Ladies and Manly pursuits
Author’s Note: This is the direct sequel to Luna Lovegood and the Dark Portrait Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter or Buffy the Vampire Slayer, J.K. Rowling and Joss Whedon do. Thanks very much to my Betas , Letomo and EllandrahSylver, but all mistakes are still mine. 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. And you can thank Twilightwanderer for the Abbott and Costello. Speech:
“Who’s on first.” Thought:
*What’s on second.
#I-don’t-know’s on third.# My thanks to winddancer for the recommendation. A day late but you got Forever is too long instead… 13 Of Ladies and Manly pursuits
Nymphadora Tonks stood next to her mother and gazed at the huge, walled park that lay around Malfoy Manor. Or at least around this Malfoy Manor. Her Aunt had married some serious money. The Malfoy Family’s Wiltshire estate was set in magnificently landscaped grounds, with well trimmed hedges and plenty of topiary to go around as well.
“Mum? Do I really have to?”
“Yes. You do. Your aunt has very kindly offered to teach you the things that I neglected. We would be foolish to refuse her.”
“But Mum, they're blood purists!” Tonks hissed.
“I think that might not be as bad as people think it is, dear. Now let's go and ring the bell.”
The great doors of Malfoy Manor did not make Tonks feel any better. The long tree lined drive way had been bad, but the great doors atop the wide stone steps frightened her. The door was opened before they could ring or knock. A small, young house elf stood there, dressed in a clean white pillow case embroidered with green silk. It bowed.
“Isses Miss Nymphadora and Lady Andromeda?” It intoned in a rather high and nervous voice. “Lady Malfoy is being in kitchen.”
Andromeda winced. “Oh dear. You poor things.” She patted the house elf comfortingly on the shoulder as it led them through the house. “What's your name?”
“I is Upty, Lady Andromeda.”
“Upty?” Andromeda's voice was resigned. “When did Lady Malfoy start cooking?”
“Mistress started this morning. Mistress is being lonely, Master Malfoy is being absent at Wizengamot.”
“Ah, of course he would be. Is this the kitchen?”
“Yes, Lady Andromeda.” Upty winced as a rattling crash shook the thick oak door of the Malfoy Kitchen.
“I'll deal with this.” Andromeda took a deep breath and opened the door, striding in. Her younger sister was cooking up a storm. Literally. Flashes of lightning sparked and a thick black cloud hung over the stove. In the middle was Narcissa, covered in what looked like Apricot jam, bits of dough and flour. She was waving her wand and muttering dire imprecations at the stove and oven.
Andromeda sighed. “Cissy, really. I thought you'd have given up on this.”
Narcissa wheeled around, regally, her stained robes swirling around her. “Ah, Andromeda. Good, you're just in time for tea.”
Andromeda smiled. “Well, as long as you aren't responsible for anything but the actual beverage...”
Narcissa winked slightly. “That will be agreeable. Nymphy, come in here.”
Tonks entered, scowling. “My name is Tonks.”
“Yes. No doubt.” Narcissa looked her niece up and down and then smiled. “Well, we'll begin with some simple exercises to teach you how to be a lady. Walking for one.” She gracefully led them out of the kitchen.
Tonks bit her lip. “Mum? She's covered in jam and flour. Why isn't she embarrassed?”
“Because she is Lady Malfoy, born Lady Narcissa Black. Nothing she does will possibly embarrass her,” Andromeda answered quietly, her fond gaze on her sister's straight shoulders.
Lucius Malfoy idly walked the fields around Ottery St. Catchpole, swinging his cane and enjoying the walk as his warming and drying charms kept out the sleeting rain. The balding redheaded man at his side sneezed.
“I still do not understand how you can enjoy this!” Arthur Weasley objected. “It’s ruddy cold!”
Lucius eyed the threadbare, barely charmed robes his companion wore, and his unlined boots, and made no remark. Arthur was far too proud to accept a gift, and certainly not from him. But there were rates and regulations and other ways in which the meagre Weasley finances could be increased. Instead of saying anything like that he smirked. “It’s the red hair, Weasley. You feel cold and pain more than us normals
Arthur glared at him. *Smug bastard.*
“So, what did you want to talk about?”
Lucius looked back at Rook House, towering against the skyline on its solitary hill. “Primarily I wanted to get away from the ladies discussing the lesson plan and how they were scarred for life by Silvanus Kettleburn.”
This time it was Arthur’s turn to smirk. “And you weren’t? I seem to recall being told of an incident with a Flobberworm…”
Lucius grimaced. “Very funny, Weasley. Graft and corruption.”
