Disclaimer: All recognizable characters and settings belong to J.K. Rowling.
"Since the boys are throwing tantrums, we can start with them," Severus said as took a sip of tea. He had to admit he felt better, having food in his stomach and being with his family. He was still irritated over Kaiden's outburst but since he could understand it, the irritation was slowly fading.
"We didn't throw tantrums," Draco said, affronted. "We aren't babies."
"Of course you are not," Bella said smoothly. "We understand that everything that has happened is very upsetting. We'll start at the beginning."
"My dream," Kaiden said, setting his fork down. "Only it wasn't a dream, I was seeing what was really happening. Voldemort returning and Aunt Narcissa being hurt."
"You saw that?" Narcissa gasped. "Oh Kaiden, I'm so sorry. That must have been horrible."
"And then you wanted to see my memory of the dream," Kaiden said to his dad.
"Yes, I wanted to see who was assisting Voldemort in his return," Severus said. "It was someone we all thought had died."
"He was the one who betrayed the Potters," Narcissa whispered. Her eyes widened. "Albus, Sirius is innocent!"
Dumbledore's eyes turned sad. "Poor boy. I will do what I can to try and free him but it will be hard without proof."
"They can view my memory," Narcissa offered.
"They won't because they don't want to admit Voldemort is back. They are too frightened to believe the truth." Dumbledore said, his voice taking a frustrated edge. "We would need to find Pettigrew."
"He's an Animagus," Narcissa said. "A rat. He's been living with a family connected to the Ministry so he could keep track of any news about Voldemort."
"There are a lot of employees at the Ministry and I'm sure many of them have pet rats," Dumbledore said thoughtfully. "I'll start looking into it tomorrow."
Something niggled in the back of Kaiden's mind but he had too many thoughts swirling around to concentrate on it. "And then you gave me Dreamless sleep," Kaiden continued. "Did, did you you know already that you were going to go and face Voldemort?"
"No," Severus said gently. "Not at first. We all met to figure what to do."
"I was going to go," Lucius spoke up. "But I can't Occlude as well as Severus and Bella. Plus, I was a mess," He glanced at Narcissa, who patted his arm comfortably.
"Voldemort saw through us anyway," Bella admitted. "He had seen our love for Kaiden. He doesn't trust love."
"He isn't capable of it," Dumbledore said sadly. "Therefore he doesn't understand it."
"I offered to go instead of Lucius," Bella continued. She gave Narcissa a small smile.
"And of course I wasn't going to let her go alone," Severus said.
Bella's eyes flashed. "Excuse me? Let?"
Severus rolled his eyes.
"I suggested they both go and pretend to return to Voldemort," Dumbledore told the boys. "I gave them a Portkey that could be activated when all three of them were touching it."
"You saved my life," Narcissa said softly.
"You saved mine," Bella corrected. "You pushed me out of the way when Voldemort threw a cutting spell at me."
Draco grinned. "You did? You're a hero Mum!"
Narcissa blushed. "Not really, they are."
Dumbledore raised his cup of tea. "To heroes all around." He said cheerfully.
Kaiden stayed quiet. He was still feeling out of sorts, upset that his parents left him knowing they might not come back. He wouldn't have been given the chance to say goodbye or to say that he loved them one more time. He was afraid, afraid that he would wake up one day to discover that they had gone to fight Voldemort and weren't ever coming back.
"So are Mum and Aunt Bella friends again?" Draco asked bluntly.
Narcissa looked at Bella, looking hopeful and nervous at the same time.
"We are," Bella said finally. They still needed to talk, but she couldn't cut her sister out of her life anymore.
"So why were you two not talking for so long?"
"Draco," Lucius frowned. "It's personal, between them."
"Actually, he will need to know," Dumbledore said mildly. "By tomorrow it will be in the papers."
"What? What do I need to know?"
"Why don't we go into the other room to talk," Lucius said, gesturing for his wife and son to follow him.
"Kaiden, are you still hungry? Do you want me to see if Thistle has anything for dessert?" Bella asked her son in concern. He had consumed a good amount of food, but he seemed withdrawn all of the sudden.
"No thanks," Kaiden stood up. "I'm going to go to bed."
Severus raised an eyebrow and exchanged a look with Bella. "Are you sure? Don't you want to talk more about everything that has happened?"
"No," Kaiden said in a clipped tone. "It's not like I have a say in anything anyway." He turned and stalked out of the room.
"Well gee, at least he's not upset," Severus said dryly.
"A lot has happened," Dumbledore said sympathetically. "Perhaps he just needs a good nights sleep."
Bella hesitated. "We'll leave him alone for a little bit and then go in to say good-night. Maybe he will talk to us then."
"I'm sure he will be okay," Dumbledore stood up. "I must take my leave. Thank Thistle for dinner for me would you? I will be in contact tomorrow."
Kaiden had changed into his pajamas and was lying on his bed, Snidget curled up next to him. He stared at the ceiling, feeling tired but unable to sleep. He was surprised that his neither of his parents had come to scold him for his rude behavior. He didn't mean to act like that, but he was so scared of losing them. Tears slowly fell down his cheeks as his mind worried.
