Grace Aux Malfoys
As always, I don't own nuthin' except my much-used copies of Books 1-5 of the Harry Potter series as well as the DVDs for the same. Am not making anything from this except the emotional and spiritual fulfillment of knowing people like and appreciate my occasional meanderings into someone else's playground.
My deepest thanks to grenouille7777 for a much-needed boot up the proverbial backside to get this chapter out and leave all the excess angsty 'tweaking' behind. Please assist me in showing appreciation by dropping over at his latest story "Not So Muggleborn" (which can be found on this site; just use the search button above) and leaving him a review. That (and his other stories) are well worth the time.
Without further ado ...
The Master's Chamber, Malfoy Manor (7:00 AM)
Sunlight found a chink in the armour of the heavy curtains of the master's bedroom, allowing a single beam of light to provide scant illumination – barely outlining the sleeping forms entwined on the unmade bed: both long-haired and blonde, refined faces smiling in the bliss of sleep.
They were spooned tightly, Narcissa's back against her husband's chest. Lucius was naked, an arm around his wife, holding her tight, a thigh thrust between her slim, shapely legs. Narcissa, on the other hand, was wearing a sheer silk negligee that barely covered her bum with nothing else beneath.
They were locked in erotic dreams that they'd not had for so long – or maybe not. Doubtless such imaginings had always been there, but these particular fantasies had been suppressed, buried beneath visions of torture and mayhem, of nightmares of spell fire and destruction, daydreams of survival from a certifiably insane overlord …
Erotic dreaming was a welcome change to their battered psyches – images of a time when they were young and full of lust, smouldering glances filled with thoughts of what they would do when naked and alone, fantasies of broom closets or the silence-charmed draperies of their beds in the dorms beneath Hogwarts dancing in their heads.
Soon enough, erotic reveries began crossing the line separating fantasy and reality: Lucius' hands roaming, exploring nooks and crannies long ignored but never forgotten; Narcissa pushing her posterior into his groin, even as she rubbed her lower lips against his thigh …
Without waking, the two shifted – Lucius on top and moving, Narcissa below and waiting … their movements becoming frenzied, violent – Lucius' bottom pumping, undulating frantically in a way that would have made the pistons of the Hogwarts Express proud; Narcissa's legs behind his back, heels slapping and spurring him to greater heights and even more forceful pumping …
Narcissa's eyes snapped open – her head whipped around frantically, wide eyes taking in her dim surroundings even as her body recognized the hard body above her, hips slamming, callused hands on her breasts, caressing, pinching …
She could feel nothing.
NOT. A. THING.
None of the well-remembered sensation of Lucius' impressive length buried in her … nothing of the mingled pain and pleasure as she adjusted to fit his girth and length within her … none of the charged, electric wonder as his experienced fingers manipulated her nipples …
She could not even SENSE the building pleasure in her loins and chest, merging, pooling together into liquid heat, lifting her higher and higher until she couldn't breathe –
Except SOMETHING between her legs: feather-light, wispy as the air kisses she exchanged with acquaintances …
The conflicting sensations, emotions and memories overwhelmed her and she MOVED – throwing him off her to flop on his back, hips still pumping even as she twisted her torso, scrabbling for her wand and stopping, gaping as she caught sight of something she never expected to see …
Not for at least another seventy or a hundred years.
To say that Lucius was in shock is to put things very, very mildly … he'd been locked in the overwhelming memories of his youth, visualizing his young, trim and gorgeous body moving like a bull in heat, hips pumping, the well-remembered feeling of liquid heat enclosing him even as Narcissa's lower folds alternately grabbed and released him …
He was reaching the point of no return … he could feel the build-up in his groin, that ever-tightening sensation in his loins that signalled the approaching explosion of his seed, that wondrous, mind-blowing sensation of 'hosing' his wife both inside and out with his warm, copious fluids …
He'd drawn in his breath to scream in ecstasy – caught his breath as he felt cold, cold hands on his chest and the hard points of rounded knee caps on his hips … in the next second, he was on his back, bouncing once, twice, the air from his lungs escaping in a loud 'OOOF' of dismay …
Caught by surprise, he lifted himself on his elbows, blazing eyes tracking as his mind processed what happened even as he forced back the sense of regret that he'd be wasting his ejaculate on his stomach or the bed …
Only to gape at the sight of sunlight on his groin – and the insignificant, paltry, tiny little THING flopping down there … and felt the gentle breeze caressing what felt like quail eggs to him …
His frightened squeak mingled with the blood curdling scream of his wife – effectively masking the desperate screech of frustration from another bedroom where an angry, exhausted and thoroughly pissed Draco lay on his back, hand still grabbing and pulling at his own limp and flaccid dick, painfully inflamed and sore after nearly an hour of wanking to no avail, his now tiny penis having far less elasticity than day-old noodles …
The Hospital Wing, Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry (7:15 AM)
A primly coiffed, straight-backed, gimlet-eyed Poppy Pomfrey entered the Hospital Wing, silently thanking the gods of healing for keeping several vials of Sober-Up potion in her personal quarters. Otherwise, she'd have woken with a blinding headache, a Kneazle-sized tongue – and feeling guilty for not doing her early morning rounds.
