Narcissa watched with awe as Herido Addams handled his violin like an aficionado, fiddling away with such speed and precision that she wouldn't blink if Draco was to tell her he was a musical savant – although, as she looked across to the other Addams children, she realised the same could be said of any of them. Even their… dismembered hand, handled his tambourine with enviable skill.
The feet of the Addams parents also moved with perfect grace as they danced, lost in each other's gaze, to the rising tempo of their children's music.
The Malfoys had been delighted when Draco agreed to finally invite his friend's family to share a meal at their home. Their son was very open about his friendship with Herido, and indeed about his pride in having forged that friendship, but for reasons unknown he had been resistant about the idea of introducing the two families.
Draco was surprised at how calm dinner had been – he was half expecting goat sacrifices and auror raids, but it turned out the twins were telling the truth when they said the Addams family was actually charming and gracious and above all knew how to enjoy life… though Ron's words also bounced around his head – something about a household of madmen…
The Addams too had been pleasantly surprised with how the evening had played out. They would of course always accept such invitations, but were resigned to suffer through all the strange foods and entertainments people seemed to favour these days. Draco though had done his homework (he'd asked the twins), and advised his mother to order in the most exotic foods she could find. At first his parents had been resistant, insisting that putting on such a display was vulgar, but after receiving compliments on their kangaroo fillets they knew their son had been right. The Addams' were too polite to mention how the elves seemed to have left the best bit out of the Fugu. What was the point of eating such a deadly fish if you neglected to include the poison?
"Ah, the merry abandon of the Czardas!" Gomez cried as he circled his wife. "The wild rhythm of the tambourines – it sets my gypsy blood afire!"
Morticia stopped dancing to look at him. "Darling, you have no gypsy blood." Gomez too stopped dancing at this apparently shocking revelation.
"I haven't?" Concerned he raised a hand to his forehead. "I must have a fever." Morticia quickly added her own hand to double check, before shaking her head.
"Nonsense. C'est la dance!" The Addams patriarch suddenly gripped his wife and pulled her close – closer than the all-too-proper Malfoys thought decent.
"Tish, when you speak French it really drives me wild." Morticia laughed kindly and the hosts forced themselves to look away from what suddenly seemed far too intimate to be public. Though, they could still hear the smacking of lips, so were grateful when music continued and the dancers fell back into step to conclude the dance. Narcissa glanced with practiced subtlety to own husband. When was the last time they had danced together like that?
Heri smiled indulgently at his parents as he set the borrowed instrument aside. Draco was looking paler than usual, poor thing, his parents mustn't be quite so forthcoming with their affections.
As the Addams adults finally made their way over to Lucius and Narcissa, Draco watched concerned, as Thing poured two cups of that same smoking tea that Heri and Hermione drank. He had no idea where those cups or that teapot had come from, but quickly decided that was the least of his concerns as he heard his father once more attempt to engage the two in political talk.
"Do you have a fever, Draco?" Wednesday asked, sounding all too eager for his liking.
"Perhaps we should explore the gardens to get some air." Herido offered. Draco shook his head immediately: he had to stay here to monitor his father and possibly run interference or damage control. Pugsley laughed at the blonde, almost as though he'd read his mind.
"It's getting dark out." Draco tried to reason, knowing it was useless as the three children began towards the French doors.
"Of course," Heri called over his shoulder, "the best time for exploring!" And resigned to his fate, Draco followed. After facing the Forbidden Forest he was hardly afraid of his own back garden, but to leave his parents with these people…
When he caught up with the others they were all stood frozen in a line and if he didn't know better, he would say they were afraid, but he did and so edged to instead describe them as in shock.
"Oh Draco, Herido never told us…" The older boy started with a sense of genuine pity.
"I…I never knew." Heri shared his brother's tone, which only added to his confusion. They sounded as though they'd just discovered he was some poor abused orphan or something.
He took a few unsure steps and peered out over the lawn, but could see nothing to have caused such a reaction. It was odd that the peacocks were still out, they would be normally be roosting for the night… He held in his exasperation as he realised the problem.
"They're just peacocks." He tried. "They're here mostly for show, almost like ornaments." The three turned to look at him like he'd gone mad.