A few minutes later he heard a soft knock on his door and was surprised to see Draco. "Hey Cuz, is something wrong?"
"I know what my Mum did to you," Draco said, shuffling his feet. "They told me the truth, even though the Ministry thinks Dumbledore told her to do it. But I know she did on her own, and I'm sorry."
Kaiden sat up. "Don't be sorry. She was protecting you and trying to protect me too."
"Yeah, but still," Draco mumbled. "You grew up with those horrible Muggles and Aunt Bella and Uncle Severus were kept apart for so long. Aren't you mad at my Mum?"
"I've known about it for awhile so I've made my peace with it, I guess," Kaiden shrugged. "I believe she did what she thought she had to. And she had no way of knowing how the Dursley's would treat me. Voldemort is terrifying, the fact she disobeyed him, knowing he would kill her if he found out, is pretty impressive really. Even if I wish she had thought of something else," Kaiden gave his cousin a small grin, relieved to see Draco give one back. "It would be nice if my Mum and yours got along again."
"I kept wondering why she wouldn't come visit with us, like over Christmas," Draco sighed. He shrugged. "At least now I understand."
"Draco," Severus said from the doorway. "You should go to bed. It's been a long day."
"Okay," Draco said. "Goodnight." He stopped in front of Bella, who was standing behind Severus. "Sorry about what my Mum did."
"Oh Draco," Bella laughed and gave him a hug. "You certainly have nothing to apologize for. Everything is going to be all right, okay?"
Kaiden fiddled with the edge of his comforter as his parents entered his room. "Did you come to say good night?"
"Yes," Severus said quietly. "And to ask you what you are really upset about."
"Please talk to us," Bella said.
"I don't want to lose you again!" Kaiden burst out. "I'm terrified that one morning I'll wake up and find out that Voldemort has killed you. Because of him we were separated for ten years! If it happened again, I couldn't -" Kaiden broke off with a gasp as a sob broke through. "I couldn't take it. Please don't leave me!"
Without even thinking, both Severus and Bella sat on Kaiden's bed, putting their arms around him. "Oh baby," Bella whispered, her heart hurting for her son.
"Kaiden, we will not be separated again," Severus said gruffly, rubbing Kaiden's back gently. "We won't. Before, well, we didn't realize how far Voldemort would go. We won't make that mistake again. And we have many powerful friends and family helping us."
"We will keep you safe," Bella said, kissing the top of Kaiden's head. "We will keep ourselves safe as well."
"But you can't know for sure," Kaiden sniffled.
"No, perhaps not." Severus said slowly. "Be we are quite determined son. We will do everything possible to survive this war. We will defeat Voldemort, and then the only worries you will have will be your studies, Quidditch games, what girl to date..." He waved his hand vaguely.
"Dating?" Kaiden made a face.
Severus and Bella laughed. "Well, maybe not girls for a few years yet," Severus amended. At the very least, he thought.
"Thank Merlin," Bella muttered. Like anyone would be good enough for her child, she thought haughtily.
"Do you feel better now?" Severus asked.
Kaiden nodded. "Yeah, mostly. Just, if you go off to fight Voldemort, you have to tell me first. Please?"
"Of course, if it is possible we will," Bella said.
"Do you want some Dreamless sleep?" Severus asked.
"No, I feel better. I think I'll be fine," Kaiden said as he laid back down, grinning as both parents tucked him in. "I'm sorry I was rude earlier." He offered.
"Severus," Bella admonished.
Kaiden flushed. "Um, each time?"
"Well, I suppose we'll let you get away with it this once," Severus said slowly. "With the circumstances being what they are and all."
"Hmm, I don't know," Bella mused, fighting a smile at Kaiden's widened eyes.
"True. We should be consistent parents. You are sentenced to having a wonderful night's sleep where only pleasant dreams are allowed," Severus smirked.
Kaiden rolled his eyes in humor. "You two think you are so funny."
"We are funny," Bella said. "If you need us, we're right across the hall. All right?"
Kaiden nodded, suddenly feeling sleepy. He snuggled next to Snidget. "Goodnight. I love you guys."
"We love you too," Severus said softly. "More than you could ever know."
"Goodnight Snakeling," Bella whispered.
The next day, Draco and Kaiden were playing on the beach while their parents sat on a large blanket, enjoying the warm day, sparkling sand and the gleaming ocean water.
"Let's go swimming!" Draco said excitedly.
"Um," Kaiden looked out at the vast ocean. "Don't you want to throw the Frisbee some more?"
"I'm hot," Draco complained. "I want to swim."
"So go swim," Kaiden said crossly.
"What's your deal?" Draco snapped, wondering why his cousin suddenly was angry. They had been having fun just a minute ago! "Do you not know how to swim or something?" Understanding dawned in his gray eyes at Kaiden's embarrassed look. "Oh."
"I don't want to swim anyway," Kaiden muttered, walking away and feeling humiliated.
"I can show you," Draco called after him.
