Warning? You don't need no stinking warning.
Author's note: Don't be too hopeful about how quick this update came. I've been laid up all week recovering from a minor surgery. (Nothing to worry about, it was planned, and I'm fine.) All I've been able to do is sit around on my laptop and read/write. I've mostly recovered now, so the next chapter likely won't be as quick. On with the show!
Narcissa looked at her families ancestral home, then to her baby boy. Her baby had somehow become a man in what felt like the blink of an eye. "I know we all discussed this, but are you absolutely sure you want to do this?"
Draco answered, but kept his eyes fixed on the door to 12 Grimmauld Place. "I do. Harry pointed something out to me not too long ago, and I've had time to reflect. I've spent too long pretending to have power, and borrowing the influence of others."
He lifted his wrist, and stared at the blue lines running under his pale flesh. "If this woman really can awaken the blood in our veins... This power is my birthright as your son, and I'd be a fool to ignore it."
"Besides," Draco added, glancing at the hand his mother had taken to unconsciously holding over her stomach. "You and my aunts can't be taking any risks all things considered. This is my duty as much as anything. I have to do this."
Before his mother could try again to change his mind, Draco strode forward. He opened the door, and walked through with one fluid motion. A twinge of his cheek, and tightening of his eyes was the only outward sign that the pain ward was active.
Narcissa hissed as she followed her son, not willing to leave his side. In the gloom of the house, she saw her son disappear down a poorly lit hall. Before she could follow, Narcissa found herself being ushered the opposite way.
"I'm sorry that my apartment isn't larger, but you can stay as long as you need." Percy said, his voice subdued as he wheeled his father into his home.
"I still think you should come stay with me at Hogwarts Arthur." Molly wrung her hands. She was overjoyed to have her husband and third son back, more so that they had reconciled. More than anything though, she needed her family safe, and preferably together. "You could come too Percy dear, and maybe we could convince Bill..."
"Molly no." Arthur's voice was firm. "I still have a hard time believing everything that has changed while I've been under, but one thing is crystal clear. You know who is gaining ground, and has to be stopped."
"But why us? Why you?" Molly's voice cracked as she fought back tears. "Why don't we gather our family and go somewhere safe?"
Arthur's face expression softened. "Molly, I know you're scared for us all, but this isn't like you. What happened to the fierce woman I married?"
"My baby is gone Arthur!" Molly sobbed, raw with grief. "Our baby, Ronald is missing. It's been too long. Nobody can find him. He's dead! And I won't let the rest of our babies die!"
In shock, Arthur stared at his wife in disbelief as she stormed out of the apartment in tears, then looked to his son. "What happened, why didn't anyone tell me?"
Percy couldn't bring his eyes to meet his father's imploring gaze. "I, I haven't known long myself, considering... But, everyone thought you should concentrate on getting better."
Glancing sidelong at the still open door, Percy added, "I was planning on breaking the news to you after mum had left."
Draco found himself wearing only his underpants, and strapped to an inclined table. Thick leather bound his limbs, waist, and forehead. "Is all this really necessary?"
Persephone placed a wooden bit in his mouth, and secured it to the table. "Not especially, no." She giggled sweetly as she pulled a lever, dropping the table horizontal. "It could probably be done in a quarter of the time, possibly even painlessly, if I was magical myself."
Eyes widening, Draco started to struggle against his bonds. At first, he couldn't see more than the occasional shock of blonde curls bouncing in and out of his field of vision. Then Persephone's cherubic face came into full view while she hovered over him holding a large glass bottle. The bottle was hand labeled C3H8O.
"Strictly speaking," Persephone explained cheerfully while she opened the bottle, and poured its contents all over him. "This isn't really needed either. I just got into the habit, and I really love the smell."
Draco gagged, coughed, and twitched involuntarily as his nose burned from the fumes. His skin froze wherever the liquid touched. After a few seconds he felt warmth return, but the fumes remained. His nose and eyes burned, and breathing was nothing but pain. His teeth dug deep into the wooden bit, as he fought the urge to vomit.
Persephone began to hum an upbeat tune to herself as her patient writhed. The young man really started fighting his bonds when she started scratching the first runes into his flesh with a sharp needle. She couldn't help but be thankful that she finally found an employer who really appreciated her zeal, and didn't mind that her methods were cruel and unnecessary. Come to think of it... the Addams family seemed to really encourage that little quirk of hers.