Arthur stiffened. “What?” He bristled. “I am not going to be one of your-”
Lucius raised a hand. “Not what I meant, Weasley. You know what the primary problem with the Ministry is, Weasley? Everything is for sale.”
think that is a problem?” Arthur asked, astounded.
“Yes, I do. Weasley, do you think I enjoy paying through the nose to maintain my wards? Or when I want to extend them? Or for every transaction between my Mu- Normal holdings and my magical ones? I pay bribes on everything, not just the political goals I wish to achieve,” Lucius scowled. “Things have gotten worse under Fudge, he is blind to even the most arrant stupidity and cupidity in his underlings as long as he gets his cut. The old days were better.”
“And I suppose you want to return to the old days?” Arthur asked sharply.
“Not really. The Client system was simple, but would be impractical in the current day and age. No, what we need is a more representative system of government and a smaller and better paid bureaucracy. How many of the functions in the Ministry are sinecures, Weasley? The Wizengamot was reformed after the Goblin Rebellion of 1612 and since then there has been no political change. My father never managed to get his reforms through – too many younger sons depend on a job with the Ministry for their livelihoods.”
Arthur’s mind cast back to something Lucius had said before. “Wait, you have holdings in the normal
Lucius sighed. “Weasley, do you really think I could maintain my standard of living by merely managing estates and selling lettuce to wizards?”
Arthur nodded thoughtfully. “True.”
“Too many people in our world depend on the Ministry for employment. Our government can't tie its shoelaces but has extensive regulations on the size and colour of aglets. Our economy is stagnant, the only outside funds that come in are those brought in by cross border traders like myself and by the parents of normal-born wizards and witches. Trade with the other Warding communities is near stagnant, our biggest imports are Dragon products from Romania, and our biggest exports are potions, brooms and wands. Albania, France, Germany, Hungary, all of the magical communities are in economic decline or stagnant. We need the money the Normals bring in to function at a bare minimum. We need more of it, if we ever want to flourish again.”
Arthur gaped at his companion. “Wait, you are preaching that we should have more to do with Normals?”
“It's essential for our continued existence, Weasley. We need the money, even if we do not want the cultural baggage they carry.”
Arthur nodded, thoughtfully. “Yes, true. I've read some rather worrying reports. We can barely manage to feed our own, but the prices of foodstuffs can't be raised because that would mean the average wizard would spend too much of his income on food and have too little left for consumer goods.”
“Consumer goods? What in Merlin's name are those?”
“Everything not food, I think. At any rate, if we need to spend more on food, we can't spend it buying broomsticks, or potions.”
“Yes. And that means that food prices are artificially low and that no-one wants to farm because there's no money in it.”
“Wonderful. And your solution is closer bonds with the Normal world?”
“We need the diversification, Weasley. Our industries are broom manufacture and potions, with a few wizard wirelesses and such thrown in. We have a few tailors and magical fabric weavers, but we get most of our standard cloth from the Mu- Normals. We can’t go on like this.” Lucius replied seriously.
Arthur’s eyes narrowed. “That was your father’s plan wasn’t it? To take over their industries?”
Lucius sighed. “Weasley, how many people own Magical Menagerie? Or Madam Malkin’s? Or Olivander’s?”
“And how many own Nimbus? Or one of the other broom manufacturers?”
“Two, or several, usually one director…oh…” Arthur nodded. “Stocks. Your father wasn’t talking about stealing, he was talking about buying.”
“He was and he did. It’s the main reason we are still so rich. The Blacks were always too hidebound, so tied up in blood purity they wouldn't even rent any of their properties to Mugg- Normals so they sat useless and just cost money. They have landed properties, but barely any income. Nymphadora will hardly inherit anything, even if Sirius Black reinstated her mother as a member of the family. It’s also why the Prewetts are so poor.” Lucius looked somewhat apologetic.
Arthur nodded again. “I understand. But what I do not
understand is why you don’t think the same way about blood.”
Lucius sighed. Then he stopped and rolled up his sleeve. The dark mark stood out starkly against his white skin. Arthur Weasley goggled at it, and then at the man in front of him.
“Don’t look so surprised, you were at my trial. What does this mean, Weasley?”
“It means you are loyal to You-Know-who.” Arthur ground out.
“No. It’s a physical representation of an allegiance, to serve him, a warning system. It’s in some ways similar to the swastika used by the Mug- Normals who served Hitler, or the Hallows of Grendelwald. Yet it has no real meaning.”
“WHAT!?” Arthur purpled with rage.
