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Luna Lovegood and the Shaggy Dog

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This story is No. 17 in the series "Waifs and strays". You may wish to read the series introduction and the preceeding stories first.

Summary: The sequel to Luna Lovegood and the Dark Portrait

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Harry Potter > Other BtVS/AtS Characters(Current Donor)vidiconFR1528120,2923236459,77411 Oct 1118 Jan 14No

On the Wings of the Storm

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 Beta Letomo, 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.*

Vision: #I-don’t-know’s on third.#

My apologies for taking so long on this chapter. Very busy at work and a lot of work on the new house and equally busy schedules and stuff for my betas. Nevertheless here it is. This is the last chapter before the cross with Lonely Souls.

Thanks very much to Cutiepie, James and tryingtobestine for recommending this story.

20 On the Wings of the Storm

“LEVITATUS!” a high pitched voice echoed through the hall, followed immediately by a host of other spells. Hermione heard professor Dumbledore cast a cushioning charm and Madam Pomfrey summoned her emergency kit. Professors Snape and  Kettleburn each cast a Wingardium and Hagrid ran up and caught Iphigenia and  Luna as they floated down, his huge booted feet making no noise as the cushioning charm on the floor muffled their impacts.

Sobbing in relief Hermione turned to run down the steps, her face pale and her whole body shaking.

When she arrived in the Hall Luna was unconscious, her face pale and her blonde hair spread out around her like a halo. Iphigenia was sobbing into her mother's shoulder and a Myrtle was hovering over both of them.

Madam Pomfrey was tending to Luna and was muttering under her breath, obviously worried.

“Miss Granger, what happened?” Albus Dumbledore addressed Hermione.

“I, we, Genie and I wanted to go to the High Mezzanine. We-we took the Forbidden Staircase. Luna was there, she seemed, I'm sorry Professor, she seemed deranged,” Hermione took a deep breath. “I know we shouldn't have been on the staircase, Sir. I'm sorry.”

Dumbledore blinked and then smiled. “It's just a name, Miss Granger. It was forbidden for a while in my time as a student at Hogwarts, they needed repairs and it was tackled as a seventh year Charms project, so it took a while. Today they are just seldom used, even by house elves. You did nothing wrong.”

Hermione smiled back, tremulously. “Oh. So what's wrong with Luna? I-I thought she was doing better...”

“I don't know, Miss Granger. I, too, thought she was recovering,” Dumbledore admitted.

Snape was kneeling by Luna, his wand moving over her in slow, deceptively random movements. “Madam Pomfrey, please take Miss Granger and Miss Lovegood to the Infirmary. Both Misses Granger. Headmaster, can I see you in your office? I have an idea...” he sounded uncertain and unhappy to Hermione's ears.

Harry moved up and put an arm around Hermione. “Come on Hermione, I'll take you up.”

Hermione nodded and allowed Harry to help her, but she extended a hand to her mother as soon as Jean came into view.

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“We need help. And fast,” Severus began as soon as they were inside Dumbledore 's office.

Minerva sat on one of the chairs and Filius made a bee line for his own.

“Explain, Severus,” Albus sat behind his desk and watched as the younger man paced.

“I feared something like this. They took her father's soul and are using it to influence her. Normally such magic has relatively little effect in the short term, being founded upon long exposure. But Miss Lovegood is exceptionally open to outside impressions. And in her grief her natural defences would be down.”

Dumbledore nodded. “Spirit Wrack. Yes, I was thinking the same thing.”  

Flitwick shuddered. “I do not know it, yet it sounds horrible.”

Minerva shook her head. “I don't know it either. Is it the same principal as the Blood Curse?”

“Similar,” Dumbledore acknowledged. “But the relation has to be alive for that to work. The most powerful of these spells is a combination of the two, but that is a True Ritual.”

Filius shuddered. “And that is what is wrong with Miss Lovegood?”

