she had to intervene about then.

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Hogwarts, morning of December 31st

Lucius Malfoy, Bedell, he corrected himself, noted that Albus Dumbledore looked at least a decade younger when he let Narcissa and him into his private sitting room. It was not a room Lucius had ever expected to see as long as the old wizard was alive. He smiled wryly at the changes that had been wrought while Albus pottered about in a set of comfortable old robes, summoning a house elf to serve them all morning tea.

Narcissa smiled a little at the spanking brand new rabbit slippers the youngest Vicari girls had gotten the old Headmaster.

“You wished to see us, Headmaster?” Lucius said once they were settled and the tea had steeped to everyone’s satisfaction.

Dumbledore cleared his throat. “Yes, yes I did. I was expecting Minerva, however she refuses to get up before eleven during the holidays, but she's in full agreement with me but it cannot be done without your permission of course.”

Lucius raised an eyebrow. “What can't be done?”

Albus beamed. “Well, I've been researching Godparenthood the last few weeks. As you know I'm not the youngest wizard around and I thought it wouldn’t be really fair to a child to have a godfather who could drop dead at the drop of a hat. So I wondered, why not two Godparents, like the Normals have? And from what I’ve read, it should be possible, traditional even.”

Lucius looked at Narcissa who was gaping at the old wizard. “You-you actually researched…”

Dumbledore gave her a serious look. “My dear, my actions, or inactions, wronged you and your family greatly. If I can prevent my godchild from being without a godparent for a good, long time I will most certainly do so. The ritual can actually be extended to as many as three people and for quite some time in early Medieval times it was routinely done so.”

Narcissa nodded numbly. “But Professor McGonagall?”

Dumbledore smiled sadly. “Minerva for many years thought she was the last of her Lineage. Her discovery of young Amelia has cheered her greatly, but, well, I was working on this and she looked so heartbreakingly… lonely,” he shrugged. “I told her I would ask. And she is incredibly fierce in defense of those she loves or owes loyalty to.”

“Then why isn’t she here?” Narcissa asked sharply, before her face clouded. “Oh. She thinks we’ll refuse her. I see.”

 Dumbledore nodded. “Yes, she does fear that.”

“Why would we?” Lucius sipped his tea. “She’s a member of the Wizengamot, her House is ancient, her magic powerful and she’s an Animagus. It’s an alliance we could do with quite well.”

Narcissa glared at him. “And you had a crush on her in your first year.”

Lucius coughed and nearly spat out his tea onto Dumbledore who merely sipped his, blue eyes twinkling. “He was hardly the only one. Minerva was a striking woman when she was younger. We really need a few more younger teachers. Us old fogies can hardly hold the attention of so many teens.”

“You might start with getting rid of Binns. I admit the beauty sleeps were nice, but as a teacher he was useless,” Narcissa smiled.

Dumbledore shrugged. “I’d like to, but the Governors find it convenient not to have to pay an additional member of staff.”

Lucius nodded. “True… But I think that with my allegiance to the Vicari cemented I might be able to swing the vote… Did you have anyone in mind?”

Dumbledore shook his head. “Most historians I know are quite old. And after Lady Warren’s outburst I think that we may need to take Bathilda Baggshot’s books with a large grain of salt.”

Lucius nodded ruefully. “I must admit that to hear that what Wendelin did was inspired to save lives… It’s strange how a few minutes of righteous indignation can change your view, isn’t it?”

“Quit true, quite true,” Dumbledore nodded.

Suddenly the Floo flared and Snape’s face appeared. “Headmaster? I need to speak with you. I understand Lord Bedell is present as well?”

Narcissa sighed. “I take it this is going to be a private conversation, Severus?”

Snape hesitated. “I think that might be wiser. You shouldn’t be upset, it might harm the baby.”

Narcissa’s brows rose. “Oh, that puts my mind at ease, Severus.”

Lucius’ lips thinned. “I fear I agree with Severus, beloved. It is no immediate risk, but I would prefer to tell you after the birth of the children.”

