AN: I can't tell you how happy I am about how well you've taken to the Four Kings and Augustine. To those who would love to know more, I have a number of stories that will enrich those characters.
About the attack on Hogsmeade - This Voldemort is a bit shaken by what happened at the cemetery and the fact Harry injured him. His pride had been wounded, his wand was no more and he wanted to make a statement. When Bellatrix demanded an attack to find Melania, he agreed so that he could go out and find a new wand. Neither he nor Bella bothered to think about the fact Draco had agreed to the Greys' deal.
And now to the fallout. Enjoy.
Reaction and Action
10th October 1995 – Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry
Hogwarts was aflame with rumours almost from the moment the Hogsmeade attack had been repelled. There had been enough witnesses to the battle between Melania, her friends, and the Death Eaters for the rumour mill to get most of the details right. Although, just how it was that all those claiming to actually be there to see Neville 'the squib' Longbottom take out Bellatrix Lestrange was a mystery to Melania. The Lady Black cared nought for the rumour mill and everything for the weight that seemed to have dropped off Neville's shoulders. The changes that had been implemented the previous year had fully taken root and Scion Longbottom walked the halls of Hogwarts with his head high, his parents avenged and his stuttering a thing of the past.
Neville had cried at the news that the Lestrange brothers were dead. He then went on to surprise Melania by promising that the name of Augustine Lestrange would be remembered as a Friend of House Longbottom for years to come and that the slate was now wiped clean between the two Houses. In fact, she had barely kept the determined Gryffindor from swearing allegiance to her and the hinted at new Lord Lestrange. Somehow she didn't think Augusta Longbottom was ready for that just yet.
The attack and subsequent change in Neville had also brought about a shift through the rest of the student population. The Defense Association was now a fully functioning club that would have its first meeting Saturday and Sunday to assess the interest and levels of those who joined. Melania had apologised for already having her weekends booked but promised to attend at least some of the lessons. There was no doubt in people's minds just how popular the meeting would prove considering Neville's rising popularity.
A popularity that was mirrored by the ostracisation of one Draco Malfoy. Melania's report about the Bouncing Ferret acting suspiciously had also gotten around the school and, as per usual, people were coming to conclusions. It was now time for Melania to use the shift in status to her advantage.
Severus Snape, Hogwarts Professor for Potions and Slytherin Head of House was not a happy man as he silently stalked behind his snake. He had tried venomously to argue against her planned actions until she fired the one question that had him surrender.
If it was anyone but me, would you be fighting so hard against this?
So it was that Severus Snape was just a bystander as Lady Black stalked into the Slytherin Common Room as though she owned it.
"Draco Lucius Malfoy," her voice rang out through the room to cut off all chatter. Not that the Common Room was exceptionally noisy since they were Slytherins. "For crimes against Slytherin House, for crimes against the innocent, and for breaking the deal between us, the Greys and the Dark Lord, I, Melania Cassiopeia Lilith Black challenge you to an open duel!"
There was a moment where it seemed as though all the air was sucked out of the room and then every pair of eyes turned from the angry raven-haired witch to her blond cousin. The older years and Melania's Court were already up and moving some of the slower students out of the firing line. Spells were about to be fired whether Scion Malfoy accepted or not.
Draco was taken aback by the call-out. He knew the bitch in front of him had seen him just before the attack since that was what his aunt Bella had wanted. If Draco had learned nothing else in his short life, he at least knew not to give Bellatrix Lestrange exactly what she wanted. Yet somehow things had gone completely wrong with Longbottom and Black declared heroes along with the Blood Traitor's freak daughter and the creature. Draco so desperately wanted to agree, to put the girl in front of him in her place but knew things needed to be done slowly. He opened his mouth to decline when Melania smirked, her green-grey eyes shining with the exact same look his aunt would give him during his training. He could hear the taunting words.
You're a worthless bug little boy and I'm going to enjoy playing with you before you die.
"I accept," he snarled, desperate to prove that smirk wrong. To prove to those eyes that he was worth something. "Everything is permitted."
This time the Slytherins did gasp as one. An Open Duel challenge meant that the challenged was allowed to dictate the rules of engagement. Draco's words meant that now everything including the Unforgivables were allowed. Practically no one expected the feral smirk that spread across Melania's lips.
"Agreed. Right here, right now."
Challenge issued. Accepted and rules were chosen. Accepted and located demanded. The two were now honour-bound to complete the agreement.
