AN: I everyone! Thanks so much to everyone writing comments and reviews. Your ideas and questions help me a great deal. All the encouragement helps me write even on days I'm not all that inspired. So thank you all very much!
Thursday, 21th of December
Harry had just moments ago woken up from a restful sleep in his own bed, in his own room, at home in Griffin House. It was such a strange concept still. The last time he had been here he still had felt so much more conflicted over the fact that he had been adopted. That now the man who had killed Harry's parents was his new father.
But in the meantime so much else had happened. Marvolo had visited the Quidditch game Harry had played in. Had included him in important events, kept him informed. Harry felt respected as an almost adult. Not treated like a child as Mrs. Weasley and most of the professors tended to do.
In a slightly disgruntled mood, Harry exited his walk-in closet. He had way too many clothes, and he was sure Marvolo was using each and every opportunity he could to get even more of them made and added to the pile. The reason for this strange behaviour was still a mystery, though.
The evening before, Harry had tried to argue that they had bought warm winter robes and clothes in Hogsmeade, and that there was no reason to buy even more now. But Marvolo and the tailor had ganged up on him, claiming that Harry had grown since then – Harry was happy that this was even true – and that it was unseemly to be walking around with robes and trousers too short by even a fraction of an inch.
Harry still felt it was ridiculous to buy new clothes just because they started to get a little short – and the fact that the supposedly too-short clothes were not removed from his wardrobe was one big argument in Harry's favour – but he had been overruled.
The fact that the trousers of fine wool, the silken shirt, a knit vest, and robes of a heavy woollen cloth – all perfectly colour coordinated of course – felt so incredibly good when worn just added to the strangeness. After a few months of school uniforms and robes it felt strange all anew that he now had well fitting, new, high-quality clothes to call his own.
But at the moment, the fact that he was dressed as posh as a Malfoy wasn't the most pressing problem.
It was late. He had slept in. And Harry wasn't sure that it was okay to get to breakfast so late.
He guessed that Marvolo would have sent one of the elves if it was a problem, but he couldn't get rid of the niggling worry in his stomach.
The formal dining room was empty, so Harry walked past it towards the door to the kitchen. The smell of breakfast came from there, and as he reached the door he could hear tea being poured into a cup and the sizzling sound of bacon being cooked. Maybe breakfast wasn't finished yet.
"Good morning, Henry. Come in, have a seat and fill a plate!" Marvolo looked and sounded as if he was in a good mood today. He was holding the Daily Prophet, just lowering it enough to look over the pages towards the door, where Harry was standing feeling quite awkward.
With a deep breath and a shaky smile Harry walked into the room. "Good morning, sir. I'm sorry I'm late."
But before he could really start in on his apology, Marvolo already had waved one hand as if to banish the matter from the room. "This is the first day of a holiday that won't be much of a holiday at all. I thought you deserved to sleep in for once." The red-eyed wizard impatiently waved his hand, moving Harry's chair away from the table, clearly ordering him to sit down already.
So Harry did exactly that, and started to fill his plate with scrambled eggs, some of the freshly cooked bacon that Flimm levitated over to him, a slice of toasted bread covered in honey, and some cut-up apple slices.
It was a peaceful breakfast, and as had been the custom even over at Theo's place, they shared the newspaper, once Harry had eaten a decent portion.
"Do you have any plans for today?" Marvolo wanted to know at one point, taking another of the small cakes that Flimm had served them.
Harry shook his head, mouth still filled with his last bite of bacon and eggs. Once he had chewed and swallowed he answered. "I hadn't thought that far yet. I somehow got the impression that most of the holiday would be occupied with events we would have to visit, so I mainly worried how to pack all the homework, and all the revising Hermione wants me to do, in the time of the holidays as well." In fact, Harry had feared that the train ride back to Hogwarts would be the moment he would get to finish his homework. Even if he now didn't need to sneak his school stuff into his room, if there wasn't any time to do the essays, then there was no time.
"We do have quite a few events planned. I will give you a schedule at dinner this evening. But there should be enough time for your studying and a few visits to friends," Marvolo said casually, folding the sports section of the newspaper to place it on the table next to his plate.
Harry perked up. Time for a few visits to his friends? That sounded much better than he had feared. Maybe an afternoon at the Burrow wasn't that far out of the realm of possibilities after all. "Can I visit Sirius? Maybe even today?" Yesterday on their talk over the mirror, Sirius had gushed over the motorbike he had bought just a few days back, and now had managed to get it into one of the unused rooms to work on it. Harry was eager to see it and hear more of Sirius' plans on what to do.