Narcissa glare went from the head in the Floo to her husband. “Men! I’m pregnant, not stupid,” she did however rise and Dumbledore rose with her.

The old wizard leaned forward and whispered something that made Narcissa smile. Then he let her out of the room through the door that exited onto a large staircase instead of the Headmaster’s office. When he turned round, Severus was flicking ashes and soot off his robes with his wand.

“So, what did you want to talk about, Severus?” he inquired, returning to his chair. The noses of his slippers quivered with curiosity.

Severus sat down as well. “Lucius came to me with a notion. I find that I concur with it. And it frightens me greatly. Lucius?”

Lucius put his teacup down. Dumbledore frowned when he saw that the man’s hands were trembling. “First you have to realize that I hadn’t even thought about this when… When I put the book in Miss Weasley’s basket,” He looked at his hands. “I have no idea how I will face Molly and Arthur.”

“What about the book, Lucius?” Dumbledore asked kindly.

“I thought it was like an enchanted mirror. But there was always an aura about, it, of Darkness. I put it down to having been created by Riddle. But…” Lucius took a deep breath. “I’ve come to believe that it was a Horcrux. My library does not contain much about them, only their effects upon the creator, those who come in contact with them and the means of their destruction.”

Dumbledore frowned. “That is more than most libraries do contain. But is odd. I thought yours was one of the largest collections of Dark books in Britain, if not the world? And yet nothing on their creation?”

Lucius smiled wryly. “In very general terms, so a ritual site can be identified. There’s a stricture laid upon us by the Vicari that we may posses no knowledge about their creation. Since we do know is that those who create them tend to lose their mental equilibrium, well, we could understand the ban. They’d hardly want a lot of insane minions, now would they?”

Severus looked at Dumbledore. “You do not seem surprised.”

Dumbledore sighed. “I… I feared he might have done this. As you know the most dangerous books on the Dark Arts were kept in the locked section of the Secret Library. I never fully understood why they were even there. Riddle asked several teachers about Horcruxes while he was still at a school. And I think he made his first one here as well.”

Lucius gulped down his tea. “Merlin help us. At school?

Dumbledore nodded. “It would be logical that it would be the diary. From what I know, he would have used poor Myrtle as the sacrifice. Accio Firewhisky.”

The old wizard poured the two younger ones a stiff glass from the bottle that flew into his hand and took a tiny amount himself. “So, now what do we do?”

Severus sipped his drink with a trembling hand. “I intend to speak with Simon. He has an extensive library on the Dark Arts, he may be able to help us.”

Dumbledore smiled. “The Library of the Vicari. I wonder if I would be allowed to visit.”

“We can ask. Jon is his Chief Archivist and apparently likes showing interested parties around,” Severus replied. “You do not oppose it, my talking with him?”

“Not at all,” Dumbledore demurred. “I think it might be quite useful. His –your- father might have left information on Riddle we can use.”

“Well, he’ll be here again this afternoon. We can speak with him then,” Severus mouth twitched. “I understand that both Misses Granger and several of his own children are demanding a thorough grounding in the family history. I look forward to seeing him handle a complete set of know-it-alls, bushy-haired or not.”

Lucius rubbed his chin. “I wonder if we might join. It could be interesting to hear their point of view on many things.”

Dumbledore’s bunny slippers perked up. The Headmaster sent Severus a pleading look. “Severus?”

The other man shrugged. “I can ask. I give no guarantees, you know that certain things ought to be kept secret in Lineage.”

Dumbledore nodded. “Quite true. Well, we can but ask. Lucius, would you like me to be present when you talk with Arthur and Molly?”

Lucius pinched the bridge of his nose. “That would probably mean a mere stay in St. Mungo’s and not a funeral, so yes.”

Dumbledore sipped his drink and smiled.

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Church of St Mary Moorfields, London, morning of December 31st

A girl sat before the chapel, in a neat coat and a prim hat, looking as if butter wouldn’t melt in her mouth. A young priest, who had celebrated the Mass, looked at her and the man who’d accompanied her. He was a priest in the City and he knew the value of clothes quite well. The man wore bespoke clothes of the highest quality and the girl was well dressed too, though less exclusively in made to measure wear. The young priest approved of that, growing children tended to be rough on clothes, spending thousands of Pounds to dress them to the latest fashion when they ought to be running around and playing had always seemed ridiculous to him.