The entirety of House Slytherin made its way to the training area and then below to the challenge pit. By the time Severus was putting up the wards that kept the spells from hurting anyone not involved, even those Slytherins who had been elsewhere in the castle had somehow managed to hear about what was happening and arrive.
Melania never took her eyes off her Head of House who simply gave her the barest of nods to indicate he had done as she had asked. She let out a small sigh of relief in knowing that Riddle and his masked menaces would never see what was about to happen. The privacy ward meant that no memory could be shared and it could only be word of mouth that could reveal what was about to happen.
"Draco Malfoy, Melania Black, the challenge has been given and accepted," Snape's smooth tones silenced those who dared whisper. He was standing just outside the duelling wards that had been set in a circle. The Court looked on with worry even as they believed in their Queen. "This is an Honour Duel, to end when one of you is unable to continue in whatever manner that ends up being. No limits have been set. As Head of Slytherin House I say only this; Begin!"
There was no repeat of the respect the two had given each other in their DADA duel. Instead, their spells were flying before Snape finished pronouncing the last word. Draco's arrogant tone spat curse after curse with practically all of them far Darker than anything taught at Hogwarts. Melania only spoke those spells she needed to.
"Come on little Dragon," she cackled at her opponent and Severus shivered at just how much like her insane aunt the Lady Black was in that moment. "Show me what you've got. Show me what a big man you are after all these years hiding behind daddy's robes."
A blood-boiling hex was dodged, a Sectumsempra was blocked by a stone slab, and Melania swatted away Draco's attempt at the Dolohov Special.
"That's it," she smirked at a cutting curse nicked her shoulder as she moved out of the way. Draco's rage had fuelled the spell to be larger than normal which was the only reason why it caught her. It wasn't an easy battle but she was holding her own while Draco was bleeding from a number of wounds. "This is an Honour Duel, Malfoy, I know you're at least aware of what that word means. All I'm seeing is a wittle boy trying to be like dear old daddy."
"AVADA KEDAVRA!" Draco roared, only for the Killing Curse to be blocked by more conjured stone.
"Now we're getting somewhere," Melania announced in a far more normal voice.
Her entire posture changed, her hair whipped wildly as her magic rose and suddenly her spells were flying faster than they had before. Draco was caught flat-footed, never once believing that his opponent had been scouting him out. Her change in attitude now meant it was for keeps.
The spells continued for almost a minute. Melania's hip was slightly burnt, her dodging had caused her to roll into the tail end of another dark cutting curse – although thankfully not a Sectumsempra - and the duelling pit was awash with rumble. It had been a hex and curse battle with almost zero transfiguration and that didn't look to change in its final stages. There wasn't a single person watching who didn't realise the two were outright trying to kill each other.
An Auror spell bounced off the floor to explode off to Draco's side. The magical version of a flash-bang caught the teenage boy by surprise and he never got a chance to recover. A widely cast bone breaker destroyed everything in his forearm, causing him to scream in pain, only to have the broken pieces fuse together by the deliberately shoddily cast battle-field healing spell that was its follow up. The limb would require the bones to be vanished if full recovery was to be achieved.
A piercing hex ripped through Draco's hip and was powerful enough to cause him to spin off his feet and crash hard on the stone floor. To Draco's credit, he never let go of his wand and continued to keep himself in the duel. Most of his spells had become shielding and it was obvious that Melania was now toying with the boy.
A cutting curse sliced off a chunk of his blond hair, a spell hitting the floor in front of a kneeling Draco caused chips of ancient stone to slice his face, and finally, a vastly overpowered Expelliarmus lifted him into the air and sent him crashing into the protective wards. The magic shock caused him to cry out in pain just before blacking out. Melania's wand was already away by the time eyes turned from Draco back to her.
She was breathing heavily, bleeding in half a dozen places and was sure a rib had been bruised during a period when she spent more time trying to dodge than shield. Melania mentally snorted as she realised she was already critiquing her performance.
The entirety of Slytherin House had just seen Draco Malfoy decimated and they all believed that the victory could have been that much more dangerous to the blond if she had wanted. Some of the Slytherins blinked while others would swear that there was no pop of Apparition. Yet all agreed that Melania's shoulder was suddenly the perch of a very pissed off looking raven.
"I am Lady Black, I am Regent Potter," she announced in a voice that reached up to the very dorms. Her magic pulsed and in return Hogwarts' pulsed back. "I am Slytherin Queen, and I will protect, avenge or destroy every single one of you. Do not cross me, do not endanger the innocents, and I promise you that we will drag Slytherin House to the heights it deserves to be!"
