The Noble House of Black
Parallel Universe Family Reunion
Sirius is still alive; Voldemort's on a holiday; Bellatrix Lestrange and Alice Longbottom are best friends and Wormtail never betrayed the Potters. What happens when you shove the Blacks, their distant relatives, and their guests into a small picnic ground?
THE NOBLE HOUSE OF BLACK
TRI-ANNUAL FAMILY REUNION
The picnic grounds just west of Grimmauld Place.
The Potters stared at the sign blankly. It had never occurred to James Potter before now that he'd never actually gone the Muggle way to his friend Sirius Black's previous place of residence and that he really didn't know where Grimmauld Place was. By the time Lily had pointed out that they certainly couldn't Apparate, not with Harry with them, oh no, it was far too late to send Sirius an owl.
Instead, they'd taken the Underground to a point that James felt made sense in London. He coughed and stared at a map that Lily had insisted they purchase at a corner shop. He attempted stepping on the map; waving it in the air; closing his eyes and picking a random place on it, and throwing it across the street, but finally he had to face the awful truth that there were far too many streets in London to properly locate Grimmauld Place, a small residential street, on a map.
His son, Harry, quite personally was surprised they'd been invited. He was surprised that Sirius had been invited, quite truthfully. It was no secret that since he'd run away from home, his mother had disowned him.
Lily was more than nervous to be going, but upon James' insisting that they did go and Harry's fruitless begging, she'd finally given in. She didn't especially find great joy in listening to people call her a Mudblood all day, and she certainly was in no mood for confrontation with a group of Death Eaters, regardless of the mystified headlines from The Daily Prophet reporting the absence of Voldemort ("Where In The World Is You-Know-Who?"). She only rested with the fact that Professor Albus Dumbledore, headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, would be attending as well.
Quite frankly she was wondering if either Harry or James had bothered to take a look at the Black family tree. Not only were there Death Eaters of high Death Eater renown, but there were Death Eaters that would have been nastily unpleasant people anyway (the Malfoys, who were bringing the Crabbes and the Goyles). Among other guests would be the ghost of Phineas Nigellus, a previous headmaster of Hogwarts, and Severus Snape, Harry's Potions teacher. Not to mention the attendance of Sirius' evil mother. Lily could easily see why he'd run away at such a young age.
Lily had gotten one good laugh out of the whole ordeal, and that was (with permission, of course), inviting her sister's family, the Dursleys. Her sister Petunia was quite the unpleasant wench, always gossiping on her neighbors; her husband Vernon was fat and unpleasant all the same. Lily liked to think that in disliking her sister and her sister's husband, one fat and one skinny, she was being quite equal opportunity. However, if Vernon was fat, their son, Dudley, was, by comparison, a small mountain to a Bertie Bott's Every Flavored Bean.
The problem with the Dursleys was that they hated magic in all its forms, and Lily knew this and took delight in terrorizing them because of it. She remembered one particular instance, when she was younger, when she'd replaced her sister's soap with frog spawn soap. The shrieking as Petunia Evans came running out of the bathroom, chased by a small frog, still echoed gleefully in Lily's memory.
If they weren't going to be nice to her, she wasn't going to be nice to them, either.
Of course, given their hate of all things magic, Lily knew there was no way she'd be able to subject her sister and family to this batch of wizards by telling the truth. Instead, she'd sent them an invitation to the very place the picnic was being held, and instead of titling it "The Noble House of Black Tri-Annual Family Reunion," she'd sent them an invitation to a "Surrey's Most Beautiful Flower Garden" picnic taking place at the flower-filled Grimmauld Park. Lily had conveniently forgotten to mention that in saying "flower-filled" it meant "weed-filled," so she supposed the Dursleys would attend. She wanted to see how long it took them to realize they were in a park full of wizards, and their reaction, she decided, would be quite comical.
At the very least somebody might place some sort of hex on their son, which, she thought, he thoroughly deserved. She almost wished that Harry was of age and could legally put the jelly legs one on him, as she imagined it'd turn from "jelly legs" to "Jell-O legs."
James finally sighed and looked as though he was about to give up, turn around, and go back home when Harry pointed over the heads of the crowd and asked, "Isn't that Professor Dumbledore?"
"WE'RE SAVED!" shouted James, dashing over to Dumbledore and diving as though his life depended on catching the tall, white-haired wizard. He grabbed him around the ankles and looked up into the face of Albus Dumbledore, who smiled down at him. James couldn't escape the momentary illusion that Dumbledore was God.
"Saved from…?" said Dumbledore.
"We can't find Grimmauld Pl…what are you doing walking around London?"
"Well, I was just buying some of the tabloids," he said, holding up some of those odd magazines that were the Muggle equivalent of the Quibbler. (One of the magazines was emblazoned with a headline "THREE-HEADED DOG SIGHTED NEAR NUCLEAR FALLOUT RUINS.") "I'm trying to rediscover the location of Lord Voldemort."
"What's all this calling him 'Lord'?" asked Severus Snape, stepping out from behind Dumbledore, holding a package of sugar-free chewing gum. He spotted James lying on the ground, clutching Dumbledore's ankles. "Ah," he said, reverting to his normal oily tone of sarcasm. "Shouldn't have asked."
"Snape," spat James, acknowledging his archenemy's presence.
"Potter," spat Snape in return. He looked up and saw Lily and Harry, who had just caught up. "Potter," he spat at Harry. He turned to Lily. "Potter," he spat again.
They sat glaring around at each other before Lily burst out with, "Why can't you properly spit the name 'Snape'? Look. Snape," she said, attempting to spit, and when it failed, blowing raspberries in an attempt to release some saliva from her mouth.
"I suppose it's because the 'p' is in an inopportune position in the name," said Dumbledore, examining a sherbet lemon he'd just found in his pocket. "You see, in 'Potter', the 'p' is the first letter, but in 'Snape,' the 'p' comes after the first syllable."
"Ah," said Snape.
James looked wholly offended. "I beg to differ. Snae-puh. Snae-puh." He mumbled to himself.
