Excuse
By Angelfirenze

Disclaimer: Not mine. Shore, Singer, Jacobs, and Rowling are the architects of this amalgam. Blame them. Oh, and thank kidsnurse for the shrink with the unfortunate name. Plus, there's lyrics, of course, and probably other stuff I haven't thought up yet.

Summary: "Gregory is your more troublesome child," Dickinson probed, unable to resist questioning the man he's heard so much about secondhand.

John snorted then, "Well, hell -- he's bleedin' to death, you tell me."

Rating: M, which you must surely know by now.

Pairings, etc. Gregory House/Lisa Cuddy/James Wilson, Harry Potter/Luna Lovegood/Neville Longbottom, and all that that implies; James Potter/Lily Evans Potter; Gregory House/Regulus Black; Drake House (Draco Malfoy)/Ginevra Weasley; unrequited Severus Snape/Lily Evans, Gregory House/Lily Evans;

Notes: I) Okay, I'm thinking that if this story is going to be finished, I'll be writing it in the early hours of the morning. Not a bad way to wake up, really.

II) JuliaBohemian indirectly inspired the phone call in this chapter.

III) Many, many thanks to my awesome previous beta silja_b for helping me make sure this series hasn't completely destroyed either fandom, as far as I know. I'm indescribably grateful.

IV) This chapter is unbeta'ed and I suppose that now I'm in the market for a new one if anyone's up for the job. At the moment, any and all errors are mine.

Warnings: AU, multiple pairings of both the slash and het variety, with mixes of the two in some cases. I don't think anything terribly objectionable happens in this chapter. Not even any whacking. Those familiar with The Contract and its spin-offs know what whacking is. *nods*

Dickinson was in the middle of a session when he heard a very loud thud outside his door. Excusing himself succinctly, he eased open the door to the vestibule that separated his inner office from the reception area to find a deathly pale, careworn Dr. Gregory House covered in blood while lying in a tangled pile with a young man he recognized from Dr. House's description.

The young man -- Drake -- bolted to his feet and began hauling Dr. House into a semi-sitting position, all while ranting feverishly with a very clear British accent, albeit, in French.

Dickinson wasn't fluent in French, but he managed to understand that House had just done something extremely dangerous and hadn't been able to count on it working outside of a huge margin of potential error.

Drake's eyes landed on his and Dickinson nodded back toward his closed door, "I'm in session -- here, let's get him out of harm's way."

Together they carefully lifted House's limp body and carefully propped him up against the nearest adjacent wall. Drake ran both his hands through his hair and scowled, "I can make us both blend into the scenery here, but if your other patient trips, we're bollocksed."

Then Drake laughed brokenly, "Not that I'm not anyway -- not that we're not...oh, my God..."

Dickinson froze momentarily before trying for a conciliatory gesture in light of his lingering shock. "Wait, here, Mr. House -- I just need finishing up with this patient." He was whispering, he knew, but Drake heard him because he hurriedly waved Dickinson away before pulling out what the therapist recognized as a wand and scowling down at Dr. House's now deeply unconscious form.

Dickinson took a deep breath and composed himself before going back into his office. He didn't glance back at either Dr. House or his brother, for fear of giving away whatever the younger had done in the preceding moment.

It was an hour before his patient left and Dickinson allowed himself to breathe a momentary sigh of relief before focusing on the matters at hand. He decided to use his remaining free time to pretend he was eating dinner while he helped Drake carry Dr. House over to his couch and lay the intermittently conscious man down.

"Apparating 'cross-continent twice within the space of an hour -- what the bloody hell is wrong with you -- !" Drake was still ranting as he monitored Dr. House's vitals, peering under his eyelids with light from the end of his wand. "Apparating near Muggles -- if Mum weren't in a coma, she'd kill you!" he snapped, two spots of color high on the cheekbones of his sharp-planed face.

Dickinson felt a surge of empathetic shock course through him as he took in Dr. House's ill form. Dr. House's skin was deathly pale under the large quantity of blood that had spilled over down his shirt and his eyes flickered under their lids. "What's happened to him? You said he tried to do something across continents?"