"Why would you…" But Heri saved him from having to answer whatever, likely insane, question was about to be posed.
"I think, darling sister, it's just as mother says: some people have a twisted sense of beauty." They all looked little more comfortable at his words. Yes of course.
Draco was about to move them all along when he noticed a glint of steel.
"They are ornaments, you say?" Wednesday asked, pulling out a knife that was far too big to have been hidden in her dress. "Not pets?" Three sets of eyes were once again on him. He knew he shouldn't have. Knew he should have at least tried to protect his property. But this past year with Herido Addams must have affected him greatly, because he appreciated that hungry look in their eyes and was actually excited to engage in whatever game they wanted to play, bloody as it was sure to be. It had been a long, dull summer. He'd met up with the others several times, but with Malfoys, Weasleys and a muggleborn in the group, it had been difficult to find a suitable location to spend any longer than the odd day here and there. And of course Herido had been incommunicado all summer, though he wouldn't talk about why. He wouldn't mind blowing off a little steam.
"No, not pets."
The children returned to the sitting room a few hours later, the blood on their clothes ranging from spattered to soaked. Draco felt bad that in all the fun he'd forgotten all about his parents, but it seemed everything was fine. Well, fine with them anyway. His mother was over by a drinks cabinet with Mrs Addams, chatting quietly, but excitedly about the white powder the latter was showing from its hiding place in the woman's ring. It had been a long time since his mother had looked so engaged in anything while in the company of anyone but family. His father had one eyebrow raised, an impressed look on his face as he gazed down to the house elf at his feet. Mr Addams was stood over the creature and Draco had never heard anything like the tortured cry it was making. It would probably haunt his dreams for the next few weeks.
"…really a very disobedient elf you have here." He caught the end of what Mr Addams was saying. Draco supposed Dobby had always been a little peculiar and wasn't at all surprised the Addams were even stricter with their servants than his own family. "Ah looks like the children have been having fun!" The man said when he noticed them. Lucius looked appalled, but quickly composed himself.
"Yes indeed." Pugsley enthused, before sharing how they had dealt with the disturbing infestation the hosts had. Draco was expecting his father to be angry, at least quietly angry, but to his relief maintained his dignity and spoke with his usual pomp to Narcissa.
"It seems we need to call in a landscaper – we were overdue to redesign the gardens anyway."
It was getting late and the evening coming to its natural close, but after seeing how much fun his children had had, Gomez spoke up:
"Children, why don't you have a sleepover? Or young Draco could stay with us if you like?" He felt bad about everything he'd put them through this summer, they deserved a break and he was sure Fester and Grandmamma would understand when he returned without them.
"A marvellous idea!" Morticia declared. "Why don't you invite your other friends as well and make a party out of it." Draco very much wanted to object. He couldn't wait to visit the Addams residence, if for no other reason than his father was sure to be jealous, and though he thought it might be a bit daunting, the thought of inviting their 'other friends' to Malfoy Manor was downright terrifying.
Draco had eventually decided to tell his father about what had transpired at school, and of Lord Voldemort's involvement. His decision had really come down to wanting his father to have a heads-up, to not wanting him to be blind-sided if the Dark Lord came back. At least now they knew he was still alive and could prepare.
However, he had still not worked up the courage to share his friendship with Hermione or the Gryffindors. His dad had been so pleased with him this year – the pride he'd felt from him was glorious and he didn't want to see that replaced with contempt or worse, disappointment.
"That sounds grand." Narcissa agreed graciously with their guests. "How about it, dear? Would you like to invite your friends over tomorrow?" Draco stuttered for a moment, before nodding simply, unable to think of a decent excuse not to. Maybe he could get away with just inviting Blaise and Daphne.
"Great!" Herido was actually looking forward to catching up with the others. "We'll have to let your elves know of Ron's requirements." He added with a grin.
Lucius was confused "Ron?" He asked. He'd never heard his son speak of any Ron, but Addams seemed to consider him a close enough friend to invite to their get-together.
"Why don't I show you to your rooms?" Draco blurted out suddenly. "It was nice to meet you Mr Addams, Mrs Addams." The Addams children shared an amused look before moving to bid their parents goodbye.