"BUT," said Lily, who had been looking thoughtful since Dumbledore's comment, "you can certainly say 'Severus' in an unpleasant manner. Look." She cleared her throat and looked darkly in Severus Snape's direction. "Severus."
"By George, it works!" said Dumbledore, who had given up on the sherbet lemon (too much pocket lint) and was instead eating the head of a Chocolate Frog. Severus Snape crossed his arms and stared intently at the remaining body parts of the Chocolate Frog, as though willing them to require a triple-bypass surgery.
They stood in silence for a while (or, in the case of James, lay on the ground holding Dumbledore's ankles). It took several minutes for any of them to notice that they were there. It was not until somebody pushed his way through the crowd humming "Tiptoe through the Tulips" that Harry jumped and realized they were standing in the middle of a crowded street in London. Not only that, but the man who walked past had been Vernon Dursley, trailed by his wife Petunia and his son Dudley.
"Er," he said. "Shouldn't we be going?"
"Yes," said Dumbledore, "Harry has an excellent point. We should probably be heading toward Grimmauld Park. I'll just pop over th…what?" he said, in response to the look on James' face.
"We can't Apparate there!" he said, desperately. "Harry's not of age, and I haven't got the faintest idea how to get there the Muggle way!"
"It's not a problem. It's just over there," he said, pointing eastward. "The first residential road is Grimmauld Place, and then to the West of it—that is, right across the street—you'll find Grimmauld Park."
James shook out the map and scrutinized it for a moment before having an astonishing revelation that Grimmauld Place was, in fact, marked in really large blue letters. "OH!" he said, and pointed gleefully at the map. Lily shook her head and patted Harry on the shoulder as if to say, "Don't ever be like your father, dear."
"Shall we head over then?" Harry suggested helpfully. "Dad, your hair's getting neat."
"Oh dear," he said, and reached up and brushed his hand through it, restoring its messiness. "Let's see, then, shall we?" he said, folding the map up and putting it in his pocket. He saluted Dumbledore and muttered "Severus," darkly before taking Harry and Lily's hands and pulling them after him.
The first thing that Harry did, of course, was attempted to shake himself free of his father's strong grip. "Dad," he said, shaking his arm around feebly, "I'm fifteen."
"Congratulations," said his father, airily, and not letting go.
"Dad," he repeated through his clenched teeth, "let go."
"Sure," he said, letting go of Lily's arm.
"NO, Dad, let go of me."
"Whatever you say, Lily," he replied.
"ARRRRGH!" said Harry, slapping James on the arm as they rounded the corner and came into view of Grimmauld Park.
Naturally the first thing he saw—and the first thing that saw him—was his archenemy, Draco Malfoy. Draco Malfoy was like James Potter's Severus Snape.
Draco Malfoy personally made Harry Potter's life as hellish as possible. He pointed and laughed, grabbing his dad Lucius' arm and pointing at the Potters. Harry desperately attempted to hide behind Lily before accepting his fate and sulking.
As though on cue, Sirius Black emerged from the crowd, tailed by Remus Lupin, who was inspecting a jar of what seemed to Harry to be Cockroach Cluster. He held it up in the sunlight and squinted at it.
"Peanut brittle?" he said, holding the open jar under James' nose.
"Ooh!" he said, taking a piece. "So, introduce me to the audience."
"Well," said Sirius, eyeing the jar of Cockroach Cluster suspiciously and turning back to James, "that over there is Bellatrix Lestrange and her husband. I don't actually know his name, but he's a git and I don't want to. If you call him 'Lestrange' he'll respond, anyhow. Over there," he said, pointing to a group of blondes, one of which was eyeing Harry evilly, "is the Malfoys. Narcissa Malfoy is my cousin and her husband's Lucius, and her son is Draco. I don't know any of them."
"They're evil," Harry said. Everybody blinked at him and turned back to Sirius.
"On your right, you'll find some nice people. That over there is my cousin's daughter, Nymphadora Tonks. She hates it when you call her Nymphadora, so you'd better call her Tonks or she'll kill you. Then there's the ghost of Phineas Nigellus; he was the Headmaster of Hogwarts a long time ago, he's the one who keeps wafting through Cornelius Fudge, who, of course, you know. Those are the Crabbes and the Goyles; they're friends of the Malfoys. They're all big and stupid. Then there's Snivellus Snape; he's over standing with Dumbledore and Hagrid, who brought potato salad and tuna casserole. I found a fin in the tuna casserole though so you might want to be careful around it. Also I think it sneezed earlier. That's Gilderoy Lockhart, I don't know him, and I certainly don't know why he's here, but he is at any rate. Over there are…well, her name is either Alice or Anne and Frank Longbottom…"
Lily laughed. "Anne Frank…aha…"
Harry, Sirius, and Lupin all stared at Lily for a second as she chuckled to herself.
"—and that's their son, Neville, who I think Harry knows from school. There's my mother," said Sirius, shuddering. "That's Arthur Weasley, he works for the Ministry of Magic, and he's brought a couple of his sons—you'll have to ask their names, I can never remember them. All I know is Fred and George—they're the twins. Don't eat anything they give you."
Harry struggled to remember all this. James continued looking aloof. Lily held up her hair to the sunlight and Harry realized she was attempting to match her hair color to that of the red-haired Weasleys.
"And here comes my great-uncle's cousin's grand-nephew. He's an exchange student. I mean, he lives in Brazil but comes for the family reunions."
The timid-looking, dark-haired boy approached. He smiled at them, moving his hands around in his pockets as though he was waving but far too scared to actually take his hands from his pockets. Lupin pulled out a few sandy hairs from his head, frowned at them, and dropped them near this boy by way of greeting.
"Ahhh, Señor Black," said Sirius and held out his hand, clapping him on the back. "This is Pitch."
"Er," said Lupin, who was obviously meeting him for the first time as well. "Pitch Black?"
Pitch Black squirmed uncomfortably though somehow seemed unaware as to the fact that he had a stupid name.
James cleared his throat. "Where's Wormtail?" he said, making no secret that he was changing the subject.
Sirius and Lupin flinched.
"Splinched himself," said Lupin.
"Eurrgh," said Harry, James, Lily, and Pitch in unison.