Neville stepped out of the flames of Saint Mungos' fireplace, and quickly made his way to the waiting room. A cursory glance was all it took to know that his grandmother and the Addams man were no longer there. Turning on his heel, he made his way to the receptionist desk.
"I'm Neville Longbottom, here to see Frank and Alice Longbottom." Neville proclaimed, reaching for the nearby quill to sign in with.
"Let's see..." The morning receptionist began to leaf through a short stack of parchment.
"I know where their room is." Neville said as he already began to move away. "Just letting you know I'm here."
The wizard looked up, startled. "But... hang on... Whatever, they don't pay me enough anyway." He settled back into his chair.
"You don't have to worry." Morticia assured Narcissa in a serene tone. "Despite her appearance, Persephone is every bit the expert she claims to be. Why don't you join the rest of us ladies for tea?"
Reluctantly, Narcissa allowed herself to be brought into a sitting room where several women were chatting. She recognized some faces from last night's wedding, but was shocked to see the bride herself. "Why Mrs. Black, I would have expected you to be spending time with your new husband."
Setting down her cup, Wednesday nodded slightly in acknowledgment. "Our honeymoon is postponed for a day or so while Harry recovers."
"Oh." Narcissa was surprised to find she felt genuine worry for her head of house. "Is he sick, or was there an accident?"
"Nothing like that." Wednesday smirked as she poured herself some more tea. "Last night was just a bit more intense than we were expecting."
The Addams women cackled with mirth, and Narcissa couldn't stop herself from mirroring Wednesday's smirk. Draco would be fine, probably... For now, this seemed like too fun a conversation to miss out on. It wasn't as if she knew where he had gone anyway.
Tonks opened her eyes, and groaned. There was barely any light, but the dim flickering of a few sconces may as well have been the noonday sun. Her head was pounding, and her mouth felt like a desert. Why was she hungover? What did she do last night?
"Cousin Ptolemy said you were loads of fun, but he's not ready to settle down yet." Gomez said in a calm voice, that still sounded loud to Tonks. "You two were the life of the after party."
"What?" Tonks coughed and slowly sat up, realizing she was on a couch. "What happened? I remember trying to arrest... but... then a gorilla?"
Gomez set a warm bowl in Tonks' hands. "Drink that first. It should take away the haze. The worst of the headache too though, sorry."
Without thinking, Tonks downed the strange brew. As if a curtain were lifted, she slowly began to remember. "Oh Merlin. I think I'm going to throw up."
"I'm not surprised." Gomez chuckled. "You tried to out drink Ptolemy, and I don't think I've met anyone who can drink more than a four hundred pound gorilla... and survive at any rate."
He took the bowl back and started walking away. "Feel free to stay as long as you want, you're family after all. Just scream if you need something, and Lurch will see to you."
Tonks closed her eyes and images of the night before flashed in her mind's eye. Being carried off screaming by a gorilla, listening to the grunts and noises until they somehow started to make sense, and having an actual conversation with an animal. Then after the reception died down, those still conscious made their way to a local pub... the drinking... the dancing... the singing... Had the pub even been open?
Retching, Tonks threw up onto the floor. Letting herself collapse back on the couch, she decided she would deal with this after she slept for a few more days.
Arthur stared at his hands, deep in thought. Ultimately he was a simple man. He loved his family, he was obsessed with muggle inventions, and he always tried to do the right thing. "Percy, I'm sorry. I know I've already said it, but I'm sorry. You did what you did, said what you said, because you felt we were wrong."
"You weren't entirely wrong..." Percy admitted, leaning back, unable to look at his father. "I was so certain about Dumbledore being bad for our family, that I was blinded to what was wrong with the ministry."
"That's behind us now. Now, we both have a better picture of what is going on." Arthur wiped away a few stray tears. "Your mother will keep Ginny safe. Your brothers are all adults and we can worry, but we must trust that they will take care of themselves. You and I... Tell me again about Thicknesse."
Percy nodded, and took a deep breath. "Ever since that fiasco with Mr. Crouch being imperiused, I've been trying to really get a feel for how everyone around me acts. I... I should have been skeptical about Minister Fudge, but well, he was the minister..."