“We swore no oaths.” Lucius state calmly in the face of Weasley’s anger.
Arthur calmed down slightly. “Oh. I see.”
do. If I told that to Theodore Tonks, or the Grangers, they wouldn’t. They would merely see what this symbol stands for, and not realize what it doesn’t mean.”
Arthur blinked. Then his eyes went wide. “The old ways…”
“Yes. I’ve read Lovegood’s books, he’s right. I don’t give a full gazunder for Blood. We need the influx of new bloodlines. What we need to do is find a balance. We need to make them realize that not everything they think is old fashioned and ridiculous is. We need to realize that there are better ways of dealing with crap than gazunders. Things, humanity, have progressed a great deal since the Statute was confirmed, we’ve been cut off from them too long, but we need the old ways. The old ways of magic are there for a reason.”
Arthur Weasley smiled. “I never took you for a philosopher, Malfoy.”
Lucius smirked. “We learn something new every day, Weasley.
Molly Weasley exchanged looks with Jean Granger and Andromeda Black. Then they looked at the hopeful face of Narcissa Malfoy, and then at the misshapen lump of black, burnt pastry that Narcissa had brought to eat while they thrashed out the rest of the curriculum. It was Andromeda who finally caved in and started to giggle. “I’m sorry Cissy, but you’re still a lousy cook.”
Narcissa’s shoulders slumped. “Lucius likes it,” she whispered defensively.
“I doubt that dear, but I think he loves you very much,” Molly said kindly. She smiled. “But that just means that we can teach you. Ladies, why don’t we take this to the kitchen and then we can discuss the curriculum while we teach Narcissa how to cook.”
Lucius Malfoy raised an elegant eyebrow at the garage filled to overflowing with Muggle artefacts. “What exactly is all this, Weasley?” He sneered.
“Things that the Normals use in everyday life. Most of it… well if I’m honest I don’t know how half of it works,” Arthur admitted sheepishly.
Lucius nodded. “I see. And why are you showing me this?” He prodded a pile of strange threaded items, with a lump at either end. “These look like bolts, but the threads are far finer than any I thought the Mu- Normals could make… Hmmmm…”
“You told me yourself that they've been advancing. I just wanted your opinion.”
Lucius tapped his chin with his cane. “Well, who do you know who travels into the Normal world on a regular basis? Who could fill us in?”
“Xeno, he travels a lot and he uses a lot of Normal mathematics for his work. I don’t exactly know what he means but the told me that magic and science were finally starting to blend.” Arthur pushed against a wavering pillar of magazines. The top one fell off and Lucius picked it up, his eyebrow lifting even further.
“Why Weasley… you sly dog.”
Arthur looked over at Lucius absentmindedly and then flushed as he saw what the other man was flipping through. “That’s not mine!”
Lucius laughed. “I realised that almost immediately. Not really your style. And since I do have a growing son myself…” then he blinked. And then he started to grin. He held out the magazine and pointed at a line of words. Arthur, ignoring the picture content of the page, read it. And his mouth started to quirk. He met Malfoy’s eyes, and then he started to laugh, as did the younger man.
After a few minutes they wiped their eyes to get rid of their tears of mirth. “Do you think we ought to tell him?” Lucius asked, hiccupping slightly with laughter.
“No. We’ll let him find out for himself,” Arthur said with a chuckle. “I can’t wait to read of how Xeno finally got his hands on a pair of Humongous Gazongas.”
Narcissa Malfoy did not look at all intimidating while wearing an apron and a good dose of flour on her face. Nevertheless she still looked serene and ladylike and Nymphadora Tonks, sipping her tea while looking at the toes of her clunky boots, turned inwards, wondered if she would ever be as elegant as her aunt. Even covered in jam Narcissa had looked good. Tonks would never look good.
But Aunt Cissa seemed oddly intent on making her think otherwise. And yes, she was strict in her teaching, but she also shared memories of her own youthful misadventures. It was strange to realize this magnificently regal being had once been young and a bit clumsy.
“Sit up straight, Nymphy,” Narcissa said from where she was trying to roll pastry under Molly Weasley’s eagle eye.
“Aunt Cissa! Please don’t call me that!” Tonks whined.
Narcissa turned towards her niece, her blue eyes glacial. Tonks froze in her seat.
“Sit up straight, chest forward, cross your legs, like I showed you. Do not sit like a loutish boy.”
