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.# If you like the chapter or the story, please review. 18 Burrowing
Ron Weasley growled as he glared at the reporter standing near the gate that opened onto the lane that led to The Burrow. The man couldn’t see him, hidden as Ron was in the bushes. The last few days had been a lesson for Ron. Luna had barely been able to set a foot outside the house, so thick had the questions from reporters flown, so close had they hovered around her. And she didn’t want them there. The tears were proof of that. The sobs into her pillow at night... the crying into his – their – Mum’s shoulder. Ron Weasley had always thought it would be great to be at the centre of attention.
But now he saw how Luna wilted under the onslaught of people who saw her as nothing more than a source of news, a way to make money, a method to advance themselves. And Ron hated them. His father and professor Flitwick had been casting spells for a day and now there were wards and repellent charms all around the House and grounds, and finally Luna could leave the house. Ron stomped back to the Burrow, still fuming, wishing he could hex the reporter.
“Seen the light, have you Ron?” Arthur’s voice came out of a snow-covered bramble bush and the man himself followed immediately after.
“Light?” Ron asked, bemused.
“That being famous, being the one people want to know about, is not all that great?” Arthur asked, gently.
Ron froze. Then his shoulders sagged. “Merlin buggering Maeve.”
Arthur almost choked. “Ron! Don’t let your mother hear you or you will be tasting soap for a week! Where did you learn language like that?”
Ron smiled, a trifle bitterly. “I spent time with a Dragon wrangler. And many, many victims of the Twins.”
Arthur nodded. “Ah. That means that Charlie will have to curb his tongue.”
Ron smiled, this time a real one. “He will, yeah. He said that
when he spilled some tea. So…”
Arthur winced. “He’s bound to slip up.”
Ron looked at his feet. “I’ve been a right prat, haven’t I?”
Arthur put an arm around his youngest son. “No, I think you’ve been rather lonely. And the youngest son in a family of six brothers all of whom have strong personalities and good skills. No, Ron, you’re guilty of being young, and of desiring attention and only marginally of being a prat.”
Ron smiled wanly. “So I’m not even good enough to be a right prat?”
Arthur shook his head. “Ron, you want to be famous, but now you’ve seen how the famous are treated. Why not try and go for worthwhile?”
Ron tilted his head, looking up at his father, noting that the difference in height between them was lessening. “Worthwhile?”
“Yes. I know you probably don’t agree, but I think we’ve got a pretty good life. Family, love, each other. Maybe not as much money as we’d like, but enough to get by. Now we do have more money, but are things really that much different?”
Ron shook his head. “Well, you’re mates with Malfoy and Mrs. Malfoy keeps flooing Mum and I’ve got a new brother and sister and there’s half a dozen new rooms being built…”
Arthur chortled. “Ah, yes. Good points. But besides that…”
“What have the Romans ever done for us,” Ron muttered.
“What?” Arthur asked, confused.
Ron flushed. “Sorry, something Dean, Seamus and Hermione keep on about. I don't get it either.”
Arthur grinned. “Are you still jealous of Harry?”
Ron looked at the ground. “Some things. The way he flies, that he has money. But he wants to share the money and I fly well, too, just in a different way. Mum says he flies like a Seeker and I do like a Keeper. That I need to bulk up, ‘cause big men are better as keepers.”
Arthur shook his head. “Quidditch mad,” he laughed. “But then, so am I. Which reminds me, a number of your teachers will be here on Boxing Day to play against the Weasley family…”
Ron perked up. “Hey, cool. So we need to practice?”
“Indeed we do,” Arthur affirmed.
They walked to the improvised Quidditch pitch on the side pasture and after a bit of silence Ron spoke. “Dad? Do I have to be friends with Draco Malfoy?”
Arthur laughed. “Only if you want to, son. But like I found out about Lucius, he might not be as bad as you think.”