"It's in the past Percy, Fudge has already paid for his paranoia. You don't have to apologize about misreading Umbridge either. She's always had a knack for coming out on top of things, despite so many knowing her as the foul bigot she is." Arthur motioned for his son to move on.
"Right, well, I noticed that some time around Minister Scrimgeour's assassination, Mr. Thicknesse... began acting odd." Percy struggled, trying to explain. "Nothing I can really put my finger on, but it reminds me too much of Mr. Crouch."
"Alright Draco, we're on to the last step now." Persephone looked over her patient, double checking that all of her runework was correct, and that enough of his blood had seeped out to activate each one.
Draco grunted in acknowledgment. Thankfully, after the initial torture by unknown potion, the ritual hadn't been too bad. While nothing he would call painless, the runes he felt being applied were cut just deep enough to draw blood. The process was decidedly unpleasant, but he weathered it without issue once the potion fumes were gone.
"For this part, you might feel a slight pinch." Persephone held up a large blood filled syringe with an enormous needle, both in size and length. "Or maybe indescribable agony... I can't remember."
Neville made his way down the all too familiar hallway of the long term care ward of the hospital. His parent's room was just ahead, and he could hear... crying? Taking the last few steps at more of a rush, he all but leapt into the room. There, on his mother's bed, both of his parents sat, tightly embracing each other. They both shook with not only tears, but laughter.
"Mum... Dad..." Neville looked at his parents longingly, daring to hope that maybe that strange Addams man had followed through after all.
The couple detangled themselves, and looked over to their son. Alice clutched at her heart, and began to cry even harder, while simultaneously smiling brightly. Frank stood immediately, and rushed to his son.
In complete shock, Neville let himself be pulled over to the bed, where he was sandwiched between his crying parents. After letting himself just enjoy the moment, he realized something was off. "Where's Gran?"
"AAAAAAGGHHHH!" A loud, incoherent scream carried though the Black family manor. Shaken out of her second attempt to sleep off her hangover, Tonks rolled off the couch. Landing roughly on the floor, she groaned and pulled herself up to her feet.
Tonks decided that as much as she wanted to sleep, this particular house probably wasn't going to allow her such luxury. She felt disgusting, and something smelled like death. Blinking a few times, she realized that she had landed in a puddle of her own vomit. Fighting back the urge to throw up again, she felt around for her wand.
"Right... Hermione..." Tonks lamented, as she remembered being disarmed by the very witch she had just saved from Death Eaters. Why couldn't anything make sense? Dumbledore had lost the plot, Harry had gone as dark as one could go. Up was down, in was out, it was enough to make her scream!
"GAAAAHH!" Tonks cried out in frustration, and slammed her fists against the wall.
A long low groan came from behind her, and she turned to see an extremely tall, sickly looking man. She vaguely remembered him from the Order's failed attempt to raid this very house. The man, if it was a man, was dressed not only as a muggle butler, but wore a frilly maid's apron. In one hand he held a large bucket filled with greyish water, the other hand held a mop.
Another moan rumbled from the butler, and Tonks could almost swear he was telling her directions to a shower. The man set down his bucket, pointed out one of the doors, then pushed his mop into the bucket. Foul smelling water splashed onto the floor, which he proceeded to spread all over.
Tonks followed the man's directions, not quite sure how, and found herself in a simple bathroom. There were clean towels, and a plain black muggle dress hung up on the wall.
Upon hearing her son's gut wrenching scream, Narcissa stood up, frantically trying to figure which way to find Draco.
"That just means Persephone is finishing up." Wednesday said in her usual calm monotone. "I'm sure we'd all rather you stay and finish telling us how you and Lucius talked your way out of that one. I didn't even realize Hogwarts had a swim club."
Wednesday let out a strange noise that sounded like a series of clicks. "If you must see Draco, Lavinia can lead you too him."
Worry etched in her eyes, the amusing conversation forgotten, Narcissa stared at Wednesday imploringly. "Lavinia?"
"My pet spider. Here she is now." Wednesday fondly petted the stocky acromantula as it skittered down the wall, exiting the shadows of the ceiling. "Lavinia, please escort Mrs. Malfoy to Persephone's laboratory."