A cheer rose that would have put Gryffindor House to shame while the mixed coloured eyes of Muninn took in all those who looked to be a danger to her bonded.
"I don't even know where to start with this, Severus," Poppy Pomfrey sighed as she looked down at the broken form of Draco Malfoy. School Healer and Potions Master were protected by a privacy ward and screen to keep the other occupant of an Infirmary bed from overhearing. "She could have killed him."
Snape snorted at the statement as he ran a gaze down the parchment holding the results of Poppy's scans. He was surprised to see the results of a handful of curses he hadn't actually seen Melania cast. Some of the potions required for a full healing would take days to brew.
"It was a duel that Draco decided required no rules, Poppy," he once again informed her. The woman was older than she looked and had treated a young Snape from the effects of Gryffindor bullies and a drunken father more than once during his education. "And I'm afraid to say that this was a warning. A warning he will ignore. I doubt Draco will live to see the end of the year."
Poppy stared open mouthed at the callous way her colleague was talking about the death of a student.
"Surely he wouldn't challenge her again? Not after this!" She waved her free hand at the unconscious boy as if Snape didn't know what she was talking about. The man was already shaking his head before she finished talking.
"You and he are forgetting one simple thing," he informed the medi-witch and ignored the glare he got in response. "Draco may be the future Lord Malfoy but he is the son of a Black. It is Lady Black who did this to him and it will be Lady Black Draco attempts to kill in revenge. Please excuse me, I have potions to brew."
Her thoughts came to a screeching stop as she remembered well the legends of what the Head of the Blacks did those those who turned their wand against their own blood. She turned back to her patient and, for the first time since he had been brought to her domain, thought Draco Malfoy had got off lightly.
Severus walked away from the stunned woman and out from behind the security screen. His gaze was immediately drawn to the bed containing said Lady Black and where her family gathered around. Narcissa had deliberately sat with her back to Draco's bed and had her hand held by the werewolf. Snape nodded to the group and stalked out of the Infirmary, knowing that it now time to inform Dumbledore of what had occurred in the Snake Pit. It was a conversation he wasn't looking forward to.
11th October 1995 – Headmaster's office
Melania was sitting regally, Muninn on her uninjured shoulder, and staring blankly at the idiot in front of her. In the Headmaster's 'infinite wisdom', she had been declared fit for classes and forced out of the Infirmary much to Pomfrey's anger. Melania had some nice new scars and a shoulder that wouldn't stop aching but she wasn't going to let the manipulative twinkle-eyed bastard see her pain.
"Miss Black, I called you here in the hope you can provide me with a satisfactory explanation for what occurred yesterday," Dumbledore finally said after five minutes of the two staring at each other. There was no Severus Snape or indeed any other person in the room. Dumbledore had simply claimed she was fit to leave and had the two of them Floo from the Infirmary to his office without warning or chance of getting aid. "Otherwise I'll be forced to expel you for the attempted murder of a student and call in the Aurors."
"Would you really, Headmaster?" Melania's thumb had curled into her pain to brush against the invisible Delacour ring. "And do you think the DMLE will arrest me?"
"Draco Malfoy is in the Infirmary because of your actions."
"We were both in the Infirmary after the results of a legal duel," she corrected. "You simply decided I no longer had to be there."
"No," the old man smirked behind his plaited beard. "From what I understand, you attacked Mister Malfoy and he was only barely able to keep you from killing him before help arrived."
Melania looked at the old man in front of her and allowed her expression to slip from 'Miss Black' to 'Lady Black' as she rested her elbows on the arm of the chair and cupped her hands at chest level. One fingertip continued to press against the hidden ring. Dumbledore immediately noticed the shift of attitude and his eyes twinkled for a split second.
"What is it you want, Dumbledore?"
"Harry Potter," he demanded as though blackmailing a student was an everyday occurrence to the man.
"That is between myself and Harry," Dumbledore tried only to frown when she burst into a cruel laughter.
"And just how or why do you think I would give him to you without a reason, hmm?" She smirked, enjoying the flash of annoyance he couldn't hide.
Albus Dumbledore sighed and leaned back to assess his opponent. He was half tempted to force the girl to reveal Harry's location but she had hinted at a Fidelius being involved and couldn't risk the charm turning its magic against her. He sat in silence as he worked over every angle he could conceive of to avoid explaining anything. He was eventually forced to sigh at his conclusions.