"If your godfather is free, I have no objections." Marvolo nodded, filling his cup with more tea. "So go ahead and ask him."
With a big smile Harry finished his orange juice – a nice change of pace from the normally ever present pumpkin-juice – before he stood from the table to hurry to his room where both mirrors were placed on his desk.
Harry really hoped that Sirius had time.
Pacing impatiently in front of the floo, Sirius drank his coffee as fast as was possible. Just a moment before Harry had called over the mirror asking if he could visit today. And of course he could visit. Sirius hadn't had anything special planned today, only to relax and unwind after so many social events he had had to attend.
Doing so with his godson would be even better than doing it alone.
The cup of dark coffee had been drained for some time before Harry stumbled out of the floo, grinning like mad. "Sirius!" the teen cried out, sprinting over to Sirius, enveloping him in a big hug. With a big grin on his own face, Sirius folded his arms around the still lanky but now at least quite a bit taller teen.
"I'm happy to see you too, pup." Stepping back, releasing the other, Sirius clapped one hand on Harry's shoulder. "Do you want to eat breakfast with me?"
Harry gave him a sheepish grin. "I just had breakfast. I slept in today, and came here just after I had finished eating."
"Well, then you'll have to watch me eating breakfast," Sirius decided, and slung an arm across his godson's shoulders. They went down to the kitchen where a nice breakfast was still laid out on the table.
"What are your plans for the holidays, Harry?" Sirius asked so he would be able to eat and listen to Harry, avoiding an awkward silence.
"Well, Ron invited me over to the burrow and I hope I can go. Because – as you should know – there are many events I'll have to go to. The ball Malfoy is giving, the small gathering hosted by Neville's grandmother, and a few others." His mouth full, Sirius nodded, and rolled his eyes. He had to go to all of those too. At least he knew Harry would be there as well. Maybe he could get some more time to spend together out of it. "Lord Lestrange has invited us over to the school he has started this autumn. They'll have a small crafts fair, and a play as well. I think that'll be fun, because Hermione and her parents will be there too." Sirius nodded, taking another fork full of egg and bacon into his mouth.
Harry sipped at the tea Sirius had pressed on him and seemed to be thinking what to say next. "Then there is revision… OWL year is really hard, I tell you. I wonder why I never noticed how stressed the fifth-years were each year. And homework, of course. I never gave Hermione much credit, but she's right, doing it as soon as possible is less stressful."
Sirius made a face, while Harry chuckled, a little embarrassed. "I can tell you, your mother would agree, and Moony certainly will be proud to hear that you take your studies that serious." Sirius made a face. He never had given much thought to homework, studying, or his OWLs, at least not until he had to. But now he was the adult, and he knew that it was his job to encourage Harry to study, learn, and do his homework in time. It was just really going against all he held dear. "How are classes going?"
"Fine. I'm happy I changed Divination for Ancient Runes. Not making up predictions on how evil, mishaps, and death will fall on me, is a relief. Defence is mostly theory, and I'm glad Hermione came up with the idea of the Defence Club. It gives me a lot of opportunity to practice my spells."
While Sirius ate his breakfast – throwing in a question now and then – Harry happily told him about his studies, a topic they normally skipped during their calls over the mirror.
Then Harry got a gleam in his eyes and asked in a teasing tone, "Are you going to show me the bike you've found to tinker with?"
With a gleam in his own eyes, Sirius stood from the table, leaving it to Kreacher to clean up after them, waving for Harry to follow him. "I repurposed my mother's favourite parlour into a work room. I think the bike I got is a real beauty. Sadly, the previous owner had no sense at all, leaving her in a terrible state, but that gives me so much more to do."
Now it was up to Sirius to prattle on and on about the bike, his plans, and what he would do first. Harry followed him, listening intently. Once they reached the workroom, thick tarps covering the floor, Sirius started on the spot to work on the motorbike, getting Harry to help, handing him things he asked for. They spent the entire morning working and talking, even skipping lunch. Sirius felt reminded of the days he had spent working on his first motorcycle together with his best friend and chosen brother James, but at the same time it was different, as Harry was so much younger than Sirius, and not at all a carbon copy of his father.
After a wonderful morning working with their hands to renovate the old, rusty motorbike, Harry walked into one of the renovated bathrooms in Grimmauld Place to get rid of the grease and oil he had on his hands and – inexplicably – his face.