Narcissa watched the acromantula leap down, and head out the door. Gathering herself, she swiftly followed the enormous spider, resisting the urge to draw her wand.
After her much needed shower, Tonks moved to dress herself in the muggle clothes that had been left for her. The dress was meant for someone slightly less endowed, and much thinner than her, but that wasn't much of an issue for a metamorphmagus. Breathing deeply, her body shifted, almost melting. Soon she had fitted herself to the dress, and made her way out of the bathroom.
Despite feeling much better, Tonks had to lean on the walls as she made her way through the manor, heading toward the kitchen. Food was the next step in her journey to recovery.
After only a couple wrong turns, and stumbling more times than she'd care to admit, Tonks finally made her way into the spacious kitchen.
"I see Lurch gave you one of Wednesday's old dresses." Harry said, looking up from his own late breakfast. "I'm surprised it fits so well... Oh, right. Advantage of being a metamorph?"
"Something like that." Tonks grunted as she all but fell into one of the chairs. "You look worse than I feel, and I feel like absolute shite."
Harry's face was nearly as pale as his wife's usually was. There were dark circles around his eyes, and his forehead was heavily wrapped with a bloody bandage. "Honeymoon started out a bit more exciting than I was expecting." Harry grinned widely, then nearly doubled over with a hacking cough.
Tonks was about to ask what the hell happened, but decided against it. Leaning back she saw the head of Peter Pettigrew, stuffed and mounted on the wall. She opened her mouth, closed it, then shook her head, which she immediately regretted. "Oww."
"How's your dating life. If you don't mind me asking?" Harry took a long sip of tea to quiet his cough. "I heard you and Ptolemy hit it off. Bit of a thing for beasts?"
"No, he's not interested in anything long term..." Tonks wondered why the hell that was her response, Ptolemy was a damn gorilla. "And no. I didn't hit it off with the gorilla, he just... Damn it Harry, why doesn't anything make sense anymore?"
"Why does anything need to make sense?" Harry's voice was calm, and the question sincere. "Stop trying to live life by the rules of other people. Make up your own... or don't bother with them at all."
"I should be making a big deal about that you know." Tonks pointed to the severed head on the wall. "I'm not though, and I don't know why." She held up a finger to quiet Harry before he could respond. "You asked me to choose Dumbledore or family, and you were right. It isn't a hard choice. Dumbledore's completely lost it. I'm choosing family..."
"Good choice... cousin." A hoarse voice came from the doorway.
Standing, with his mother hovering behind him, was Draco. The Malfoy heir's robes were open in the front, displaying bloody runes etched into his flesh. He limped his way to the table, took his own seat and pouring himself some tea. "None of this is normal. Everyone here is messed up in one way or another."
Draco ignored Harry's chuckling, and stared unblinking into Tonks' eyes. "But we all share two things: blood and power. Like it or not, you are a Black. You should take advantage of that fact. The procedure hurts like hell, but I can feel it already."
"What are you talking about?" Tonks eyed Draco warily while she reached across the table to grab a small loaf of bread.
"The old magic." Draco smiled darkly. "I can feel it burning it's way through my veins now."
"It will kill you Draco. I don't know why it hasn't killed everyone else here." Tonks found herself oddly sad that her cousin had all but committed suicide."
"No, it won't." Harry pointed out. "Persephone, Grandmama, and I all talked it over when they took my blood for Draco's procedure. Love really is the key. That's why the Addams family survives. That's why the Black family will be reborn."
"Persephone said as much." Draco nodded. "Though I'd have preferred that she mention it before instead of after. She figures my mother's love will sustain me for now, but I need to... learn to love more myself."
"Have anyone in mind?" Harry grinned, pleased with Draco's progress.
"It doesn't have to be that kind of love Scarhead." Draco snorted with derision while staring into the distance. "Father always discouraged affection. He considered it a weakness. I do love mother, and I will feed that feeling." He looked pointedly between both Harry and Tonks. "I will see if I can start by loving my family. The muggle blood in both your veins is not worth my concern any longer. From this point, all I care about is the Black blood, the Black family."
"Family, sure, right, whatever." Tonks tore off a chunk of bread with her teeth, and half chewed, half talked. "Just keep out of your 'family business' if you catch my meaning."