The man seemed knowledgeable about the church and its rites and had, in fact, helped the girl find her place in the Liturgy of the Hours. But when the girl went to Communion, the man had remained seated.

So now that the girl was sitting in prayer after having lit a candle before the image of Mary, the priest decided to go and speak to the elder of the visiting members of his congregation. “Good morning,” he greeted the man softly.

The man nodded. “Father, good morning.”

“I noticed you didn’t come to communion, yet you know your way around…” the priest let his voice trail off. Then he cleared his throat. “If you feel… undeserving, feel the need of the Sacrament of Reconciliation…”

The man shook his head. “If anyone needs to seek reconciliation it will be the other side,” his voice was polite and firm but the priest understood it well enough.

He made a small gesture at the girl. “Yet you let your… daughter? Worship?”

The man eyed the priest. “She at least has some reason to put her trust in gods and religions.”

The priest blinked. “You seem well enough of, and you have a daughter. Many people with far less have found solace in the Lord.”

“Money isn’t everything. And my daughter is adopted. She never knew her father,” the man turned to the priest fully. “I’m not here to worship, Father. I will be polite for my daughter’s sake, but I won’t pretend to enjoy sitting through the praises to a being, existent or not, whose servants condone the pain and torture of children for momentary monetary gain or who consider the institution of the church more important than the children their faith ought to protect.”

The priest nodded. “I see. Is there anything I can do for your daughter?”

The man shrugged and smiled at the intently praying girl. “If there is, we’ll let you know. Thank you, Father.”

The priest nodded and left, wondering who the strange pair were. And wondering even more when he found five thousand Pounds in the poor box when he went to empty it that evening.

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Cannon Street, London, December 31st

Hermione Granger gulped and looked at her parents as she stood between them, their hands firmly grasping hers. They had Flooed to the Leaky Cauldron and were now standing on Cannon Street, in front of a large, Georgian house bearing a small, blue plaque stating that Wallbrook House had once served as a meeting place for various authors, poets, playwrights and composers and had been the home of the antiquarian and collector Sempronius Alfred Justinian Meier and was a Grade II listed building. She looked at the wide, Portland stone steps and then up.

“Wow,” she softly exclaimed.

“‘Wow’ is right,” Norman looked at Jean. “I’m feeling slightly underdressed,” he looked own at his jeans and the neat if elderly coat that covered his sweater.

Jean sniffed. “Nonsense! We’re invited. They’re family. I’m not going to dress up just to-” the door flew open and Dawn, dressed in jeans, sweater and a pair of enormous dog-headed slippers, ran out.

“Hello! Come on in! It’s far too cold outside!” and dodged back inside.

Jean looked at Norman and grinned. “See?”

Hermione, taking the invitation at face value, ran up the steps and out of the miserably drizzly weather. Norman and Jean exchanged a look. “That was rather forward for Hermione.”

Jean shrugged. “She’s never had cousins this close to her in age and interests. And did you hear Dawn describe the library here to her?”   

Norman grinned. “When will Genie get here, you think?”

Jean smirked. “Won’t be long, I’m sure. The description of the library Phoebe gave her got her all excited.”

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Ministry of Magic, Department of Magical Law Enforcement, Secret Archives, morning of December 31st

Amelia Bones knew that any sane person would not spend so much of her Christmas Holiday at work. But as Alastor Moody had pointed out when he had first started training her as an Auror, no one totally sane became an Auror.

Besides, the chance to roam the Secret Archives was just too good to pass up, even if she could only go back to the files deposited on the orders of Crouch. That still covered a goodly number. She hummed a little as her wand lit the way and she smiled as she passed by the extensive files.

The Secret Archives contained the data on all those cases the DMLE or the Ministry wanted to keep quiet. That meant most of those involving old, noble pure-blooded families. Or the ones that embarrassed the Ministry.