Not that there were that many patients in her domain, she thought as she paused in front of a particular bed – and smiled.
There was absolutely nothing to differentiate this bed from the others – nothing except vivid memories of an eleven-year old Harry Potter lying unconscious while Hermione napped in an chair beside him; where a petrified Hermione laid while Harry caressed her ivory hand; where a bruised and battered Harry stared as a teary-eyed Hermione showed him the shattered pieces of his Nimbus 2000 …
The Hospital Wing may not have been the most romantic place in the school but it has had its own share of moments and memories …
She sighed as she turned to the current occupants in the wing – one young and slim, the other older and stockier, both topped with red hair that had been a fixture in in the wing for decades from Quidditch injuries, backfiring pranks or visiting friends and siblings.
Calling them casualties of the recent war was stretching things a bit, she thought, as she began her examination of Ronald Weasley. Moving her wand in precise patterns, incanting beneath her breath, she watched the glowing colours and numbers floating above him and nodded – no signs of injury or bruising, the concussion from yesterday morning now gone. He'd probably wake up complaining of nothing more than an empty stomach, a full bladder and a constant ringing in his ears …
Poppy ended her examination and nodded. She'd release Ron as soon as he woke up – but she was ready to offer him asylum from the frenzy outside the doors. He better dig a deep hole in Hagrid's pumpkin patch to avoid the booby-trapped letters and Howlers coming his way from an irate public once they remembered the wedding 'picture' of himself and Hermione in yesterday's Daily Prophet.
Smirking, she turned to the other bed and sighed. It was this patient that worried her.
FLASHBACK (Mid-Afternoon, The Day Before)
She gaped as the doors banged open and the Weasleys entered, Bill and Charlie levitating their unconscious father between them, Molly, Fleur and Ginny following with Susan Bones in the rear.
She directed them to the bed beside Ronald even as she started casting diagnostic charms on Arthur, murmuring as colours glowed – "Multiple Stunners, bruised jaw … smashed bits –" She stopped and looked up, frowning at the suddenly fidgeting family.
To her surprise, it was Susan Bones who answered. "Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder," she said calmly as she met the Healer's eyes. "Combat Fatigue," the young woman clarified.
Poppy kept her eyes on the young woman, her silence a question in itself. The young woman stared back at her and Poppy blinked, remembering the stories she'd heard about the once-quiet girl … Susan would know what combat fatigue was, she realized, perhaps far better than the others in the room.
The rattle of a tray distracted her, and she turned to see Luna Lovegood to one side, saying, "Should we wake Mr Weasley? He's heavily infested with Wrackspurts …"
Poppy blinked at the spaced-out blond and nodded. Experienced or not, Miss Bones was not a Healer and she had to do her own diagnosis. And so, she pointed her wand at Arthur as she forcefully murmured, "Enervate!"
And jumped in shock when Arthur's eyes blinked open, locked on Susan Bones who was standing directly in his line of sight and he surged from the bed, arms stretching, fingers curved like talons, screaming, "GET YOUR HANDS OFF HER, YOU HARLOT!"
Only to fall back as a Stunner hit him – and all eyes turned to Luna Lovegood, wand in hand, gaping at a man she had known most of her life …
Poppy Pomfrey shook her head. She wasn't a Mind Healer by any stretch of the imagination and gratefully accepted Fleur's offer to call in an outside consultant who was. Molly and the children were of no real help as none of them could explain what had happened except to say that he'd tried to attack Susan – twice – within the last few hours, for no reason they could come up with.