Christmas Eve was quiet in Hogwarts. Only a handful of students remained at the school, and a few teachers. One of those few, Minerva McGonagall sat by the bed of Sybill Trelawney as the younger woman shivered and tossed under the white sheets and duvet, in the stark white room without a single decoration or personal touch. Minerva had never been in Sybill’s rooms before and the difference between her classroom and quarters was startling and worrying.
“And the Vicar of Death will come on swift wings, and he shall punish the evildoers.”
Minerva sighed and she tapped the glass globe that absorbed the spoken words, turning black. The door opened and Hagrid’s huge form silently entered the room, using the same stealth Minerva had seen him use to prevent startling wild animals.
“ ‘Ow is she, Professor?”
“Again, call me Minerva, Rubeus, you’ll be a professor yourself soon. And not well,” Minerva shuddered sympathetically as Sybill gasped out a terrified sob and then reached out to soothe her.
“She drinks to stop the visions. But sometimes they get through, especially since she’s getting more and more accustomed to the alcohol,” Severus Snape had come in behind Hagrid. He looked at the woman on the bed pensively.
“And the Heir to Osiris will wield the Sceptre, and the Stealers of Souls will flee the Heir’s Wrath,” Sybill grated out.
Minerva caught the prophecy with her wand. “She’s been doing about one a minute for the past twenty. Before that it was visions and dreams,” she gestured at the bonds that prevented Sybill from reaching her eyes and the scratches on the Seer’s face that showed what had happened before they had restrained her. Minerva shuddered. “And here I always tell people that Divination is waffle and nonsense.”
Severus snorted. “And Sybill agrees. Teaching Divination without the underlying talent is useless. No more than one in a hundred has it, so that makes the skills she teaches no more useful to most wizards than teaching the words and wand movements of ‘Wingardium Leviosa’ to a Mug- Normal.” He glared at Minerva’s look, the one that had forced him to change his choice of words. He stepped up to the bed and put a hand on the woman’s heated forehead.
“We have to bind her core. No matter what Albus says, this is breaking her,” Severus concentrated and then winced. “I can feel her connection to the magic pulsing. Every vision she’s suppressed is trying to make itself known.”
Minerva shuddered again. “Albus told me to do it if her situation worsened. He was hoping it would earth itself. Binding her core might kill her in her condition, he thinks. Poppy agrees.”
Severus sighed. “We’ll need both of them here. She trusts Albus, heaven knows why.”
Minerva winced at the sentiment. “I’ll Floo them. Stay with Sybill,” she rose and went into the sitting room, as white and spare as the bedroom and Flooed her colleagues. Albus and Poppy stepped through as soon as she called them.
Albus immediately hurried to Sybill’s side. “I wish we didn’t have to do this. It may permanently inhibit her abilities.”
Severus stiffened. “And her abilities are so much more important than her health and happiness? After all, she’s only Ravenclaw, not a precious Gryffindor.”
Albus winced and sighed. “Severus, she’s a Seer, a true one. Her magic is intimately tied to her Spirit talent. And though I would personally welcome for Sybill to be able to repress her talent, I fear that doing so will also remove her magic. I doubt she wants that. She’s too much of a witch…” Albus looked up, his eyes widening, meeting Severus’ equally wide ones.
“Could it really be that simple?” Severus wondered.
Dumbledore shook himself. “We need her stable before we can try it. She’s in no shape to cast spells.”
Taking deep breath the Headmaster and the Matron set about binding Sybill’s core.
Harry sat among his family, basking in their warmth. He sat next to Mrs. Weasley who had an arm around Luna and her other one around Harry himself. Ginny was sitting between her father and Charlie. Percy was under the Christmas tree, an old, leather-bound and very worn copy of the Tales of Beedle the Bard
on his lap, Penelope leaning against him and he was reading in a deep, rather resonant voice, much different from his normal speaking voice.
Harry did not pay much attention to what the story was about, some girls travelling to a well or fountain and a knight as well. He knew the tale; Hermione had shown him the book in the common room one day and read him the story. He smiled as she remembered his friend’s voice – the soothing touch of her hand, her kindness. Then he stiffened.
