He had been the only Weasley in Ravenclaw for as long as anyone could remember, and he was proud of it. His brother's grandson Percival had given him a bit of a scare for a few years, but he'd been sorted into Gryffindor sure as the rest of them after all, and Bilius' title was secure.
Of course he'd been Ravenclaw. He was a wizard of deep learning, with an encyclopedic knowledge of magic that most, less open-minded individuals shunned. He'd worked with Xantraxes Lovegood on the Complete Compendium of Magical Creatures and Conjuring Miscellany for almost forty years, and he counted Albus Dumbledore as quite possibly the only wizard greater than himself for his willingness to include the self-published ninety-eight volume work in the Hogwarts Library. Bilius would never forget what he had said about it, and had indeed emblazoned the quote on the back fly of all twenty-three subsequent revised editions:
"This is quite possibly the most boggling undertaking I have ever read, and certainly a wholly unique work in the history of magical scholarship. Mssrs. Lovegood and Weasley deserve their own very special place in the annals of magical research."
Xantraxes had passed on sadly some eight years ago, but Bilius was still hanging in there at a hundred and three, and although Xyphilides had been a tragically pedantic disappointment to his father, he had recently begun receiving some extremely encouraging correspondence from his old friend's grandson, Xenophilius. Maybe there would be a twenty-fourth revision after all. The boy had done some truly remarkable work on the Snorkacks in particular.
Bilius mused over the most recent letter in his head as he went through his morning routine. He was extremely particular about it. One had to be when one wished to avoid the myriad dangers that lurked unbeknownst to most in the corners of the wizarding world. Most people scoffed, but most people, he knew with great self-satisfaction, did not live to a hundred and three.
Out of bed on the right side, covers turned back three times, flip the pillow over and wave a sprig of mistletoe over it to drive away the Nargles that had gathered in the night. Box the compass before you break the salt circle around the bed, then light the smudge to refresh it and cleanse the room. First drink of water standing on your head – oh, and wasn't that getting a bit touchier these days – then a sprinkle of hyssop water and a touch of Billywig oil on the end of your nose after you washed your face to restore the magical balance you'd disrupted by removing the natural dirt.
Feed the Doxies, the Pixies, the Gurnumblies, the Puffskeins, check on how the Gurdyroots were drying, and yes, a few of them did seem hard enough now to boil for tea. Couldn't let them have too much juice in them, of course, they were toxic. Terrible effect on the mind if you let them have too much juice in them. Made one prone to delusions, thoughts of grandeur, even certain forms of paranoia. A scholar couldn't allow that.
He hummed pleasantly to himself, composing a reply to Xenophilius in his head as he lit the fire and turned a piece of daisy-flour bread on the toasting fork over it. He had some lovely Dirigible-Plum preserves that Lovegood's wife had sent him for Christmas, and he thought the refreshing bitterness would go well with the heavy yellow bread. He'd have to remember to tack a thank-you note at the end after he addressed the possibility of an expanded chapter on Snorkacks.
The toast went onto a cracked, lime-green plate – a home must never contain dark colors, they bred shadowy thoughts, and perfect dishes invited Bindlethwaits to come and cause mischief – and he levitated it over to the table with his wand while he gathered up the rest of his breakfast. The preserves, the sugar-bowl, a lemon, and the teapot that had begun to sing eagerly as the Gurdyroots became properly infused made for quite the armload, and he didn't even get a chance to properly look at his toast until he had them all settled on the three-legged triangular table.
There, oh, there, staring back at him from what should have by all rights been a harmless piece of nourishment was it. The worst possible thing for a wizard to see. As merciless as the Killing Curse. Hopeless, heartless, a cruel and dark omen that was all too unfair just when he had been planning such a lovely little revision.
Yet it was unmistakable. Dark, really practically black in a few places. A heavy blotch that bore at least four appendages that could be nothing but legs, and lengthened towards the back into a distinct tail-like shape. And the bulge at what was definitely the head had been split by the tine of the toasting fork into jaws, and all together, there was nothing else it could be, no matter how much he wanted to believe it. Believing or disbelieving in things did nothing to alter the empirical reality of the world, after all.
"I just don't understand it, Arthur." Molly clucked her tongue sadly, looking over the letter that had arrived that morning. "He was always a bit odd, poor dear, but running out of the house and into the street naked as a peeled parsnip with a piece of toast in his hand and screaming about the Grim…."
"I'm sure it made sense at the time," her husband let out a deep sigh, examining the parchment over her shoulder. "And at least according to St. Mungo's, he never even felt the bus."