Amelia smirked as she recalled the vivid description Moody had given her of former Minister Briarstone’s enormous white arse and red face when he was arrested in a raid upon The Wizard’s Staff, a notorious and very discreet brothel. Briarstone had resigned ‘for health reasons’ shortly after, but the true reason had been hidden in these archives for more than sixty years.

Fudge’s order to vet all the files ordered sealed by Crouch gave her access to the Archives. And the fact that it was the 31st of December meant that the custodians and guardians who would normally have accompanied her were at home and she had entirety of the archives at her disposal.

She stopped as she saw the files to do with the trials of the Death Eaters after the War. She wandered down the aisle lined with filing cabinets, familiarizing herself with the layout. She hesitated, and then opened the drawer marked M, looking for the Malfoy file. She’d always seethed at the release of Lucius Malfoy whom she knew to have been involved in a number of particularly gruesome attacks upon Mug- Normals. She blinked. The file was empty except for a single sheet of parchment. Hands trembling in rage she picked it up and read it, expecting to see that the file had been destroyed. Her mouth fell open. “Malfoy. Mal Foi, See Bedell, senior line, Lineage of Kendall, restored,” she whispered. She dropped the sheet back in and then hurried to the first few filing cabinets.

She opened the B and pulled out the Bedell file. Her eyes widened as she read the reports from the Legilimens and the Auror charged with studying Malfoy’s Pensieved memories. “Merlin… A Soul Oath…” She closed the file and pulled out Black, on a whim, and leafed through it.

And then again. There were only six sheets, all spelled to impart the memory of the event to the reader. A ‘confession’, in which Black stated in a flat, emotionless fault that it was his fault that Jamie and Lilly were dead and Harry was an orphan. His fault. His.

Another one, showing that due to this confession further investigation was not warranted. A third, a request from Dumbledore to meet with Sirius Black, which had been granted. Crouch had been present and Black had merely, numbly, repeated that he was at fault, despite all of Dumbledore’s attempts to convince him to explain what had brought him to such a heinous act.

The fourth was a notice of incarceration in Azkaban. The fifth was the report that Regulus Black, who had been named Lord Black by his father, was declared officially dead and that Sirius was the legal heir and new Lord Black, with all the rights pertaining thereunto, to be claimed in person at the Ministry and Gringotts. The last sheet of the file was the one that reported his escape from custody.

Amelia ran a hand over her face. Albus Dumbledore sounded tired and strained to her trained ears, he sounded as if he was in shock. Black sounded as if he was in shock as well. Shock was not something wizards dealt with often, Crouch would not have recognized it, nor cared about it. Dumbledore had an unfortunate habit to consider himself invincible. He probably wouldn't recognize shock if it bit him on his ancient hairy arse. 

Amelia closed the file, then put it back, leaning against the cabinet. She took a step aside and opened the Crouch file. Both Crouches had a file, father and son. Crouch Junior ought to have been kissed for what he did to the Longbottoms, but he’d escaped due to his father’s reputation. And many of the judges considered that a punishment in life, possibly followed by a kiss at a later time to torment the soul as well, was a far more appropriate punishment for a man like Barty Crouch Junior.

Amelia took a deep breath. She really needed to talk to Cornelius and the Minister was not going to like it.

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Hogwarts Castle, Elf quarters, morning of December 31st

Dobby whimpered as he Apparated into the safety of his room. No other elf wanted to share with him, due to his welcoming of his freedom from the Malfoy family. His entire body ached from the beating he had taken and the long-distance Apparating he had been doing. His head hurt terribly and he could feel that his entire groinal area was one big bruise.

With a wince the little elf hopped onto his bed, nesting among the socks, wooly hats and scarves knitted by Hermione. He groaned and trembled. “Dobby must speak with Former Mistress. Dobby must confess to scaring little Malfoy girls,” he muttered to himself, just before falling into an exhausted sleep.