Kaiden walked along the warm sand. He had been so excited when his parents had said they could come down to the beach for the afternoon. Despite the horrible news of Voldemort being back, it was nice to get away from school and have a mini vacation with his family. Especially since his Aunt and Mum were now speaking again. He had forgotten one thing though, at least until he saw the ocean. He couldn't swim. The Dursley's had never taken him to get lessons, even though they took Dudley. His parents mentioned they would teach him using the Great Lake, but they hadn't been able to so yet. With a sigh, he plopped down on the sand to stare wistfully out at the ocean water.
Draco ran up to where the adults were sitting. "Dad, will you go swimming with me?"
"Yes, but doesn't your cousin want to swim as well?" Lucius asked, gesturing to where Kaiden sat.
"He doesn't know how," Draco shrugged.
"Oh Severus, we forgot," Bella murmured, her eyes on her son sadly.
"I'll take care of it," Severus could have kicked himself, how could he have forgotten that Kaiden hadn't learned to swim yet? He stood up and walked over to Kaiden. "Fancy a swim?"
Kaiden looked up at his dad. "Um,"
Severus held out his hand. "I'll help you. There are charms and spells I will cast for your safety and so that you don't go out too far. The ocean is relatively calm today, which helps."
Kaiden waded into the water, gasping and laughing as the cold small waves lapped over his knees. His dad had already cast safety charms on him and usually he would have been embarrassed but he was too excited to worry about it. As they walked deeper into the water, Kaiden followed his dad's instructions on holding his breath and how to kick his legs and move his arms.
"I think you're a natural," Severus said as he floated next to his son. "You're doing wonderfully."
"It's so brilliant!" Kaiden said, staring up at the sky as he floated on his back. He sputtered as a small wave suddenly went over him. He kicked up and heard his dad laughing. He spat out water from his mouth. "Yuck! It's so salty!"
"Careful not to drink any, it can make you sick," Severus warned.
Bella, Lucius, Narcissa and Draco ended up joining them in the water, although Narcissa was adamant about not going all the way in as she didn't want to get her hair wet. Lucius had grinned mischievously and picked her up, dunking her in the water.
Narcissa broke the surface, laughing. "Lucius, you'll pay for that!"
"Oh, I'm so scared," Lucius teased. He yelped as Draco jumped on his back, sending him under the water.
Bella was watching them and laughing along with Kaiden when she felt something swim against her ankle. She gasped and kicked her legs, hoping to scare whatever was swimming by her.
"Uh, Mum are you okay?"
"There's something..." Bella trailed off when her husband popped up next to her, laughing. "You are horrid!" She was laughing as she said it so Severus merely smiled.
"Sorry love, I couldn't resist," Severus said, winking at Kaiden.
"These husbands of ours are impossible," Narcissa said.
"Yes," Bella smiled. "But they're ours."
Dumbledore smiled softly when he entered the Cottage that evening, it clear the two families had had a good day. Bella and Severus were lounging on the sofa with Kaiden while Severus read from a book and Lucius and Draco were playing chess while Narcissa watched, occasionally whispering suggestions to Draco. They looked happy, tanned, and relaxed.
"Albus," Severus noticed him first and set down the book he had been reading. "Are things...going well?"
Dumbledore sat in a sofa chair. "The news of Kaiden is everyone's favorite topic. The school is abuzz with it, naturally. I did speak to the students this morning at breakfast to inform them that when Kaiden returns, he is not to be bothered with questions and stares."
"Yeah, that won't happen," Draco said, knowing how his peers were.
"The professors are on alert to stop any unwanted attention that Kaiden may get," Dumbledore continued. "Especially since Fudge has appointed someone from the Ministry as the Hogwarts High Inquisitor. The Board of Governors will be having a vote on whether I am to remain Headmaster after keeping such a secret. Led by Fudge, of course."
"What? This is ridiculous. And who has the Ministry appointed?" Severus demanded.
Dumbledore sighed. "Delores Umbridge."
"This is preposterous!" Lucius exclaimed. "I am on the board so they better not dare have that vote without me. And Umbridge? What does she know of how a class should be run?"
"She is not a well liked witch," Narcissa frowned. "She is very unpleasant, very judgmental and prejudiced against muggle-borns as well as anyone who is not completely human. "
"Great," Kaiden shared a worried look with Draco. This was not someone he wanted to meet.
"What exactly is a High Inquisitor?" Draco asked.
"A useless position that has never been assigned before," Lucius said bluntly. "The High Inquisitor has the power to inspect the teachers and if they are found lacking, place on probation or fire any teacher that are not performing to the standards required by the Ministry of Magic."
"As soon as the Board of Governors meet and vote, if they vote to keep me, she will be gone," Dumbledore said. "Cornelius is just doing this to try and discredit me, to try and distract us from making people believe that Voldemort has returned."
Kaiden's heart sank. If the Ministry refused to believe Voldemort is back, then many people in the wizarding world will too. Including his peers. And now a High Inquisitor invading Hogwarts? He had a feeling school was going to be pure torture.