“Harry, is something wrong?” Molly asked, worried and then sat up herself. “There’s something coming through the wards…”
Arthur shot out of his seat and threw a handful of Floo powder onto the fire shouting a word Harry did not understand and almost threw Harry through it, followed by Luna, Ginny and Ron. Then the Twins and Percy, Charlie and Bill and finally Molly and Arthur themselves, wands drawn.
Albus Dumbledore had been rather surprised at the influx of Weasleys into his office, but he recovered quickly. “What happened? I felt a tremor in the wards…”
Arthur snorted. “Kept a link to them, did you Albus?”
“As did Filius. And Silvanus, and Minerva, who I all expect to show up soon and…”
The door was thrown open and the Floo flamed green. Several figures hastened through the door, the first being Remus Lupin, looking tired and ill, the second Severus Snape, looking furious and ready to kill.
“It was Black!” The Potions Master spat, his eyes dark and full of hate. “I recognized his slimy magic on the wards as soon as he touched them!”
Dumbledore looked at Remus and raised a questioning eyebrow.
Remus winced and sighed. “True, I fear, Headmaster. It’s him.”
Molly shivered. “He was already past the third Ward! I never knew Black was so powerful, or so able.”
“He most certainly was never a kind-hearted little ball of fluff,” Snape sneered. “It never ceases to amaze me that people were surprised a bullying…” He paused and looked at the children. “Personage such as himself would betray even his best friends. He supposedly betrayed his family and heritage, but I
never noticed a change in the way he acted from the way his family did.”
Albus sighed. “Yes, Severus. We’re all aware of your opinion in this matter. And yes, we made a mistake in trusting him. But hope and trust and change have to start somewhere, my boy.”
Snape gave the old man a look. “I’ve asked you repeatedly not to call me that. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got better things to do than hang around here.” Dark robes billowing, Severus left through the Floo.
Harry looked at his retreating back in the green flames. “So where’s he going then?”
Albus shrugged. “I don’t know. In his current mood it may be anything.”
Severus Snape hurried out of the School, going as fast as he could. Black was no ordinary Death Eater. He’d betrayed the Order quite thoroughly and his friends even worse. Severus Snape gritted his teeth as he ran, his anger at Black's treachery still as white hot as the day he'd first heard of it. He reached the Apparition point and Disapparated at a full run, appearing in a wealthy suburban neighbourhood. He got his bearings and ran towards the house he wanted, up the well paved and swept path towards the front door and rang the door bell, his senses, magical and physical, extended to the utmost. The door opened and Hermione Granger blinked up at him.
“Miss Granger, we are leaving,” he ordered curtly.
“Professor Snape? What are you doing here?” Hermione asked, confused.
“Black went after Potter. He may decide to come after you. Tell your family we need to leave.”
There was a noise and Jean Granger appeared behind her daughter. “What? Is Harry alright? Molly?”
“They are all fine, but we cannot risk him coming here, finding you. Pack bags and bring what you need. But quickly!” Severus checked the wards he'd surreptitiously set once he heard Lockhart had escaped. “I need to check outside, I'll be back in ten minutes.” He left and the Granger women exchanged looks.
Hermione shrugged sheepishly. “Sorry, Mum.”
Jean shook her head. “Not your fault, honey. Let's go pack. What we'll tell your Aunt and Uncle I don't know...”
Iphigenia Granger stepped out into the hallway. “Was that Severus Snape
?” she asked in amazement.
Hermione blinked. “Err, yes?”
“Wow. How do you know him?” Iphigenia threw an inquisitive glance at her younger cousin.
“Err... He's one of my teachers.” Hermione mumbled.
Iphigenia gaped like a guppy. “Teachers? Doctor Snape is one of your teachers? You mean you’re a Focus user?” she managed to say.