"Evidently he was on vacation in Aruba," said Sirius, "and decided he'd pop in by Apparating, and…well…next thing you know, there's an eyeball rolling around near the treacle fudge."
"We wouldn't have even known it was Peter, only Arthur came shortly after, telling us that somebody by the name of Peter Pettigrew had splinched himself trying to get here," said Lupin.
"Eurrgh," Harry, James, Lily, and Pitch repeated.
"'Eurrgh' indeed," Lupin agreed.
"I knew he couldn't Apparate," said Sirius, shaking his head, "but I never thought he'd splinch himself. Especially just the eye." He rubbed at his own eyes.
James nodded vehemently, but Lupin preferred to look pensive and remain silent. The problem Lupin often found himself facing was that Sirius and James had a habit to put people down a lot, and he tried to avoid this whenever possible. If he spoke his agreement, he would be publicly siding with them; just as if he spoke his dissent, he would be publicly disagreeing, and it would ultimately end in a fight. He had read once that wolves will do anything to avoid a fight, and he found that it was quite true indeed. He remembered one particular scratch in his fifth year involving Sirius, James, Snape, and Lily that he really wished he didn't; or, in retrospect, he almost wished he'd done something other than pretend to look busy. Remaining neutral was his specialty but there are some emotionally scarring incidents where it's probably best to take sides in most situations. However, one who habitually doesn't take sides doesn't really recognize this sort of incident until it's too late. He averted his eyes from Sirius, James, and Lily.
"So," he said, picking up a crumpet from a nearby table. "Shall we mingle?"
The others didn't look too enthusiastic about the idea of mingling with the crowd that greeted them but Lupin considered that he was a werewolf and ultimately had power over them, anyway, so he stalked away, poking his crumpet (which was altogether too spongy). He ran face-first into Severus Snape.
"Severus," he said, bowing his head and attempting to walk past him. Snape blocked his path no matter what, it seemed.
"Remus," returned Severus.
"Er." Lupin coughed and held up his half-eaten crumpet. "There're some really excellent crumpets over there," he said, pointing.
"Wait," said Snape.
"What?" said Lupin, suddenly very interested in his crumpet.
"Er," said Snape.
"I second that motion." Lupin tapped his foot and tried to look like the moment wasn't extremely awkward and bit his crumpet.
"Do you know…where the potato salad is? Oy, there it is," said Snape, and stalked off, catlike. Lupin shook his head and poked at his crumpet again, which he was sure coughed.
"HEY, PADFOOT!" shouted Lupin across the picnic grounds.
"WHAT?" Sirius shouted back. He seemed to be attempting to move Phineas Nigellus' focus from Cornelius Fudge to the male Lestrange.
"WHO BROUGHT THE CRUMPETS?"
Sirius pointed to the Weasley twins. Lupin immediately dropped the crumpet. He'd known the twins personally enough to know that they would find a living crumpet a good joke.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Harry seemed to be exercising great caution to avoid running into any of the Malfoys. The only one he'd never had a disagreement with was Narcissa, who, being that she was related, seemed extraordinarily unpleasant.
Harry remembered how he'd first found himself disliking Draco Malfoy. It had taken place at some sort of Ministry of Magic benefit which he'd had the displeasure of attending at age nine. Draco Malfoy was a pending Hogwarts Slytherin while Harry Potter was a pending Hogwarts Gryffindor. Draco Malfoy's parents were Death Eaters, while Harry Potter's parents with the complete opposite (Eating Deaths? Life Eaters?). Dumbledore had told Harry that his parents had defied Voldemort three times. He neglected to inform Harry why he found this important. It had taken him six years to connect the "prophecy" Draco Malfoy had mentioned at said benefit with this, and still he really had no idea what either Malfoy or Dumbledore were on about. Dumbledore seemed to be extremely happy about it while Malfoy seemed particularly malicious in regards to it; therefore, he figured it must have something to do with, well, something. They'd been sitting next to each other, pleasantly ignoring the other one moment, and the next, the place was half in ruins. Harry Potter, not having a wand at the age of nine, had ended up punching Malfoy in the face when he'd called Lily a Mudblood, and the Young Malfoy Spawn had retaliated by wacking Harry in the face with his father's wand.
"Oh, hello, Neville," he said, nodding at Neville, who was sitting, alone and bored, on a blanket. He was poking at something on the grass nearby. Neville saluted to acknowledge his presence.
"D'you think it's true that if you pour salt on a slug it'll die?"
"I'm not sure," said Harry, who'd never tried it. "You'll want to ask one of the Weasley twins."
"Nah, they only know what happens if you feed a salamander a Filibuster Firework. Nobody ever tries this stuff. Do you know the location of the salt?" asked Neville.
"I expect it's by the pepper."
"Well spotted," said Neville brightly. The sarcasm in his voice was completely undetectable. Harry wasn't sure where he'd learned this, but suspected he'd been around that Weasley kid again. Ronald Weasley was the younger brother of Fred and George Weasley (the ones who you should not accept food from, and who know what happens when you feed a Filibuster Firework to a salamander). Harry knew him vaguely as he'd been on the Quidditch team the year before. He wasn't too fabulous a Keeper, but he was something. Harry was Seeker on the team.
Neville Longbottom typically found himself around Hermione Granger, an unattractive Muggle-born, and said Ron Weasley, a tall redhead (just like all the Weasleys). Harry himself could usually be sought in the company of a Hufflepuff who'd just left Hogwarts by the name of Cedric Diggory. He hadn't really given the matter of Cedric's absence at Hogwarts any thought as he hadn't yet had to face that problem.
The only disagreement they'd ever come to was on the subject of Cho Chang, the Ravenclaw Seeker. An outsider might strongly suspect the reason they'd come to this disagreement on why Cho Chang was perfectly terrible (her Quidditch tactics were disgusting) was because they both had fantastic crushes on her, but Harry and Cedric preferred to think that it was because she sucked at Quidditch. He'd had a particularly interesting 4th year because Cedric had been picked as the Hogwarts Champion in the Triwizard Tournament. It had taken him the longest time to figure out a method by which Cedric could navigate his way to a city of Mermaids at the bottom of the lake.
