I have not abandoned this story but I did lose the thread of the plot for some time. I think I have it back again. Hope you enjoy this and Happy New Year!
Christmas morning was chaotic with excited children chattering away far too early for Gregory's taste, though he joined the rest of the family gathering in the great room, along with Narcissa and Draco. Coffee and cocoa was in abundance, along with rich pastries and fruit while the children were allowed to open their gifts from Father Christmas, which made him hide his smirk behind his hand. Narcissa had a gift for Draco to open as well, also tagged as being from Father Christmas. He rolled his eyes with a smile and opened it to find an emerald green silk winter scarf and dragonhide gloves.
"Mother, these are wonderful but you didn't-"
"Hush. It's from Father Christmas," she said as some of the youngest children had turned to see what he got, glancing quickly at them to warn Draco.
"He always knows just what I need," Draco said, holding up the gifts for the children to ooh and ahh over. When they returned to their own toys, she leaned over and put her hand on his arm.
"I got them out of the Black Family vault, Draco. Those belonged to Arcturus Black," she said quietly.
"My great-grandfather? But Potter…"
"Gave them with his blessing and wishes for a Happy Christmas."
As more and more of the family arrived for Christmas day brunch, House became more and more nervous, bouncing his leg rapidly as he sat at Narcissa's side. Finally she suggested that he get up and walk the perimeter of the room just to burn off some energy. Jesse had been watching them carefully as the morning went on and he joined his brother at a window embrasure where House had taken refuge behind the thick curtains.
"So what kind of a field trip were you thinking about? If we could combine a trip with our upper year classes, I was thinking a stop in a muggle town and a wizarding town," Jesse said as he took a seat on the window bench.
"That would be good. Have each class see something new," House acknowledged, grabbing onto the offered topic like a lifeline. "Can we do two towns in one day? We might need an overnight stay. In a wizarding town obviously," he added. "Safer all around."
"They wouldn't see much if we tried to do both in one day. But we could portkey back to the school and floo to the wizarding town, so we wouldn't need an overnight stay permission."
"Oh, right. I keep forgetting about floos and portkeys," House said, shaking his head. "Where can we go besides Hogsmeade? I want to take them someplace different than they see at school. And I think a smallish muggle town would be best. Not as small as Hogsmeade but not a busy town or city either."
"There are lots of wizard communities hidden within muggle areas. Hogsmeade is really the only all-wizard community. If we pick one that has a good muggle area side by side with it, we won't have to travel far at all. There are four in Scotland and fourteen in England, but that includes London, which I think we want to avoid, along with Godric's Hollow, which I'd avoid too. It's got the Potter memorial and Dumbledore lived there," he explained, "so I think it's a bit too emotionally significant to just be a field trip to a wizard town."
"Yeah, that's not the spin I want to take on it. Maybe later we can take a look at all the towns and make say, three choices for the board of governors to consider when we apply for permission."
"Sure, be glad to."
Once the entire family arrived that afternoon, dinner was served. There were two long tables set up, one for adults and one for children which reminded House of the Great Hall at Hogwarts. Lots of food, laughter, and conversations surrounded them and all three of them were included. After dinner, all of the children were excused and entrusted to the care of a family elf while the adults retired to another large parlor with coffee and tea.
House was asked to tell everyone about himself and his life before coming to England and the family. He decided to be honest about the things he'd done, both the good and the bad. If they couldn't accept his flaws it was better to know now. There was a lot of questions surrounding his drug addiction and the subsequent fallout which he forced himself to be open about. He wanted Narcissa and Draco to understand too, after all, and better to only explain it once. It was harder to explain why he'd driven the car into Cuddy's house. In many ways, he still didn't understand why he'd done it. It was difficult to talk about Wilson's death but they nodded when he explained it was the catalyst to leave the muggle world and find a new life in the wizarding world.
Questions were directed at Narcissa and Draco as well, mostly Narcissa. Taking a cue from House, she too answered openly.
"I was born and raised a Black, which you all must understand is a very old purebred line," she began. "The Black line has never shied away from dark magic and that combined with marrying cousins has produced some eccentricities and some outright insanities. But they weren't historically aligned with dark lords before, they just were opposed to the more liberal light alliance. Only Bellatrix, Walburga and Orion, and it was more Walburga really bought into Voldemort's agenda. Regulus joined to please his mother after Sirius ran away to live with the Potters. I leant toward the blood supremacy side of it but not the full agenda, although my late husband did. He felt that wizarding traditions and way of life were being threatened by so many muggleborns coming into the school and he felt personally threatened by their startling ability to wield magic without having grown up in it. That only worsened once Draco was born."