“Focus user?” Hermione looked at her mother, “Oh, you mean my wand. Yes, my wand is my focus.
“Cor... So, errr... You're leaving? Can I come with you?” Iphigenia rattled out, her face lit up with the light of discovery.
Hermione sighed. “Well, it seems you know about it already. What about Uncle Kyle and Auntie Mer?”
Iphigenia nodded. “They both know. I'll go pack!” She ran off, upstairs.
Jean looked after her and then lightly shoved Hermione. “Well, you heard. Go pack!”
The Floo in the Headmaster's office burned green and Albus stepped towards it, ignoring the slight bickering among the Weasleys as they attempted to convince Molly to let the elder boys go back to the Burrow to get some clothes and the presents from under the eaves. Molly was adamant they would not go. Bill and Charlie were adamant they would.
“Headmaster? I'm here with some more guests. May I come through,” Severus' voice sounded positively as annoyed as Albus had ever heard it.
“Guests, Severus? Who are they? And where are you?” Albus inquired
“The emergency Floo room in the Leaky Cauldron. And whole lot of Grangers,” came the grumpy reply.
“Ah, well done, Severus! Yes, they might very well have been a target. Excellently done! Come on through,” Albus stepped back and grinned as indeed his favourite bushy-haired little know it all, her mother and father and three more, unexpected people came through. Severus came last, bearing a disgruntled expression, an assortment of scratches and a yowling, spitting Crookshanks in a travel basket. As soon as he exited the fire he handed the basket to Hermione and gestured at the young woman and her parents, who stood looking at Albus and his office with surprise and some awe.
“This is Miss Iphigenia Granger, of the Watchers' Council, and her parents, Mr. Kyle Granger and Mrs. Merrowynne Granger. Now, if you’ll excuse me…” Severus made to leave but was stopped by Iphigenia’s hand on his arm.
“Yes, Miss Granger?” the Potions master asked in a soft, dangerous voice.
Iphigenia leaned in and kissed his cheek. “Thanks for saving my life, Professor Snape.”
Snape stiffened, sighed and then patted the girl’s hand. “It was my pleasure, Miss Granger. Think nothing of it.” And then left, striding out of the door.
The Weasley clan looked astonished, the older sons looked at the older Granger girl with interest, and the younger ones looked slightly sickened, Harry among them.
Hermione looked at her cousin with something akin to envy. Luna looked merely curious.
Harry lay in his bed and sobbed. His bed at Hogwarts and his new, now probably former, family was asleep in various other rooms. Even Ron had left, a few minutes ago; no doubt disgusted that Harry had put his family in danger. The door creaked and he heard a step and then the curtains around his bed were moved aside and revealed Arthur Weasley.
“Hello, son. Your mother would be here, but the stairs only allow men or the Head of Gryffindor House up here. And Ginny and Luna are both rather frightened right now and need comforting too.”
Harry tried to dash away his tears, but Arthur stopped him and drew him close. “Harry… When Molly and I decided to become your foster parents we did so in the full knowledge that it might be dangerous. We do not mind that. And nobody could have foreseen what happened tonight. Well, that’s not true. Luna might have.”
Harry stiffened. “What?”
“Luna’s been studying blood wards. And she realized something we all forgot,” Arthur admitted rather sheepishly.
“Black is your godfather. He’s also your cousin, and mine, and Molly’s. So when he approached the wards…” Arthur let his voice trail off.
Harry blinked. “They recognized him as family,” Harry laughed bitterly. “Is there nowhere I’m safe?”
“Not until Black is taken or removed as your godfather, no. And that is impossible,” Arthur sighed. “Only James and Lily could do that.”
“Wonderful. An insane murderer can get to me whenever he wants,” Harry instinctively burrowed deeper into Arthur’s warmth.
“He can try, Harry. But your family will be there to hex him into oblivion,” Arthur assured him.
Harry swallowed. “I don’t want you hurt…”
Arthur laughed. “Harry, can you imagine what your mother will do when one of her children is threatened?”