"Hm," said Neville, bringing Harry with an acidic bump back to reality. "Well, can you find it?"
"No, I'm busy," he said, not wanting to look for the salt. He turned around and left Neville poking in the grass.
Neville turned to his mum. "Hey…could you find the salt for me?"
She frowned at him. "Find it yourself, dear," she said, in as soft a tone as she could muster.
"But I'll lose the slug!" he spluttered.
It was a catch-22. What was the point of continuing to follow the slug's progress if he was never going to get to the salt? Unless, he thought, the slug was heading toward the salt…
Draco Malfoy sat, attempting to conquer the mystery that was a hot dog. He poked at it with a plastic fork while Crabbe and Goyle looked like big oafs as they ate them nonstop. Personally, Draco wanted to make sure that he knew what was in the food he was eating before he ate it, but Vincent Crabbe and Gregory Goyle were not the sort of people who cared about that sort of thing. Draco strongly suspected that if Crabbe went to a restaurant and saw "Crabbe Legs" on the menu he would not be in the least suspicious. Of course, Draco was not altogether sure Crabbe knew how to spell "crab," but the concept is still there.
"Mother," he said, holding up the hot dog. "What is this?"
Narcissa Malfoy wrinkled up her face as she stared at it. "Dear me. LUCIUS!" she shouted unnecessarily, because Lucius was sitting next to her.
"Yes, dearest?" he said, kissing her hand. Draco had a similar reaction to this as Narcissa had had to the hot dog.
"What is that?" she asked, pointing to the hot dog.
Draco found it very entertaining that his father had failed for the first time in his life to know something, to his knowledge, anyway.
"It's a hot dog, Lucius," said Arthur Weasley blankly.
"Who…ah, shouldn't've asked. It seems normal that Arthur Weasley should know the Muggle foods."
"It's not a Muggle food," said Arthur, eating one whole. "It's a food food. You eat it like this," he said, piling mustard on another and eating it in two bites, wiping off a bit of mustard that drizzled onto his shirt.
Lucius Malfoy stood up, his hands balled into fists. "Don't you eat hot dogs at me, Arthur Weasley," he said, glowering. Draco stuffed a crumpet from a nearby tray into his mouth to avoid laughing loudly, just as Fred and George Weasley sauntered over, also dining on hot dogs.
"Why, hello, Malfoy," said Fred.
The youngest Malfoy could not swallow his crumpet fast enough. He had a slight suspicion it had coughed on him when he picked it up, though that could have been the hot dogs, or possibly Crabbe or Goyle with their heads bent over a food tray. "Mimft mimftuh," he retorted.
"Strong argument. I expect it'd hold up in court, that," said George, observing his hot dog through one eye. "Needs more ketchup," he said, but continued to eat it all the same.
"Is that all he can come up with? 'Mimft mimftuh'? Percy could come up with that." George took a large chunk off his hot dog in agreement. "Why, it's almost as if the Malfoys are losing their touch." He eyed Lucius, who was glaring at Arthur Weasley from afar, looking very upset about something, and Fred's eyes sparkled.
George leaned over Draco and observed the tray of crumpets. "The Coughing Crumpets seem to be almost gone," he told Fred.
Draco immediately spit the crumpet out, and coughed in a desperate and feeble attempt to lose the rest of it. "The—the what?"
"The Coughing Crumpets," said Fred, innocently. "They're really gnomes that we found in the garden. We transfigured them into crumpets so we could finally get rid of them. Git," he said, poking one angrily.
"Yes—we—did," said George.
"Euuurch!" he said, leaning over and retching into the grass.
"You know, in some countries, garden gnome is a delicacy," said Fred.
Draco couldn't really do much from his retching position over the blanket, with his mother and father looking in the other direction and Crabbe and Goyle eating nonstop. He put his hand on the table and the first thing he grabbed was a Coughing Crumpet, which he dropped out of fear. The second thing he took hold of was a rather large squeeze bottle of mustard.
His talent was true but his aim was poor; he squeezed the mustard bottle with as much force as he could and sent the mustard streaming from the bottle like an arrow. Unfortunately Fred and George had been standing slightly too far from the right, and instead the jet of mustard hit his mother Narcissa.
Narcissa's bloodcurdling scream rang out loudly and echoed across the picnic grounds. All eyes were now on the Narcissa drenched in a dark yellow substance. She fell backward onto the grass.
"MY SLUG!" shouted Neville, and, without thinking about what he was doing, he shoved her over and examined the ground madly. "YOU'VE KILLED MY SLUG, YOU ABSOLUTE WENCH…." Fortunately he had the sense to stop talking then and instead settled for looking politely teary-eyed. He wiped mustard off himself and scooped up the remains of the slug.
"Well," said Harry, when Neville returned to his blanket, "you were going to kill the slug anyway."
"Yes, I suppose you have a point," said Neville, dumping the squashed remnants of the slug onto the blanket. Bellatrix Lestrange leaned over it sadly.
"D'you think it's true that if you pour salt on a slug, it'll dissolve?"
Neville burst into tears. Both Harry and Bellatrix were unsure what to do; Harry was a male and therefore didn't understand tears from anybody at all, and Bellatrix had no idea what she'd said that offended Neville to the point of tears. They exchanged mystified looks and Harry reached out to pat Neville on the back. "Er, there, there, Neville," he said. Bellatrix raised an eyebrow at Neville's continued tears.
"I, er, I'm sure that the slug lived a very full life, and…" Bellatrix sighed and gave up. "Crumpet?" she said, holding up a Coughing Crumpet.
"Yes, please," said Harry, shoving it into his mouth.
"Erm," said Bellatrix.
"All right, Longbottom," said the cold voice of Draco Malfoy. "You and me, outside."
"We are outside, you great prat," said Harry.
"What do you want with him?" said Bellatrix innocently. Malfoy glared at her.
"He called my mother a wench."
"Well," said Bellatrix, her eyes shifting sideways as she watched her sister. "She didn't deny the allegations."
"I don't CARE! Stand up and fight, Longbottom!"
"Should he bring his sword or his dueling pistols?" said Fred Weasley from a hedge nearby.