Drake's bitter expression glanced upon him for the second it took to affirm he was listening, but his hands were busier rifling through what seemed to be endless pockets within what had previously only seemed to be a normal Oxford shirt. "He didn't try to do anything, he did it and that's the effing problem!"

Drake was staring down at a mangled clump of some kind of plant that he'd retrieved from one of the pockets, sorting lightly through it with his fingers before making a growling noise and gingerly rubbing it over Dr. House's still leaking nose.

Dickinson brought himself down into a crouch beside the pair and peered worriedly at his patient. "Will that wake him up?"

"No," Drake bit out. "He's gone and bloody Splinched himself -- whatever part of his nose is missing is still technically attached to his body, only magically instead of physically. Dittany helps reunite the separated parts by balancing the components in the blood and tissue that were disrupted by improper Apparition. Greg knows damned well how dangerous it was going to be Apparating all the way to England and back, but no -- he did it and took me along. He could have killed himself doing it and then Dad and I -- and Lisa and James -- will lose someone else we care so much about!"

Dickinson felt his face crumple in concern, carefully not touching Drake or trying to force him to turn to face him. "Your mother is -- "

"Dying," Drake snapped and now Dickinson watched as fresh tears landed on Drake's pants, mixing with flecks of mud and blood that had gotten on them during whatever Dr. House had done. "And our father thinks it's my fault and there's no fucking way I can even prove it because everyone I care about knows what I did and it doesn't matter that he was going to kill them if I didn't, just like it doesn't matter to Potter or Longbottom that Luna's my family now, too, just like she's Greg's -- which means that her father's my uncle and everything, too."

Drake threw the remains of the now putrefied plant on the floor next to his brother's body and ran his hands through his hair, digging his fingernails into his scalp as he fought back another shudder before managing to collect himself surprisingly quickly. "There's nothing else I can do at the moment -- I have -- I have to make a call."

Dickinson started at the rather unexpected change in topic but indicated the telephone sitting on his desk, which Drake snatched up, dialing numbers seemingly without much thought.

"What?"

"Dad, we need -- "

"Drake, where the fuck are you? Where's Greg?"

"If you'll just listen for a moment, sir, I'll be able to tell you. We're in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, apparently. Greg didn't say and now he's nearly comatose."

"What?" Drake hadn't thought the urgency in John's voice could have intensified but he'd been immediately proven wrong.

"He -- we Apparated, Greg taking me Side-Along, to Spinner's End. He took me to see Harry and Neville -- I think he was planning on asking their help, and probably Luna's, to figure out who set me up."

"Why the hell didn't he just say so?"

"You weren't really listening to anyone at the time of our departure, sir," Drake bit out, then, wincing at the upbraiding he was certain was coming. Instead of bringing him up short, however, John hesitated.

"...Do you understand how the hell this all looks, Drake?"

Drake felt his entire face collapse into a deep frown, "With all due respect, sir, I can't say I care how this looks."

He didn't voice the 'but fuck you for saying so' that belonged at the end of that sentiment.

John was silent on the other end for a few moments more. "You're in Pennsylvania -- why?"

"I already said I don't know, but I gather the man who's office we landed in is someone Greg knows pretty well. He hasn't said anything about either of us being crazy and -- " Drake glanced back at Dickinson to find him taking Greg's pulse.

"He's getting Greg's vitals, though I already applied dittany to his face. I wasn't aware it was actually possible to Splinch one's insides, but it appears some part of Greg's nasal passages are no longer properly connected. I suppose he got off light in that regard, though he's still bleeding -- it's slowed some."

"Come get me. Side-Along me to wherever Greg took you -- your final destination."

That wasn't a request, Drake knew, he just wasn't certain how receptive Greg would be to the developments that would inevitably follow.

Drake exhaled, reaching up to pinch the bridge of his own nose before saying, "Yes, sir, goodbye, sir," and hanging up.