Harry nodded. “She’d fight. But she’s not an Auror…”
“Ask Professor Flitwick one day about how she did in the Dueling Club,” Arthur smiled reminiscently.
“Oh. She’s good?”
“She was terrifying, but not as terrifying as when a group of Riddle’s idiots came to the Burrow and she had to fight to protect the children,” Arthur grinned. “I’ll ask Professor Dumbledore to lend me his Pensieve and I’ll show you one day. Okay?”
“That good?” Harry asked, wonderingly.
“Better. Better than good,” Arthur stated with quiet, unshakeable love and pride.
Christmas Morning was one of Draco Malfoy’s favourite days. Not because of the presents, but because there was such closeness. It was the one morning that his Godfather was there. The one morning that his family was really complete.
The great silvery green fir tree next to the fireplace was hung with silver and green decorations, sparkling and twinkling in the magical lights.
He sat beneath the tree in his green velveteen dressing gown, the three packages before him, one for his father, mother and godfather each. The three adults sat looking at him, indulgent smiles on their faces. Well, his mum and dad had indulgent smiles, his godfather looked as grouchy as ever.
Draco looked around at the gifts he had received, the potions manual from Uncle Severus *Never call me that, boy! The risk is too great!*,
the copy of the Annals and the Tales of Beedle Bard that his Squib uncle had transcribed for his father, and, to his great surprise and huge embarrassment, a manual for the proper wooing of witches from his mother, together with an ancient book of protocols of the courts of the Quintuple Kingdoms. *It really wasn’t necessary for Dad and Uncle Severus to be that amused.*
Draco thought glumly.
He was about to hand his present to his father when his Mum coughed and nudged his Dad. Lucius sighed. “Ah, Draco… There’s something that we have to tell you… Errr, ah…”
Draco raised an eyebrow and looked at his parents. “Are you trying to find a delicate and Slytherin way to tell me that you got Mother pregnant, Father?”
Narcissa had a coughing fit. Lucius flushed and then paled. And Uncle Severus… laughed. Laughed until the tears ran down his face and he slipped of the couch, to sit beside Draco and to hug him, still laughing.
“I told you he’d guessed! That’s my Slytherin godson!” Severus reached over and ruffled Draco’s hair. Draco looked at him in astonishment. Severus Snape was a cool godfather who gave him gifts and advice his parents thought him too young for, but he very rarely showed his affection in any other way than through a cool nod or light touch on Draco’s shoulder. He could count on the fingers on one hand the times he remembered Uncle Severus holding him.
Narcissa smiled at the sight, her cheeks slightly rosy. “Well, care to tell us how you came to that conclusion?”
“Besides the way all the ladies fuss about you, the fact that the Nursery is being prepared and the numerous catalogues of baby clothes from Madam Malkin’s?” Draco asked with a snort. “Dad treating you like a porcelain doll even more than usual, and the hormonal surges. And the morning sickness, of course.”
Narcissa blinked. “You errr, seem quite well informed?”
“Mr. and Mrs. Weasley were quite clear in their lessons,” Draco smirked. “Not that I thought I’d need the knowledge quite so soon…” Draco fell silent, a slow flush rising up his face. Then he started to whimper and surged to his feet, looked from his father to his mother, whimpered more loudly and ran out of the room, shaking his head in denial.
Severus grinned. “And he just realised what all his logical deduction meant when translated to him
getting a sibling…” he raised an eyebrow. “Parental sex, oh my.”
Narcissa sighed, primly. “He’ll get used to it.”
Lucius raised an eyebrow. “I remember a conversation regarding your parents only having sex three times… nine months before you and your sisters were born…”
Narcissa tapped his ear with a finger, an exasperated expression on her face. “Be silent, you.”
Lucius smirked. “Yes, dear.”