Lucius had an uneasy night and after tossing and turning for over two hours he decided to get up. He tied his night-robe and made his way downstairs, only to pause before he reached the bottom. The entire entry hall was lit with hundreds of candles and sat facing each other in the middle of the floor were the three Addams children.
"W-What are you doing?" He asked, genuinely curious, if not completely apprehensive. None of them looked at him, but the girl answered.
"Invoking spirits." His mouth gaped for a moment. How could she just say that like it was nothing? She was a baby for crying out loud and Spiritism was dark and dangerous. He took another step down in order to interrupt this madness, but then thought further on it: these were Addams kids after all; maybe this was normal for them.
"You have such an old ancestral home," Herido added by way of explanation when he noticed the man's hesitance. "We thought a few people must have died here over the years."
Shaking his head to make sure he wasn't dreaming, Lucius cautiously made his way over to them.
"And did you contact anyone?" He really hoped they hadn't – couldn't.
"No one particularly interesting." Pugsley informed. "A couple of prisoners from the old days; one of your ancestors – he was actually very funny." All the candles flickered ominously, and before Lucius could say a thing a girl, no older than 7 or 8 appeared in the circle between the siblings. The man was shocked to see she seemed as solid as any of them and not at all like a ghost. The only thing that gave her away was how she flickered with the candles.
"Hello, cousin." She greeted the Malfoy Lord with a small bow, as was custom a few hundred years ago.
"Hello, child." He was pleased to find his voice was strong, despite the strange turn of events. "You must be Aeliana?" She looked just like her still portraits.
"Yes, sir." She answered clearly.
"How did you die?" Pugsley asked the girl with worrying zeal. Lucius didn't know the etiquette surrounding summoning the dead, but he imagined that question was taboo. On top of any general inconsideration though was a learned protectiveness of this girl. Every Malfoy knew the story of Aeliana.
"I fell from a window in the east tower." The man never knew a child's voice could sound so haunting and couldn't help being offended by the disappointed huffs from the three living children.
"You just fell?" Wednesday asked.
"You don't have to answer that!" Lucius finally decided to interrupt. She shouldn't have to relive her own death for the amusement of others.
"But I do, Lord Malfoy." Aeliana said quietly. "I am bound by the will of those who summoned me. I was being chased by the Weasley brothers. They'd been teasing me and I wanted to get away…"
"She was trying to find sanctuary from their relentless mocking, but found herself corned." He took over so she at least wouldn't have to say it all. He suddenly felt cold as he remembered Pugsley saying his ancestor was 'funny' – he couldn't imagine any adult Malfoy taking kindly to being bound to the will of children and dreaded to think about what they found funny about his reaction. He dismissed the thought and continued. "The Weasleys claimed she jumped…"
"I slipped!" She defended herself with pride belonging to a Malfoy. Lucius nodded. The story was a low point for his family. Aeliana was beloved, a princess and the Malfoys processed her death with all the grief and anger they could, and they could be outright vicious when they wanted to be. They threw everything into pursuing the other purebloods legally, stripping them of countless assets and cursed the family magically that they would never be blessed with a female child after so callously taking another's.
Heri grinned down at the candle he held. Tomorrow might prove interesting. Draco had obviously overcome this family feud, but his father might take more work. He'd always just assumed Draco disliked them because they were so poor.
"My Lord, may I make a request?" Lucius looked to the girl and nodded, doubting any Malfoy could deny this girl a thing. "Please reinstate the garden party." He'd not been expecting that. It was at the annual Summer Garden Party that she had died, and no more had been held after the tragic event. "It was always my favourite event, the least stuffy," she added with a crinkling of her nose that gave away for the first time her tender age, "and I always hated that they were allowed to ruin that too." The man of course agreed, having a feeling that once his wife got her hands around it, next year's garden party would be the event of the year.
"Merlin's balls, Draco!" Fred exclaimed, stepping from the greeting room that held the floo entrance to the Manor and out into the grand hall.
"It's like a bloody hotel." Ron added gruffly.
Draco smirked. "Oh please, as though any of you have been in hotel this impressive." It was the first time that none of his friends could deny him his ego. Even Hermione was impressed.