“I think so, yes,” Severus nodded.

“So what can we do?” Minerva asked.

“We can put up a ward around her, that will keep out the worst of the influence. We can guard her and talk to her, making her feel safe and accepted while we explain the matter to her,” Dumbledore declared.

“So we have to tell her that her father's soul is imprisoned somewhere? That we don't know where and that the Ministry is uncertain of which evil will do it more harm, telling them Black did it or that Dementors did it?” Snape sneered. “Yes, that will cheer her up.”

Minerva shook her head. “We tell her that this is not unusual in those whose immediate relatives have been kissed. If the families of our pupils find out that Black is stealing souls the school will be empty and the children scattered. It will be impossible to protect them then.”

“And we're doing such a fine job of it now,” Severus snidely added.

“It would explain how Black got through the wards at the Burrow,” Filius stated, his eyes on one of Dumbledore's blackboards. “If he kept Xeno's soul he could have used that to attune himself to the wards, as Miss Lovegood is able to cross them.”

“You think he may have planned this?” Severus snorted. “The man thinks with his co-dpiece,” he finished lamely under Minerva's glare.

“I realize you dislike Black, and with good reason, Severus. We all have good reason. But it does not do to underestimate him. He managed to pull the wool over all our eyes for years. He is not stupid and he was a skilled wizard,” Dumbledore mused.

“His actions after the death of He-who-must-shower-more-often,” Filius looked askance at Snape who glared but the corner of whose mouth was twitching. “Were rather unhinged and we've tended to judge him by those, but before that he played his game coolly and well.”

Dumbledore nodded. “Hmmm, I've wondered for a while how much of that was due to the defeat of Riddle and how much was due to his betrayal of Harry.”   

“Yes, the Godchild bond should have prevented him from even contemplating betraying him,” Minerva noted.

Filius and Severus shook their heads in unison. “Even old, powerful rituals like Godparenthood can be subverted. It takes time and effort but it can be done. A man like Riddle would know how to. But yes, most of them leave the Bondkeeper slightly unhinged, at least for a while,” Filius explained.

Minerva shuddered. “Do I even want to contemplate what sort of things are needed to corrupt a Godchild bond?”

“Probably not, no,” Filius agreed. “Suffice it to say that they are very Dark. They alone would be enough to have Black Kissed.”

Minerva's eyes moved to Dumbledore's implacable face. The Headmaster smiled grimly. “There’s nothing you can tell me that I haven’t told myself, Minerva. Any blame of what happens because I allowed Black to live is upon my head.”

Minerva gave him a sharp glare. “As long as you realize that, Albus Dumbledore.” 

Flitwick shook his head. “Be that as it may, we might want to inquire what exactly the significance of the Forbidden Staircase and the High Mezzanine is to Miss Lovegood.”

Snape whirled on the man angrily. “Let me think… a place where a girl who is bullied can hide, flee to, feel whatever measure of safety she can? I wonder what possible attraction a remote, yet still central location like the Mezzanine would have for such a child,” He stalked off and the other teachers exchanged looks.

Minerva ran a hand over her face. “This is all hitting very close to home for Severus, I think.”

Filius sighed. “Sybill is having mild hysterics. She’s accusing me of manipulating Miss Lovegood ‘for the greater good’.”

Dumbledore rose. “We made mistakes in the past, and they have had grievous consequences for our pupils. We will not repeat them. We will support our current pupils, and give aid where we can to our former ones.”

Minerva nodded. “I’ll ask Pomona to talk to Sybill.”

Filius smiled slightly. “Actually, Rubeus is coping magnificently.”

“Rubeus? Really?” Minerva asked, rather surprised.

“They seem to be getting along quite well. We all tend to underestimate Hagrid’s intelligence, because of his size,” Filius eyes crinkled with amusement. “He says comforting her is no different from soothing a fractious Thestral.”