Sirius had hurried to get some tea served for them in the one room upstairs that was cleaned and renovated the most. It was the parlour with the tapestry inside, but it had big windows to the street and the back garden, making it one of the cheerier places. Which didn't say too much.
After getting the stubborn stains from his skin, Harry made his way over to where he could hear Kreacher puttering around with the delicate china which had come with the house.
"That smells delicious, Kreacher," Harry complimented the moment he stepped into the room. Flimm was always happy to receive some compliments about his work, and Dobby for sure always almost burst with pride when Harry had said he was doing something good. Maybe Harry should go visit the elf in the kitchen. He hadn't seen the bubbly Dobby since he had helped Harry with the second task during the tournament.
Kreacher's reaction was a sneer, but thankfully he didn't say or mutter anything. So Harry sat down on a settee, adding sugar and cream to his cup of tea. They talked a bit more about the motorbike and Sirius' plans for it. Charming it so it could fly sounded like fun, but Harry worried that it would be against Ministry regulations, and that would get Sirius in trouble.
Finally Harry contemplated the old tapestry with its many burned spots. "Have you found anyone who thought it possible to repair that thing?" It would be nice to get all those burned from the tapestry because they somehow had offended the family, onto it again.
Sirius shook his head, sighing. "No. Each expert I had here claimed it was impossible to get it repaired. Some even claimed any attempt to reverse the damage would only make it worse. Not sure if I really care about the risk, but I don't know how to find an heir without that thing."
Harry smirked. "Not interested in going the traditional route?" he teased and got a mock scowl back for his effort.
"When have I ever done something the traditional way? And marrying some woman is the last thing I want to do at the moment." Sirius slumped down in his seat, scowling at the ceiling.
Harry played with his teacup, pondering something in his mind. He hadn't had the opportunity to test it yet, but if Sirius really wasn't concerned over maybe ruining the tapestry, it might be worth a shot.
"Maybe there is a way." Harry began tentatively, folding his hands and leaning forward, placing his elbows on his knees. "I got a book for my birthday, detailing how magic can do incredible things when worked in Parseltongue."
Sirius looked at Harry, a question clear in his eyes.
"I haven't really tried it yet. Too much schoolwork, and too many… people around. But if there's enough motivation and a clear intent, it should be possible to do many things that there's no way to do any other way." Harry shrugged helplessly. "There's also a chapter about problems, and gruesome stories about what can go wrong. But I guess this is a relatively safe project?" The last came out sounding much more like a question, and Harry really didn't feel that confident any longer. Sirius' look was just so sceptical.
"Maybe I could try with something simpler first?" As he said this, Harry's mind already was racing, searching for something that he could do to prove that his idea could work. "Like turning this spoon green?" he offered up his first idea.
Sirius sat up, clearly considering the idea. "Can you tell me about how this will work? Or is that too close to family magic to talk about?"
Harry opened his mouth and then closed it again, just nodding, as he realised that this was indeed something he couldn't talk about with someone not belonging to the family. "I can tell you that only the object, or being, the spell is aimed at can suffer from any bad consequences. And as long as I have a clear intent and a clear goal in mind, there shouldn't be any big problems." The book had compared the magic of intent to what happened with accidental magic in young children. They almost always had a very clear intent. They wanted to have something, or needed to be safe, warm, they needed light… it didn't happen often that they were confused over what they wanted. Once the needs got more complicated, or conflicted with others, instances of accidental magic occurred less often. Usually with the increasing age of the children.
All Harry needed was a clear image of what he wanted to happen, and a clear desire for it to happen. And he was reasonably sure that he had both. He wanted for Sirius to no longer have to worry about finding an heir, because he knew without a doubt if the tapestry could give him a name or not. So Harry wanted it to work as it had been intended on creation. Sirius nodded slowly. "Alright, Harry, you can test it. First on this spoon, and if that works, you can test it on the tapestry. I've even considered just burning it, so I can concentrate on something different. Like convincing Dora that now that her mother and she are back in the family, she should accept the position as heiress." Harry snorted. Never would Dora – or rather Tonks – agree to something like that. He hadn't spoken with her often, but what he had been told of her by Sirius didn't point at someone willing to put up with the norms and demands of society.
But now wasn't the time to discuss this. And Sirius even knew all of that. So Harry got his wand out and placed the spoon on the table in front of himself. He thought what words he should use, before he pointed his wand at the spoon and concentrated, clearly picturing the outcome he wanted to see when he was finished.
.:Spoon turn green:. Harry barely registered Sirius shuddering at the hissing sounds of Parseltongue, grinning in wonder as the spoon turned a bright leaf green. "Look, it worked!"