Placing the phone back on its base, Drake held back the urge to snarl and glared at Dickinson, who seemed to take it in stride.

"I have to go get our father. He wants me to bring him here. Can you keep Greg stable until I get back?"

To his credit, Dickinson didn't hesitate before nodding and retrieving a blanket to cover Greg with.

Drake turned away before pausing and seeming to consider something. "Greg's partners aren't safe -- they're Muggles like you and my father are. Would it be alright with you if I brought them here to regroup? Say nothing of the fact that Greg needs medical attention."

Dickinson found himself smiling rather shakily, "Oh -- by all means! I've tried to convince your brother that my presence is a safe one. I guess I just didn't expect him to take it so literally as to bring his family here when you're all in danger."

Drake let his gaze fall back to his brother's limp form and Dickinson could see tears coming back to his eyes. "Sometimes I think he cares too much," the younger man murmured before turning away again and a loud crack sounded through the air as he disappeared, leaving an astonished Dickinson and unconscious Greg in his wake.

***

The first thing that came to Dickinson's mind when a small pop sounded as Drake and John House both landed with practiced ease in front of his desk was that Greg House had been correct in calling his father a physically imposing man. but also that John House was evidently extremely worried about the state of his family, which most certainly included Dr. House.

There was another pop, then, and Drake froze before gnashing his teeth and turning to face the small redheaded woman who'd also appeared in their midst.

"Ginny, I need -- "

"If you think I'm just going to be sat at home by myself when our family's being picked off -- "

"It's too dangerous!" Drake snapped, prompting 'Ginny' to pull out her wand and point it at him, bringing him up short.

"Harry trained me, not you. I fought Death Eaters in the Department of Mysteries, don't tell me what's too dangerous."

"Ginevra," John House barked, bringing her attention to him. "If -- "

"Are you sodding joking?" Ginny overrode, now training her wand on Dr. and Drake House's father, her face carefully composed, though it was obvious how angry she truly was. "You were good and ready to have Drake packed off to Azkaban not even an hour ago -- don't start playing the part of the dutiful father now just because there's proof that he and Greg are in danger! You readily tossed Drake to the side, just like you've done Greg -- don't try to act like you should be trusted!"

Drake took a deep breath and stepped between Ginny's wand and John's chest, his hand coming up to cover that which held the wand. "It's patently clear that no one trusts anyone else, but we're on a salvage mission right now, Gin. We can recriminate later, but we have to make sure the Muggles we love are safe. I still have to go get James and Lisa -- will you come with me? If I Side-Along them myself, I'll end up right next to Greg."

Ginny brushed off his plea and took hold of his hand, "I don't know why you bother asking, you prat," she told him and the next moment two identical cracks sounded and they were gone.

John House exhaled gustily, then, spinning on his heel to face the couch where Dickinson sat with his eldest son and it was only then as if someone had punched him in the stomach.

"Shit," John bit out, striding quickly over to Greg and kneeling beside him. "Gregory, you know better than this," his voice was quiet now, hoarse. Dickinson had the distinct impression John had forgotten he was even in the room. At least, he did until John's eyes flickered up to meet his and the older man froze, slowly retracting the hand that had been placed on Greg's colder one.

"Colonel House," Dickinson said quietly, "If you truly love your family, you won't let the fact that you have an audience prevent you from expressing that fact. From what I can tell, your sons are either gravely injured or in quite a lot of danger -- both, actually. What is it to you that I'm here?"

John frowned, seeming to master himself before returning his hand to the back of Greg's.

"He looks dead," the quiet voice said heavily. "My...my wife...she looks..." John's hand was shaking now. "She's gonna die -- no one even knows -- and now Greg's gone and damned Splinched himself. He knows better than to -- "

John's mouth snapped shut and he cast a sidelong glance at Dickinson who displayed both his hands, showcasing their emptiness. "Dr. House -- Greg did explain the existence of magic to me. He told me about the difference between Muggles like us and wizards and witches like your family. He did some spells -- I'm not going to tell anyone. I can't betray my patient's trust in such a way."