Albus smiled. “Well. Isn’t that interesting…”

Minerva rolled her eyes. “Albus, when you start matchmaking, please settle on one possible couple. The last thing this school needs is Severus and Rubeus duelling over Sybill’s favour in the Great Hall like over-excited Seventh years.”

Filius eyes gleamed. “Now that might be interesting to see… What do you think Albus, would Rubeus’ natural resistance to magic allow him to counter Severus greater agility and experience?”

Albus looked thoughtful, stroking his beard, obviously intrigued by the idea.

Minerva rolled her eyes. “Men.”  

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The tiny owl hooted as it landed on the windowsill of the Groundskeeper’s cottage. The huge, red bandy legged half-kneazle jumped, yowling, an expression of fierce hatred on its face. Dodger flew up lightly, let out a sniggering hoot and headed off to the stables to torment the dog-man. Oh the joys of being an owl at Hogwarts…

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Avery Manor, Kent

The old man behind the ancient, carven desk looked at the middle aged one who stood before it. Both wore robes of excellent quality, though the visitor's obviously was more worn, saw more use.

“Travers. You seem to be doing well for yourself,” the long-haired old man smiled.

Travers swallowed ever so slightly. “Fate has been kind to me, Mr. Avery, and I cannot complain.”

“Really? You seem to do so at regular intervals nonetheless. And it is still Lord Avery, Mr. Travers,” the old man corrected, gently, but with steel in his voice.

A singularly unpleasant memory came to Travers of hearing that voice and then seeing the horrifying pain of the Cruciatus curse for a transgression on some unlucky Muggle. Avery had been very good with curses. “I do apologize.”

“But I'm keeping you standing, I do apologize. Please, sit. Jiffy, bring in tea,” Avery commanded and a house elf that had been standing patiently in the corner popped out of sight.

Travers sat down. Avery studied him as if he was an interesting, if insignificant insect to be captured, studied, possibly dissected and then mounted forever on a pin in glass-cased box.

“How is your cousin doing, Travers?” Avery asked, neutrally.

Travers frantically cast his mind about trying to think of what cousin might be doing things to embarrass the family and annoy the Secundus. Voldemort might be dead but Avery not only had kept a large number of them out of Azkaban, he also made sure that his Master's vision was still served.

“As far as I know the ones I'm still on speaking terms with, or that haven't been disowned, are all doing fine,” Travers finally answered.

Jiffy appeared with the tea and served it. Avery watched the elf and Travers with cold, calculating eyes. “I meant the Squib, Quentin.”

“Ah, him. I don't have anything to do with him, of course,” Travers declared lightly, sipping his excellent tea.

“I see. Then you're not aware of the fact he has taken control of the Council of Watchers and excluded considerable numbers of what he calls 'dead wood'?  Or of the fact that he has ceased payment of the annual tithe to the Ministry? Or the Magical creature tax, for possession of a Class Five Rated Magical Being?” Avery sipped his own tea.

Travers blinked, “I ah, was aware the Council was late in paying, but not that he intended not to pay.”

“Indeed. It is your business to know. You're the Head of the Family now, Travers,” Avery told him mildly. “It is your Duty.”

*Far too mildly,* Travers thought. “I fear that without regular contact it is difficult to keep track of the less salubrious and valuable members of the family,” he replied coolly.

Avery sipped his tea. “Nevertheless. The Watchers' Council has twin purposes. The first is to provide those of the old Families unfortunate enough to be born without magic with a steady income and sufficient contact with their former world to allow them to live in the manner to which they became accustomed. The second is to deal with the so-called 'demon menace.' He smiled grimly. “Not that I personally mind if a few vampires feed on a some Muggles, but I do draw the line at the end of the world. And rare though it might be, some demons and deranged Channelers do seek to end it, and the Slayer serves a purpose to end them.”

Travers laughed. “Well, what do you expect of Channelers?”

