A/N: Akshay, called Shay, is Sarai's older brother. Laura saw his picture on the mantle last chapter.
Sarai is also called Rai.
"(Conversation in parentheses indicates French being spoken.)"
Two weeks after Harry's rescue
(Three months before the Prologue)
Shay stared at the little boy, unblinking and uncomprehending. Beneath his gaze the child trembled, but some eldritch fire burned in the boy's eyes, and he stared back with an unnerving green gaze. Eyes shouldn't be so green. It was unnatural. Trying to dismiss the unease they caused him, Shay decided to just get on with things.
"(What's your name, boy?)"
The boy stared back, his mouth slightly open. Shay's cheek ticked. Where had Rai found this… boy? Not in France, he realized with irritation. The child probably couldn't understand the tongue. It was with a sneer that he repeated the question in English.
"What are you called, boy."
The boy responded to the sneer by appearing to shrink into himself. Already tiny, it was disconcerting to find he could make himself even smaller. But he continued to focus his unnatural gaze at Shay – though fear now warred with the fire. This time the boy understood.
"That's not a name," he snapped.
Finally the gaze dropped, and the scrawny shoulders hunched. Skinny arms wrapped around an equally skinny torso.
"Sorry, sir," he whispered.
Shay's cheek ticked again. "Well, what do your parents call you?"
The boy shifted, then big green eyes peeked out from beneath long black bangs. A spark of defiance crept into the boy's eyes.
"My parents call me nothing, sir. They're dead."
Harry stared up at the dark man through his curtain of hair. The man was angry, but he wasn't screaming or hurting the Freak. Why wasn't he hurting the Freak if he was angry? (Because the Freak was always the reason why people were angry. The big man always said it was his fault.)
That's what gave him the courage to look back at the dark man and indicate that it was Harry who knew what he was talking about. The dark man wanted to know what they called him – well, as the Freak was the one who was always being yelled at, he imagined that he knew best what they called him.
Immediately after his spark of defiance, he looked away again. That was stupid. There was no point inviting the slaps. They would come in time, and no matter how much he deserved them, Harry would rather avoid them as long as possible. He knew he was being selfish and very bad for even daring to think the slaps weren't deserved. But he couldn't help it.
He stared at the floor in front of his feet, waiting. It was only a matter of time.
Shay was officially confused. First defiance, then complete submission. A counter-intuitive stance that Shay identified immediately as someone who expected to be hit and had been hit enough to know how to make it less painful. But this was just a child… Even Shay would never harm a child like this.
"Boy." A flicker of green. "Look at me, boy."
The boy raised his eyes hesitantly and stared at him again. Freak, he called himself. Who called a child Freak? A burning disgust roiled angrily in Shay's gut. He would find these people, he swore silently. He would find them and he would prove exactly how he earned the title Butcher.
"I am Akshay mal Théa. My sister wants to claim you as her son."
The boy's head jerked up and Shay watched the wild hope quickly beaten down in that so-expressive gaze. Shay forcefully suppressed the stupid protective urge that sprang up. He would not make this boy his problem. If Rai wanted to invite difficulties, well, she could go ahead and do so.
"I've decided to grant her permission. Do you know what that means, boy?"
The little jaw worked, but no sound came out.
"That means you need a name. I refuse to allow a member of my House to answer to a degrading slur like 'Freak.'" A sneer tugged up his lip, and he jerked his head slightly.
Finally the child found his voice. "The… The pretty lady, sir?" he squeaked, whites showing all around his eyes. "The pretty lady wants me?"
Dark amusement played in Shay's eyes. The pretty lady? Well, he supposed Rai was pretty enough, in her own sort of way.
"Sarai," he clarified. "The woman with the white hair."
Green eyes burned with that unnamable fire. "Sarai," the boy repeated hungrily. "Sarai wants the Freak."
Shay's eye ticked, but he didn't try to correct the child. Rai could worry about that. With an abrupt nod, he spun and stalked out of the tiny hospital room, leaving behind a wide-eyed little boy curled up in the sterile hospital bed.
Someone would pay for that little boy's pain. No one hurt his family and got away unscathed.
Rai watched her brother leave the room in a swirl of dark cloth. His eye was ticking, and she took it as a good sign for her boy.
