Disclaimer: I don't own Harry Potter. This story was written for fun, not profit.
"You did what?"
Neville Longbottom, rising star of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement and darling of the wizarding world, took a hasty step back from his wife. "I sent Malfoy to get Cecily," he repeated. "Why did you think I needed those Muggle clothes?"
"You could have told me!" Ginny Weasley-Longbottom advanced on her husband with quick steps, her voice rising as she drew closer to him. Behind her, their twin sons peeked around a corner and exchanged identical grins. Their mum was about to go spare. This was going to be fun.
Neville certainly didn't share their opinion, although he had stopped backing away from Ginny. Admittedly this was because she had backed him against a wall, but he still felt this was an act of bravery meriting some sort of recognition. "It's safer this way. No one's going to expect Malfoy to be the one bringing Cecily back. You know how people feel about her. The Ministry doesn't need people trying to send her back to the Muggle world in case...." He trailed off, grimacing.
Ginny finished for him. "In case she turns out to be like Harry?" she asked softly. When Neville nodded, all the anger seemed to drain out of her. She closed the remaining space between them and slid her arms around his neck, letting him hold her for a moment. It should have been easier to talk about Harry after a decade, but it wasn't. That was especially true for the two of them. When Harry had distanced himself from Cecily's parents in sixth year, Neville and Ginny had tried to reach out to him, hoping that the common bonds they shared might help.
For a while, it had seemed to work. But that was before seventh year and afterwards, when things had gone downhill. Now Neville wondered if they had only delayed the inevitable.
He forced his attention back to the present. "I'm having Malfoy bring her through the Leaky Cauldron," he said at last, his voice muffled by her hair. "I'll meet them in Diagon Alley myself. The last thing we need is the Ministry getting ideas."
"And people need to get used to her eventually. I don't want anyone giving her trouble." Ginny's voice grew harsh very quickly. She was fiercely protective of the niece she hadn't seen in ten years, just like the rest of the Weasleys. Unlike Harry, Cecily wouldn't be coming into this strange new world alone. Far from it. She had grandparents and uncles and aunts and a plethora of cousins all waiting to welcome her. There would be plenty of problems for her to deal with, but being isolated certainly wouldn't be one of them.
Speaking of cousins. Neville glanced over the top of Ginny's head at their eight-year-old sons, who looked rather disappointed that their mum had stopped mid-outburst. Franklin and Ronald spent far too much time around their uncles Fred and George, whom they worshipped and seemed intent on imitating.
"Are you and Mum gonna get mushy?" Ronald asked, wrinkling his nose in distaste. Behind him, Franklin crossed his eyes and made exaggerated gagging noises.
Ginny detached from Neville and rounded on the twins with her hands planted on her hips. She was hardly a homemaker, but she was still Molly Weasley's daughter. "What are you two doing down here already? I thought I told you two to clean your room."
"We did!" Franklin protested, bristling with righteous indignation.
Ginny's eyes narrowed. "Would I think it's clean?"
The twins exchanged nervous glances. In all likelihood, their room still looked like several hurricanes had wandered through it.
Ginny was not amused. "I'm going to go check," she said, and started for the stairs.
Identical expressions of utter panic flashed across the twins' faces. "Wait!" Ronald yelled, planting himself between his mother and the stairs. "We...we still gotta...." He hesitated, fumbling for some kind of excuse.
"There's stuff we gotta do!" yelped Franklin, the more direct of the two. He grabbed his brother by the arm. They disappeared around the corner and pounded up the stairs, yelling at each other about whose turn it was to stuff their toys under the bed. Neville didn't hold out much hope of their room ever being clean. The odds of the twins actually tidying up properly was somewhere up there with the proverbial snowball's chances in Hell.
"They take after your side of the family," he said when the noise had died down.
Ginny made a face, but didn't dispute the claim. Instead she sighed and leaned against his shoulder, frowning at some image only she could see. "Cecily's going to get more family than she knows what to do with."
He heard the unspoken fears in that statement. "I'm sure she'll like them," Neville said, and reached over to squeeze her shoulder. "She's a Weasley. What could possibly go wrong?"
This was going completely, utterly, horribly wrong.
Draco hadn't been aware that he was following a script until the moment Weasley's brat decided to turn it on its ear. It wasn't a great script, admittedly, but it was a tried-and-true one. He would tell the little waste of oxygen she was a witch, she would be all giddy and happy to leave the Muggle world, and he would get to foist her on Longbottom once he had dragged her off to Diagon Alley. Some part of him liked that script, because it meant Lizzie would regard him as her own personal hero for rescuing her from the mundane world she had grown up in. If that wasn't spitting on her parents' graves, he didn't know what was.
Only it wasn't working that way at all.
He pulled Lizzie off the wall with a wave of his wand, managing only a halfhearted smirk as she slid down the ugly floral wallpaper and landed on her rear end. For a moment she just sat there scowling up at him, hands balled into fists, and he realized with a shock that she was absolutely and completely unafraid of him. He had just done things that should have seemed impossible to her, yet she just didn't care. She was supposed to be like Potter, overawed and gaping at everything like a slack-jawed half-wit. Being unimpressed shouldn't have been part of the equation.
"You," she said, "are such an arse."
"Language, dear." This was from Louise Cunningham, who had reintroduced herself to reality long enough to take a stab at parenting. Her husband was watching the fiasco with his head tilted to one side, as if all of this was a puzzle that needed to be sorted out. Draco didn't so much hate the two adult Muggles as feel they weren't worth his time. Besides, he wanted to interact with them as little as possible. It had taken him over an hour to explain Lizzie's peculiar situation when he had first delivered her to her new family -- not because the Cunninghams had any difficulty grasping the concept of magic, but because they had kept steering the conversation back to calculus and supply-side economics.