There was something more, she was sure, but if no one wanted to talk about it … she had no choice but make Arthur comfortable, administer Dreamless Sleep Potion – and express her thanks to Bill for setting up wards that would alert her so she could leave the wing for a few hours of well-deserved relaxation.
She shook off the memories, centred herself and went into her diagnostics mode, checking off items against her mental list … pulse OK, blood pressure normal, bruises healed, still in dreamless sleep, magical index – and blinked as the last scan produced a single glowing number floating in front of her.
'That can't be right,' she thought. She rolled her shoulders, took a deep breath and centred herself, casting the diagnostic charm once again – only to come up with the same result.
A low, guttural moan behind her made her jump; turning, she gasped at the wide-eyed, slack jawed face of Molly Weasley; instincts kicked in and Molly was led to a bed beside Arthur. There was no way to fudge this, Poppy thought. Molly knew the charm, how to cast it and what the number meant – it was a charm all magical parents learned early on to check their children's magical strength but Poppy was focused on Molly's expression: utter resignation, complete surrender – pained acceptance.
The matriarch's hoarse voice startled her: "Call Bill, Poppy … call Bill, please. He … he …"
Poppy nodded. She knew what the other woman meant. She turned and focused, trying to gather her wits enough to send a messenger Patronus to the eldest Weasley son even as a line continually ran through her head: "The King is dead, long live the King."
The Hogs Head Inn, Hogsmeade Village (7:30 AM)
An ashen-faced Minerva stumbled down the stairs, to be met by Aberforth Dumbledore at the bar with seven shot glasses lined up, all filled to the brim with a clear liquid.
Without a word, the Headmistress grabbed a glass and slugged it down, slamming it on the bar even as the fiery liquid flowed down her throat – reaching for a second glass without thinking and slugging it down … only this time, setting it on the bar gently even as she felt her breathing slow down.
"Thanks," she croaked as she visibly controlled her body's shuddering. "I needed that." Aberforth nodded, his gesture signifying agreement although he never raised his head to look at her.
"HOW?" she spat and the old man raised his head to look at a face that had generations of students reaching for the bog rolls before shrugging his shoulders in the universal gesture of "I don't know nuthin'."
Aberforth reached for a shot glass and tossed the drink down his throat. "It's hae I foun' em this morning, Minnie," he said, slurring. "I knew Albus was in there – heard his thrice-damned voice proclaiming somethin' or other to Arianna yesterday and decided to let well enough alone … I took a peek this morning an' there he was …"
McGonagall shivered, wondering how a day that started so brilliantly could rain cow droppings so quickly. She'd woken that morning with a slight buzz but with a much lightened heart; the day before may have been filled with shocks and surprises but ended up so, so beautifully. She went through her morning routine gently humming a Scottish beat (something she hadn't done in decades) when the panicked voice of Aberforth blasted from the floo in her quarters, begging her to come to his bar right away.
It was only a sense of duty to the last remaining relative of an old friend that had her moving; at the same time, she hoped that a brisk walk would disperse the fog of indulgence from last night. She entered the Hog's Head to the sight of a rumpled, crumpled Aberforth who nodded in greeting and pointed to the stairs, silently entreating her to go to a room that she'd heard of never seen before.
She wasn't surprised at the portrait of a child-like young woman playing her mindless games – after Rita Skeeter's blasphemies and the tales of the students and others who'd use the room to sneak into Hogwarts, what else was she to expect?
It was the sight of the once-revered leader of the light, her former superior and dear friend, playing patty-cake with Ariana that had her in a near-catatonic state. Especially when said mage turned to her with the tell-tale twinkle she'd known for so long but with none of the fierce intellect or steely determination she associated with the man.
There was only an innocent, child-like expression of glee when he saw her and called out, "Hello! Are you here to play with us?"
It took everything she had not to hurl last night's dinner and assorted liquids at the portrait; she shook her head 'no' and stumbled out of the room, the image of Albus Dumbledore with his resplendent robes swirling around him as he danced to the delighted amusement of his sister would remain in her memory forever.
"O quam cito transit gloria mundi," she murmured, only to be distracted by the arrival of the owl carrying the Daily Prophet. She watched Aberforth pay the owl and unroll the newspaper – and freeze at the front page picture before turning to her. "You think it had somethin' to do wit' this, Min?"