"It's like Wayne Manor." She caught herself when she noticed Draco's smug look and quickly added "though not as awesome." Which had no effect at all as the others were just confused as to what she was talking about, and it lacked bite as it was a very un-Hermione thing to say.
The three Addams' laughed, making them all jump as they seem to have just materialised beside them.
"Why don't we go outside; there should be enough of us for Quidditch." Once Draco had given them time to appreciate his glorious home, he was eager to get them out of the way – away from his father. Heri had apparently sent out invites late last night and encouraged them to come as soon as possible, which meant that he hadn't had time to warn his dad.
"Hey guys." Blaise greeted as he joined the others. "Oh, good morning, Lord Malfoy." He added when he noticed the man in a doorway on the opposite side of the staircase looking as pristine as ever despite his late night. Draco spun so fast it seemed he was being pulled by an invisible force.
Lucius made his way over, his posture rigid and his words strained. He felt no need to completely hide his distaste at those standing in his home.
"Are you going to introduce me to your little friends, Draco?" The younger Malfoy shrank a little before taking a deep breath. Just as he found his voice to respond, Daphne, Vincent and Gregory joined them, completing the group and making him want to groan – the startled look on Daphne's face was quickly replaced with scandalous amusement and he knew she'd never let him forget this.
"Father," His voice was higher than usual and he heard several snickers. It was actually for the best though, because his own pride didn't allow him to be laughed at. He straightened up and focused his magic – he didn't need it, but it made him feel stronger, reminded him what he was capable of and made him braver, brave enough to face his father even. "Father, let me introduce my friends, Hermione Granger, Neville Longbottom, and Ron, Fred and George Weasley. Hermione's a Slytherin." He added before he could stop himself trying to mitigate her blood status.
A look of outright repugnance briefly crossed the man's face before he settled on looking down at the newcomers. After a second of uncertainty George was the first step up and greeted his host with dignity and sincere respect that Draco hadn't thought them capable of, something that was quickly mimicked by his twin and then repeated a little less confidently by the other three. As much as they wanted to deny it, Lucius was an intimidating man.
It would seem that the Slytherins weren't the only ones to overcome their prejudices this year. The Weasleys were well aware of their family's history with the Malfoys, but they'd become so used to being with Draco they'd forgotten all about it until they saw the look on his father's face and tried to prove that they were not their ancestors. It was so long ago they didn't think it mattered what really happened way back when it started, and besides their mother said that the birth of their baby sister signalled that the feud had run its course and should have brought an end to animosities. But life was rarely so simple.
Lucius own shock was well hidden as he returned the greetings, though he paused on Hermione.
"Ah yes, I've heard all about you." Hermione didn't know how such a smooth voice could sound so derogatory. "To think that someone with… parents? such as yours could be a Slytherin." He made it sound like she was raised by wild animals.
"My parents are very proud, Mr Malfoy." She returned.
"No doubt." He replied easily before looking to his son. "I do hope you aren't thinking of inviting them here too." Hermione bristled at his words and responded before Draco had a chance to.
"Perhaps you could visit our home instead." Hermione suggested and all the purebloods present thought she might have actually gone mad. "My parents were pleased to have Draco over, I'm sure they would extend you the same courtesy." Oh, Boom! Heri thought. She'd just effortlessly suggested that her muggle parents had more grace than the Malfoy Lord whilst switching his focus from her and to his son.
Lucius' clenched his jaw. He noticed the girl's nervousness – her whole posture and countenance was strained, but she had still given an impressive display and succeeded in diverting his attention. Draco actually gulped while Heri grinned his Cheshire cat grin. He thought the Weasleys would have the harder time after last night and the wounds that were no doubt reopened, but this was fun too.
"Q-Quidditch," To everyone's surprise it was Neville that tried to ease the tension. "Draco, do you have enough brooms for all of us?" It was a bad effort, but wasn't used to having to intervene in such situations, or any situation for that matter.