Nypmhadora Tonks had faced some nasty creatures and a few complete drunks in her Auror training. She’d faced Mad Eye Moody and her mother when she was in a temper. She’d visited Azkaban, been in a room with Dementors and had looked through a grille to see her other aunt, Bellatrix, raging in her chains. All that had been frightening. But nothing in the world, nothing at all, in Tonks’ considered and well informed opinion, was quite as scary as Aunt Cissa. She straightened in her seat instantly, the parade position Aunt Cissa had taught her, and made her assume, book on head, for an hour each day. She blinked up at her aunt; her face worried and was surprised to see a gentle smile.
“Well, finally we get to see how pretty you are. No, not pretty. Beautiful,” Narcissa said in a voice to match her smile.
“Huh?” Tonks managed in her surprise.
Narcissa laughed. “Molly, can we have a mirror?”
Molly gestured in the air and muttered a word and the air became reflective in front of Tonks. It was a simple spell, one that most girls learned to help them maintain their makeup. Tonks gasped. “How do you make it do that? Show you prettier than you are?”
Molly looked at Andromeda who bit her lip. Narcissa sighed. “It can't dear, it’s a mirror. What you are seeing, is what you look like. Really look like. Without all the fear and uncertainty. And with a judicious dose of Calming potion in your tea.”
“What? How? I never saw you do it, or tasted it either!” Tonks felt herself strangely detached from her anxiety, her fear. Her aunt had slipped her a potion and she hadn't noticed. Moody was going to be very upset.
“Family secret dear. We’ll teach you once you're a bit older,” Andromeda said calmly.
Tonks looked at the image in the mirror, her hair a lustrous chestnut brown and her skin was clear and white over her high cheekbones. Her eyes were deep brown and her brows straight and full. Her pink lips were full and a trifle plump and her chin... she wasn't beautiful, but she did look a lot different from what she usually did. “What happened? How?”
“It's a fairly common affliction for Metamorphmagi. You have been influenced by the images others have of you. So you projected that image, even among us, where you feel safe and comfortable.”
“But I’ve always wanted to be pretty and well, look like this!” Tonks protested.
“Ah, but did you really want to be the wet dream of every young man, and many old ones?” Molly asked kindly.
“Molly!” Narcissa and Andromeda chorused, shocked.
“Six sons, ladies. There is very little that will shock me,” Molly turned back to Tonks, who was blushing so hard she might be used to roast marshmallows over. “You're a very pretty young lady indeed, Nymphadora. And once your Aunt and I have trained you in the ways of being a lady, any number of suitable young men will try and knock down your parents' door.”
“And be bludgeoned by your father if they get too fresh. Or your Uncle Lucius.” Narcissa raised an eyebrow. “Where are our darling husbands anyway?”
“Weasley would you care to explain why we are in the middle of the Forbidden Forest?” Lucius asked mildly, swinging his cane.
“We're err... Hunting.”
“Hunting. In the Forbidden Forest. There are a great many rather dangerous things here that would love to hunt us, Weasley. And despite the fact that we are three grown and highly trained wizards, I have no desire of being the victim of a stampeding herd of Centaurs. And since we are trespassing, I doubt that we could prosecute them for reckless endangerment,” Lucius stated mildly.
“Yes, well, err... “
“Not to mention that Lovegood seems to have a great deal of trouble keeping his attention to the matter at hand. What are you doing, Lovegood?”
“Hmm? What's that? Oh, I was wondering if the reports might be wrong and there might be some Humongous Gazongas around here somewhere... I'd love to get my hands on them...” Xeno looked wistful. “Such a coup it would be...”
Arthur bit back laughter. Lucius cleared his throat. “Quite. I think however, that unless we want to run into Centaurs or Acromantula or any other unpleasant resident of this place we really ought to get a move on.” Malfoy looked around with a distasteful expression. “A little too much nature around here for my liking. What are we hunting for?”
“My errr... Car.”
Lucius turned towards the older man as Lovegood turned over a large rock with a well executed 'Flippendo'. “Your car. Your enchanted Muggle vehicle? Your highly illegal, possibly intelligent, Muggle vehicle?”
”Yes,” Arthur said defiantly. “It's been out here for more than a year and it probably needs care and attention.”
“Care and attention. I see. So you want three highly respected wizards to traipse through one of Britain's most protected areas to look for one of your experiments gone wrong?”
“Yes. Err... Sorry, I didn't think of it that way, I just assumed you wanted to get away from the ladies while they were cooking. We can go to the Three Broomsticks if you prefer.”
Lucius raised an eyebrow. “Merlin, no. I can't wait to see what scrapes Lovegood gets into.” He gestured at the third member of their party, who had scaled a tree and was currently dangling upside down, showing his striped socks and a regrettable amount of orange underwear.