"Patient?" John's voice was gruff once more but Dickinson shook his head.

"I just told you, I can't. We have more important things to worry about at the moment regardless of that fact."

John's mouth pulled downward into a sort of mixed frown, but he nodded nonetheless. "My wife and my sons are magical, yeah," he conceded, frowning further. "She's originally from Ireland, but hasn't lived there since she was a tiny little girl. Her family lived in England before coming here -- oh, it was a long time ago. Before I was born actually, she -- wizards and witches don't age like us. And they live a long damned time."

John's voice softened again and he looked down at Greg's still face but didn't seem to see it. "I always assumed she'd outlive me -- I know Greg will, doesn't seem like anything can kill him. Drake, maybe -- then again, he doesn't run off gettin' into shit he shouldn't mess with like his brother."

"Gregory is your more troublesome child," Dickinson probed, unable to resist questioning the man he's heard so much about secondhand.

John snorted then, "Well, hell -- he's bleedin' to death, you tell me."

A series of small pops cascaded behind them and Dickinson looked over to find Drake and Ginny holding firmly onto Dr. Cuddy and James' arms before letting them go so Lisa could rush to Greg's side while James promptly lost the ability to stand. Both Drake and Ginny bent down to help him back to his feet but didn't let go again nor was James in any particular hurry to make them.

"You idiot!" Cuddy bit out viciously, on the other hand, and Dickinson could see she was angrily clutching an actual leather doctor's bag, which was monogrammed with Dr. House's initials. "You certifiable ass!"

James had settled somewhat but was still visibly ill as he made his way over to Dickinson and offered him a slightly crazed smile. "Hi, Dick," he said sheepishly and Dickinson snorted.

"You get to explain this mess to Artois, Jim." Then he reconsidered, "Well, not if you're all -- what, heading overseas?"

"I have no idea," James burst out, throwing his hands up and looking at John, seemingly coming to a decision before reaching out with a hand for John to shake.

John watched it for a few seconds before clasping it back. "You hate me. You and Lisa both."

James shook his head, "Not entirely, but...that really doesn't matter right now." James gestured to Greg, who was now being administered to by both Lisa and Drake. "Greg and Drake do. I suppose I should ask you if Greg's going to be alright since you have more experience in this world than either Lisa or I."

John scowled heavily and ran his hand through his hair, though managing not to disturb it at all. "Hell if I know. I've never actually seen anybody Splinched in person. I know real bad cases need to go to St. Galder's in New York, though. St. Mungo's in London."

"He'll be okay after a blood transfusion," Drake bit out, running his wand carefully over Greg's body. "I can do that with magic because we can't risk a mess or being seen in public, but I need you to come here, Dad."

Without hesitation, John stalked over and dropped himself next to Drake, rolling up his sleeve. Even Drake seemed taken aback at the lack of convincing needed.

"You're wastin' time, son," John reminded him and Drake nodded before tapping John's arm and apparently highlighting all the veins, as well as his ulnar artery.

Drake placed his wand at the crook of John's elbow and did a nonverbal spell that created a translucent connection between John and Greg's own arm, which was now exposed. Blood was siphoned forth and disappeared into Greg, whose color immediately improved while John paled dramatically.

Dickinson felt his mouth drop open but managed to force it back shut.

Drake gave his wand a tiny shake and the passage dissolved, leaving two neat circular bruises on either of the elder Houses' arms. Drake then waved his wand again and produced a small quantity of sugar cubes, which he handed to John to eat.

"We don't need you passing out, too," he urged when John hesitated in favor of waiting for Greg to awaken. His father exhaled irritably but ate them all the same.

"What happens now?" Ginny asked, and Dickinson looked over to see her visibly restraining herself from examining his office now that House was stable.

"What happens now is common courtesy since we totally took over his office," House's voice issued from the couch, eyes still shut.

"Not before we kill you," James burst out, reaching out and bringing both Lisa and John backward with him in clear circumvention of just that.

House sat up slowly and blinked, giving his head a small shake while examining himself. "Look, I did what I had to..."

