7

WELCOME TO THE FAMILY

A Black Secret


"Oh, crap," one drunken werewolf croaked.

A firewhisky shot accompanied the spilled champagne as Remus John Lupin joined Narcissa Delphina Malfoy on the ground.

The crowd clapped in amusement.


Nymphadora Tonks groaned loudly. She was definitely starting to regret asking for an unconventional wedding.

Oblivious to the mayhem around them, Snape stood on his spot. His jaw set, shoulders squared, black eyes shining fiercely in barely suppressed fury, the Potions Master was quite preoccupied with glaring at the Headmaster. Dumbledore didn't look so happy either.

"He did kill them, it's true," Snape whispered angrily, "but it was a mistake. An appalling, horrifying, dreadful, unforgivable mistake… But he did regret it!"

Dumbledore snorted.

Okay, this was getting a little too freaky…

"A mistake, you say?!" The old wizard took a deep breath to calm himself. Really, this kind of behavior was most unusual in him, but he always got particularly incensed when Severus defended Antares and his wife's killer.

Albus Dumbledore shook his head tiredly, and placed a hand on Snape's shoulder, "Open your eyes, my boy, even with Allegra alive, Regulus Black remains a murderer."

The potions master stared at him for a second, dark eyes flashing dangerously. "You're right, Albus, he was a murderer," he paused for a second, before continuing in a hushed yet equally vicious tone, "But then so am I, and you forgave me."

The Headmaster looked away.

"Or have you just been pretending to care so that I will remain your spy?"

Deadly silence ensued among those who had overheard him. It was quite a good thing they were all Order members, Tonks thought. Her 'obliviate' was rather hopeless.

Dumbledore raised his head, opening his mouth but uttering no sound.

Of course he had forgiven Severus, but forgiving Regulus was quite another thing. Antares had been like a grandson to him, after all.

Draco stared at the silent Headmaster. If he didn't forgive Professor Snape, then why in the world would he forgive him? He had almost killed him after all.

Hermione, noticing Malfoy's shoulders were visibly shaking, sighed deeply and kneeled besides him. She patted his back awkwardly a couple of times. She then transfigured a Remus's broken glass of firewhisky into strong smelling salts and held them under Narcissa's nose to wake her up. An 'enervate' wouldn't work since she hadn't lost consciousness magically.

Draco stared at her, white-blond hair messy and mouth agape. 'Malfoys are not to be pitied!' the little voice in his head that sounded suspiciously like his father's reminded him. But Draco had broken said rule long ago, and accepting pity from Hermione Granger wasn't half as pathetical as accepting it from Moaning Myrtle. Thus, he remained quiet.

Ignoring Ron and Harry's similar shocked-out-of-their-minds expressions, Hermione gave Malfoy a small smile.

"Just don't get used to it," she whispered.

He attempted a smirk, but ended up nodding dumbly. He then turned to his mother, who was slowly regaining waking up.

Tonks, though, decided to allow her husband enjoy his nappy time; he wouldn't appreciate to be woken up to more madness anyways. She conjured a pillow for his head, though, to make him more comfortable.

Then she proceeded to gather her annoyingly long wedding dress and sit on his chest.

Andromeda lay on the ground besides her, staring fixedly at Hermione, but not saying a word.

Meanwhile, the Headmaster had apparently capitulated on his accusations, and both him and the Potions Master seemed to have calmed down a bit.

"… and of course, you were right about her." Albus Dumbledore commented, rubbing his temples tiredly.

Snape scoffed, "of course I was right, I went to school with both Antares and Callista. I was best friends with them for Merlin's sake! I think I'm quite capable to recognize their daughter!" He claimed, pointing at Hermione quite unsubtly.

The crowd gasped, stared, gawked and showed their shock in diverse manners.

Hermione chose to choke on her own spit and it was Draco's turn to pat her clumsily. He still didn't quite understand what was going on.

Watching the blond comfort his best friend, Harry found out he wasn't bewildered enough not to feel a pang of jealo—

—preoccupation.

For her safety, you see.

"Oh yes, quite capable indeed!" Andromeda Tonks cried hoarsely, speaking for the first time, "yet it took you, what, six years?"

Snape flushed.

F-fl-flushed!

"I was looking for a girl like Callista! A red-haired quidditch player!" He argued back. "Does she look like a red-haired quidditch player to you?!"

The crowd turned to Hermione, who was now just staring at her Professor in utter disbelief. Wizards and witches shook their heads and sent Snape a sympathetic nod.

"Are you sure it's not this one?" Mad-Eye chuckled, pointing at Ginny Weasley, who glared back at the auror.

"I'll have you know, Alastor Moody, that I don't go around stealing people's children!" Molly huffed.

"She certainly has enough of them," Malfoy muttered under his breath.

"No, she doesn't look like Callista at all," Andromeda whispered. She leaned forward to touch Hermione's cheek, and the girl was so shocked that didn't even acknowledge the older woman's touch. "She's so much like her grandmother."

"She does have Callie's dark eyes, though" an awakened Narcissa piped in, scooting closer to Hermione with a dreamy grin on her face. "Mum's were blue," she explained, pointing at her own eyes.

Hermione snapped out her trance and pulled away from the Black sister's, stumbling into Ron, who just sat there, looking terrified. Harry sat down next to his friends, and stared at Dumbledore expectantly, hoping for a sensible explanation.

The old wizard sighed as he met the boy's gaze and continued to rub his temples tiredly. Yes, he would have a whole lot of explaining to do, but he knew there was going to be a whole lot of yelling before the interested parties even considered sitting down to discuss the issue.