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O’Connell Manor, morning of December 31st

Evelyn O’Connell was studying the text that had been e-mailed to her. Her brother was amazingly computer literate for a man his age. But then Jonathan had always had surprising depth when there was the possibility of looking at scarcely clad women. She smiled slightly. She was looking forward to meeting her Great-grand-niece. She also knew that Jonathan had been over the moon at finding her. He’d called her the same day, to announce the fact. The happiness in his voice had been incredible. Only Jack’s when he called her, had been greater.

Charlie’s death had nearly broken her great nephew. To find out he had another child, no matter how much of her life he had missed, had at least allowed him to repair some of the damage.

“You do know that there are a horde of grandchildren and great-grandchildren out there who want to speak with you, don’t you?” Rick asked form the doorway in which he stood. He carried a single cane, as was his wont inside the house.

Evelyn looked up. “Hmm, yes. I will later. But I wanted to look at this first. The faster I can tell Jon if this will work, the better it is. If it doesn’t…” she shrugged helplessly. “The poor man has been separated from his soul for long enough that it may not matter then.”

Rick sighed. “Leave it to Jon to find you something to do on this day. Why doesn’t he translate it himself?”

“He is. But he acknowledges that his Rom is very rusty. I’m better at it than he is, and like I said, a man’s life and soul and his daughter’s happiness depend on it,” Evy scowled at a word and sighed. “I wish I knew someone who knows this language fluently,” she mournfully sharpened her pencil and returned to her work.

Rick, knowing this mood, left, a smile on his face.

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Hogwarts,  later that same morning

“Horcruxes,” Simon stated bleakly. “Yes. I know what they are. And how they are made, and how they may be destroyed. And possibly how they may be detected.”

Dumbledore leaned back into his soft chair. “Well, that at least is good news. It seems you were right, Severus,” he beamed at the Potions Master who scowled and then glared at his brother. “There seems to be more than horror about the mere fact to your reaction, brother.”

Simon nodded sadly. “You will understand, later. Yes, you will understand.”

Severus looked at Lucius who looked as confused as a consummate Slytherin could. “Very well, later then.”

*****

“They’re waiting for you,” Joyce told Simon with a smirk. “Some more happily than others, but they’re all there.”

Simon gave her a pleading look. “Do I have to? Did you see what they were like yesterday during Severus’ class?”

“Indeed I did. Severus commented on the hand waving being a family thing with some horror. They even infected Buffy,” Joyce teased.

Simon sighed. “Maybe I should have made it just for family.”

“And have Albus wander around like a kicked puppy all day long? Not to mention the wailing of his bunny slippers?” Joyce shook her head. “I don’t think I could bear that.”

“Remind me to have a word with Filius about those Bunny Slippers,” Simon said wryly.

“Molly thinks it was her Twins who did that. And that Albus enjoys them too much to remove the Charms. Or take off the slippers,” Joyce grinned.

“The man is just begging for justifiable homicide by a fashion expert. Ah well,” Simon adjusted his robes. “Into the Lion’s den.”

“I’m fairly sure Willow, Rowan and Dawn would be Ravenclaw and Xander would be Hufflepuff and I’m not entirely sure yet of Kit and Kendra, but very well,” Joyce kissed his cheek. “See you in class, teacher.” 

“There may be a test,” Simon warned.

Joyce grinned over her shoulder. “Ah, but I’ve got better things than apples to please the teacher…” and sashayed out of the room.

*****

The room that had been chosen was the History of Magic classroom. Since it had been used for centuries to instruct ‘The Scions of British Wizardry’, as Willow referred to them in a plummy British accent, in the History, it was appropriate to the purpose. And it was full of chairs and desks and tables and eager and less eager family members, friends and relations.

Skulking at the back of the room in a corner, Xander and Buffy looked decidedly unhappy as they were toying with pens and shooting tiny balls of paper at each other. Buffy was winning of course.

Right up front, faces eager, were Iphigenia and Hermione, Kit and Dawn. Draco was slouched in a desk next to them. Behind them, faces lit up with anticipation, were Willow and Rowan. Kendra was sitting next to the redheaded twins, wearing clothes as close as possibly matching her school uniform and primly upright with her pen and paper at the ready.