Lucius considered the Longbottom heir for a moment before turning to his son. "Yes, Draco, show your friends out." The double-meaning of those words were lost on no one. "I can't hide my surprise that these are the people you choose to associate with." Draco forced himself to stand tall against the obvious disapproval. "Actually, I'm surprised at all of you." He added, looking across the more familiar faces of his son's friends. Blaise and Daphne stayed stoic, Crabbe was easily abashed and Goyle just shrugged, not really seeing the problem here.
"You shouldn't be." Heri spoke up or the first time during the exchange. Lucius had almost forgotten about his unpredictable guests. "They are the best I've seen at Hogwarts so far. We all achieved the top marks of our years." He knew such things were important to most parents and assumed the man would know not to include Crabbe and Goyle. "Even Ron."
"And I can assure you they all more than capable in practice as well as theory."
Lucius ignored the young Weasley's protestations – the way Herido smiled as he said that last part put his teeth on edge. He decided to change tack and cautiously challenged the darker children.
"And your parents know of these friendships?" Surely he could find allies against these light-loving types in the darkest family around.
"Of course," Pugsley answered. "The delightful Hermione and fine Weasley brothers have all stayed with us and we all relished their company." Well the truly stumped Malfoy Snr.
"If you'll excuse us Mr Malfoy, I think we'll head out now." Wednesday had had enough. She found the man's prejudice more pathetic than amusing. She'd much rather be teaching her brother's friends how to play Quidditch the Addams way.
The young friends decided to stay outside during the afternoon. It was quite the sight to see and left a funny knot in Narcissa's stomach as she looked out at the scene. At first she'd thought everything to be perfectly innocent – sunbathing, sports, all the usual summertime activities, but of course she was wrong. Well, Daphne was indeed sunbathing, lying back on a lounger with her eyes closed, diligently ignoring her peers in favour of the classical sonata playing in the background. Besides her however was a pitch black gazebo, which adequately shielded the Addams girl from even a single ray of sunlight. Narcissa couldn't make out what she was doing, but there was thick grey smoke billowing from the shaded area and crawling along the grass. Heri was effortlessly butchering a few peacocks into grillable sizes, while Ron and Blaise manned separate barbeques, seemingly in the middle of an argument. The Longbottom boy was watching on as he leaned lazily against a stone plinth, but he was holding one arm high above his head and this arm was completely encompassed in a lattice of thick bark that appeared to be moving – weaving a constant path up and down. The Goyle boy might have been sleeping, but she had a feeling he was knocked out considering the uncomfortable position he lay in. She could just about see one of the twins' heads – the only part of his body that was above ground and his twin was with Pugsley as the older boy was coaching him and Crabbe in archery, much to the distress of the elf Hynx, who was trembling as he held a target high above his head.
The knot finally started to ease when she finally caught sight of Draco who was on his new broom… trying to coax the muggleborn girl out of a tree. She shook her head. Maybe this had been a bad idea.
"You're finally down then?" Heri's voice was full of mirth as Hermione approached him. She smacked his arm with a scowl.
"I'm never flying again. Congratulations, you've succeeded in scarring me for life" He looked happy with this so she corrected: "Oh not really!" Killing Bambi had probably done that, but she wasn't about to tell him. She glanced across the small section of lawn they currently occupied. "It's strange, don't you think? How much things have changed in just a year?" Heri followed her gaze but didn't quite see her point. She couldn't believe how much things had changed. Being here was like being on one the picnics she used to go on to stately homes and heritage sites with her parents. Only now she was here with a big group of dear friends, the stately home belonged to one of those friends – three of them where healing from what could have been a fatal Quidditch match and one was enjoying a blood-pop made from actual human blood and there was dried peacock blood all over the place that no one seemed to mind. It was strange, but it was better.
"We're related, you know? To the Malfoys" Heri broke her from her reverie. "Mother noticed last night. More distant cousins." He informed with a smile – his family had a lot of those.
"You're related to Draco?" She hissed, "No way! I know that all the purebloods interbreed but I thought the Addams would at least be immune." Heri wanted to laugh as she compared it to a disease.
"Not the Addams, no. But yes, Draco is my second cousin, twice removed – or something like that. But still, family is family."
"Oooh." Hermione realised what he meant and was about to ask for details when someone beat her to it.
"What!" She turned to find that Draco had approached them at some point. Whoops.