A/N: One of my reviewers, daithi4377, reminded me of a dear friend of Hagrid's that needed some tender loving care. I hope this satisfies.
Loud barking sounded throughout the Keep as the boys brought down their trunks and set them in the entry hall. "Ah, our 'guest' has arrived," Tom quipped with amusement dancing in his eyes. Harrison giggled as he turned to Sirius, a wicked grin on his face.
"I have a bit of a surprise for you, Padfoot," the raven said softly. At that moment, Lucius rounded the corner of the floo room behind a bounding boarhound, who made a beeline for Sirius, bowling him over and drowning him with his tongue. Giggling erupted from the boys as they watched Harrison's godfather struggle and whimper under the dog's assault. Laughing for all he was worth, Remus finally got himself enough under control to pull Fang off of the soaking wet man.
"What the hell?" Sirius squeaked, trying desperately not to shiver with disgust as he whipped out his wand and frantically dried himself off.
"Hagrid's pet needed somewhere to stay whilst he was away, learning what he had been denied," Lucius intoned with amusement. "Tom graciously offered to put the animal up here, since he would have suitable company."
"Yeah," Neville chimed in happily, "Fang can also help Remus with the full moons so that you don't get too worn out, Sirius."
"That's…actually…a really good idea," the animagus said thoughtfully, looking at the exuberant dog with new eyes. "He does seem to have limitless energy."
"We couldn't, in all conscience, leave him at Hogwarts, where he would have been neglected," Harrison said softly, scratching Fang behind the ears and earning a shudder of satisfaction. "I told Hagrid that we would take very good care of him. He trusts us with his dearest friend, and I don't want to fail him."
"We'll take really good care of him while you are gone, Harrison," Remus said with a smile. "Don't worry. Now, you lot had best be on your way. The International Portkey leaves in two hours."
They were standing at the gate to the International Portkey that went to Africa, saying their goodbyes for the summer.
"Don't worry about anything, Tom. I'll make sure that everything runs smoothly while you're gone," Lucius reassured the man.
"You are Minister for a reason, Lucius. I've done very little to enact the changes made to the British magical world. I've only made suggestions; you've taken them and run full tilt with them. I'm so very proud of the work you've accomplished, in such a short amount of time. It speaks very well of the future I have planned for you."
"Thank you, Tom," the elder Malfoy said with a blush, bowing his head. "I appreciate all the faith you have in me, though the job is a bit more exhausting than I had first thought."
"Why don't you and Mother come with us, Father," Draco said reasonably. "I'm sure you both could do with a vacation."
"As tempting as that is, son, I, unfortunately, cannot. I cannot leave the management of the Ministry to the underlings we have in place right now; they are wholly unsuitable."
"Do not worry about your parents, Draco," Tom reassured the blond. "I have arranged for both Narcissa and Bella to be pampered fairly regularly at an exclusive spa and resort specifically designed for expectant mothers. It is the least I can do for the woman who is willing to carry Severus' and my twins, and the woman I had treated so abysmally whilst I was out of my head."
"Rodolphus, Rabastan and I plan on getting away to Paris with Sirius, Remus, Thorfinn and Barty once in a while, as well," Lucius added softly. "I did promise Sirius a 'boys night out' there, and I think that this would be a good opportunity for us to get to know each other better, as well as allow Sirius to reconnect with his childhood friends. It will also give me an opportunity to vet some of the other up-and-comers in the Ministry; see who may be suitable for higher positions in the future. Do not worry so, son. I do intend to relax when I can."
Harrison inhaled deeply as the group stood on the veranda of the Potter home, sighing happily as he looked up at his father. "It smells wonderful here. So exotic and rich with life."
"Indeed," Severus concurred, an excited gleam in his ebon eyes. "I can smell a variety of different plants that I would like to collect."
"I don't know about any of you," Neville grumbled good-naturedly, "but I am knackered. That was a hella long international trip, and it took quite a bit out of me."
"Agreed," Draco mumbled, swaying slightly. Harrison worriedly put his arm around his fiancé's shoulders, looking into droopy silver eyes with concern. "M'all right, Harrison," the blond reassured his boyfriend with a shy smile. "Just a little tired."