Her eloquent shrug was an answer in itself and Aberforth nodded, mumbling, "I always said he was daft … too brilliant for his own good, always wantin' to change the world for the better. Always thought he was getting too big for his britches … Headmaster, Supreme Mugwump, Chief Warlock … wouldna be surprised if'n he thought o' himself as Emperor o' the World … playin' people like chess pieces, always thinkin' he knew what was best for all …"
McGonagall nodded, even as she tuned out the other man's mumblings – as she had learned to do over the years. She'd tuned out Aberforth for years, unwilling, like everyone else, to listen to a word against 'great man, Dumbledore'…
She forced the guilt away, focusing on what needed to be done. She'd have to tell Filius, she thought. The Charms Master will have to ward off the room – either that, or move the portrait somewhere else where a gawking public would be unable to ogle the fallen 'leader' in his second childhood … they'd have to close off the passage, anyway, since it was a security breach for the school …
Quietly, she bade goodbye to the still-mumbling Aberforth, silently placing a couple of galleons on the bar before walking out. It would be easier and faster to go through the passage upstairs to the Room of Requirement, but she could not bear to go through that sadly depressing room now.
Outside the pub, Minerva McGonagall took a breath of the crisp, clean air and, with a heavy sigh, headed off for the castle in the distance.
There was work to be done …
Arithmancy Classroom, Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry (9:00 A.M.)
The silence was oppressive.
Mr and Mrs Granger, being the only Muggles in the room, could find no words to describe the atmosphere they found themselves in. The air in the room seemed fetid: dense, malodourous, as if they were stuck in the middle of a jungle, the trees and foliage blocking out both light and air, darkness pressing in from all sides, with pain and despair as constant companions.
But a glance outside the window showed the opposite – the sun shone bright, the colours of approaching summer vivid in their intensity with a backdrop of deep blues because of a cloudless sky … a clever illusion, one would think, a brilliant picture on the wall designed to ramp up the desolation inside the room, teasing one's senses with thoughts of what should be while pressing down with the reality of what is …
The magicals in the room wondered if this was what Azkaban felt like: every bit of happiness and warmth sucked out by the witch and wizard at the window.
Harry Potter stood there, at the demarcation of sunlight and darkness; Hermione glued to his back, her arms around him, chin on his shoulder, glazed, teary eyes staring at nothing, both pouring out enough negative energy to absorb a few dozen cheering charms without even smiling.
'Hell of a thing to serve the kids before breakfast,' Dan Granger thought to himself as he glanced at the others: a scarred Bill with Fleur, haggard faces bearing the pain of explaining Arthur's treachery; a devastated Molly with her head down in shame; Susan Bones and Ginny with thousand-yard stares in a corner; a gaunt-faced Remus with Tonks on his lap, the Metamorph's greyish skin and mousy hair showing none of the outrageous colours so evident during last night's celebrations.
Dan understood why Bill wanted Harry and Hermione to know as soon as possible – the rumours of Arthur losing his magic would soon be spreading followed by speculation on why it happened. Coming on the heels of yesterday's Prophet and last night's revelations, it was only a short leap to the conclusion that Arthur engineered Ron and Hermione's 'wedding' and his condition was magic's way of lashing out at his interference …
Ironic, he thought. While the two events were not related in anyway, the effects were the same: Arthur was paying the price for interfering in the magical bonds of Harry and Ginny, condemning both to lives of misery and jeopardizing Hermione's own happiness in the bargain …
"Harry?" Bill's tentative voice was met by silence. The eldest Weasley son braced himself and tried again. "Lord Potter … on behalf of Clan Weasley, I wish to extend my heartfelt apologies for the sins visited upon you …"
"Bill, please." Bill stopped and stared at his feet, looking up only when he realized that Harry and Hermione were standing in front of him, hands at their sides, tear-streaked faces seemingly looking at him but actually staring beyond him. "There's nothing to apologize for. Whatever Mr Weasley – Arthur – may have done, it does not and could not change what you, as a family, meant to me…"
Harry's words were cut off by the sight and sound of Remus Lupin jumping with a most girlish scream, dumping his wife on the floor even as he was beating at his groin. It was so incongruous that their combat-honed reflexes failed them – they could only stand there gaping at the madly gyrating wizard. Before instincts could kick in, Tonks was on her feet with hands held high – two fingers of one hand holding her wand which was vibrating silently but energetically.