Completely at the back was a collection of adults, including Clarice, Severus, Norman, Kyle and Danielle. In the benches beside them sat most of the staff of Hogwarts. Joyce sat down beside Clarice.

The door flew open and banged against the wall, startling those in the room and a figure clad all in white, gleaming in the light that filtered through the high, dirty windows strode in. “I will teach you about the history of magic, as seen by one of the most ancient families and lineages known to man. A family whose history spans twenty-five centuries, fratricide, patricide, regicide and plain murder. Rapes and affairs and mutilations, hatred and love beyond compare. The greatest villains and the greatest heroes, mighty Wizards and powerless victims. Twenty-five centuries of majesty, rulership, power. Twenty-five centuries of service to Death.”

Hermione sighed, looking over her shoulder at Snape, who glared. Danielle was stifling a laugh.

Simon leaned against the desk. “The family history begins with a man called Askenios and his wife Kleisthea. They had three sons and four daughters.”

Lucius stirred and frowned. Simon continued. “The daughters were called Helena, Adrasteia, Baukis and Chrysante.”

 “The youngest son was called Simonides who was born in 698 BCE. He became a True Wizard and from him we are descended. His older, Twin brother was called Alexandros, called the Great, sometimes called the Legendary, who negotiated a treaty that signaled the end between non-aggressive demons and magical beings and humanity. We think that was in 663 BCE.”

Simon smiled. “Alexandros though not a wizard, was revered. Simonides… It took some time for people to appreciate him.”

Hermione huffed slightly as she realized that there was going to be no expounding on the females of the House who apparently had performed no great deeds.

Simon looked at the floor. “The eldest son was born Alcmenides. He was later renamed Herpetios, due to his ability to speak with snakes. He was considered too unstable to become a Wizard. And in his anger he became Dark. One of the Darkest Adepts in all of history, and one of he most powerful. To many of you he might be better known as Herpo the Foul.”

In the back of the room silence ruled. Severus was even paler than usual. Lucius was swallowing convulsively and Dumbledore was stroking his beard thoughtfully, his normally twinkling eyes dark.

“He slew his parents and sisters and their whole families to extend his life, and his brother Alexandros until finally he was defeated by his youngest brother, many centuries later.”

Hermione’s pencil snapped between her fingers. Iphigenia clasped her arm in reassurance. Simon smiled at her sadly. “If you want to read about the sisters, we have some of Simonides’ journals on their families. Nieces, nephews… And how he found them.”   

Hermione shivered. “No, thank you,” she whispered.

“That was before he became a full Wizard. Every Wizard had to pass a test, perform a great task. Simonides’ was allowed to try at the very young age of forty. And apparently managed to FUBAR that beyond belief and the Elder Council wanted his head.”

James snorted.

“What, pray, is so funny?” Lucius asked him. “Lord Simonides was hunted like a criminal!”

“FUBAR, it’s a saying in the Armed forces. It means Fucked up beyond all recognition. I find the notion of Simon’s ancestor screwing up that badly vastly amusing.”

Lucius choked. “WHAT?”

Simon smirked. “He was quite good at running because they never caught him.  He spent about seventy years as a sort of freelance wizard, closing portals with all of the training but not the title. Apparently he also spent a lot of time ‘fraternizing’ with lots of natives.”

Joyce cleared her throat when Xander raised a hand, no doubt wanting details. He lowered it hurriedly.

“He married a young woman, an adept called Yasamine, in Persia. She’s our ancestress. They were together for about thirty years until she was killed in battle with a Shaszat.”    

“Simonides spent that time raising his family, making his living by running an Inn, like his father and Alexandros had done. A few years later Simonides ran into Death. For some reason Death named Simonides his Vicar, a position that had been empty for well over a millennium. This was so surprising that the Elders decided to give him a chance to show what he could do.”

Hermione waved her hand in the air. Simon gave Severus a look, then nodded at the girl. “Yes, Hermione?”

“Do you know what his task was? His test of Wizardry?” Hermione asked, pen poised. Willow leaned forward.