Sirius nodded, clearly not really that impressed. "I could have done that with a simple colour-switching spell."
Harry shrugged. "Yeah. But a normal Finite shouldn't work on this." At least the book had said that magic worked this way wasn't easily countered by normal means used by a witch or wizard without the use of Parseltongue.
Sirius raised a brow and got out his own wand. Pointing it at the green spoon on the table, Sirius cast a wordless Finite without any effect. Frowning a little, Sirius sat a little bit straighter, aimed his wand again and spoke aloud this time. "Finite incantatem!"
The expression on his godfather's face turned to impressed. "If you can return the spoon to its original colour, I will admit that it might work."
Turning several possible phrases over in his mind, Harry concentrated on what he wanted to happen. The spoon should be silver again after he was finished. How could he express that in a few simple words?
.:Green vanish, reveal original colour again:. It wasn't all that short, but as the green slowly shrank back, revealing the silver colour of the spoon again, it was clear that it had worked. Had the selection of the verb had an effect on how the change had happened? An instant turning at first, a slow change back? It was something that Harry could consider.
But now he had to find the words to best impress how he wanted this to work. If Sirius allowed him to try.
Pleading green eyes turned to Sirius, who sat there, eyes glued to the spoon which now was again of a silver colour. Slowly grey eyes rose from the unassuming piece of cutlery, taking in the young wizard sitting there tense and waiting. "That's really something. You think you can do this?" Harry nodded. "You're sure there is no danger for you?" Harry nodded again. "Then you may try."
Harry stood, walked over to the tapestry, and eyed it while his mind was whirling. He wanted this tapestry to be whole again, magic and material. He wanted it to work again, to be like it would have been if it hadn't been damaged. He wanted the damage to vanish, leaving the tapestry whole again.
That might work.
Ignoring the shaking in his hand, Harry pointed his wand at the tapestry, picturing it without the burn marks, no person removed by crude means and for petty reasons. He took a deep breath and blanked out the piercing gaze of his godfather that he could feel on his back. There was no benefit in being distracted now. With the now practiced patterns of a relaxing breathing exercise, Harry calmed his racing heart before he started speaking. Or rather, hissing.
.:Tapestry be whole again, as if damage was never done:. Harry felt power rush through him, leaving him dizzy and his eyes watering. Suddenly he was sitting on the floor, limp fingers almost losing their grip on his wand. How had he ended up down here?
Before Harry could manage to clear his mind enough to comprehend what had happened, Sirius was crouching next to him, sounding troubled. "Harry! Are you okay? You said there was no danger for you! Did you even know? Maybe you're more like your father than I had thought! Such recklessness!"
That had been harder than he had expected. Maybe he should have anticipated something like this. Changing the colour of something was easy, repairing such a powerful, ancient artefact was a little bit harder. Or maybe, rather, a lot harder.
Smiling a little ruefully, Harry reassured Sirius, "I'm alright, just a little dizzy. Maybe that was a bigger effort than I had thought it would be. I have felt worse, after an afternoon trying to learn the patronus charm with Remus." He had been two years younger then, and there had been a mock Dementor affecting him, but that wasn't really all that important now, was it?
"Did it work?"
Giving him an unimpressed look, Sirius turned his body so he could look at the tapestry. He snorted. "It did work. But now isn't the time to look at the impossible magical feat you just achieved. Now we will get you onto the settee, and have you eat a big piece of chocolate while we wait for Remus to come here. If he says you're okay, then it's fine. If he says you're not okay, we'll call a healer." There was something like steel in Sirius' voice and Harry wisely decided not to challenge him on this. And chocolate sounded really good anyway.
Severus had apparated them over to the manor – after pressing Sonja into taking a stomach soother, as she had had a queasy stomach for several days now – and was now watching with amusement in his eyes as she walked through the old house, telling the three elves which rooms she wanted to be renovated first.
The fact that the three small elves were almost jumping up and down, so happy and eager to help their Lord and Lady feel at home, was as amusing as Sonja's businesslike tone in ordering what room was to be renovated in what way.
"What do you think, Severus, what colours should we have in the dining room? A light sage green, or maybe a golden yellow?" Sonja turned to him, arching a brow the moment his amusement was spotted.
"You know how my quarters are arranged, love. I'm not really a man known for his taste in interior decoration. But I like references to potions, and am a Slytherin. So, greens?" He really wasn't sure what colours would look good, and as long as Sonja didn't plan to decorate everything in the red and gold of Gryffindor he would be content.