"I need an oath you will never tell anyone of what I'm about to tell you."
"And just how am I supposed to convince Harry to speak to you if I can't explain why?" She fought hard to resist smirking when Dumbledore actually snarled in frustration at the logical argument.
"Fine!" He snapped with all pretence of a grandfatherly Headmaster ripped away. "You'll tell only Harry and only once he takes an oath keeping him from telling anyone else."
Now it was Melania's turn to think whether the old man's request was worth the knowledge. Slowly an idea came to mind as she remembered that she had originally needed the Secret to Grimmauld even though Harry had known it. It might work, she thought to herself and was pleased when Dumbledore briefly looked away from her. Melania's laurel eyes immediately jumped to the portrait of Phineas Nigellus who quickly nodded his understanding. If her plan worked then she had another way of sharing the truth.
"What is the oath?"
It took almost five minutes for the two to haggle out an agreeable oath although the first suggestion was one she could have lived with. She just enjoyed tweaking the bastard's beard a little too much. The oath was eventually agreed to and sworn.
"There is a Prophecy," he explained with a pained expression as though even now it was difficult to share the details. "One that ties Harry to Voldemort. It is imperative that Harry returns me before it is concluded."
"And what does this Prophecy say?"
"You don't need to know that, Miss Black," he snapped only to frown when she once again laughed.
"And do you really think that simple explanation will be enough to convince Harry?"
"I am trying to guide him!"
"To what end, Dumbledore?" Melania snarled and Muninn cawed in anger. "You didn't guide him into knowing his family's legacy, nor guide him into knowing his place in society. You haven't guided him into learning new magics in order to battle all the different threats he has faced since returning to the magical world. So just what is it you are guiding him for?"
Dumbledore's jaw snapped shut and his expression closed down and Melania knew she wouldn't get anything more from the man. She elegantly rose and began making her way to the door. "Well I, can see this conversation was a waste."
"Do not forget, Miss Black," Dumbledore's voice was hard and full of anger. "You will bring me Harry Potter and I won't push to have you arrested."
"Oh no, old man," she softly chuckled as she looked over her shoulder at the man who thought he was god. "I merely agreed to speak with Harry. I couldn't care less about your 'threat' when you don't even have enough political power to be on my birthday invite list."
She was gone before the casual dismissal took hold and Dumbledore roared in fury at being played like an amateur. He then frantically ran through the oath he had forced her to make, desperate to find the loophole that she so blatantly seemed to believe it possessed.
That problem would torment him for a long time to come.
Melania was scowling as she made her way to Dora's DADA office. She had hoped that by giving an oath that Dumbledore would have given her more than simply the existence of the Prophecy but she was also not surprised by his refusal to share. Muninn shared her worries over just what the old man was going to do next and both swore to each other to look out for their family. The brooding over the Headmaster's actions kept her from getting nervous right up until Dora answered her knocking.
"Oh...hi..." the on assignment Auror blinked at her Head of House, blushing despite her abilities. The weak smile she got back showed they were both as bad as each other.
"Can I come in?"
"Yeah, sure," Dora was turning even before she replied and made her way over to a paper covered desk, rambling with every step. "I was just marking some homework. You wouldn't believe some of the stuff that I'm getting. I mean really? A Dark spell is Dark because it's a Dark spell? What king of Hippogriff dung is that for Morgana's sake?"
Melania couldn't help it as she closed the door, bursting into laughter that was from as much stress relief as it was from humour. Dora gave her a weak smile and waited for her to giggle over to the empty chair.
"I've just come from a very disturbing meeting with Dumbledore," Melania announced once she was able to get herself calm. She had no fears about being overheard, Dora had already admitted to covering her office and classroom with Auror and Black privacy spells as well as sweeping both rooms each and every time she left and returned. She wasn't Moody's last apprentice for nothing. "He admitted that there was a Prophecy but refused to explain what it said."
"How'd you get him to do even that?" Dora's jaw dropped further than it had a right to, something Melania couldn't blame her for.
"By swearing an oath only to talk about it to people who already knew of the Prophecy and Harry Potter," she smirked evilly. "The fact our Family already knows of the Prophecy just wasn't mentioned."
Now it was Dora's turn to laugh. She cut it short when she saw the dark shadows cover her best friend's eyes. "What's wrong?"
"He tried blackmailing me into bringing Harry back. Harry Potter under his thumb or he goes to the DMLE about my legal duel with Draco."