Avery did not smile. “Your cousin is a threat to the first purpose and therefore to our way of life as it has grown these past two centuries. It cannot be allowed to continue.”

“Ah... What did you have in mind?” Travers asked, cautiously.

“You will acquire some of his hair. You will be provided with Polyjuice potion. You will assume the form of Quentin Travers and kill a random Muggle child or two, as publicly as possible. You will make loud declarations that the little whore deserved it. And then you will leave, letting him be dealt with by the Muggle 'authorities'. At that point we can move in and take control of the Council once more.”

Travers nodded. “I can do that.”

“Glad to hear it. I would be so disappointed if you didn't,” Avery answered dryly. Then his eyes unfocused. “On second thought, you might want to kill a muggleborn , or a Bloodtraitor too. Make sure he has no support within the Families on either side.”

Travers nodded and dragged out a parchment and quill. “Any preferences?”

“A Weasley will do nicely. Perhaps that girl, what is her name? Ginevra? Or the Lovegood girl, I dislike the notion of a Matriarchal House. So old-fashioned,” Avery mused.

Travers made some notes. “It will be done, sir. Don't worry.”

“Very good. Well then, let us finish this excellent tea and then you can return to the bosom of your loving family,” Avery smiled.

Travers suppressed a shudder. Failure clearly wasn't an option. Not if he knew what was good for his House.   

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HogwartsSchool of Wizardry

Genie Granger sniffled as she leaned against her mother. “This is not a good year.”

Merrowynne laughed. “You can say that again. Then again, you did meet young Neville. That was a nice necklace he sent you. Anything you want to tell me?”

Genie blushed. “Mum!”

Merrowynne gave her daughter a hug. “Don’t worry dear, I’m don’t want grandchildren that badly.”

“Huh. Selfish. I want to see my great-grand nieces and nephews before I pass on.” A soft, breezy voice spoke.

Iphigenia looked around. “I thought you were with Luna?”

Myrtle pouted. “I was. Madam Pomfrey kicked me out of the Infirmary for hovering.”

Iphigenia giggled. “Literally?” She studied the ghost closely. “You do look a bit like Mum. Or she like you, I guess. I’m Iphigenia.”

Myrtle studied the girl for a while, silently. “Pleased to meet you. Any other cousins I should know about? That can know about me?”

Merrowyne shook her head. “I’m afraid not. We wouldn’t have heard about the supernatural if Iphigenia hadn’t been kidnapped and nearly sacrificed. After she’d almost been killed by a man driven insane by her former employers,” she sniffed.

Myrtle blinked and then her eyes narrowed. “What happened to these employers?”

“Most of them were tortured to death, Miss Jones. I doubt you want to hear the details.” Snape’s voice came from behind Myrtle.

Myrtle jumped in the air, twisted and glared at him. “Stop doing that!”

Snape smirked. “What, or I’ll scare you to death?” He stalked off, leaving the three to stare after him.

“I don’t know how he does that. Only the Headmaster is supposed to be close enough to the castle to sneak up on a ghost,” Myrtle whined. “It’s not fair, I’ve got spatial awareness and special senses and everything.”

Iphigenia started to giggle. Myrtle turned on her. “What’s so funny?”

“You… You sound just like us, like Mum and me, when we get annoyed.” Iphigenia answered through her giggles.

Myrtle’s expression softened. “No. No, we all look like my Gran.”

Merrowynne looked at the floating translucent form. “Tell us about her?”

Myrtle nodded. “Let’s go to the Infirmary, I want to check on Luna, we can talk on the way and find a place to sit after.”

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The Floo flared green and the tall, elegant form of Lucius Malfoy stepped through, extended a graceful hand and took Narcissa’s hand as she emerged shortly after him and the other caught Draco as he stumbled slightly, arriving just after his mother.

Albus Dumbledore studied the new arrivals closely, noting the drawn, taut skin around Lucius Malfoy’s eyes, evidence of a sleepless night.