"We will have dinner with the Longbottoms, who are due to arrive in a few moments, then rest tonight," Tom said to the group as they re-entered the villa. "We'll start exploring tomorrow."
"Merlin's hairy balls," Augusta murmured in wonder as she looked around the château that Harrison had graciously lent her for the summer. It was spacious and clean, with a very open, airy floor plan. It had plenty of suites in which to house her many friends, who would be arriving in dribs and drabs over the coming week, and she was looking forward to the plentiful exciting things they would be doing on this long overdue vacation. "I must thank that wonderful young man for watching out for my grandson," she murmured to herself as she went to choose a suite of rooms for her stay. "His choice to save himself from the abuse he'd suffered since his parents' deaths caused ripples that had such phenomenal, far-reaching consequences.
"I know that there are some who would condemn his decision as selfish, but I understand that choice, and I applaud it. It gave me a grandson who became stronger, both magically and within himself. It gave me back my children, who I thought I would never see whole and happy again. It gave a purpose to my life again, and I wouldn't change any of it for all the galleons, or all the goodness and light in the world."
Padfoot danced around Moony, nipping at his heels playfully, trying to get the werewolf to come and play. It was the first full moon since the addition of the boarhound, and Fang sat back on his haunches, muscles bunched tensely as he sniffed the air cautiously. The wolf smelled like the gentle human who had wormed his way into the dog's heart with his kindness; especially with the way he scratched Fang's belly. However, he didn't look or act like the human; he was hairy and gruff, and growled lowly in his throat. The werewolf snapped at Padfoot's snout, warning him to back off, and Sirius stopped, sitting and watching warily as Moony approached the boarhound, head and tail high.
Fang's hackles rose on his back as the werewolf approached, and he hunkered down, growling low in his throat for a moment, before he sniffed the air one more time. Then, suddenly, he let out a small yip and rolled over on his back, baring his neck and belly in instant submission to the alpha wolf and showing that he understood the hierarchy of the pack. Moony stepped up to the boarhound and licked the dog's snout enthusiastically, showing his approval, then darted away with a howl, urging the other two canines to follow him into the night's adventures.
"Where the fuck are we?" Brown barked loudly, looking around with wide eyes.
"I think we're in the Andes mountains," Urquart mumbled quietly, staring at the ruins in front of him. They had landed near the ruins of the indigenous peoples of the Caranqui tribes, thought to be extinct hundreds of years ago, and were sifting through the rubble, looking for any sign of Riddle or the bastard who had stolen him. They tossed aside relics that were part of the alters used to make the human sacrifices to the gods, desecrating the sacred temples and altars without care, unaware of the eyes watching them from the surrounding vegetation.
"Well," Burke growled after several minutes of fruitless searching, "I don't see them here. I do see, however, some rather priceless relics that would look rather nice in my shop. They have just the right feel to them, too."
"I…I'm not sure you should take anything from here," Blishwick murmured softly. "I've been feeling like someone's been watching me for a while now."
"Nonsense," Brown scoffed with a sneer. "Those savages have been gone for hundreds of years. They're not going to miss any of this." As Burke began to stuff the jeweled cups and bowls into his wizard-expanded pouch, the vegetation surrounding the ruined temple began to shake and tremble, and forms began to emerge from their shadows, carrying spears, broadswords, and all manner of weapons. Many also carried crude wands in their hands. The four intruders' eyes widened in terror as they watched the Caranqui Indians approach them menacingly, the shamans in full costume as they raised their wands to start casting their curses.
"Fuck, we're in for it now," Urquart bellowed as he turned tail and ran, stumbling over the stones and roots as he fled. Burke dropped his satchel and followed, leaving behind Brown and Blishwick, who were frozen to the spot in terror. The spell that the shaman cast hit Brown in the chest, turning him into a spider monkey. Squealing in fear, Blishwick scooped him up and pelted after the other two men, narrowly avoiding the other spell as it flew over her ducking head.
"When we get back to England," she panted as the monkey clung tightly to her, "I'm going to kick your everloving arse."