"Well, the sword is out of style. I pity the fool who brings a sword to a duel," said George.
"Your broomsticks were out of style years before you joined the Quidditch team."
"My broomstick's never out of style, Malfoy," said Fred, darkly.
"Anyway, why are you defending yourself? Have you actually brought a sword?" said George offhandedly.
"No, I haven't, but I've got my wand."
"I'd like to see you use it. When last I checked the only fifth year that was of age was Marcus Flint. Of course, like Captain, like Seeker…." Fred trailed off.
"Of course, we could always provoke him," George whispered. "Get him expelled."
"What do I care? It's not as though I go there anymore."
"No, but you've got to say he'd be pretty angry."
"Well…isn't he a prefect?"
"Yes," said the younger Weasley, Ron, pushing his way in between them. "He's a great Slytherin prat and I'd be eternally in your debt if you could manage to get him expelled."
"Excellent…" said Fred, rubbing his hands together.
"It's a deal," said George. He clapped his hands and turned to Malfoy, who'd been attempting to glower while they were turned away from him, and look busy as he stood doing nothing.
"Hey, Malfoy," said Fred, taking a seat next to Neville. "Is that your mum over there?" He didn't answer, but Fred persisted. "I said, 'Is that your mum over there?' The polite thing to do, my dear Draco, is to answer your elders when they ask you a question." He pulled out his wand and polished it on his shirt, furrowing his brow at the gold sparks leaping from it.
Malfoy seemed to take the hint. "Yes," he said, drawing out his 'S' so it sounded more like a snake than a human being. Harry twitched and clutched his wand hidden in his pocket, just in case.
"Well, I suppose I see it. The stuck-up, albino bit, I mean. She certainly looks unpleasant. Tell me, has she recently been ill? She very much appears to have been. She's inhumanly pale. One might think she was Satan," said George.
"I must say, I agree, dear brother. But her bad looks would account for why she married Lucius Malfoy."
Draco'd had enough. However, he seemed to be smart enough to resist the urge to use his wand, so instead he moved in for the kill with a plastic fork as his weapon.
Fred and George had seen it coming and moved out of the way, unfortunately leaving Harry at the end of Draco's dive and swipe with the plastic fork.
"ARRRRRRRRRRGH," said Harry, donning another plastic fork from nearby. He poked Draco in the eye with it, who erupted in howls of pain.
"You'll OW OW OW pay for that OW one, POOOOOOOOW—tter!" He grabbed the plaid blanket on the grass and wrapped it around Harry's unsuspecting neck, squeezing it as tightly as possible.
Harry gasped for air and thought, 'This is how I'm going to die. Draco Malfoy is going to smother me with a plaid picnic blanket.'
Flailing for anything to help, his hand finally landed on a wicker picnic basket, which he grabbed and slammed over Malfoy's head.
Malfoy fell to the grass with a groan and a clunk, rubbing his forehead. Harry unwrapped the blanket from his neck and massaged it. He also lay staring at the blue sky above.
It seemed they had both finally reached mutual injury and peace.
Well, perhaps Draco Malfoy WASN'T going to—
Harry spluttered amidst the casserole dish full of potato salad on his face. He recognized it as Hagrid's and retched unhappily as he wrestled the gallon of potato salad (which, he thought, could do for a touch less mustard) off his face and struggled, once again, to breathe.
It was Ron Weasley who saved him, grabbing the casserole dish and breaking it over Malfoy's head (not before he suffered an eye-poking with a wand), who fell to the ground in a dead faint.
Harry spit out mouthfuls of potato salad that he did not know his mouth was capable of holding and wiped some out of his eyes. "Thanks for that."
"Well, nobody's foul enough to deserve Hagrid's cooking." Ron rubbed his eyes angrily. It appeared he had lost all use of the left one.
Lucius Malfoy came bounding over. "WHAT HAVE YOU DONE TO MY SON?" he shouted to Harry.
The crowd of people around him was speechless. Fred's wand was raised, Ron was looking terrified at the fact that he had lost all sight in his left eye, and Harry was still wiping potato salad off his face as he stared, once again, at the cloudless blue sky.
Lupin joined the crowd and shot Harry and Ron a subtle grin and winked. Harry coughed up a large bit of potato.
"Well," said Sirius, finally breaking the silence, "at least there's more potato salad."
Lily Potter was trying to mop the remnants of potato salad from her son Harry's face using a Coughing Crumpet. "Seriously," she murmured to herself as she spat on the coughing crumpet and used it to sponge a bit of boiled egg off his forehead, "I should have named you 'James.'"
Harry obviously wasn't supposed to respond so he continued to hum to himself. Lucius Malfoy was hovering nearby under the guise of sampling somebody's treacle fudge. Harry could tell that he was waiting for a moment to get Harry alone, so he could possibly use the Killing Curse on him.
Draco Malfoy was nursing a large bump on his head and, not only a bad case of nausea as a side effect, but what seemed to be amnesia.
"Harry who?" he said in response to his father's shouts.
Ron Weasley was being examined by Remus Lupin, the werewolf formerly known as Moony, who kept smacking Ron atop the head and telling him to "Stop blinking! It's impossible to examine one's eye when he keeps blinking every time I try to have a look!"
"My eye is not a freak show," said Ron bitterly, but he kept his eyes open.
"Hmm," said Lupin.
"Is it that bad?!" said Ron, panicked.
"Worse," said Lupin.
"Why, thank you for reassuring me," snarled Ron. Lupin didn't take this to heart. He quite well knew how it was to have this sort of thing happen to you.
"The problem is," said Lupin, slapping Ron on the head again as he blinked repeatedly ("A gnat!" protested Ron.), "that you seem to be nursing a wound that is far more serious than one that you might have had if you had been poked in the eye with, say, a stick."
"I'm saying that you've been poked in the eye with a wand and it's likely there was a hex of some sort on its way out."
"Oh, no," said Ron. "Well...can it be fixed?"
"It really depends on which curse. Can you feel that?"
"OUCH! YOU KICKED ME IN THE SHIN!"
"Well, then it wasn't jelly legs. Silly me."