It all came down to math. Draco hated math.
With a supreme effort, he fought down the urge to hex the Cunninghams and kept his full attention on the Girl Who Lived. "How do you think I just did that?" he asked irritably, twitching the tip of his wand to encompass her siblings, all of whom were still attached to the walls.
Lizzie shrugged. "Glue?"
"Could be magnets," one of her Muggle siblings chimed in.
"Velcro," said another. "Bet you anything it's Velcro."
"Are you mental? It's suction!"
"Might be aliens."
"So he's Houdini?"
"Houdini was a magician, genius. And he's dead."
"He's a zombie?"
"Cool! Think he'll eat our brains?"
All of this took place in the space of a few seconds. Draco couldn't get a word in -- not with the five Muggle children very cheerfully theorizing about whether or not he was a flesh-eating zombie magician. The entire conversation was very matter-of-fact, as if they were attacked with modified Repelling Charms every day and regularly discussed their merits over afternoon tea. Lizzie wasn't participating in the debate, but she was following it with obvious interest. Draco risked a glance up at the ceiling and, sure enough, found the jumper-clad creature grinning at him like a redheaded hyena. He looked away quickly, wracking his brain for any lesser demons known for their fondness for fedoras.
None of this was going according to script. Not at all.
With a long-suffering sigh, he cast a Silencing Charm on the Muggle brats and enjoyed a blissful minute of peace and quiet. Then he turned back to Lizzie, who was sitting cross-legged on the floor and glaring at him with blue eyes identical to her idiot father's.
"You're mental," she concluded.
"And you're wasting my time." Draco stalked over to the sofa and sat down with great care, not wanting to touch more of the Muggles' furniture than he had to. "Your birth name is Cecily Elizabeth Weasley. I know the Muggles told you that much."
"Don't you call Mum and Dad bad words!" Lizzie snapped. Then, more sullenly, "And don't call me Cecily."
Andrew Cunningham sat on the sofa next to Draco, who curled his lip in distaste. The accountant didn't seem to notice. He had laced his hands together in his lap and actually seemed to be remotely in tune with current events. "You are a witch, Lizzie. Your parents were a wizard and a witch. Most of my side of the family are wizards and witches, actually."
"What, with warts and black cats and everything?" Lizzie squinted at Draco, chin propped on her hand. "He doesn't look like a wizard," she concluded. "He looks like a git."
Insults weren't part of the script, either.
"Your mother and father could use magic, honey." Louise Cunningham stopped idly trying to peel one of her sons off the wall and gave Lizzie a sympathetic look. "We got a nice letter about it from Mr. Dumbledore when we took you in. He told us you were going to be a witch too, and that we shouldn't try to stop you from learning magic."
"That's right," Andrew agreed. "You're too special not to learn."
Lizzie scowled. "The last time I got called 'special' was when Ms. Forester thought I was a delinquent."
"You didn't have to use her as target practice, dear." Louise looked rather pained for a moment, but seemed to rally. Apparently using someone as a moving target wasn't the worst thing Lizzie had done. "Your parents' names were Ron and Hermione. I'm sure we told you that at some point."
This got a nod from the brat. "That's right. They died in a fire."
Both Andrew and Louise looked at Draco, who glared at them. "You told her they died in a fire?"
"Mr. Dumbledore said we weren't to tell her about magic," Louise said, "and a fire seemed much more logical than...." She waved her hand vaguely. "Than all that."
Lizzie's eyes narrowed dangerously. "Than all what?"
Draco motioned for the Cunninghams to be silent. They had done enough damage. "Your mother and father were killed by the Dark Lord. When he tried to get you, you killed him."
"I did?" Lizzie looked rather confused. "How'd I do that?"
"I don't know," Draco said, and rubbed at the bridge of his nose in an effort to fight off a migraine. Longbottom owed him for this kind of torment. "That scar is what's left when someone blocks the Killing Curse, but no one knows how you did it."
"You're the second person in history to survive," Andrew added hopefully. "That's what makes you so special."
Lizzie didn't look like she felt special. If anything, she looked disconcerted. "This dark lord person was going to kill me too? I was a baby!"
"You wouldn't have been the first one he killed," Draco said.
"What a bastard!"
Louise heaved a long-suffering sigh. "Language, dear."
Lizzie ignored her. "So this evil wizard is gone, right? And I'm gonna be a witch?"
"That's the idea," Draco muttered, and wished he had thought to bring a pain-killing potion. There was an unpleasant throbbing starting at his temples. Not a stress headache, of course. Malfoys were above that sort of thing.
"Okay. Cool." The little brat jabbed a finger at her siblings, who were still plastered to the walls. "Can you get them down now? Andy and Quinn are gonna have my head if you don't."
Draco reluctantly removed the magic holding the horrible Muggle spawns in place. The four older children slid down the walls and landed in heaps, while the fedora-clad little demon plummeted off the ceiling onto the sofa. Rather than looking upset or injured, it just rolled upright and peered at him, grinning maniacally.
"That's Meggie," Lizzie said as she scrambled to check on her other siblings. She seemed to feel that this explained everything.
Draco had never heard of a demon called a Meggie, although something about the way it was sucking its thumb and watching him hinted that it might be one of the fouler varieties. He shuddered and turned to Lizzie's foster parents, who were still watching him with polite, vague interest. "I'll be here at seven tomorrow morning to take her to Diagon Alley. Don't make me wait."
The last things he saw before he Disapparated were the Meggie waving madly at him, and Lizzie tracing her scar as she helped her siblings to their feet.