"Voldemort was very seductive in the beginning, I'm told. Lucius' father was a school mate of his and Lucius followed right along with his father. It wasn't until after joining, once you received the Dark Mark, that his true plan and personality came through. He became far more unpredictable, aggressive, and paranoid as time went on, right up until the attack on the Potters. In the aftermath, Lucius scrambled to be certain our family wouldn't go down, especially for Draco. He pled the Imperious Curse and paid the right people to be sure that he'd be acquitted. As time went by, I thought that we were free of him, that we could be our own people again. Lucius though had an artifact of the Dark Lord which he loosed and it created a great deal of trouble. It was then that I realized that he still believed in this plan of domination. I tried to sway him and protect Draco, but I was too late; the damage had been done.
"Then the Dark Lord returned. He was a horribly mutated figure, completely paranoid and insane. He moved into the manor, cast torture spells at everyone without care, killed his followers. It wasn't until after the Department of Mysteries attack and going to Azkaban that Lucius finally began to understand how mad Voldemort was. But it was all in vain. He had our home, our money, myself and my son as ransom. He forced Draco to take the mark and set him a task that he expected would cost Draco's life, simply to torture us."
"After the Battle of Hogwarts, I expected my husband and my son would both go to Azkaban and perhaps myself. Instead, Lucius died quite suddenly. Harry Potter testified to defend both of us and Draco was given probation. But they froze all of our assets and locked us out of our properties. Then Gregory found us in St Mungo's and took pity on us. He took us back to his apartment. Got the Ministry to allow Draco to go in and get our personal belongings and unfroze his school trust vault."
"I have come to realize from the war and now being with Gregory, that this idea of supremacy was nothing but lies. I do think the muggleborn are a danger to our way of life but not because of stolen magic or dirty blood. It's more that they seek to impose their traditions in place of ours, their culture in place of ours, that I see as the danger now," she explained. "Maybe they need to come in even sooner, or perhaps these joint classes that Gregory and your son are doing at Hogwarts will begin to close the gap between the muggle raised and the wizard raised."
The family nodded, but were silent just thinking things over until Elaine spoke.
"And what about you Draco? What do you think of things now as opposed to how you did before?"
Draco sighed and looked down at his hands. "I think I was a stupid little shit before. I don't believe in blood supremacy anymore. I'm not sure why I ever did, except that it won my father's approval. Now, I just want to start over. Make my own opinions instead of just adopting someone else's. Professor House saved my godfather's life. He's cared for me and my mother. He even gave up his apartment instead of letting us get thrown out. That's integrity. That's something I'd like to emulate. So I'm trying to find out the truth of things now. And I… I really am grateful for the way you all have accepted my mother and me. I know it was just at his insistence and your desire to connect with him, but thank you all the same. It means a lot."
"His insistence told us there was good reason to give you a chance, young man," she said with a smile. "You've got a good attitude for going forward. I'm eager to see how far you will go with it," Elaine said with a smile of approval. "You may consider me your great-grandmother if you like."
Draco's eyes stung and he had to swallow the lump in his throat to thank her. Narcissa had tears in her eyes as well.
Later that day, House and Narcissa sat down with Elaine, Herbert and Isobel, and House briefly explained his predicament of faking his death and using false papers to get to England to which Elaine added her suggestion of blood adoption.
"But, he's already a MacDougal, how would that work?" Isobel asked.
"He'll become your son as well. His pedigree will change, his appearance will be altered," Elaine explained as Narcissa nodded along in agreement. "His legal name and appearance changing as well as staying in wizarding communities and areas should keep him safe from the muggle authorities, especially as he is believed to be dead in the United States."
"But isn't your mother still alive?" Isobel asked.
"Yes but she thinks I'm dead too as far as I know. But it's okay, I didn't expect you to want to do this anyway," he said with a shrug, trying for casual indifference. "I have more than I thought I would ever have now."
"And I'll thank you not to put words in my mouth, young man," Isobel said with a sharp look. "I never said I didn't want to blood adopt you, I merely wanted to know if you'd thought about your mother and whether to contact her or not."