It took them a moment to realize that, given the way she was sitting on Remus' lap, the wand must have been directly over Remus' groin – and they started snickering at the sight of the older wizard, hand on chest as he breathed rapidly, glaring at his wife who was also snickering at him.
"It's an alarm," Tonks said before anyone could ask. "It's little Teddy's feeding time and I gotta go."
She turned to the two at the window and bit her lip – what had happened may not be high comedy or slapstick, it may have been totally unexpected and unintended … but it seemed as if they'd barely made a scratch on the sombre and serious faces of Harry and Hermione.
She opened her mouth to say something: to apologize for leaving, to say sorry for interrupting Harry's dramatic moment – and felt her mischievous nature and innate magic take over. She blinked when she saw her chest sporting an impressive pair of 44DDs with thumb-sized nipples about to pop through the cloth, and felt her derriere expanding to compensate for the added weight in front.
Tonks grinned at the wide-eyed Harry and the slack-jawed Hermione, "What can I say? Teddy's a growing boy, he needs all the milk he can get … as does Remus."
They could only gape as the now-fluorescent haired Auror flounced to the door, front and back jiggling and shaking. No one moved or possibly even breathed – the banging of the door did nothing to break the awed silence.
Only for Susan's shrill voice to snap them out of their stupor: "Ginevra Molly Weasley! You pull your tongue back into your mouth or it's the couch for you!"
A single heartbeat – and they were on the floor or leaning into each other, grabbing chairs in an effort to stand straight, as a tidal wave of laughter threatened to blow the door away from its vibrations.
The Headmistress' Office, Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry (9:15 AM.)
McGonagall's rough voice echoed in the room as she raised her glass of single malt; the others silently copied her actions and sent the golden liquid down their throats. The aged Scotch warmed stomachs and chests rendered cold by Poppy's report and they all felt just that little bit better and possibly … possibly better able to deal with the horrendous news.
The Headmistress sighed softly. She shouldn't be doing this, she knew – what sort of example was she setting for the school, the faculty and students? Dumbledore was famous for his lemon drops – will McGonagall be renowned for her bottle of single-malt, in the same way that Sybill was known for her incense-filled classroom and ever-present bottle of cooking sherry?
'Who cares,' she thought to herself as she raised the straw-covered bottle in a silent query. She needed this – not even the Marauders in their day or the Weasley Twins in theirs had driven her to this level of drinking!
The Ministers of Magic for Britain and Australia (Kingsley Shacklebolt and Samantha Wallace) extended their empty glasses for a refill. Minerva bit her lip at the sight – she'd been too distraught from Abeforth's morning floo and her discovery at the Hog's Head to remember that she'd invited the two political leaders to join her for breakfast.
They were walking the grounds when she came back from Hogsmeade and had been about to lead her guests to the great hall when a distraught Poppy Pomfrey, with a shaky Filius trailing along, found her. The news about Arthur had rocked them to their cores – prompting this meeting in her office.
Kingsley Shacklebolt and Samantha Wallace extended their empty glasses for a refill; Filius Flitwick and Poppy Pomfrey covered theirs as they shook their heads. A soft trill from the perch which once housed Fawkes made them blink – except for the Australian Minister for Magic: "Not for you, Ana, you know the rules. Don't drink and drive."
A raspberry sounded from the blue and gold phoenix on the perch; Minister Wallace rolled her eyes and turned back to the others: "There's no doubt, then? Mr Weasley had lost his magic?"
A clearly depressed Poppy Pomfrey nodded; a second's thought and she extended her glass for a refill. She hated the report she just gave – unless the Healers at St Mungo's or the Unspeakables the Minister promised to call in for consultations came up with something, Arthur would effectively be a muggle for the rest of his life.
The harsh voice of Samantha Wallace, former Auror, current Minister for Magic of Australia, made Poppy flinch. She understood, though – if this was some kind of spell that Voldemort or his still at-large forces knew, none of them were safe. Her frustrated response froze in her throat at the soft, coincident murmuring of Shacklebolt and Minerva: "Magic."