Lucius inclined his head slightly, the requisite amount by an old Noble House to the Chief Warlock of a lesser House. “Lord Dumbledore.”

“Lord Malfoy. So formal? And why, if I might inquire, are you here so early?” Albus inquired.

Narcissa smiled tightly. “Severus asked Lucius for help with the Princesse.”

Albus nodded. He looked at the pale, wan looking boy, so different from the arrogant and strutting lad he was used to. “Well, Miss Lovegood is in the Infirmary, but Madam Pomfrey is restricting access to her. I suggest I take you there. Severus is in his quarters, I think, Lord Malfoy”

Lucius nodded. “He will not mind if we visit Miss Lovegood first. I assume that the Weasley family is unharmed?”

Dumbledore chuckled. “Well, except for the Twins. Miss Clearwater packs quite a punch apparently, and is intent on teaching her future brothers-in-law the meaning of the word ‘privacy’. She’s also quite inventive with spells, witness her use of the adapted ‘Bat-bogey spell’. I haven’t seen that application in more than twenty years,” the old man smiled reminiscently.

Narcissa looked at Draco, who was feigning disinterest while obviously paying close attention. “I think I’ll ask Molly for an update. Come Draco, let’s go to the Infirmary. Lucius, I suggest you and the Headmaster confer with Severus.” She led her son out of the room.

Lucius smiled. “I’m quite certain that is one spell she would much prefer he did not learn.”

Albus Dumbledore raised an eyebrow. “And I assume you’ll teach him nevertheless.”

Lucius gave Dumbledore a very innocent look and then led the older man out of the room. “Let’s go find Severus. I’m sure he has a wonderful description of Miss Clearwater’s creative spell use.”

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“Malfoy!” Arthur Weasley called out to sounding rather more annoyed with the younger man than he had in quite a while.

Lucius turned around and Dumbledore  stopped, looking interested. Snape, collected from the Staff Room where he had been reading, looked bored.

“Yes, Arthur?” Lucius deliberately used the older man’s given name but looked slightly shifty.

“Why exactly did I suddenly receive twenty-five thousand galleons?” the balding redhead asked belligerently.

Lucius blinked. “Oh, is that all. I was afraid Draco already knew the spell and had used it on one of your sons.”

Arthur spluttered, half amused, half outraged. “All? I told you I wasn’t for sale, Lucius! I thought we were friends!”

Lucius looked at Dumbledore and waved a hand, rather irritably, at the Weasley patriarch. “Would you please explain it? I did, but apparently it made no impression.”

“You’re telling me that Molly’s fee is twenty-five thousand Galleons?” Arthur exclaimed as realisation strcuk. “I thought maybe a few hundred…”

Dumbledore smiled rather sadly. “For safeguarding the continuation of an Ancient and Noble House? And then making sure you have no lien on the child’s soul, other than ones freely given?”

Arthur shook his head, bemused, “But twenty-five thousand!”

Lucius smiled. “Inflation, Arthur, inflation.”

Arthur sighed and then shook his head. “I don’t suppose I can give it back?”

“No, you can’t, as you very well know,” Lucius told him, quite sharply.

Arthur shook his head again and then his eyes widened as a huge, silvery pelican flew up and spoke in Pomfrey’s voice. “Come to the Infirmary immediately.”   

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The Infirmary itself was quite empty. Madam Pomfrey had chased most of the Weasleys out, and any other guests as well and only Molly Weasley, Minerva McGonagall and Madam Pomfrey herself remained besides the Malfoys. Narcissa led Draco upto the bed where Luna was lying sleeping, wan and pale.

The boy fumbled for a chair and sat down, his eyes riveted on the girl’s drawn face. Madam Pomfrey gave him one look, then took Narcissa’s arm and led her behind a privacy screen.

“Let me just check you over, dear.” She smiled at the tall blonde.