Sonja laughed. "I'm amazed that there really is something most men I have met seem to share." Now Severus was the one arching a brow in a silent question. With a shrug Sonja answered. "I haven't met many men who were interested in decorating a home. Picking colours and whatever else is necessary."
She walked over to him, pressing her smaller body to his tall frame. "Or am I mistaken?"
Closing his arms around her, smiling down at her mischievous expression, Severus gave a slight shake of his head. "You are not. I'm really not interested. But that doesn't mean that I have no opinion... So please, no Gryffindor red."
The peals of Sonja's laughter echoed through the halls. "No worries, love. I'm not that found of red as a colour for walls, rugs, or drapes. But I like greens and blues, and maybe a few subtle yellow and orange hues for the rooms with the furniture of that beautiful honey-coloured wood."
Severus knew that he needed to organise the renovation of Prince Manor, but he really wasn't all that interested in the particulars, details, and all the small decisions it would require. It seemed that he had been lucky enough to find a woman who not only loved him, but was willing to take care of these things for him.
"Cherry, please start with the formal rooms and the kitchen. Until the summer, we most likely will spent most of our time at Hogwarts. As Head of House Severus needs to be available to his students most of the day, including nights. After that, you will start on the master bedroom and the nursery." The big eyes of all three elves got even bigger as they easily made the connection why the nursery was among the first rooms to be renovated. "Clean up all the rooms enough that they don't look as neglected as they do now. Severus, why don't you take Basil out into the garden to explain how you want your ingredients garden organized, and which lab to clean first? I'm sure you'll enjoy planning your lab much more than walking through all the bedrooms, parlours, and studies with me." Her grin was impish.
Severus' first instinct was to stay with his wife. She was unable to cast any spells, practically defenceless if she should come across something dangerous. And the next thing he did was beating that instinct down with common sense. She was an intelligent woman, who had lived in the magical world for most of her life. She wouldn't risk touching something that seemed ominous. And she wasn't alone. Two dedicated house-elves would be by her side, eager to protect the Lady of the Manor and the heir even now growing inside of her. He would make her feel like he thought her incompetent if he insisted on being by her side all the time because she wasn't able to look after herself.
He took a deep breath, checked his occlumency shields and then smiled at his wife. "If you need me for anything – like deciding on a green for the living room – send one of the elves. I will be in the garden."
They parted with a kiss, and Severus could hear Sonja giving orders until he had reached one of the doors leading outside. "I wish for all the common herbs and plants to be available in the garden. No reason to not grow them in my own garden now that I have the space. One of the greenhouses will be dedicated to plants from the Mediterranean." Sonja had been right. Even though he was no herbologist, he was a Potions Master and knew enough about the magical and mundane plants he needed in his craft to have strong opinions on how a garden should be planned. He would have a fun day outdoors, even with the weather as bad as it was in this part of the country.
When Remus arrived at Grimmauld Place he found a nervously pacing Sirius in the parlour with that hideous tapestry, and a sleeping Harry on one of the settees.
"What happened?" Remus asked of his oldest friend once he had taken in the room and the mood.
Sirius waved a hand in the direction of the tapestry and stopped his pacing to turn so he could see Remus. "Harry repaired the tapestry. I gave him chocolate because he was looking a little peaky, shaky on his feet… then he laid down and was asleep in seconds. I think we need to call a healer." Sirius yanked his hair out of his face with one hand, nervously carding that hand through his dark hair more than once, truly looking worried and lost.
Not concentrating on the fact that his friend just had claimed that Harry had done what several expert had claimed to be impossible, Remus got his wand out and stepped over to the settee where Harry was lying curled up under one of the new blankets Sirius had gotten for the house.
He cast a charm and started to talk just to hopefully soothe his nervous friend. "Madam Pomfrey made sure that each teacher knows how to cast the basic diagnostic charms. Especially the charm to check for magical exhaustion. She explained to me the day she instructed me on how to cast it that it was so we would be able to distinguish between those students who didn't get enough sleep from those who were over-exerting themselves with casting spells. She made it quite clear that we shouldn't send those staying up too late to her." He wasn't all that experienced with this charm – it didn't happen all too often that one of the students used more magic than they should – but these readings didn't looked too bad.
"Stop fretting, Sirius. A slight case of magical exhaustion. Harry will be fine. A nap and an early night today should be enough to get him back on his feet." Remus took the few steps to stand next to his friend, clasping his shoulder. "You said Harry repaired the tapestry?"