The fun, however, was not yet over.
It was then that the Dursleys arrived.
Sirius frowned. "Who's that?" he said to James.
James snickered in reply, much to Sirius's surprise. "Those are the Dursleys."
"Lily's sister's family."
"Ah," said Sirius, a mischievous grin spreading across his face. "I see."
"Shall we go terrorize them, then?"
"But of course," said Sirius, mustering up his best French accent (which was, admittedly, not bad). "After you," he said, holding his arm out. James made sure he had his wand conveniently placed in his back pocket.
"Why, hello," said James, attempting to look politely surprised. "Fancy meeting you here."
Vernon Dursley looked as though he'd accidentally swallowed a bug. "I didn't realize you lived in Surrey," he sneered.
"Then what in heaven's name are you doing at the Surrey's Most Beautiful Flower Garden Picnic?"
Sirius and James exchanged looks. "Eating. Crumpet?" he said, holding out a tray of nearby crumpets. Sirius found it odd that the crumpets always had a way of making themselves near people. Before he'd assumed that there'd just been a lot of crumpets, but now he was quite sure that they were enchanted.
Vernon and Petunia Dursley looked reluctant to touch anything James had touched first, especially food, but even that wouldn't stop Dudley. He took a crumpet and ate it eagerly, picking up another two in the process.
Fred and George Weasley couldn't miss this opportunity. They didn't have the money to develop a full-fledged joke shop but they were doing their very best what with lack of funding.
"Toffee!" Fred shouted in his most appeasing voice, shaking a bag of excellent-looking toffee in the air.
Neville reached near the bag for one, but George slapped Neville's hand away. "Not until you've finished all your vegetables, dear."
Fred artfully waved the bag just in front of Dudley. The elder Dursleys were examining the other people at the party, and did not note that they seemed to be behaving abnormally. For example, Ron Weasley was currently bickering with Lupin. This is not an altogether odd thing (to see two people bickering, I mean), but for the actual content of the argument.
"Well, I still think it was jelly legs," said Ron, angrily.
"How can it be jelly legs? Your legs aren't all marmalade-y!" Lupin protested.
"The spell didn't make it to my legs, did it?"
"NO, but your eye isn't marmalade-y, either!"
"It is so! LOOK!"
"THAT'S WHAT EYES NORMALLY LOOK LIKE, YOU LITTLE GIT!"
"Jelly?!" said Dudley, excitedly. "Where?" Without noticing it he had seized an entire handful of toffee. Fred and George were nearly wetting themselves with delight. He unwrapped four and popped them in his mouth.
"Uh-oh," said Fred. "This could lead to unanticipated complications…."
But before he'd finished the sentence, Dudley's tongue had grown so large that he'd become too top-heavy to support it. He toppled to the ground.
"That Isaac Newton fellow was right," said Lupin, abandoning Ron's eye.
Lily came dashing from behind the pile of crumpets. (She briefly wondered how many crumpets there actually were.) "Petunia! Imagine! You, here!"
"YOU!" said Vernon, his face turning a deep shade of purple. "YOU DESPICABLE WOMAN! LOOK WHAT YOU'VE DONE TO MY SON!"
"Excellent progress," said Fred, looking from the tongue-inflamed Dudley to the amnesiac Draco. "If we keep it up, at this rate, we'll have half the Death Eaters nabbed by tomorrow."
"TON-TONGUE TOFFEE!" shouted George in response, waving a fresh bag in the air with one hand and pointing to Dudley with the other. "TWO GALLEONS A BAG! A NOBLE INVESTMENT! YOU WON'T REGRET IT!"
Petunia couldn't hold it in. She reached over and slapped George.
The world stood still.
"Well, normally they save that for after the come-on," said George, lightly.
"Toffee?" Fred held one out.
Petunia looked revolted. Harry, sporting potato in his hair, laughed.
Arthur came hurrying out of seemingly nowhere, holding a bowl of baked beans. "What's going on, now, eh?"
He spied Dudley and dropped the bowl.
"Yes?" said Fred, politely.
"HOW MANY TOFFEES DID YOU FEED HIM?!"
"It wasn't me!" said Fred. "It was George!"
"I DON'T BLOODY CARE; YOU BOTH LOOK THE SAME TO ME! NOW HOW MANY TOFFEES DID YOU FEED HIM?"
"One or two," said Fred. Arthur went pale at the mention of 'two.' "Or four."
"WHAT!?" Arthur said, looking as though he was about to explode from a dangerous mixture of rage and panic.
"I'LL HAVE YOU, YOU STUPID…"
Before anybody knew what was happening, Vernon Dursley had lunged at Arthur and had his hands wrapped around his neck.
Arthur gagged, a lot, but was no match for the elephantine Vernon. Or, wasn't until he pulled out his wand.
Astoundingly, at the same time, nearly everybody else present had done the same thing. A chorus of many different shouts rang throughout the air and hit Vernon.
The sheer velocity of the multiple hexes and jinxes and curses that hit Vernon
would dazzle and completely befuddle the normal human mind. As for the
Well, Vernon first responded by first flying into the air, laughing as he was being tickled by an unseen hand and dancing on the tips of the grass. His feet sprouted noses and his eyes were replaced with maraschino cherries. He was banished into a nearby picnic table, where the second dish of potato salad landed on his head. He stood up, unable to control himself with terror and tittering at the continuous tickling. It was, however, ultimately the jelly legs that knocked him down into a dead faint.
Ron blew the dust off his wand and put it back in his pocket, looking triumphant.
"That was jelly legs," he said to Lupin.
"AHEM!" shouted Sirius over the many murmurs of the attendees.
"AHEM!" he tried again.
"LISTEN, YOU LOUSY MUDBLOODS!"
Narcissa Malfoy dropped a large torte on her son's head.
"IT IS TIME," said Sirius, pausing for breath, "TO EAT." He pointed suggestively toward the table, full to the brim of food and surrounded by chairs.
"YOU WILL FIND," he said, "YOUR NAME CARD THINGY IN FRONT OF YOUR CHAIR." He lifted one up, waved it around, and set it back down.