House's eyes had apparently landed on John's feet and he froze, staring at his father, who was watching him back with a worried expression House had never personally seen on his face.

House's mouth dropped open slightly and he blinked several times more, but remained silent.

John took a deep breath and asked quietly, "What'd you find out in Spinner's End?"

"That Potter's a deceitful, two-faced -- " Drake started, but Ginny clapped a hand over his mouth and urged House to continue.

"Someone's trying to set Drake up and the plot's totally working since no one in the wizarding world outside our family has seen him since he was sixteen. Before we came back home, Harry gave me the keys to the Potter property in Leeds. We can either go there or the Rook, though Xeno probably put all kinds of hexes on it that we have no idea about let alone how to lift them."

"That paranoid old bat," John conceded sadly, knowing that if Blythe still had any inkling of his death, she would be devastated. "Anyway, you're a Ravenclaw, too -- Drake's a Slytherin, between the two of you cunning and intelligent boys, couldn't you figure it out?"

House froze, and Drake laughed emptily.

"Did you just compliment us?" House asked with an exaggerated look of confusion, to which John rolled his eyes.

"We don't have time for this, you two," he reminded them bitterly and Greg slowly climbed to his feet.

"Since by now I've had a Trace placed on myself for Apparating from one populated Muggle area to another, we'll have to do this with Portkeys -- "

"Which is also illegal," Drake cut in before John could object. "But desperate times, desperate measures that won't get my idiot brother killed in so-called service to me -- overprotective, self-uninvolved idiot."

"Are you quite done?" House asked, seemingly finishing up some quick thinking and walking over to pick up a set of paperweights on Dickinson's desk. "We do have to get the fleeing started -- takes coordination and much planning -- these weren't gifts or anything, were they?" he asked in a careless tone and James immediately walked over and snatched them out of his hands.

"Yes, from me, House! Just -- just conjure something! I'm sure you'll have plenty of time to be rude and inconsiderate when there aren't people trying to kill you."

"Don't be silly, Jimmy. Nobody's trying to kill me. They're just trying to get my brother tossed in Azkaban now that they've realized he still exists. And, on that note, Drake, we need to make a list of everyone in your class in Slytherin who wasn't killed in the war. But first -- "

House unsheathed his own wand and waved it, bringing a pair of lacrosse sticks into existence. Cuddy snorted but managed to hold back a laugh, in response to which House rolled his eyes and turned back to Dickinson.

"I could Obliviate you if you like. They can't find out what you don't remember."

Dickinson noticed John flinching slightly out of the corner of his eye but pondered it for a moment before asking, "Would letting you do that be safer?"

"Yes," House said shortly, now without a trace of amusement and Dickinson took a deep breath.

"Okay, then. Do it. But how does this work?"

House sighed, glancing downward in that way Dickinson recognized as his embarrassed need to play with his cane rather than make eye contact. "I could simply make you forget the entire thing -- there'd be a rather large hole in your memory, but you won't have more than a slight feeling of something amiss. Or I could make you remember something else instead."

"So it's like conscious dissociation."

House scowled now, "Is there no time when you're not working?"

"No more than you, Dr. House," Dickinson grinned, sharing a glance with Drs. Cuddy and Wilson leading House to roll his eyes again.

"Fine, it's conscious disassociation. You wanna remember something else?"

"Yes, please -- would it be like a dream?"

"It'd have to be if Artois were to ask you about it or something."

"Right." Dickinson took a deep breath and walked over to where House stood, trying to calm himself as he realized magic was about to be used on him. "Okay."

"If you need to close your eyes, go ahead. It won't hurt or anything."

"The ultimate trust exercise."

"I really want to tell you to shut up, but in a few moments it'll be irrelevant -- Obliviate."

***

When Dickinson woke up, he was on the couch in his office with a bottle of Tylenol on the table next to it. Such an odd dream.

He wondered if the slight breach of protocol was worth the sardonic grin he'd get from Dr. House during his next session in return.

...TBC...