Now Dora was scowling and she barely kept herself from marching up to the man's office to explain in Black terms just what she thought of his actions. Melania smiled at the reaction.
"It was all legal even if it's uncomfortable to the staff," she said, attempting to ease Dora's worries. "Snape was there and didn't downgrade the danger level of the duel unlike what usually happens."
"I know that, Mel, I do. You explained it to me and I agree with what you did, it's just that..."
"I know," she sighed, leaning forward while resting her arms on her knees. Her fingers ran through her long locks in a very Harry-like move. "I'm going to end up killing him, Dora. I don't even feel sorry about it apart from what it'll do to aunt Cissy."
She heard the rustle of movement that signalled Dora was moving and it didn't take long for the metamorph to kneel in front of Melania. The two stared into each others eyes and shared some type of weak smile.
"She knew this already," Dora softly promised, running her fingers softly down Melania's cheek. The laurel-eyed girl didn't realise she was silently crying. "You're doing everything you can for all of us, that's all you could ever hope for."
"Not all," Melania argued, cupping Dora's cheek. The older woman made to move away but stopped at the narrowing of eyes. "Just tell me, please. Tell me you don't love me like I do you and I'll stop."
"Melania, it's not that simple."
"Bollocks it isn't," she snarled and Dora gasped as Melania's magic pulsed through her. Her body reacted even with her morphing abilities and Dora was mesmerised when Melania's eyes burned Avada green. "In five or ten years time the age doesn't mean a fucking thing, Dora. So tell me right here, right now. Tell me you don't love me like I do you."
"Of course I bloody do, you idiot!" Dora screamed back, stumbling to her feet as her body's shifting went out of control. "I have for ages."
The smile Dora got back at her words stopped her heart. It was as though the sun had broken through a world of dark clouds and took her breath away. A heavy weight visibally lifted of Melania's shoulders as she stood, taking on the role of a Pure-blood Lady.
"Then when I've finished my OWLs and you're no longer a teacher, and if we still feel the same about each other, I look forward to our first date."
Dora's mouth worked but no sound came out as Melania simply walked out of the office as though agreeing to business deal. Her mind flashed back to how she had heard about Cissy saying something similar to Remus. It took a few moments for Dora's brain to reboot and then she growled at how the entire event had turned out.
All the while her traitorous heart was bouncing between the kiss they had shared a few days ago and the smile she had received simply for telling the truth.
11th October 1995
Neville Longbottom was a conflicted young man. All his life he had been trapped in a half-way world, not quite an orphan but yet unable to connect with his parents. The four people responsible their catatonic state had been sentenced to life in the hell that was Azkaban. Neville and his Gran had always felt that was the barest form of revenge. His childhood hadn't been easy, not with his magic being as quiet as it had been, and he had been a chubby, nervous boy who was scared of his own shadow. Yet all that changed through the actions of one Harry James Potter.
Harry had made sure he got a wand that actually worked for him. Harry had made Neville start to believe in himself. Harry had given him a brother, treated him with the type of respect he had once thought himself unworthy of and had even killed one of the people who had tortured his parents.
The simple fact was, Neville Longbottom would do anything for Harry Potter.
Yet Harry had vanished after the attack by Malfoy Senior to leave Neville floundering. He had almost fallen back into his old self until a black-haired beauty faced down his Gran and revealed herself to be the one person Harry had promised would stand by Neville as he had. And Neville couldn't argue his friend's words, not after Melania Black had taught him the very spell he used to take down Bellatrix Lestrange.
As Neville stepped into the Hogwarts Library, he couldn't shake the sense that he was missing something. Something important beyond the feeling of his brother by his side. Neville worked his way through the tables and aisles until he found his goal. Hermione Granger and his girlfriend Luna Lovegood were pouring over a stack of books with an intensity that worried him. He coughed to get their attention and couldn't believe what he heard when Hermione looked up.
"We think there's a secret connection between Harry and Melania."
And angry Dark Lord Voldemort was not a good thing for anyone involved. The reborn menace to innocent lives had returned from 'persuading' Gregorovitch into making him a brand new wand only to find his Death Eaters in a chaotic mess. His Inner Circle had somehow taken more losses with the deaths of the Lestrange brothers and the inexcusable murder of Fenrir Greyback. While Voldemort hadn't specifically enjoyed the feral man, he was at least able to keep the werewolves on Voldemort's side and that was all that mattered. Now though, the werewolves had scattered to the wind with barely a dozen out of the original hundreds staying by his side.
