Author's note: This one is dedicated to the charming user who left me a review on 2nd June, The Fox Familiar is the name. After writing this series for eleven years I am now the proud recipient of my first, what is it called? 'Flame'? Whilst I welcome reviews of all kinds, I was disappointed to find that this 'reader' was basing his/her rant on the summary alone. It is however an excellent example of uninformed and bigoted ignorance. I hope those of you that have enjoyed this story so far may continue to do so. Any helpful critique of my work is gratefully received. More soon. Bit of a cliffie at the end, sorry about that (grins).
Chapter Fifty Two - Familiar
The next morning Hermione returned to find a tired looking Will drinking coffee in his kitchen.
"Did you sleep ok?" Will asked when he saw Hermione stood in his doorway. She was dressed more plainly than she had been the day before but she still made him smile as soon as he knew she was there. Before her arrival the tension had been mounting inside him and had been made worse by the coffee. He had thought he was just nervous about his new job, after all he had never really had a career before and it was a hell of a way to start. Only the tension evaporated the second he felt her near to him. It was crazy and all wrong but he just didn't give one hoot about that, it was less wrong than having bodies in your freezer.
"Did you?" Hermione asked as she sat at the table her face full of concern.
"You did just leave me two hours ago, hardly time to settle in bed again." Will pointed out.
Hermione looked sheepish for not thinking of that, "I forgot about that, well it shouldn't have to happen again, we'll get the flue sorted out and we'll be together every night. Is Fort William the only place you can get groceries near here?"
Will thought he must be getting used to those associated with the Kin, he hardly had to concentrate to follow the flow of the conversation, "There aren't too many places without a long drive, no."
Hermione shrugged, "Well we have elf connections in most warehouses, it'll not be a problem."
"Right," Will agreed even though rather suddenly he now knew he still didn't have much of a clue.
"Are you nervous?" Hermione asked.
"No," Will said taking Hermione's hand, "I could do anything as long as I was by your side."
"I will have to teach elsewhere in the castle you know," Hermione teased.
"Your proximity gives me courage for anything," Will continued.
"Courage enough to ask Severus about the flue?" Hermione suggested.
Will laughed, "Maybe enough for that, let's see shall we?"
As soon as they returned to the castle Hermione and Will went straight up to the Headmaster's quarters. They found Severus slumped over his desk as if he had never moved from the night before.
Will stepped forward with a huge lump suddenly forming in his throat, "Where is everyone?" he tried to ask brightly.
Severus looked up and sighed, "Harry is tending to something in his own classroom, I've no idea where Ron and Draco are but at least I can't hear them. I am, however, here, rapidly losing the will to live. What is it you need?"
"Still writing your speech?" Will asked tentatively.
"Well to say 'yes' would be a lie since I have written scarcely a word," Severus replied.
Will felt Hermione poke a finger in his ribs and knew he had to make good on his assertion, "Would you perhaps consider opening a flue between Sgoildubh and the castle?" Will asked already cringing.
"Now?" Severus asked.
"Well soon maybe. I thought I might not need your attic room then, not if I could get home easily."
Severus came away from his desk, "Now sounds like an excellent plan."
"What about your speech?" Will asked.
Severus shrugged, "I don't know, maybe it will all flow out by itself when the time comes. Anybody who will care what I say will think what they already think afterwards regardless of what I say anyway. It would be just as well to stand there reciting sonnets."
"Do you know any?" Hermione asked as she followed the two men out into the corridor.
Out at the very edge of the grounds Ron and Draco were fulfilling their duties regarding the strengthening of the wards. To a casual observer however, they might have looked like two young drunks waving swords in the air. Draco had wrapped an arm around Ron to steady himself as his Kin needed both arms, one to hold the bottle of scotch and the other for his sword.
"Do you really think we should be drinking while we do this?" Draco asked, even though he had had plenty to drink himself and had no trouble keeping up with Ron because of the power of the swords.
"This is the very best time to drink, the place will be crawling with children from now till Christmas, when will there be a better time to drink?" Ron replied passing Draco the bottle again.
Draco could feel the surge of the swords as well as the effects of the alcohol, it was almost overwhelming, but he had to admit not something he really wanted to stop any time soon. He wished that he could fight with Ron though, instead of just warding. It was part of the deal though, if they did a good job they would get to keep the dungeon quarters all to themselves. He wanted what Harry had though, he wanted all of what the Kin could have. There was so much more to it than what he was getting, he wanted Ron and he wanted to kill, he wanted to kill again and again until he felt worthy of his Kin and then maybe the other thing he wanted would be his also.
"One more round then we'll play for a while ok?" Ron suggested.
"A whole round? I never realised the grounds were so massive," Draco moaned taking a deep swig of the whiskey.
All to soon it was time. The train was in and the students were making their long procession from the station to the castle. Immediately afterwards they would all take their seats in the hall and the sorting would begin. Minerva had taken her place at the head table already. Will and Hermione had seated themselves next to where Severus and Harry would be. The intention was to introduce the new teachers to new students and the rest of the wizarding world via the reporters Severus had been obliged to invite. Severus and Harry were also sat at the head table already but there was still no sign of Draco and Ron.
"They could have been here in good time on just one, solitary, important occasion," Severus steamed to Harry.
"They'll turn up," Harry tried to reassure Severus but he was very tense, "You have to calm down, it isn't good for you or..."
"Calm down?" Severus hissed in Harry's ear as they sat almost touching," I have heard them all talking over the years, expressing their ill informed opinions in my hearing over and over. Never bothering to at least tittle tattle behind my back. Do they care one jot for the truth of the matter? No, not one. What can I say? Not what I wish to say, nothing that will change anything. I am a monster, one who has caused the boy they idolised to turn his back on what they all consider right and natural. Those that know nothing of the Kin deny that it can be and those who do know despise that it is possible. What can I say? If I had chosen this for myself I could explain why, but the Swords willed it so. Maybe in another dimension I am something they all expect and can understand, maybe I can say the things they want me to say. Maybe I am a man."