"(So, is he mine?)" She didn't bother to disguise the ferocity in her voice. She wanted this boy. He needed her, and that spoke to every mothering bone in her body. To tell the truth, it didn't really matter what Shay said - she intended to have her way in the matter.
"(Yes,)" he said shortly, before sweeping out of the room.
"(He's angry,)" said Ami.
Rai looked over at the girl who stood poised beside the medicine cabinet and gave an ironic smile.
"(Aren't we all? At least he gets to do something about it.)"
"(You are doing something, mother.)"
"(I know. I know, Ami.)"
Ami walked over and pressed a cold kiss to one cheek, then the other. Rai smiled warmly at her daughter, then turned to re-enter the room with the little boy. It was time to come up with a name.
Shay took a Portkey back to the family manor, stalking restlessly down to the terrace. He was in a Bad Mood, and the servants knew enough to keep out of his way. Oh, we would never actually harm the help, but he wasn't above snarling at them when he was having a bad day.
For a brief moment he wished that his family employed House Elves – he could take his anger out on such creatures – but the wish passed quickly. It was a mark of status that the mal Théas could afford human servants.
For the moment he simply stood on the terrace, seething. He wanted to wrap his hands around the neck of that cruel, stupid Muggle who had dared harm that little boy. Shay's nephew. My nephew, Shay growled slightly. A Muggle had hurt a mal Théa. For a crime such as that, there was only death.
"(Darling, what's the matter?)"
Shay turned to look at the serene blonde, forcing himself to calm down. He held out a welcoming hand to his wife, and she stepped into the half-circle of his embrace.
"(Rai's little foundling… I gave her permission to make him a mal Théa.)"
"(That's wonderful,)" she smiled, gray eyes amused. "(But it doesn't explain why Camille was too terrified to come tell you that dinner is ready.)"
"(He said his name is Freak, Genevieve)" Shay ground out, looking out across the gardens. "(He was scrawny, psychotic, and he had more scars than many of my veteran fighters.)"
"(The name is probably already changed,)" Genevieve said, arching an eyebrow. "(Being scrawny is easily fixed with nutrient potions, and I dare you to doubt Rai's abilities there. Psychosis seems to be a requirement in this family, so it's actually good if he is, he'll fit right in. And scars are very dashing, don't you think?)" She reached up and touched one of the many scars littering Shay's face, and he let her. "(Besides, there's always concealment charms like you use,)"she said dismissively
"(That isn't the point, Genevieve, and you know it.)" She had succeeded in calming him, though, and he had reverted to the cool, composed pureblood he normally was.
His wife shrugged, making it obvious that she didn't particularly care.
"(I made inquiries about the family the child came from,)" he informed her after a moment. "(The Dursley family. They live in England. My contact still doesn't know their address, but he will let me know as soon as he finds them. They will regret hurting my nephew.)"
"(That's lovely dear. But it's dinner time now, and you wouldn't want Camille's cooking going to waste.)" With a patient indifference born of more than 20 years spent married to a mass murderer, Genevieve steered him back inside the manor, talking calmly of their daughter's latest exploits in learning to walk and of their son's new home in Paris.
Dumbledore stared down at the letter, too shocked to truly react. The Dursleys had sold their house and had moved away without leaving so much as a forwarding address.
Three weeks ago Mrs Figg had written that the Dusleys had won a trip to the States from some kind of Muggle broadcast – he was a bit fuzzy on the details – and that they would be gone for five days. He had been nervous about Harry being out of the house for so long, but he was fairly certain that the boy would be safe in America for a week.
Now, however, Mrs Figg reported that they had gotten back from their vacation only to turn around and put their house up for sale. The old woman confided that this was very odd behavior, even for Muggles.
She had also admitted that she hadn't seen Harry anywhere, though that wasn't necessarily unusual. The boy was like a ghost, she wrote. You didn't see him unless he wanted to be seen – and even then, he almost had to be jumping up and down waving his arms for you to notice him.
But that wasn't the point. The point was that the Dursleys had gone to an unknown and unprotected address, taking the Boy Who Lived with them.