"Speak," he commanded of the Death Eater currently assigned to restore Bellatrix to health.
"It is the same curse as what befell Barty Junior, my Lord," the man rushed to explain to stave off the potential of a Crucio. "Thankfully there is no sign of the poison this time."
"How long? How long until Bella is once again ready to kill the blood traitors who dare defy me? How long until I can set her against my enemies? How. Long?"
"Unknown, my Lord," the man swallowed, painfully, when Voldemort twitched for his wand. "While the curse isn't Dark per se, it is resisting healing. We are having to keep her in stasis between healing sessions or else she'll die before the wound closes."
"You have two weeks. Now get out of my sight," The Marked Medi-wizard barely stopped himself from running out of the throne room and wondered if he had time to contact Gringotts for a will before his Lord killed him. "Now, someone explain exactly how a routine attack cost me three Death Eaters, put Bellatrix on death's door and Dementors killed. WELL?"
The robed Death Eaters shuffled nervously until Corban Yaxley raised his masked face to speak what others feared to voice.
"It was Black, my Lord," the Master Auror announced. "According to the reports, it was a combination of her familiar feeling the effects of the Dementors and Black spotting the Malfoy boy acting suspiciously. It gave her enough time to raise the alarm and call in reinforcements."
Voldemort leaned back in his throne and cupped the arms' curved ends. His long fingers pressed hard into the leathered material and all those in the large room heard the metal beneath creak.
"So, young Malfoy is once more a disappointment," the red eyes narrowed as they blazed with fury. "Unable to access Lucius' money, unable to influence Slytherin House, revealing our attack before it was time. If the boy wasn't so useless I would suspect he was doing this deliberately."
"I'm afraid there's more, my Lord," Yaxley interrupted and waited for the wave of a hand before continuing. "Dumbledore has tried calling for Black's arrest but the old fool is trying to override the Code Duello."
"And just who did Lady Black beat in a duel for Dumbledore to become so reckless?"
"Malfoy, my Lord. According to our spies in the school, she challenged him and the fool allowed everything including Unforgivables. That was Saturday and he is still being treated for his wounds."
The air was heavy with the stunned silence of Lord Voldemort as he attempted to find any sense in Draco Malfoy's actions. It didn't take him any time to come to the conclusion that there were none.
"Dolohov, if young Malfoy does not impress me before the end of the year, you and Macnair can have him once he signs over the Malfoy fortune. I have no need of fools."
Two eager sadistic men bowed their heads and thanked their Lord.
"And now we must work on showing the fools and traitors that disobedience and fighting back shall not be tolerated.
14th October 1995
The students' reaction to the attack and defence of Hogsmeade should have lasted for weeks. As it was, the intense gossiping about the event and fallout was forced to share space with the revelation of Melania and Draco's duel. Most of the student population were glad the Ferret had been put in his place but scared over the viciousness she had used in doing so. They were happy to hear rumours of Melania Black willing to stand up for those in trouble yet worried that same wand was turned on them.
And then there were those who either fully supported her or outright hated her actions. One lone mind just laughed as he ate, absolutely delighted that the evil Slytherins were attempting to kill each other.
It had been an intense week for Melania and she was grateful to escape the insanity of Hogwarts once Saturday rolled around. It had been telling that Snape had seemed to actually be pleased that she was going to be with family rather than in the castle and she only hoped the wizard behind the curtain wasn't causing her Potions Professor too many problems.
She stepped easily through the Floo connection and immediately stood to the side in order to allow Dora and Susan to come through. Melania looked around the study and smiled at how homely it felt even with the armed and ready Aurors watching them. Amelia and her father were standing by the door and both amused and saddened by the security measures.
"Stand still please," once of the Aurors declared once the other two females had come through. None of the group went for a wand to clean the soot off their clothes. "This will only take a moment. No moving until we confirm your identities."
Melania lifted an eyebrow at the speaker as though he was a fool for even thinking she wasn't who she looked to be. It was a look she had been practising and was pleased when the Auror appeared to hesitate. A cough coming from Amelia caused her to lower the brow.
"Behave," the DMLE Head ordered and everyone ignored the soft giggles coming from Susan.
The identity scans were done in such a way that the other two Aurors had clear line of sight in case things went south. The charm wasn't the easiest method of finding imposters given its lengthy casting time but it worked for the current setting.