The head of British magical government and the head of its premiere magical school blinked and stared at the other; their thoughts were interrupted by the cold voice of the Australian Minister: "This is not the time for factitious jokes –"
"Who said they're joking?" The gravelly voice of the Sorting Hat caused heads – both living and painted – to swivel in its direction. Unperturbed, the hat continued, "It would explain why our dearly departed Headmaster" – there was no mistaking the biting sarcasm in its voice – "appears to have truly departed."
Eyes blinked, heads turned and mouths gaped as they stared at the frame where Dumbledore once sat, regally twinkling at them, now eerily empty. It had been repaired from the fury unleashed by McGonagall the day before: the blackened and torn canvas and the hole gouged behind it were gone – but it now stood there pristine and unoccupied.
Even Dumbledore's 'throne' was gone.
Flitwick was on his feet, wand out and flicking rapidly; seconds later a shocked Filius murmured, "There's not a trace of magic … nothing at all …"
Heads swivelled back to a visibly aged McGonagall who was running her fingers through her hair, seemingly trying to remove a pesky bug from it even as she stared at her half-filled glass, clearly tempted to slug it down – or perhaps, drink straight from the bottle.
"Mum?" Samantha McGonagall-Wallace's voice was soft and frightened – this was magic on a scale she found difficult to comprehend. She knew that it was the castle's magic that created the paintings in this room – how was lost to the ages, only that it was magic that no one living could comprehend or replicate.
If something – or someone – could override Hogwarts' own magic …
"Does this have anything to do with the Potters' bond?"
Heads whipped around, staring at a contemplative Charms Master who was still gazing at the empty portrait as he continued, "It stands to reason, doesn't it? After what we learned yesterday about Albus … The Book of Souls is an ancient, immensely magical artefact … the warning it gives about interfering with soul bonds …"
There was no need to continue. They all knew the legends – they had grown up in the magical world where such tales were meant to teach a lesson: never mess with magic. Old wives' tales they may be but none in the room would have dared test the consequences …
But could someone be arrogant enough to believe he was above the law?
There was no need to answer. All of them – even Minister Wallace – had followed the missing mage blindly for years, whether at Hogwarts, the Wizengamot or the International Confederation of Wizards, all of which he'd led … trusting that he knew what was best, believing in his power and inherent goodness. Perhaps their faith had gone to his head … perhaps the weight of responsibilities had cracked that brilliant mind …
Perhaps they'd been too blinded by his 'light' to see the fractures in his soul …
Poppy broke their silent ruminations: "But what about Arthur? Surely he didn't …"
"He did," Shacklebolt's deep voice, surprising in its gentleness, broke in. The others stared at him and he shook his head as if trying to clear it of cobwebs.
"Nothing leaves this room," he said in an authoritative voice, glaring until the others (including the paintings) voiced their agreement. "Bill Weasley approached me last night, requesting an emergency visa and priority transport for one of Fleur's relatives, a Mind Healer from America …"
He sighed and took a sip from his glass. "Had to explain why, of course …" His voice turned wooden as he succinctly relayed Bill's tale to an open-mouthed audience. As he ended, he silently held out his glass, and a shaking McGonagall poured more Scotch into it.
"Ginny and Harry …" McGonagall whispered, "… Arthur potioned them?"
Her disbelief was mirrored by Poppy and Filius – as well as the portrait of Severus Snape. Teachers they may be but they were still human – gossip, especially the romantic entanglements of those under their charge, was intrinsic.
They knew that Ginny and Harry were a couple late in the latter's sixth year, just before Dumbledore's death … Minerva, Flitwick and Poppy were chagrined to learn of it, all three having bets on Harry and Hermione realizing their feelings before they graduated … Snape, on the other hand, was gleeful – not that Potter had found love but that the other three had been so wrong …
Or so it seemed.
As they sat and pondered, an insidious thought woke in their minds and they stared at each other, none willing to verbalize the thought. That Susan and Ginny were together was of little consequence – same sex relationships, while frowned upon, was accepted. Magicals knew better than muggles not to interfere with affairs of the heart – but then again, there were always the delusional few who gave it a go, Merope Gaunt and her infatuation with the squire's son being a prime example of that.
But Arthur's reasons for interfering … it sounded too much like something Albus often spouted and obviously deeply believed: "The Greater Good" in capital letters … was Arthur's attitude something he believed in deeply – or something that Albus, master of mind magics and other things, 'handled' because it fit in with his vision of 'the greater good'?