Dumbledore nearly groaned. He did not want to deal with this right now. There were far too many other things that needed to be taken care of – not least of which was finding this year's Defense Against the Dark Arts professor. Professor Gromin hadn't actually resigned yet, but he expected the letter soon and had already begun the search for a replacement.
But as much as he wanted to push this to the side and worry about it later, he knew he couldn't. Harry was important. Even more important than finding a replacement for a teacher who hadn't quit yet. Dumbledore didn't have the time, but he knew people who did.
Petunia looked up from slicing potatoes when she heard the knock. Wiping her hands on her apron, she opened the front door with a smile, prepared to greet whichever new neighbor had come to wish them well.
She was, therefore, somewhat surprised by the sight of the man on the doorstep. He definitely did not seem to be the type of person to live in a neighborhood like this. He was tall, with brown skin and black eyes. His curly black hair was pulled into a low ponytail (men these days! Really, long hair?) and tied at the nape of his neck. A neatly trimmed goatee framed his unsmiling mouth. He was wearing what could only be a hand-tailored suit – nothing off the racks would fit the broad shoulders and narrow waist that perfectly.
He was tall, dark, and handsome. Petunia's smile grew a little, and she patted her stringy blonde hair nervously. The man quirked what might've been called a smile.
"That's me," she giggled a little. "Can I help you?"
"My name is Akshay mal Théa. I was hoping to speak with you and your husband. Is he here?"
"He should be home soon," she smiled anxiously, opening the door wider. "Won't you come in?"
"Thank you." He stepped in, and she led him to the new living room.
"I'm sorry about the mess, Mr mal Théa," she fretted, "we just moved, and we haven't finished unpacking yet."
The man simply nodded and went over to stand by the fireplace, casually inspecting the pictures she kept there.
"That's my son Dudley," she said proudly. "He's such a precious little boy! Do you have any children Mr mal Théa?" she inquired, hoping to start some sort of conversation.
"Two," he replied, not looking away from the pictures.
"Oh. What're their names?" She sat down on the couch, wishing he would do the same.
"Didier and Fayette."
Petunia forced a smile, not particularly fond of the names. She felt a little bad for the poor children who would grow up without good, strong English names like her son's. "That's lovely. How old are they?"
"Didier is 19, Fayette just turned 1."
The blonde blinked in surprise at the space between their ages, and again by the revelation that this man was old enough to have a grown son. Petunia hadn't thought he could be much older than her.
"Well, my Dudley is 6," she jumped on the opportunity to talk about her son. "We took him to America for an early birthday present and had a lovely time. Have you ever been to America, Mr mal Théa?" she asked, hoping he'd say no. She loved it that most people she spoke to had never been. It made her feel important.
"Yes," he said dryly. "Many times."
"Oh. Well, we hope to go again," she temporized. She wondered what she should say next. He wasn't nearly as friendly as she'd hoped he would be, and she was beginning to feel very awkward. She rather wished she had told him to go away and come back when Vernon was home.
As if in answer to her wishes, the door opened and her husband's booming voice echoed around the house. "I'm home, Pet!"
"In here, Vernon," she called, eyes darting away from the dark man's suddenly stiff back. "We have company," she added with a simpering smile.
Dursley walked into the room and Shay turned to look at the man who had abused and abandoned little Gabriel. He was monstrously fat, and just as ugly as the boy whose portraits dominated the mantle. Even uglier, if possible.
And he was smiling at Shay in a manner he obviously considered ingratiating. It made Shay feel dirty, and very few things could make the Parisian Butcher feel dirty. His loathing for the Muggle intensified.
Pulling out his wand, he conjured a Muggle pistol in the fat man's jacket pocket and cast Imperio. The Muggle's face slackened, he pulled out the gun, and without a word shot his wife three times in the heart and once in the head.
Smiling pleasantly, Shay walked out the door after removing any memory of him from the man's mind. His work was done. Let the Muggles deal with the consequences. He was downright cheerful as he Portkeyed back to the manor.
A/N: Didier is pronounced "dih dee ay" if you're curious. And Genevieve is pronounced of zhohn vee ev. There're going to be a lot of French names in this story, as the mal Théas are primarily French.
mal Théa is pronounced mal TAY ah.