The packages lay under a tree that had been set up in the Gryffindor Common Room for the occasion. Luna sat among her Gryffindor family, looking unhappy and worn. Harry sat by her, holding her hand, Ginny sat on her other side with an expression of mixed happiness and disgruntlement on her face.
Most of the packages were sloppily wrapped, as if by hands unaccustomed to it, but some few were covered in tight and colourful paper. Harry smiled a little. This year there would be no ‘gift’ from his aunt and uncle, just from his family.
Percy rose from the loveseat he was occupying with Penelope and walked to the tree, picking up one of the presents and carried it back to her. It was a large, bulky package and wrapped in colourful if cheap looking paper. There were ten more like it under the tree. Penny looked at it, hesitated for one second and then tore of the paper in desperate haste. The sweater inside, hand knit, was made of fine blue cashmere wool, a colour that matched her eyes. A P was on the front in Ravenclaw Bronze. She looked up at Percy and then at Mrs. Weasley. She got up, put on the sweater and grabbed Percy. She kissed him. The kiss went on for quite a while. Bill whistled softly. Charlie laughed. Fred and George looked a bit jealous.
Ron looked sick. Harry looked thoughtful, Ginny looked at the kissing couple and then at Harry, who was oblivious. Luna merely gazed at the lights on the tree.
A throat was cleared. “I may want a great-grand nephew or niece my dears, but I do not think there is this much haste.”
Percy and Penny sprang apart as Aunt Muriel’s dry, sherry-voiced tones sounded. The old lady stomped up to the tree and dumped an armful of presents on the ground beneath the tree. She smiled. “You lot didn’t think you’d be able to get away from me now by fleeing to Hogwarts now, hmm?”
Molly looked at the presents and then at her Aunt. “Aunt Muriel?” She asked, slightly astonished. “How did you get here?”
“I told Albus I’d hex his robes grey if he kept me out,” the old lady grinned.
Arthur smothered a laugh in his hand and tried to turn it into a cough.
Muriel turned to Bill and Charlie. “Have you two found girls yet? You’ve had days, since we last spoke,” she told them pointedly.
Bill made a gargling noise and Charlie let out something that sounded suspiciously like a whimper.
Molly turned and looked at them, a calculating look in her eyes. Her elder sons backed away, wide-eyed. Then Molly grinned. “Don’t worry. I know you’ll both find someone to love soon.”
Fred and George guffawed. Molly’s look fastened on them. “Which reminds me, how are Angelina and Katie?”
The sudden blushes on the twin’s faces had their brothers in stitches, Harry included. Ginny smirked. Luna still gazed at the candles.
Hermione Granger sat by her cousin and opened her presents. Mostly books for both of them, though Iphigenia also received a small box with a very fine golden chain and a large piece of amber encasing a small fly. She blushed and closed the box, but the glare she gave it was quite fond.
Hermione looked at her and saw in her cousin’s eyes a pain that hadn’t been there before. “So, how’d you meet Professor Snape?”
“My boss is friends with him. Or at least, they’re acquaintances. There were some people who wanted to kill us and Professor Snape helped come up with the plan that saved us. Then it turned out I’d been poisoned, and he brewed me the antidote.”
“Wow. Errr…” Hermione opened her mouth to tell her cousin what had really happened to her but she felt her throat close up at the memory and all that came out a was a frightened whimper.
Iphigenia quickly moved in and hugged her. “I know. I asked Aunt Jean about it yesterday, when you were in bed. You don’t have to tell me.”
Hermione sniffled. “I had such a crush on him earlier this year, and then he was so nasty!”
“I think he doesn’t know how to love very well. He doesn’t like being touched,” Iphigenia sighed. “Like your friend Harry, only even worse,” the older Granger girl whispered.
Hermione blinked her mouth opening in a silent ‘oh’. “Poor Professor Snape.”
“Yeah,” Iphigenia bit her lip. “But don’t tell him that. I’d like to live as a girl, not a newt, thank you very much.”
Hermione lifted an arch eyebrow. “Don’t worry. You’d get better.”