Narcissa sighed, but good-naturedly. “You gave me a thorough examination only a few weeks ago, Madam Pomfrey.”

The mediwitch chuckled. “True. Indulge me dear. I very rarely get to practice this part of my profession, happily enough, though certainly not for lack of trying by the older pupils…” She eyed the other three women in the room, all of whom looked slightly flustered.

Then Molly turned to look at Minerva with sudden interest on her face that changed into a knowing grin. Minerva glared at Madam Pomfrey and then stalked out of the room. Molly chuckled and winked, then settled by the bed that held her foster daughter, her face falling into sadness once more.

Madam Pomfrey sighed and led Narcissa away. The younger witch sat on the bed and crossed her arms. “Are you going to do this every time you see me?”

Pomfrey nodded. “Yes, actually. Albus was most insistent. He also told me to tell him whenever anything occurred that was out of the ordinary, no matter how trivial.”

Narcissa blinked. “Oh.”

Poppy laughed. “Yes. Albus feels he has things to make up for, now sit still.” She passed her wand over Narcissa’s abdomen, muttering a phrase. Then she frowned, and repeated her action.

Narcissa noted the expression, her hands moving to her belly, her expression becoming worried and strained.

“What’s wrong? What’s wrong with my baby?”  

“Nothing… Except…” Madam Pomfrey sighed and swirled her wand. “Expecto Patronum!” A silvery blob shot away and Poppy smiled at Narcissa and beckoned for Molly. “I’ve no precise idea what happened, Narcissa. I’ve sent for your husband and Severus and Albus, as well as Remus. Together they have the greatest knowledge of-”

“The Dark Arts! My baby’s been affected by Dark Arts!” Narcissa wailed.

Madam Pomfrey grabbed the frightened woman by her upper arms. “No! I think it must have been Lunar magic. Lady Malfoy… Narcissa… Your baby is fine. And so are your other two babies.”

Narcissa blinked. “O-other two babies?”

Madam Pomfrey nodded. “Yes,” she bit her lip. “I thought that something… The evening of the solstice, I noted something strange, as if there was more than one aura, one baby. I thought it might be a side-effect of the freeing of the children, that they sought comfort with you for a short time.”

Molly had come to stand by Narcissa as soon as she heard the cries. “Easy, Cissy. I’m sure everything will be fine.”

Lucius Malfoy never ran. This was a given. In all the time he’d been at Hogwarts, Madam Pomfrey had never seen him run. Not even when he was late for class did Lucius Malfoy run. He strode, he stalked, and sometimes he’d increase his speed to a fast walk. The man who skidded around the corner of the Infirmary, his face pale, his long blond hair flying was running and looked nothing like the unflappable Lord Malfoy. “Cissa!?” he gasped, his eyes worried as they sought her face.

“Luce!” Narcissa extended an anxious hand to her husband and he took it quickly.

“What’s wrong?” Lucius demanded of Madam Pomfrey who was looking at the couple with bemusement.

“I don’t know. Something strange, I fear,” Madam Pomfrey answered softly. The door swung opened and Dumbledore and Snape hastened in, both striding, though neither of them was running. Not that Dumbledore could manage it easily anymore with his girth.

“Poppy?” Albus asked, his face serious. “What is going on? You sent a Patronus?”

Poppy sniffed at the bemusement in his voice. “I’m well able to cast one, Albus Dumbledore. And yes, I did,” she looked at Draco, sitting by the sleeping Luna’s bed. “I think it might be wise for Mr. Malfoy to leave.”

Draco’s eyes narrowed and he looked about to speak when Narcissa spoke to him. “Draco, please leave.”

Draco sighed and rose. He hesitated for a second, then moved swiftly, kissed his mother on the cheek and left.

Snape moved to stand by the Malfoys. “What’s wrong then?” His tone was half belligerent, half worried.

Poppy waved her wand and spoke a few words. Three points of light floated from her wand and into Narcissa’s belly, lighting up and then showing that three foetuses floated companionably within.