"NOW GO, OR I'LL TELL YOU WHAT'S IN THE CRUMPETS."
There was a sudden rush to find their place cards and sit.
Remus Lupin was seated next to Ron Weasley. Draco Malfoy was strategically sitting between the Weasley twins, and across from Ron. Harry Potter sat on Ron's other side, next to his father (across from Sirius) and his mother (across from Sirius' mother). Narcissa and Lucius Malfoy were side-by-side, on the other end of the table, across from Arthur Weasley and the Lestranges. The Longbottoms, Dumbledore, Snape, and Hagrid took up the space between, and Pitch Black sat at the end of the table. On the other end sat Gilderoy Lockhart on a makeshift chair (as nobody cared enough to have given the uninvited guest one themselves). Phineas Nigellus floated around as the very disgruntled centerpiece and the Crabbes and Goyles had gone home indisposed after trying the treacle fudge. Nymphadora Tonks was patrolling the perimeter of the picnic ground for any approaching Muggles. After the incident with the Dursleys they'd decided that this was completely necessary, and Lucius Malfoy had elected her as the first watch after she'd turned her ears into a pair of extra hands and slapped him with all of them.
There were, of course, several other people seated at the table, but who they are and where they were has very little significance to our story.
Ron looked rather cross about the seating arrangement. Lupin was regarding him rather coldly; Harry Potter seemed to think that Ron might sprout man-eating tentacles at any minute (and Ron was afraid that the chunk of potato sticking to Harry's shoulder would slide onto his lap in a very inconvenient place).
Draco Malfoy looked completely clueless about anything.
Sirius stood up. The murmuring at the table went silent. Fred and George could be seen to be committing some very vile and sneaky act, only nobody did see them (otherwise they wouldn't have done it). "I am going to give the speech," Sirius said, pressing his hands together, "since my mother is a prejudiced old bat."
He paused and added, "And I…am not.
"For several years, possibly even nine, this family reunion has gone on, uninterrupted, through thick and thin, every…three years.
"If you ask me, that's pretty impressive.
"So…erm…" he seemed rather lost for words. "I would introduce all of you to each other, only you neither seem to care, nor…like each other. But I would like to thank Phineas Nigellus, previous headmaster of Hogwarts, for being the centerpiece this year."
There was a smattering of polite applause.
"Now, I've been bitten by a bug in a very inconvenient place, so I would like to end this speech as soon as possible so that I may retire to privacy under the table and scratch at it for a bit."
Narcissa Malfoy wrinkled her nose in distaste.
"So, to quote Albus Dumbledore, who has graced us with his presence today…"
The crowd shivered with anticipation.
And they did.
Ron and Harry were both staying clear of the third dish of potato salad that Hagrid had managed to hide on his person.
Ron reached over and picked up the jelly to put on his bread. He lowered his knife thoughtfully as he held the jar of jelly in his hand. "I still think it's jelly legs," he mumbled to himself.
Unfortunately, in order to mumble to himself, he had to mumble rather loudly, and Lupin heard. A bloodcurdling screech of knife against porcelain erupted from the middle of Lupin's plate, where he was dragging his silverware across the place two inches to the left of where he had been aiming. He dropped said utensils. "Pass the vodka," he said to Snape, who was seated next to him.
"You haven't said the magic word," he said, irritably.
"Morsmordre," he seethed. Snape regarded him stonily, got the point, and handed him the vodka. Lupin emptied the bottle in his goblet and set down the hollow glass bottle on Ron's hand.
"OW!" shouted Ron, and stabbed Lupin in the arm with his fork.
Lupin clenched his teeth. "It wasn't jelly legs, you little wanker."
"It was," said Ron. Neither of them looked at each other and instead decided to look blankly ahead.
"How much older am I than you?" asked Lupin.
"I dunno. How old are you?" Ron said in retort.
Lupin looked distracted. He took a large gulp of vodka. "That…doesn't matter. The point is that I am older, and therefore superior in many ways."
Ron snorted in disagreement. Lupin picked up his spoon and banged it on the table. "I'm your Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher!"
"Only because Lockhart got fired after a Cornish Pixie ate that first year's finger."
"Listen, kid," said Lupin. "I've read about ninety percent of the contents of Flourish and Blotts. You, on the other hand, probably never read the complete Advanced Transfiguration."
"No, but I read a book called How to Know When Your Defense Against the Dark Arts Teacher is a Big Giant Idiot."
"You haven't read that since Lockhart was there," said Lupin accusingly.
"I only need to read it once."
Lupin flung mashed potatoes at Ron.
Ron was extremely taken aback. Lupin acted as though nothing had happened. Ron blinked at Lupin as he went back to his chicken.
Harry made the mistake of asking Ron to pass the ketchup.
Ron took a deep breath just before picking up Hagrid's third dish of potato salad and smashing it over Harry's head as he had done Malfoy. He looked happily at his finished work as Harry sank to the grass below the table.
Lily gaped. "Do you have any idea how long it's going to take me to get that potato salad out of that boy's hair? DO YOU?" she shrieked, taking Ron by the shoulders and shaking him.
Snape sat back in his chair, looking thoroughly entertained. James sat in deep conversation with the now itch-relieved Sirius. Phineas Nigellus floated over to Sirius, got his attention by passing through him, and informed Sirius that if he didn't do something, there was soon going to be a full-fledged food fight.
Sirius turned to Lily and Ron, gasped, and hurried over the table to join James in breaking them apart. Unfortunately, he tripped on the fallen Harry and went slamming into the table. Lupin reacted quickly and was able to save the vodka before the table collapsed.
An enormous silence descended over the members of the party.
It was at this point that Draco Malfoy decided to speak for the first time in about an hour.
"I say, did you know that 'kumquat' rhymes with—"
Lucius Malfoy bounded over Fred Weasley to stop him saying what he was about to say. Fred gasped for air as Lucius sat, crushing his lungs, and George Weasley angrily grabbed the nearest thing he could find: a glass bowl of Caesar salad. He whacked it over Fred's head.