Amelia and Sirius pulled the two youngest girls into hugs once everyone's identities had been confirmed, the latter also pulling Dora into a twirl when Andi's daughter looked to be making an escape. It was a happy five who made their way to Amelia's study, the protection detail following at a respectable distance.
"You, young lady, have a lot to answer for," the elder Bones woman scowled at Melania as they sat in comfortable chairs while Sirius ordered some light refreshments. Melania looked anything but contrite at the look that had caused seasoned Aurors to shudder. "But before we get into your insane idea of making me Minister, I want to hear about this lethal Patronus of yours."
It wasn't a request.
Melania nodded and gave a sigh as she looked around the room. Amelia's protection detail had put themselves at a distance that allowed for privacy if needed but could still react if there was trouble. She looked at one who was absently scratching at his inner arm. "What does it take to cast a Patronus?"
"Aside from a butt-tonne of power?" The man's partner scoffed only to be glared at by his boss. The first man answered.
"A happy memory."
"And that's where everyone gets it wrong," she replied with a shake of the head. The Potter Book and other tomes had allowed her to make detailed research of both Dementors and the Patronus Charm. "Second question, Amelia, what do Dementors feed on?"
"Happiness," the oldest red-head answered only to scowl when she saw the logical flaw in the situation. "Yet a Patronus is supposed to fuelled by a happy memory."
"Exactly," Melania nodded at her future step-mother, resting her head against the high-backed chair. Her father was looking a bit twitchy at the conversation yet also listened with interest. "It's believed that they feed off all our happy emotions yet when they're done, they still seem eager to come back for more."
"You're right, that doesn't make sense," Susan frowned in a way that was eerily similar to her aunt. Melania and Dora shared an amused look at the sight.
"So instead, consider the idea that Dementors feast on despair and anguish, causing it to become the dominant emotion around anyone nearby. In this case, any type of positive emotion then becomes poison to them."
"My innocence," Sirius whispered. Amelia immediately took his hand in hers and squeezed tightly while his daughter gave a slow nod, her laurel eyes filled with sympathy. "It kept the worst of the effects at bay."
"Exactly, dad," she nodded, turning to the man who had spoken early. "And yes, a Patronus does need a lot of power. But it's not magical power but a powerful positive emotion."
She waited for the room to digest her words before continuing on, the passion of teaching easily visible to those listening.
"Happiness works to create a shield, just like happiness can fight off sadness. But love? Love can destroy anguish. Love is powerful enough to pull you out of the deepest depths of despair. It's love that powers my Patronus and the reason I can cast the spell more than once without it draining me completely. It's love that Harry Potter used that night in order to save Dad's soul."
There was a heavy silence as everyone took time to digest what had just been revealed. Absolutely no one considered that Melania was wrong in her statements.
Sirius was trying not to burst into tears at what his daughter had just revealed. His godson's love for him, a man who had abandoned him for the sake of revenge, was powerful enough to repel a hundred Dementors.
Dora looked on at her Head of House and felt her heart race at the signs of the imposing woman Melania was turning into. Any doubts about their relationship faded as she realised that she truly was head over heels in love with the young woman.
Susan wondered if she could convince her future sister to become a teacher to Neville's DA club while Amelia mentally shuddered at a fully ready Lady Black speaking in front of the Wizengamot.
"You also want to know how to kill them," Melania sighed into the pregnant silence, leaning forward as she considered her next words carefully. "It's still about love, I'll admit. But it's more than that. It's also a righteous fury. An anger fuelled by love, a desire for the death of those monsters not for yourself, but in order to protect a loved one. That and a slightly different incantation can destroy them."
"It's Family Magic, Amelia," she said, her voice much softer than it had been before. The DMLE Head was just about to deflate when she pushed on. "But I'll release it to your department. It's not a spell that can be turned against either the Potters or Blacks and it'll save lives. That's all I care about."
"Thank you," Amelia replied and the depth of her gratitude was clear as the two most important women in Sirius Black's life locked eyes. "I would like you to teach both the normal and the adjusted spell to my Aurors."
"I can do that," she promised with a nod. "And I suppose that's why I want the Alliance to make you Minister. Morgana, Amelia, I'm not expecting you to keep the position once all the fighting is done with. But the only person I trust as Minister to give you and the DMLE what they need to fight back against Riddle and his Death Eaters is you. Unless you're expecting me to try putting Dad in the position?"