House stared at the floor for a long moment before meeting her eyes. "I don't think I want to contact her. She would never answer my questions about paternity, even after John died. She just insisted he was my father and things would have been different if only I hadn't been so difficult. I think it's better that I stay dead to her."
"So do you want to think about this more or make arrangements to have it done?" Herbert asked.
House blew out his breath. "I'd rather just do it. I don't want to keep taking the chance."
"I'll contact Gringott's and get an appointment," Herbert said.
They were able to get an appointment the following morning. House spent the night thinking about his mother and actually penned a goodbye note which he then burned in the fireplace. After a restless night of little sleep he was anxious and snappy the next morning. Narcissa took him aside and sat quietly with him, sharing a pot of tea, while Elaine warned the family to leave him to his thoughts.
They got to Gringott's in plenty of time for their appointment and were soon seated with the MacDougal family account manager, Fangrip.
"After the blood adoption you will have to redo the trust and family vaults for his new name," Fangrip said.
"Yes, that's fine," Herbert answered.
"Very well. Fangrip brought out the potion in a goblet and a small silver knife.
"Father and mother will each put seven drops of blood into the potion. You will then drink the potion. Once it has taken effect, another pedigree will be performed with your new name and all of the Ministry records will be updated.
Herbert and Isobel added their blood to the potion and Fangrip looked up at House expectantly. He never noticed as he was staring at the goblet. Fangrip started to prompt him but Narcissa murmured softly to leave him be. They all waited, the goblin quite impatiently, for him to either drink the potion or refuse.
House had no thought for anything but the potion. What it would mean once he drank it, how his life had already changed and would continue to change. He'd never liked change much even though he wanted this chance, but it was still unnerving. Finally, as if in a daze, he reached out and picked up the goblet, staring at it for a full thirty seconds longer, then drank the potion down. It tasted terrible and he closed his eyes, grimacing, as he had to concentrate to keep it down. Finally the feeling went away and he took a breath, opening his eyes slowly to see the other three looking at him with a mixture of curiosity and concern. Narcissa handed him a compact mirror.
Slowly, he used the mirror to take in his appearance. His hair was very dark brown now, like Herbert's and straight as a pin. His eyes were different shaped and hazel instead of blue. His nose and jawline had subtly changed as well and he identified that as coming from Isobel. He looked away from the mirror and swept his eyes over himself. There were few other differences, a slight change of skin tone the most obvious. Idly he wondered what a DNA test would reveal now. Would it show three parents in his genes or just the biological ones? Did he dare to find out? Probably not, as that would defeat the purpose of hiding his identity.
"How do you feel?" Herbert asked.
"Alright," House acknowledged. "Nothing too drastic it seems."
"Now for the pedigree potion," Fangrip said tersely. "Sign your chosen name on the bottom of the parchment and add three drops of blood to the potion," he prompted, pushing the silver knife in front of him.
He had put a lot of thought into this moment. He wanted to express how grateful he was to Narcissa for all of her help and had decided this was a good way to do that. Picking up the quill, he signed his name with a flourish then picked up the knife and added his blood to the potion. Fangrip poured the potion over the parchment and they watched as Isobel's name now showed as his mother.
"Arcturus Alexander MacDougal," Herbert read off the paper, glancing up at his son with a smile as Narcissa gasped at the name he'd chosen for himself.
"Well, what's the point of being a wizard if you can't pick a really cool name," he said, trying to seem casual but clearly nervous about their reactions.
Herbert laughed and clapped him on the shoulder. "What's the point indeed? Well, let's go then Arcturus. Let's get you access to the vaults and reintroduce you to your family."
Isobel smiled and clasped his fingers briefly before joining her husband in the doorway. He turned to face Narcissa anxiously.
"Is that okay? Maybe I should have asked first. I just wanted you to know how grateful I am for all your help and your company but-"
"Arcturus," Narcissa said suddenly, laying her fingers on his lips to silence him. "I love it. Thank you," she added leaning in to give him a quick kiss on the lips where her fingers had just been. "Now let's go see about your vault access. And I want to take you shopping for clothes. If you're going to have a proper wizard name, you should have proper wizard clothing."
He trailed his fingers over his lips and watched her move to the doorway with his parents.
"Come along," she smirked, sparking him into movement while Herbert and Isobel turned away to hide their smiles.