"So, she's a Gryffinfor, then?" Andromeda asked, breaking the silence. "That's rather peculiar."

"I know," he answered gruffly. "I always looked for Slytherins, I even considered a few Ravenclaws. Then I thought she might have ended up attending Beauxbaton, or something." He shook his head, scowling. "I have no idea how a Black ended up a Gyffindor."

"Sirius was a Gryffindor," Dumbledore reminded him.

"True, but still!" Snape insisted. "She's shown no Slytherin traits!"

At this, his students snorted.

"She kidnapped and blackmailed Rita Skeeter," Ron said with a smirk that looked pretty out of place in his face.

"She organized an underground rebellion club and made its integrants sign a binding magical contract," Luna commented dreamily from the crowd's front lines.

"And permanently disfigured Marietta Edgecombe when she betrayed the DA," Neville offered.

"Well…" Draco sent his godfather an apologetic glance, "she did manage to trick Umbridge into believing that 'weapon' bogus…"

"And then lead her to a trap consisting of a giant and a herd of angry centaurs!" Ginny cried with a happy sigh.

"And she did tell me the whole Department of Mysteries' fiasco could be an ambush…" Harry said, smiling sadly at his best friend, who was still gawking at Snape.

Snape flushed for a third time that evening, "well, I might have overlooked some—"

"Overlooked? Overlooked!" Andromeda laughed. "This girl is so obviously a Black!"

"Well, of course she is, Andy!" Narcissa snapped at her sister before turning to grin at Hermione. "She's my goddaughter, after all."

Ron and Harry gasped.

Draco choked. He had bullied Granger for six years… his mother was going to kill him.

Hermione remained white-faced, wide-eyed, open-mouthed and silent.

"Well, welcome to the family, then!" Tonks said cheerily, bouncing a bit on Remus, who was just waking up. "You can call me Dora! It's a family thing!"

Silence ensued as the congregation of people stared at Hermione, expecting her to say something.

Something…

Anything, really…

After a couple of seconds, the girl took a mouthful of air, as if she had just run a marathon.

She let out a painful whimper and breathed in again, managing to croak a desolate, fear filled, heart-breaking—

"I-I'm r-related to M-Malfoy?"

"Yes, sweetheart, he's your cousin," Andromeda said solemnly.

Harry frowned, if Hermione was Draco's cousin then her father must have been Narcissa's brother, but he was quite certain there wasn't an 'Antares Black' next to the Black sisters in the Grimmauld Place's tapestry.

A lot of things didn't make any sense in this mess.

He was distracted from his line of thought by Hermione, who whimpered again and touched her hair to make sure it hadn't suddenly lost its coloration.

Draco glared at her.

"I feel your pain." Narcissa Malfoy told Hermione, sending her a sympathetic smile. "He's not all bad though," she assured the girl while patting her son's shoulder. "He's half me after all," the blonde grinned.

Hermione couldn't see how that was supposed to be comforting.

Narcissa let out a long-suffering sigh. "Let me tell you, if it weren't for that damned Lucius Malfoy—"

The crowd groaned.

-

TBC


A/N: answers to Chapter 6's reviews—

yiStHeRuMaLwAySgOne: Yeah, I'm afraid I'll confuse you for quite a while. 'The Black family's darkest secret is coming to light' but it'll do so slowly. Hehe.

AsIfIreallyKnow: Yeah, a bouncing-on-his-feet Snape would be a particularly funny (yet scary) sight. You'll see why he is so excited about all this mess in the next few chapters. And you'll understand Narcissa's reaction a bit better too. Regarding Harry, well, a jealous Harry is a personal favorite of mine, and there will be quite a significant amount of jealousy running through Harry's and Hermione's not-relationship. Oh, and I'm so excited about the pairings! You'll never guess one of them, but you are certainly welcome to try! It would be fun, and I'm still a few chapters away of introducing them.

The Celtic Amazon: That means I'm doing my job right! More surprises to come!

The Gryffindor Drummer : Yeah, you're right I don't actually think authors are malicious by default, but rather a disposition developed to satisfy inner sadistic pleasures. Torturing readers can be very fun. Its payback really, you know.

F75: I agree, he's a bit OOC, isn't he? He will be, for a while. The fic borders on parodic humor in some aspects, but it'll become more serious as we go along.

Estora: I'm glad you're enjoying him! Lol, that sounded weird, didn't it?

alayneni: I'm glad you like the name. 'Allegra' means joy in Italian; the Spanish version is 'Alegría'. It just seemed logical for parents to want to name their daughter something cheerful if she was born into a war. Plus, 'Allegra Black' has a nice ring to it, don't you think? About the allergy medicine… my best friend just told me the same thing a couple of weeks ago, I'm rather annoyed.

Hotkat144: I'm glad!

Riceball-san: Lol, it is wonky! It'll get even wonkier in the next few chapters. Sorry about that, hehe.

FreeSpritSprite: I'm glad you're enjoying the fic! I love your detailed reviews.

smileenov: Thanks!

pstibbons: Hermione will be living her parents a call in the next chapter. Many things need to be explained. Who are Hermione's parents? How did she ended up in a muggle family? Why doesn't Hermione's name read 'Allegra Black' on the Marauder's Map? Why didn't the Hogwarts's quill pen her down as 'Allegra Black'?

XxXxJackBlackxXxX: I'll try my best to make my updates a little more consistent. I'm glad you're enjoying the fic.

Antoinette: Aw, thanks! I'm flattered. blushes

xoxmwaahxox: Thanks!

PLEASE REVIEW!