With a distracted nod, Sirius turned and walked over to said tapestry, Remus following close behind.
"I haven't really looked at it yet. I only noticed that all the burned spots were gone after Harry sat down on the floor. Claimed he was dizzy..." Sirius trailed off and stopped a step before the wall, his grey eyes wandering over the now no longer burned tapestry.
Remus stood next to his friend and started to inspect the tapestry. All the burned spots were gone. There was Alphard, the uncle of Sirius who once had given him money, Andromeda as well as her husband and daughter now were displayed, alongside Bellatrix, her husband – him with a date of death – Narcissa, her husband and son Draco. Other spots showed small portraits. All in all it seemed fuller, especially in the generations which were still alive today. And there was Sirius. Not sure if he was seeing correctly, Remus rubbed his eyes, and then looked again.
"Who is Olivienne Moreau?" Remus asked – unsure how to pronounce it – pointing at the place near of Sirius' own portrait where a young woman was woven into the tapestry. There was a line between Sirius and her and then another line going down to split and connect two more portraits to them.
"Who?" Sirius asked, turning his eyes from where he had been looking at some older relatives, to where several people had been burned off in each generation.
"Olivienne Moreau." Remus repeated, deciding on a French pronunciation. "And her children – twins – who look a lot like you." Remus had to smirk. It seemed as if Sirius had bungled the contraception charm at least once.
Sirius reverently stretched his hand in the direction of the small group of portraits among the sea of all the others. "I'm a father?" He sounded totally shocked, his hand trembling.
"Harry did an excellent job with the repair," Remus murmured approvingly. "The colours are really vibrant, there isn't a speck of dust... it's as good as new!" And the tapestry really was. Remus wondered how it was possible that Harry had managed to do this when all the experts – or so-called experts, Sirius had become truly desperate at the end – had declared the endeavour was pointless.
"Why did she never contact me?" asked Sirius, his eyes still fixed on the place where his own likeness was connected to the three others.
"Do you remember her?" Remus asked only to be answered by a silent shake of Sirius' head. "Then maybe she didn't know your name either. So how could she have found you? And if she knew your name… the date of birth is after that November… so you already were in Azkaban." It wasn't nice to bring that fact into the discussion, but it was a fact. Sirius had been in Azkaban when the twin girls had been born.
Sirius nodded numbly. It seemed as if this was a little bit much for him. "Come, let's go to the kitchen, get you a drink. And then you will contact a private investigator to search for the mother of your children. I would guess she might be French? Or maybe from Canada? Or Switzerland?" With a last look at the peacefully sleeping Harry, Remus guided his old friend down the stairs and into the kitchen.
Once he had Sirius sitting in a chair at the table he started to brew a nice pot of tea. "At least now you have found two possible heirs. If they are willing to move to our nice foggy Great Britain."
The look Sirius threw at Remus for that quip only made the werewolf chuckle. It was always fun to tease a friend.
Marvolo had spend most of the morning with paperwork and preparations. Paperwork because he had to do it sometime, and preparations because the 21st of December was a good – safe – day to perform rituals of high complexity.
He had decided to test his ritual to move a horcrux from its container to another today just for that reason. These plans had influenced him in allowing Henry a whole day with his godfather this early in the holidays. They also had caused him to decline a few invitations from woefully muggle-oriented, so-called light families. Luckily, most of those holding seats in the Wizengamot never held functions on those days traditionally used for rituals, or celebrations of magic. Not all of them – probably less than even a handful – observed those rituals any longer, but it was traditional to leave those days for personal affairs, so those that wanted to could perform their rituals in private.
Because of the real possibility that something might go wrong, Marvolo had called Malcolm Greengrass here to watch the proceedings and to provide help if needed. Of course he had made the man swear an oath making sure he couldn't speak about what he was to learn this day, if it wasn't paramount for him to share the information to ensure Marvolo's survival. Marvolo felt reasonably sure that there would be no need for help, but it was better to be safe than sorry.
"Are you ready for me to begin, Malcolm?" Marvolo asked, slipping the robes he had thrown over the simple long shirt made from thin linen cloth he was wearing as his only clothing down his arms.
"I am, my Lord," was the shaky answer of his healer. The soft sounds of glass phials being moved around signalled that the Healer had everything at hand that might be of use should something go wrong.
Taking up the diadem – the part of his soul encased within was going to be moved today – and a gold-plated hollow sphere made from clay – where the soul piece was to be moved to – Marvolo carefully stepped into the interconnecting circles he had drawn with chalk onto the smooth stone floor of the ritual room he had found and cleaned out in his Headquarters.