The look of abject horror on Sirius' face caused the entire room to erupt in laughter. It didn't help that the man was constantly shaking his head at the mere thought of becoming Minister of Magic.
"Well..." Dora mused and it was a tone that announced she was slightly serious. "Making him the next DMLE Head would allow for the Family Magic bit to be done easier. And he could update the Auror training to match what we put you through."
A far from amused Sirius glared at Dora and then turned to his daughter, his every move screaming that he was changing the subject and there wasn't a damn thing anyone could do about it.
"Mel, love, Amelia and I have been talking. I won't do it unless you and Susan are okay with this but I'd really like to. I hope you can see why, I've told you all about my problems with the family and..."
Melania and Susan shared a look, both sighing and rolling their eyes at his ramblings before turning to the mature one in the relationship. Amelia just smiled at their antics while Dora chuckled. "Siri, just tell them. They'll understand."
"Right, of course," he coughed before taking a deep breath. "I would like the permission of both of you to take the name of Bones when Amelia and I marry."
Melania could see the struggle her father had in asking and could almost feel the fear that she would be angry with the request rolling off him. Once again she looked to her future sister and began speaking.
"Sirius Black is a man with a lot of demons to his past."
"And a lot of baggage to the name," Susan added and both girls could see how much it meant to Sirius. Melania didn't feel like she was losing a father even with the name change while Susan felt like she might be gaining one. The two nodded to each other and rose to envelop the fiancées in tight hugs. Amelia was smiling while Sirius let loose a massive release of relief.
As the impromptu group hug pulled apart, Melania once again noticed the same Auror scratching at his inner arm. She stilled as she took in the movement, eyes narrowing as her brain recognised that the fingers weren't scratching but pressing into the area. The same area that murderers and monsters were branded. The man's eyes widened as he realised she was watching him and he panicked. The Death Eater Auror pulled a poisoned blade from somewhere and spun sideways to stab his partner, following through so that he was rolling away from the already dying man as Melania shouted out a warning.
The Death Eater knew he wouldn't get out of the room alive and did the only thing he could. A Confringo was sent into the midst of the group in the hopes of taking some of them with him. It was met by the magic of an angry Lady Black.
"Protego!" The almost solid blue shield snapped to life and sent the explosive spell flying off in a safe direction. It was the last thing the Death Eater saw before two cutting curses and a stunner shut him down.
"Madam Bones!" Another of Amelia's security called out before opening the door. The woman immediately found herself facing the wands of the family.
"So me your left arm, Simmons," Amelia commanded, ready to fire off a spell should the Auror refuse. Simmons appeared to do as she had been told only to try racing out of the room. She was hit in the back by five stunners that sent her unconscious body crashing into the opposite wall. Amelia let loose a torrent of abuse
"I think you might need to have a word with whoever picked your detail," Melania spoke up when it became apparent that the older woman wasn't going to be giving up the rant any time soon.
"Yaxley," Amelia snarled only to then frown as she felt something change. "The wards. They cut me off from the wards."
Everyone swore only to quickly shut up when an explosion rocked the Ossuary. The group looked at each other with dread as the full level of danger became apparent.
"Apparition? Port-keys?" Susan asked in a voice far calmer than she felt.
Sirius attempted the spin only to stumble when anti-apparition wards kept him from leaving. Amelia grabbed a glass and cast the Portus spell only for that too to fail.
"The Floo will be down too," Sirius declared and no one doubted his word.
Melania looked to her finger but immediately dismissed the Delacour ring. The sheer power required to get them all out in one go would most likely kill her and some of her family too. And that was when the dreaded voice of Riddle echoed throughout the ancient home of House Bones.
"Blacksss and Bonesss, a thorn in my ssside no longer," Melania's eyes widened at the hissing, knowing that the owner only did so when he was truly angry. "You are not even worth the effort it will take to kill you. Fiendfyre!"
Sirius' words summed up all of their thoughts as they heard the dreaded whoosh of demonic flames.
The Ossuary burned, consumed by the deadliest fires known to Wizard kind. Lord Voldemort's red eyes gleamed with manacle delight as he watched the end of those who looked to stop him from achieving his goal. It had been he who cast the wards to keep anyone from magically leaving the inferno and his spy in the Ministry would keep the Floo closed.
The being that was once Tom Riddle laughed as he saw things finally going his way. The laughter remained even when his Apparated away, never once thinking he had made the same mistake as he had over a decade ago. In his hubris he had once again forgotten about the loyalty and power held within the beings known as House-elves.