"Subtle." Draco laughed, which caused him to wince in pain. "You don't have to be subtle here." He glanced back at his mother, who was looking on with an odd look of relief and pride. "Following the Dark Lord hasn't been all that rewarding for my father. Not in the long run. Still, the ministry is crumbling, and the Dark Lord will rule. You would do well to consider being more flexible with your picture of what the right thing is. After all, your hero Dumbledore turned out to be a right pile of dragon dung after all didn't he?"
Everything was set. Everything was ready. All he had to do now was wait. It could take a day, it could be a week... it didn't matter. The boy would come, and everything would finally go back to the way it was supposed to be. Everything was set... Everything was ready... Everything was ready...
Leaning on the railing of the massive cruise ship she found herself on, Petunia Dursley pretended not to notice that her son was headed toward a clothing optional portion of the ship. It was too cold for nude sunbathing anyway, so no point in causing a scene. At least her husband had the sense to be upset about their situation.
"We never should have taken in that freak in the first place." Vernon grunted. "At least it's over now though, right?"
"I don't know Vernon. It seems too convenient, too good." Petunia's face soured as she considered their frankly unbelievable windfall. "That freak Dumbdoor or whatever, gave us so much money... This cruise to Australia, your new job waiting for us there, a new house... A brand new, perfect life... I'm terrified about what the catch is going to be."
Vernon rubbed his wife's back, trying to soothe her worries. "It's not unbelievable as you make it sound Pet. We got lucky with the timing of this cruise, there is that, but the rest? The money wasn't all that much, not even enough to completely pay for all this. As for the move to Australia, it has more to do with my position and influence at Grunnings. They've needed someone like me in their Australian office for a year and a half now."
"Mum! Dad!" Dudley called out as he ran up to his parents, slightly out of breath. "We got a letter from the freak."
Scowling at the implication, Petunia tore the letter from her son's hands, ripped it open, and began to read, muttering all the while. "Knew something would happen... Freaks... Can't leave well enough alone..."
Dear Aunt Petunia, Uncle Vernon, and Cousin Dudley,
On the off chance I won't be able to visit you myself before heading back to school, I wanted to send you a gift. I cannot express how thankful I am for the memories of how you raised me. I am truly sorry for not appreciating all you did for me over the years.
The filthy, spider-infested, cramped cupboard was more than any child could hope to have for a bedroom growing up. I've discussed it with my wife, and we both think we should build a similar nursery for our own future children.
Dudley: Thank you for the the beatings and the fear you gave me. Ensuring I was friendless might have been a bit much, but I really do appreciate the effort you put in to making my life miserable.
Uncle Vernon: Thank you for starving me. I don't know how you enjoyed the food you make me cook for you, but forcing me to eat scraps and what I accidentally burned was a kindness I don't think I ever deserved.
Aunt Petunia: The hatred you hold for me hurt me more than even I can understand. But what is hate, but love all twisted around? I'm sure that I'm the man I am today because of your tender upbringing.
I can't think of a gift good enough for you all, but hopefully this will do for now. I have been assured that there is a treasure greater than I can imagine hidden within this puzzle box. I played with it for a little while, but I have to admit, I have no idea how to open it. Worse case, feel free to sell it. I think the inlay is real gold, so even with contents unknown you should get a worthwhile price.
Your loving Nephew/Cousin,
Crumpling up the letter, without showing it to either her husband or son, Petunia threw it overboard. "Dudley, hand it over."
"Hand what over mum?" Dudley put on his most innocent face.
"The package that came with the letter." Petunia scowled. She loved her son more than anything in the world, but she could admit, if only to herself, that he was a pain at times.
Dudley held up both hands to show they were empty. "Honest mummy, there was only a letter. Maybe Harry's stupid owl couldn't carry both and dropped a package into the ocean?"
Narrowing her eyes, she warned her son with a low even voice. "If that is true, then good. If it isn't true, then make it true. Nothing good can come from anything that freak would give us. I mean it Dudley, if you have the package, don't open it, don't keep it, don't do anything but throw it into the water straight away."
"Lucius, Your son has proven himself to be more competent that his father." Voldemort sneered at the man who was just useful enough not to kill. "I have a simple, yet vital task for young Draco."