Arthur grinned. “And it's just illegal enough to be fun and not illegal enough to actually get us in a lot of trouble.”
Lucius grinned back, a singularly boyish grin. “There's a bush near the edge, with roses growing on it...”
Arthur blinked. “I thought only Gryffindors knew about that?”
“Really, Weasley... do you honestly think that only Gryffindor ladies get hot and bothered about stupid teenage heroics?”
Arthur grinned back. “I need one for Molly too.”
“I say! I can see Hogwarts from here!” Xeno called from his tree.
The other two men smiled. “Really? Can you see a blue Ford Anglia?” Arthur asked eagerly.
Molly Weasley sniffed the deep red rose and smiled a little. Narcissa Malfoy was blissfully doing the same thing. Outside, covered in mud and sludge, Lucius Malfoy was using a magical cable to hold the rearing Ford Anglia. Arthur Weasley was behind the wheel trying to soothe the feral family car. Xeno Lovegood was studying a type of mobile fungus he had placed on the garden table.
Andromeda Tonks exchanged looks with her daughter. Nymphadora was looking at the three men with shining eyes. “Wow. They just went into the Forbidden Forest and caught that car. I’m sure I can see Acromantula Ichor on Uncle Lucius’ robes.”
Andromeda sighed. So did Narcissa, but the latter’s eyes were fastened on her husband’s shoulders as the muscles played under his robes.
“No boy ever went and picked me a Forbidden Rose. Did Dad pick you one, Mum?” Tonks asked wistfully as her aunt walked up to her uncle, sniffing her rose and looking oddly un-Narcissa like at that moment.
“Yes. He also spent three days in the infirmary, my father hexed him and Sirius set his trousers on fire. I think the last was just a prank though,” She gave her daughter a glance and sighed. “On the whole it’s an overrated experience.”
“You’re just saying that to make me feel better.”
Andromeda sighed. “Yes. Sorry, sweetie.”
“It’s the one you keep in your bureau, isn’t it? The dried one?”
“Do you think someday someone will bring me a Forbidden Rose?” Tonks asked despondently.
“I’m certain of it, sweetie. I’m certain of it.”
LLSDLLSDLLSDLLSDLLSDLLSDLLSDLLSDLLSDLLSDLLSDLLSDLLSDLLSDLLSDLLSD December 16th. Early morning
Xenophilius Lovegood made his way to the small Wizarding cemetery of Ottery St. Catchpole, like he did every sixteenth of every month. At the cemetery gate he paused a moment and looked at the evergreen trees that stood around it, led up to it. He remembered a day when he had walked between them, looking at the casket, his hand on Luna’s shoulder. He opened the gate and walked slowly through the cemetery, the paths wet and squelching under his feet. When Luna was still home, before she went to school, they had done this together. One day, when she was done with school, it was quite likely they would again. But for now, it was Xenophilius Lovegood and Soleil D’Albane, a scatterbrained Arithmancer and the heir to the throne of magical Albania.
If Albania had a throne, they would never have met. If the D’Albane had still had money, they would never have married. Even during Soleil’s lifetime they’d had to sell several of the old properties, one in Germany, one in France. Soleil’s research and his writing and publishing brought in quite enough to live on, but not nearly enough to pay off the massive debts of House D’Albane, a House that had tried to live up to its name and status for generations until Soleil’s mother had finally decided they would never be kings again and had downgraded their establishment. It had been too late. Only some heirlooms remained of the legendary wealth of House D’Albane, heirlooms that were whispered of with awe by scholars and that held a place in history and legend. Each was worth a king’s ransom, and each was as much D’Albane as Soleil had been, as Luna was. Xeno would kill himself and sell the bits before touching any of the heirlooms of Luna’s house.
He came to the simple white marble gravestone. He knelt by it, ignoring the mud and the cold. He carefully removed the few leaves that had blown onto the grave. He reached into the enchanted pocket of his robe and removed the Forbidden Rose he'd picked when they caught the Ford Anglia, laying it gently on the grass that covered the cold, hard earth.
He heard the crunch of someone trying to be silent and looked up. Arthur or Molly tended to come by on this day, to make certain he did not stay out all night. He could tell them he’d only been here minutes and they would leave for a few hours, before coming down again and dragging him off to the Burrow and getting him warm again. He remembered how Soleil had clung to Molly Weasley’s hand when she was giving birth to Luna; how she had insisted nothing could go wrong with such a mother there. He looked up to greet them. The wand fired. Sighing softly, Xenophilius Lovegood collapsed on his wife’s grave.