"I thought we'd take in a show, first," Lucius said as the men stepped out of the apparition room near the Eiffel tower in Paris. It was Remus and Thorfinn, Sirius and Barty, Lucius, Rabastan and Rodolphus. Narcissa and Bella were taking advantage of the spa, and were staying the night. "There's a muggle play called Le Cage aux Folles, and I hear it's brilliant. Since we're trying to incorporate more muggle entertainments into our world, I thought we could do a little 'research', and enjoy ourselves at the same time."
"That's a good idea, Lucius," Remus replied. "We've already seen movies and television; Sirius has seen different types of dance. The only thing we haven't explored yet is plays. I know London has a great theatre district, but we haven't had the chance to check it out yet."
"After that, we'll go have dinner, and then I'd like to have a romantic evening alone with Barty," Sirius said, eyeing the smaller man hungrily. Crouch, Jr. blushed to the roots of his dark hair at the look in the animagus' blue eyes, looking down shyly.
"We will give you that," Rodolphus murmured with a smirk. "I think Lucius, Rab and I can find entertainments for ourselves so the four of you can have some privacy the rest of the night."
"Is…is that a lion?" Neville asked nervously as the group trekked through the jungle. Harrison looked in the direction Nev was pointing and grinned widely at the big cat, walking toward it fearlessly.
"Harrison," Draco hissed fearfully, silver eyes wide with terror. Severus tensed, wand in hand and pointed at the predator as he watched his son approach the animal. The cat opened his mouth in a roar, then settled down, staring at the fourteen year old as the boy approached and spoke to him. All eyes widened comically as Harrison reached up and scratched the snout of the lion, and they could clearly hear both the giggle and the loud purr of contentment from the big cat. The teen spoke to the lion for a few moments more, then reached up and took several hairs from the lion's mane before bowing his head and returning to the group, a wide grin on his face.
"Don't you ever do anything like that again," Severus snarled as he wrapped his arms around his son, trembling from fear.
"It's all right, Dad," the boy replied softly, returning the hug and snuggling into the Potions Master's arms. "I know what I'm doing. How else do you think I get the ingredients you covet so?"
"Be that as it may, next time, take me with you," Tom said, ruffling his son's hair affectionately. "I would like to meet these animals, too, you know."
"I'll do that, Father," the teen replied with laughter in his voice.
"Two weeks! We've been back from that gods-forsaken jungle for two weeks and we still don't know where they are!" Urquart bellowed. "Not only that, Brown's still a gods-be-damned monkey! I don't know what kind of spell that witchdoctor used on him, but we can't seem to break it." Tom's friends had to fight hard to hold in their laughter as the spider monkey swung from the chandelier, screaming and chittering loudly as he flung his feces at Burke angrily, rightfully blaming him for the predicament in which he found himself.
"He's right, you know," Blishwick said softly, smirking as a particularly smelly, sticky piece of poo splatted into Burke's face and stuck to the middle of his forehead. "It is your fault. If you hadn't have tried to steal those relics from the temple, none of this would have happened."
"How the hell was I supposed to know that those savages were still alive?!" Caractacus bellowed, flinging his arms around. "All records state that they'd gone extinct several hundred years ago. Who was I to question those historical documents?"
"Historical documents collected by muggles," Urquart said with disgust. "You trusted a bunch of useless, idiotic muggles to know what they were doing. In case you didn't notice, since you were fleeing for your life, those savages had wands, which made them wizards. Wizards outlive muggles by a substantial margin, and we know how to keep ourselves hidden. If we don't want to be found, we won't. It's no wonder the pathetic muggles thought that they were extinct."
"Well, yeah, now that you put it that way, I should have known better. But those relics were just laying around. Anyone could have picked them up. Might as well have been me. I could have made so much money from them; so many Dark families would have loved to have added them to their collections."
"They weren't yours," Josephine said disgustedly, which was emphasized by a golden shower on Burke's head by the monkey. "You can't go around just taking whatever you want, simply because it's just lying there. Your greed almost cost us our lives, and it could very well have cost Brown his humanity."