It had taken some considerable effort to make all the lines as clear and precise as he could. Drawing with chalk drenched in some potions wasn't really all that easy, as the material got more temperamental and unpredictable in drawing on stone, leading to irregular lines and dangerous gaps if one wasn't really careful. One of the reasons so many people get hurt trying complicated rituals to reach a goal were these difficulties. But Marvolo had worked highly focused, and later checked the ritual circle several times until he was sure there weren't any errors.
No, if something was going to go wrong, it would be because he had made an error in the creation of the ritual, not in the performing of it.
Carefully placing his bare feet so as not to smudge any of the lines, Marvolo moved through the circle, placing the two objects to be used in their appropriate places, before he moved to the blank place in the dense markings where he would be sitting during the ritual.
Sitting down cross-legged, placing his hands on his knees, Marvolo started on his breathing exercises to get into the right frame of mind for this ritual. After several minutes he started to chant the words he had come up with for this. Small bowls filled with specific herbs set up at strategic places started to smoke as the herbs caught fire simultaneously, filling the room with flickering light – in addition to the white magical lights hovering in the four corners – and a sweet scent that was tart at the same time.
Up until now all seemed to go as planned. Focusing on what he had to do, Marvolo changed the chant from the one to start the ritual to the one designed to extract the soul piece from its current container, which promptly started to glow softly in an eerie red.
When the red glow separated slowly from the diadem, coalescing into a small cloud over the object of precious metal and stones, a feeling of pride coursed through Marvolo. It was working! The cloud was smaller than he would have thought, but in the end, he hadn't been all that observant when he had moved this part of his soul out of his body and into the diadem. The pain and ripping had distracted him.
Then suddenly everything went wrong. Instead of moving over to the second object, prepared to accept the soul piece as its new container, the cloud floated over to where Marvolo was sitting, frozen to his spot in fear of causing bigger problems, seemingly following a straight line.
Slightly panicking, Marvolo changed the chant to the one intended to help the soul piece to settle into its new container. Those were based on the original words of the horcrux creation ritual, as placing the piece in a container was a main part of that ritual. But it looked like the container would be Marvolo's body instead of the sphere of clay.
The moment the small cloud made contact with Marvolo's torso, right where the heart was located, pain shot out through his whole body. It made him falter in his chant, voice cut off, a cry of pain wrenched from his throat. Then he fell to his side, shaking, all his nerves burning.
Was this as bad as the evening he had been reborn? Or as bad as the moment the piece of his soul that had been contained in the ring had returned to him? It was incredibly hard to measure pain in any way objectively.
For the moment not willing to try moving on his own, Marvolo only concentrated on breathing, and contemplating what had gone wrong. The part of extracting the piece from its container had worked perfectly, but binding it to a new container had failed, instead moving it back to its original container. If he was willing to call his body a container.
Maybe he would need another death to bind the soul piece to anything other than his own body? And would he need to change his approach at all? From where he lay, panting, the diadem seemed unharmed. Maybe this was all he really needed?
While he was concentrating on his breathing and thinking, a frantic Malcolm had decided the ritual had ended in failure, hurrying over to his Lord.
It had been terrifying to look on as his Lord performed a ritual to move a piece of his soul from one inanimate container – the diadem of Ravenclaw! – to another. That something like breaking one's soul and extracting it from the body was even possible, Malcolm never would have thought. That his Lord was working to dismantle the precautions he had taken to prevent his own death was another baffling fact.
But now he knew what had caused the bad reaction during that planning meeting back at the end of the summer. The claim it had been a reaction to old wards being broken had never felt really true. But Malcolm was neither an expert in wards nor an expert in obscure dark magic, so he hadn't questioned the story he had been told.
But now he was crouching next to his Lord, who was curled on his side on the floor, slowly pouring a strong pain relieving potion into the whimpering man's mouth. As a Healer he got to see many people at their worst, but it always was staggering to see someone as powerful as Lord Slytherin brought so low.
"As far as I can see there are no wounds, no damage done. If the last occurrence is any indication, the pain will fade with time. If I may be so bold, I would suggest bringing you back home, where you will rest, my Lord. A good night's sleep and another pain relieving potion should suffice, my Lord." All the charms he had cast had given him results eerily reminiscent of the effects the Cruciatus curse had. But now wasn't the time to ponder the medical implications of the return of a part of a soul to the original body, now was the time to get his Lord back into something resembling respectable clothing before he would escorted him back home.