Simon nodded. “Yes, but that is a secret that only the head of the lineage is allowed to know.”

Hermione ‘hmphed’ and then blushed and murmured a quick ‘Sorry, sir.’

Simon smiled and sat back against the desk. “No one knows how long Wizards could live but most chose to die at around the age of three hundred. There never were more than a hundred and fifty Wizards, sufficient to deal with the problems of the Gates and whatever attempts at causing trouble might be made. Around the year seventy-five Herpetios began an organization to try and wrest control of the various gates and portals the Wizards guarded. He gathered up many others who were disappointed in their desire to become Wizards. They waited. And Watched.”

Buffy gasped. Simon looked at the floor, crossing his arms. “He also infiltrated an older organization, the Council of Amaletu, and made them part of his attempt to conquer the world. When he felt ready, he struck. Two thirds of all the Wizards were killed in the first days.”

Simon looked up at the ceiling. “You have to understand that there was a very careful balance between what might be called Good and Evil, Chaos and Order. It took a considerable amount of raw power and talent and a certain way of thinking to become a Wizard. The combination was quite rare, apparently,” Simon looked the large globe that stood dusty and forgotten in a corner and touched it. Even the slight touch made it light up, as if eager to serve. Tibby flashed into the room and with a wave of a plumeau cleared it of dust, rolling it into the front of the room, and then bowed deeply to Simon.

“Does Master Lord Simon require anything elses?” the little elf almost quivered in his desire to serve.

Simon froze, then shook his head. “No, thank you… Tibby. You may go. I will call should I need your services.”

Tibby bowed again, his ears sweeping the floor. “Tibby lives to serve Master Lord Simon! Yes, Tibby does!” and apparated out with a soft ‘pop’.

The focus users looked at Simon thoughtfully. Dumbledore chuckled. “Well, that explains why Tibby asked to serve Severus. I assume you will be taking Tibby with you-”

“NO!” Simon shouted, closing his eyes as if in pain. “No, I will not. Moving on.  The distance a wizard could teleport unassisted and still be effective in battle was used to calculate the minimum number required to hold the gates,” he continued as if nothing had happened. “With the attack by Herpetios their numbers fell below the necessary critical numbers. Gates were breached, portals created, demons came through. More Wizards fell in battle against evil beings.”

Clarice looked at Joyce to see if she knew why Simon’s reaction had been so vehement, but she looked as confused as everyone else.

“Despite their losses the Wizards did strike back. The War of the Wizards, it’s called. Herpetios’ forces were decimated, but not destroyed. Over the next few centuries they kept striking at solitary Wizards, usually just after the Wizards had fought a dangerous battle, closing a portal or gate, gates Herpetios and his followers opened. They killed Wizards until eventually, there was only one left. One, single, solitary, very old and tired Wizard.”

“Simonides,” Willow whispered.

“Simonides,” Simon confirmed.

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Jeton House Park, 31st of December 1995

Amelia Bones Apparated to the outskirts of Jeton House, the Minister of Magic’s country house. Though most Ministers used their own estates during holidays, Fudge loved the ancient Norman house with its small windows and huge hearths. He loved its nooks and crannies and huge beams. It was as old as Hogwarts, possibly even older. The vast cellars at any rate were actually Roman in construction, and a room below the basement level was held up by delicately fluted Ionian columns. Cornelius liked to point out that they showed the great age and vast superiority of Wizarding over Muggle culture.

Amelia walked along the snow-covered path to the gates which obediently swung open. All senior Ministry officials were keyed into the gates and Floos of Jeton, in case of emergency. Deep in thought Amelia turned onto the swept drive up to the great terrace and main doors. So deep in thought she was too late to prevent the attack.

“GET HER!” the voice of Fudge shouted! “NO MERCY!”

End note:

The Northern Stepping Stone route was used by the Vikings to reach Greenland and the North-American coast.

A jeton is a counter used in calculation on a counting table or exchequer. Therefore Jeton House has the same root meaning as Chequers, the British Prime Minister’s country estate, much like the USCamp David.
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