"Say nothing, say 'welcome to a new year at Hogwart's', let's get sorted!" Harry suggested.
Severus smiled grimly, "I might yet do that."
One by one they all filed in, children, teachers and reporters, everyone except Ron and Draco. Severus knew he was out of time and forced himself to stand. Harry came with him, they had to do it together, whatever happened, whatever Severus ended up saying.
"Silence!" Severus managed to shout across the general chattering din.
When they all fell silent though he froze. Hundreds of eyes were staring up at him all waiting for his next words, the expressions of disgust already on their faces or so it seemed to Severus. He could not even force himself to say welcome. This was the first time he had approached a school year as a Kin proper, bitterness and Albus had propelled his courage for years it seemed. All he could feel was a small kick inside himself and he automatically put his hand to it. Harry put a hand to his arm too and whispered his name.
Suddenly Will was beside the two Kin, "Tha mi toilichte ur coinneachadh," he called out across the hall, "From fairest creatures we desire increase,That thereby beauty's rose might never die, But as the riper should by time decease, His tender heir might bear his memory: But thou contracted to thine own bright eyes, Feed'st thy light's flame with self-substantial fuel, Making a famine where abundance lies,Thy self thy foe, to thy sweet self too cruel: Thou that art now the world's fresh ornament, And only herald to the gaudy spring, Within thine own bud buriest thy content, And, tender churl, mak'st waste in niggarding, Pity the world, or else this glutton be,To eat the world's due, by the grave and thee."
Harry had looked up at Will as he began speaking and he had seemed as if he were in another world, as he finished though he seemed to come to himself again.
"What are you doing?" Harry asked him.
Will shook his head as if clearing cobwebs from his ears, "I hardly know myself."
Hermione came to Will's side, "I really think he was joking about the sonnet you know."
"Draco's father!" Will said next.
"Yes, I really don't think it's the right time for that either, but thanks for reminding me," Hermione commented.
"What did he say?" Severus asked, speaking at last.
Will turned to face the Kin, "Draco's father is here."
"Well he was in Fort William yesterday is what Will is trying to tell you," Hermione tried to explain.
"No," Will said, starting to look dazed again, "Here, now."
"Are you really trying to tell me that Lucius Malfoy has managed to sneak into this hall?" Severus asked able to seek refuge in irritation.
"No," Will answered truthfully.
"What then?" Severus persisted.
Before Will could answer there was a commotion at the back of the hall. The doors had been flung open and a man was running towards the head table already out of breath and covered in mud. He stopped in front of Severus and Harry but said nothing as he struggled to catch his breath.
"Well?" Severus prompted as the man's heightened colour began to fade.
"They came into Hogsmeade," the man finally managed to blurt out, "They demand Draco Malfoy or they'll destroy the whole town."
"Dementors, Death Eaters, Lucius Malfoy," both the man and Will said simultaneously.
"Well," Severus said feeling greatly cheered up by the distraction and the news itself, "We had better give him what he wants then hadn't we?"
There were gasps around the room and the messenger himself looked very confused. Severus could imagine very well what they were thinking and knew how wrong they were.
"Go back to Hogsmeade," Severus told the messenger, "Tell Lucius Malfoy that we will send Draco down to him just as soon as we are able."
"When will that be?" the messenger asked.
"Immediately after he is located," Severus assured.
The messenger rushed away and Minerva approached Severus, "Would you like me to begin the sorting in your absence?" She asked.
"That would be very helpful, thank you," Severus replied thinking that one of his most dreadful days was suddenly turning into one of the best.
"Is this going to be ok? He did kill your brother." Harry asked.
"While we were separated, there are four of us and one of him and whoever he has brought is irrelevant." Severus answered.
"So it could even be quite amusing?"
"Certainly, we will keep back, this is an excellent and unrepeatable opportunity for the new Kin, we shouldn't spoil it for them. Do you remember the first time?"
Harry grinned, "Yes."
"Can anybody join the party?" Hermione asked.
"You are not just anybody," Harry replied.
"You might as well bring your poetic seer with you too," Severus added, "Maybe he can work on his timing issues. Where is Draco? Do you have any clues on that one?"
Hermione looked to Will, he seemed distant again, "He's in the school grounds with Ron." He answered.
"Fabulous," Severus commented.
"Moving," Will added, "Moving toward the black."
Ron had at last relented and announced that they would have some training time. Draco was glad, he had reinforced the wards that much he thought he could probably do it in his sleep never mind drunk. He knew he could do it drunk because they were both very very drunk. Not as drunk as they could or had been before but enough to not mind admitting it. Draco looked at Ron, his Kin. His eyes were on fire in the dark of the early evening, he loved it when he looked at him like that, passionate and fierce, possessed. They still held their swords, Draco wanted to throw every curse he could think of at his Kin and he wanted Ron to send the full breadth of his fury at him, he wanted to fly.
Draco stood away from Ron and prepared to leap but something stopped him. He didn't know what it was at first, it was a presence, at the same time strange and familiar. He felt it through the swords, he searched within himself to make sense of it, he linked with Ron and they passed the energy back and forwards between them. The swords answered and the word formed on Draco's lips, "Father."
Ron grinned at his Kin, "Looks like we won't be practising much tonight after all."
"Take off your sword, he mustn't know till we want him to, I want to see his face, I want to see his face when he realises what I am and I want to watch him die."
To Be Continued...
When Will addresses the school it is 'pleased to meet you' in Gaelic and Sonnet I by William Shakespeare btw.