Malcolm walked over to the chair next to where he had his potions set up to get the robe, shoes, and socks his Lord had worn before he had removed everything that would be not needed during the ritual. He picked the things up. It would be easier to get his Lord into the robe and shoes over where he was resting on the floor, then to somehow bring him over to where the clothes had been placed.
The chalk drawing was smeared around the place where the Dark Lord was now turned onto his back, panting, as well as the path Malcolm had taken to come to his Lord's help.
"My Lord, I will help you dress before we will return to your home. Is this all right?" A weak nod was his answer.
So Malcolm started with the difficult task of dressing a grown man who wasn't able to be of any assistance. This had always been a part of the healer education he hadn't liked. Moving patients around without the aid of magic. It was so much easier to levitate someone to dress them, or to pass on the task to a medi-witch or -wizard entirely. But here for his Lord he was the only one at hand to help, and using magic might not be a good idea at the moment. When rituals went wrong, or at least not as they had been planned, adding more magic into the mix so soon – especially if the magic wasn't essential – was something to be avoided. After several minutes of struggling, Malcolm had wrapped the Dark Lord in his robe and moved on to put socks and shoes back onto the man.
Hopefully his Lord would be able to stand once that task was finished. There was no way Malcolm would be able to carry him to the floo if he couldn't walk at all.
In a way, it was totally demeaning to need that much help from another to move around. On the other hand, he had known that this was one possible outcome and had done the ritual anyway. At least he had prepared everything required to make sure he would get the help needed. Was that a redeeming factor?
Marvolo's mind offered up insignificant titbits and ideas to ponder while he was helpless after the ritual had derailed so completely. The pain potion was helping to dull the pain, and the random thoughts his mind was coming up with helped with ignoring the fact that one of his followers had to dress him as if he were an invalid, or a toddler.
Marvolo tried to ignore the fact he was whimpering when Malcolm hauled him upright and moved one of Marvolo's arms over his shoulder to better support his weight on the way to the floo. Once they had managed to establish some kind of stability, Marvolo did his best to shuffle along. For the next experiment, he would make sure he could just sleep in the ritual room without moving much.
The trip by floo was quite taxing on his already strained system. Only with great difficulty did Marvolo manage to keep from throwing up. Malcolm was considerate enough to stop for a moment in their floo room so Marvolo could catch his breath.
While they were standing there, the front door was opened, and Marvolo wondered for a moment who that might be, until he realised it probably was Henry coming home from his stay with his godfather. It was already late enough for that.
If he had been capable of blushing at the moment, he would have, for fear of being seen by his son in such a weak state. He was pretty sure he did blush the moment he noticed Lord Black and Mr. Lupin were accompanying his son into the house.
Then the state of Henry registered.
"What happened to my son?" Marvolo was sure that if his voice hadn't sounded as if he had been gargling with sand, it would have sounded much more intimidating. But the way it was, he sounded rather pitiable.
Henry looked rather sheepish where he was leaning against his godfather. Who answered instead of the teenager. "He repaired the family tapestry by hissing something at it. Harry's fine and just needs sleep." The tall man gave Marvolo an assessing look. "And what happened to you, Lord Slytherin?"
Before Marvolo could come up with an answer – his mind was frighteningly slow at the moment – Malcolm answered. "Lord Slytherin worked a cleansing-ritual on a historical artefact that had been cursed. He's tired, so I suggest you help heir Slytherin up to his room and then leave."
Marvolo was glad that they did exactly that. He was worried and curious over what exactly Henry had done using Parseltongue in casting magic, but at the moment he just wasn't up to doing anything about those feelings. That had to wait for tomorrow.
When he was finally in his bed, staring at the ceiling, slowly slipping towards sleep, Nagini slithered into the room.
.:You both are really reckless! Why do you risk yourself? Don't you care for me? The young one said he wanted to sleep, will you pay me some attention? You look like you're falling asleep just now:. She slithered up on the bed and moved over so she could peer into his face.
Marvolo sighed. .:I'm sorry, my dear. But I need that sleep right now:. And then sleep claimed him while Nagini was muttering in the background, complaining in colourful language about the fact that now both her humans were here and she was ignored regardless.
AN: I'm not sure how to name the new twins, or where they are from. There are so many places in the world where French is spoken. So if you have any ideas, write a review I can use your help! ;)
Thanks to Jordre and Jake for helping to improve my spelling!
First published on the 2nd of February 2018
Next chapter planned for 16th of February 2018