The disgraced Malfoy knelt, genuflecting to his master. "My lord, I will relay this task immediately." He was beyond eager for any excuse to get away from Nagini. How Wormtail had managed to be the snake's babysitter... Where was that coward anyway... A punishment was a punishment, but surely it was time for Wormtail to resume his duties, and allow him to do something less demeaning.
"You will bring your son before me. That is the extent of my trust for you Lucius." Voldemort ordered, his voice cold and warning.
New years eve, a time for change. What better time for Harry to finally connect with the people who raised him. Having been dropped off by Lurch, Harry and Wednesday stared at the picturesque house he'd once been forced to call home.
"They try so hard to pretend they're normal." Wednesday noted with disappointment. "Your relatives are monsters. I want to help them embrace the truth."
Harry offered his arm to his wife. "Well then, shall we go in and show them just how much we have in common? The car isn't here, but that probably just means Uncle Vernon is at work."
The door was unlocked, which was not surprising. What was odd, was that nobody seemed to be home.
"I would have expected at least Aunt Petunia to be here, she almost never leaves the house." Harry flicked the light switch.
The lights flickered on and off for a moment, before the bulbs shattered one by one. An audible click announced the door locking behind them, and the windows darkened.
"Maybe they've already begun to embrace their darkness?" Wednesday looked around, noting the air began to feel oppressive and stifling. "Do you think they're trying to kill us?"
Harry scratched the back of his head in confusion. "I guess I wouldn't be surprised, but this is definitely magic, and they're definitely not. I mean it feels like a death trap, but..."
Out of the gloom, stepped Dumbledore with a grim look of determination. His wand already out, he silently cast a spell that detonated between the newlyweds. Harry was violently slammed into the stairwell, and Wednesday was flung into the living room, crashing through the coffee table.
Harry's head swam as he attempted to regain his footing. In the next room, he saw his wife fall into a hole that Dumbledore opened in the floor. Another quick movement of his wand, and the ground rushed back in, trapping her with only the top half of her head visible. His eyes narrowed in anger, this wasn't a deathtrap, it was something actually terrifying. It was Dumbledore. Harry's mind went blank. There was no thought, only fear and rage.
Dumbledore's heart was racing with excitement. The girl was out of the fight, now he could concentrate on Harry. A feral roar startled him for an instant, next he knew, the boy was upon him. More like a wild animal than a wizard, the boy was baring his teeth, and clawing at him with his bare hands. Using his stump to fend Harry off, Dumbledore quickly brought his wand to bear. Gritting his teeth in pain as the boy's teeth sank into what was left of his arm, he cast a powerful banishing charm to gain distance once more.
Wednesday struggled against the weight of the earth pressed in on her. Slowly, she felt her arms forcing their way up through the packed dirt. Her chest and arms burned with effort, but the ground began to give way, mounding up over her head as she strained to free herself. Through the dirt, she heard her husband's raw cry filled with hatred, soon followed by a loud crash.
"It's over Harry." Dumbledore took a step toward Harry, toward the key to everything returning to as it should be. He leveled his wand at the stubborn child who was struggling to rise from the broken remains of the banister. "All this never would have happened if you would just be the good boy you were supposed to be!"
All light vanished from the room. Dumbledore felt a light coating of dust settle on him in the unnatural darkness. His first wordless attempt to light the room proved useless, so he concentrated, pushing his magic though the elder wand. "Lumos maxima!"
A feeble glow emanated from the tip of Dumbledore's wand. It was just enough to allow him to see a pale hand wrap around his own, as he felt a second hand grab a fistful of his hair. Slowly, the darkness began to fade as he fought to free his wand. Crimson sparks began to erupt from his wand as he felt his hand being crushed, illuminating an inhuman face.
Wednesday didn't know or care why the old wizard was trying to defend himself with a glorified sparkler. She heard his wrist snap as she forced the wand tip to point back at him. The red sparks continued erupting from the wand, burning the old man where they landed on his skin. Slowly, and without mercy, she drove the sparking wand into Dumbledore's throat.
"Harry belongs to me." Were the last words Dumbledore heard as he began to choke on his own blood.
Author's note: There is no author's note.