“This,” the old nurse said compassionately as she gestured at the blonde woman’s stomach.

Narcissa let out a half-sob half gasping sound. “Oh Merlin.”

Lucius closed his eyes. “What happened? How did it happen? What do we do now?”

Albus pursed his lips. “Can you determine which is the original child?”

Poppy looked at his eyes, blue and dark and twinkle-less. “Albus? What are you thinking?”

Dumbledore ran a hand over his face. “Something unspeakable… I know of several rituals whereby a pregnant woman might be used as an incubator…”

Lucius groaned, his eyes still closed. “And the demonic child claws his way out of the womb unless it is swiftly destroyed.”

Albus nodded unhappily. “Yes. I’m sorry,” he took a deep breath. “It may not save your child. But it will save you.”

Snape looked at the pale woman on the bed and gritted his teeth. “There has to be another option.”

Dumbledore shook his head helplessly, his face grave. “I don’t know any. Lord Malfoy?”

Lucius, Narcissa’s hand in his, whispered a word and his wife collapsed in sleep. He gently laid her on the bed. “She shouldn’t be awake for this.” With a trembling hand he held his wand over her stomach.

Dumbledore’s hand grasped his wrist. “I’ll do it.”

Lucius looked into the blue eyes. His shoulders slumped. “Thank you.”

Dumbledore merely nodded, extended his own wand, his face set in hard lines and started his spell. It was then that he was thrown back bodily, landing with a thump against the Infirmary wall.

“Headmaster not to hurt Family Babies!” a shrill voice proclaimed.

Dumbledore shook his head as he sat up, slightly dazed. “Dobby?” he asked in amazement.

The free house elf, standing on the bed next to Narcissa glared at the Headmaster and Lucius. “Professor Lawny tell me to come here to save little Bedel Babies! Bad Former Master! Bad!” Dobby scolded.

Dumbledore swivelled on his rump, blue eyes twinkling like mad as he looked between the elf and Lucius. “Bedel? House Bedel? The House of the Ushers?”

Lucius paid him no attention, taking a step closer to the bed. “Dobby? The babies? Can you sense them? Are they of the Blood?” he asked insistently.

Dobby looked at the sleeping Narcissa and hesitated, then nodded, as if reluctant to tell Lucius anything. “I is feeling them. They’s being of the Blood.”

“Nothing demonic? No dark influences?” Lucius asked, voice shaking.

Dobby looked at his old master and suddenly his ears perked up. “Bad Old Master wasn’t wanting to kill babies?” The little elf nodded vigorously. “No dark, no evil. Just little babies wanting to go home, helped by the Moon. Miss Lyra and Master Chiron, Dobby thinks.”  

Lucius let out something that sounded remarkably close to a sob and fell to his knees, his head resting on the bed beside Narcissa.

Albus had risen, his face grave and thoughtful and was dusting himself off. “House Bedel. The Ushers of Death.”

Severus looked about ready to spit. “Thinking how you can use that, Headmaster?”

Dumbledore sighed and led the younger man out of earshot. “Just thinking Severus, that we have a branch of the House they served here. It might be interesting to see what happens if we take them all to the Wizengamot, and see what happens. Then again, that would cause an uproar we can well do without,” He looked rather pensive and at the same time seemed to vibrate with curiosity. “Do you think the Bell would ring for Miss Granger?”

Snape looked at the headmaster thoughtfully and shook his head. “Gringott’s has systems in place to identify the owners of abandoned vaults. Had she been an heir, she would have been faced with the bill by now.”

Dumbledore smiled. “There is that. On the other hand that does mean that there is an actual Vicari heir out there.”

Snape shrugged. “Good luck finding him. Considering the current state of the Cadet branch, it’s quite likely the main line has been reduced to being a family doctor, with less magic than you and I have in our little fingers.”

 

 
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