Fred spluttered and spit out a crouton. "Wrong person," he gasped. "Aha," said Fred, reaching over, his hand landing on a plate of crab rangoon. He couldn't reach Lucius Malfoy's mouth, but he could reach—
He yelped, jumped up, and stuck his hand down the seat of his pants. Narcissa looked wide-eyed at him. George grinned.
"I think that's how they make it in China," he said. Lucius Malfoy continued to shriek.
Narcissa seemed torn between helping her husband, which would be socially incorrect, and causing further injury to Fred Weasley.
She jumped out of her chair, tripped over a basket of breadsticks, and landed face-first in the bowl of punch. She gurgled in it for a while. Dumbledore came to her rescue, pulling her face out of it. She choked juicily and spat out some of the red punch. Everybody who was not wheezing, shrieking, spluttering, or slowly sidling away downing a large goblet of vodka was staring, transfixed, at the horrors occurring in front of them.
"The question should be of physics," said Lupin to himself, only slurring slightly. "How is it that the entire table can collapse, and the pumpkin pie can overturn and be completely ruined, and the bowl of punch can remain full and intact?"
"What have I got in my pocket?" said Draco, reaching into his pocket, and pulling out a—
"It's a long stick," he answered to himself. "I wonder what you do with it?" He waved it around a bit and watched as sparks flew out of it. "Oh. Interesting." He pointed it at nobody in particular.
That nobody in particular just happened to be Ron. He screamed (much, to Lupin's satisfaction, like a girl) and jumped up and down repeatedly, clutching his (other) eye. "YOU BLOODY GIT! YOU'VE BLINDED ME TOTALLY!"
He dove at Draco Malfoy, but the fact that he couldn't see got in the way and he ended up landing on Severus Snape.
Said potions master had been quite content with being completely uninvolved in the goings-on in any way and was superfluously unhappy that one his least favorite students had just tackled him and was beating him over the head with a baguette.
Snape reached into his unattractive Muggle clothes for his wand and unearthed it.
"PREPARE TO DIE!" shouted Ron Weasley, continuing to beat him over the head with the baguette.
Snape could be described as nothing other than "extremely disgruntled" when his wand turned into a bat. Fred Weasley pointed weakly and laughed feebly.
"Trouble?" said Lupin as he approached. The question was really redundant. Narcissa Malfoy was sobbing as she pushed her sopping, stained blonde hair out of her eyes; Ron Weasley was beating Severus Snape (who was holding a bat) over the head with a baguette; Lucius Malfoy was howling, hand down his pants, much to the amusement of his son, who was giggling wildly; Dumbledore was nursing a violently choking Narcissa Malfoy; Harry Potter was unconscious; Sirius was buried under several bowls and dishes of various types of salad; Fred was laying on the ground covered in Caesar salad and George was nowhere to be seen; Sirius's evil mother was screaming about Mudbloods (which was no real surprise); Phineas Nigellus was cackling madly, and a single eyeball had just popped out of nowhere into the green bean casserole. He took a swig of a bottle of red wine and grinned widely. "I guess not," he gurgled, and sat down in a chair to watch.
Sirius' mother stood up. Everything went silent.
"I WOULD JUST LIKE TO SAY…"
Lucius whined miserably.
"…THAT THIS IS AN EXCELLENT FAMILY REUNION, AND I HOPE YOU WILL ALL COME BACK NEXT TIME." She paused. "EXCEPT THE MUDBLOODS AND THE WEASLEYS." Another pause. "AND DUMBLEDORE AND HIS SCRUFFY FRIEND."
Lupin giggled and patted her on the back, where she fell on top of Lucius Malfoy. Narcissa had (un)fortunately just regained consciousness and, screaming, stole the baguette right out of Ron's hands and started beating her with it.
Sirius shouted. "MOONY!" Lupin looked up and into the cluster of people. It was impossible to tell who was who.
"MOONY!" Sirius repeated.
James tapped Lupin on the shoulder. "Moony," he said.
"MOONY!" shouted Sirius at precisely the same time.
Lupin burst into tears.
"Moony, Harry's unconscious."
"Is he," said Lupin, between sobs.
"Oh," he sobbed.
Lily was screaming. "YOU'VE KILLED MY SON!" she yelped as she downed several shots of what was probably a severely alcoholic drink.
"What does this have to do with me?" he sobbed again.
"Well, you know stuff."
"It wasn't jelly legs," he slurred, before slumping over next to Harry, also unconscious.
James noted how he was one of the few coherent people remaining at the party. The Longbottoms had taken to searching for their son, who was buried somewhere under the table (evidently had been looking for a slug, poor kid), and Arthur Weasley was shouting at Ron to stop shouting at Snape, as Snape wasn't Malfoy. Bellatrix Lestrange and her husband had done the wise thing of getting the hell out of there, and Hagrid was befriending a very large, probably vicious, squirrel. James sighed, knowing he was going to have to fix this all…
…but then he slipped on an eyeball and hit his head on a rock. 'Oh well,' he thought, before falling into a deep coma, 'at least the salmon was good.'
"Saint Mungo's Hospital for Magical Maladies would like to welcome its several new patients and attendees of the tri-annual Black Family Reunion!"
A whisper came from off the intercom but was audible as a whisper.
"I'm sorry. The Noble House of Black."
The voice blinked. A voice cannot blink, but it was evident that the person to whom the voice belonged was blinking. "If you are still able to read and walk, then please transport yourself to the proper ward for treatment. If you are Ronald Weasley, and can neither see, nor walk, and are screaming uncontrollably, please stay where you are and you will be attended to immediately." A loud scream, echoing throughout the hospital, responded to this. The voice frowned. "If you are Remus Lupin, a therapist will be attending to you in a few moments, if you could please wait patiently and attempt to minimize your sobbing."
A loud wail rose in retort.
"No, seriously," it said, and disconnected from the intercom.
National Enquirer Exclusive:
BOY WITH WAND CLAIMS TO BE DARK LORD
"I am Lord Voldemort!" shouts a young boy as he wanders into our office, aged 16 or so, with blonde hair and a pasty complexion (the boy, not the office). "FEAR ME!"
"Hey, did you know 'kumquat' rhymes with…" TURN TO PAGE 47 FOR CONTINUING COVERAGE.