Unconsciously, their eyes flicked to the now-empty portrait, wondering what secrets it held and lost. All of them – except Minerva - wondered if the essence and memories that should be there were now hiding somewhere else, a painting in the castle … his Chocolate Frog cards … somewhere?
"Arthur will have to leave the Ministry," Shacklebolt's voice broke them from their thoughts. The others shook their heads – of course, they realized. Arthur was now a muggle, unless some miracle could be found … but they found a little bit of solace in Shacklebolt's emphasis on the word 'Ministry'.
At least he would not be leaving their world; muggle or not, Arthur was still a friend …
"He would probably enjoy it – being a muggle, I mean," Severus Snape's portrait said. The others glared at him for a moment only to shake their heads. There was no sarcasm in the words – it was a statement of fact, and those who knew Arthur's fascination with muggles felt themselves grinning slightly at the thought.
"You can always hire him to teach Muggle Studies, Minerva," Flitwick murmured softly. McGonagall slowly nodded, only to glare at Snape's sarcastic snort.
The present and former Heads of the castle locked eyes before Minerva, to the surprise of the others, broke first and turned to pour herself another Scotch. The others frowned, glancing at the smirking Snape from the corners of their eyes, wondering how the bastard could be so heartless …
What they didn't know was that Snape had been after McGonagall and Albus to teach Muggle Studies. Not Defence Against the Dark Arts (as legend had it) or even Potions, where he'd attained his Mastery at a young age.
Minerva shook her head at the memory of a disgusted thirteen-year old boy walking out of Muggle Studies (in much the same way that Miss Granger had walked out of Divination), loudly comparing the teacher knew nothing about muggles … he should know, McGonagall thought. He'd grown up on the edges of that world and had been best friends with the brightest witch of her day who also grew up in that world …
Potions may have been his passion but Muggle Studies was to be his atonement for the way he'd treated his former best friend. Teaching wizards about the muggle world (and the muggle-born and raised about the magical world) was to be his penance for the sins committed against Lily Evans, his best friend and unrequited love … but no, oh no …
Dumbledore, with his far-reaching plans and infinite wisdom, denied him the posting. A Death Eater and Head of Slytherin teaching Muggle Studies? Voldemort would have AK'd Snape the moment he came back – and where would Albus have found another spy in the enemy's camp?
McGonagall shook her head. As always, she'd bowed to Dumbledore. Severus was to teach Potions rather than Muggle Studies, despite the man's ranting; eventually the Deputy Headmistress chose to ignore Snape's continued bitching until he finally gave up … she wondered if that was another reason behind the man's seething anger which he took out on the students, especially the Gryffindors where both she and Albus had come from …
She took a sip of her Scotch as she forced the thought away – too late for recriminations. She could spend the rest of her lifetime thinking about all the 'what if's' in her life … although she promised that the first thing she'll do on her next great adventure would be to find and transfigure that senile fool into a ball so she could kick it through eternity …
And stopped as another thought made its way through the alcoholic haze: "If Arthur and … probably Albus … have been affected because they tried to interfere in Harry's bond …"
"Yes?" Minister Shacklebolt said slowly, eyeing her warily.
"Then … what about the Malfoys?"
For a long moment, no sound could be heard … until Phineas Nigellus Black's portrait coughed: "Uh oh …"
The Dining Room, Malfoy Manor (9:30 AM)
It was a silent family at the breakfast table in Malfoy Manor – a meal that was at the extreme end of what the haughty, pureblood aristocrats were used to: loaves of bread both sliced and whole, bowls of lettuce, tomatoes and onions, neatly sliced (but uncooked) ham, a pot of butter, jars of mustard, mayonnaise and pickles, cruets of olive oil and balsamic vinegar, the ubiquitous salt and pepper shakers …
In their minds, it was a meal fit only for a Weasley.
Not that any of them thought of it.
Lucius, as was custom, sat at the head of table – hair a mess, bloodshot eyes, staring vacantly at nothing as he clutched a nearly empty bottle of cognac. On his left sat Draco looking remarkably like his father: unkempt hair, reddened eyes, thousand-mile stare as he continually flicked his wand, trying in vain to coax something, anything out of it.
He may as well have been a muggle conductor trying to lead a discordant orchestra for all the good it was doing him.
It was only Narcissa who looked every inch the pureblood aristocrat she was: perfectly coiffed hair, bejewelled ears, neck and wrists, pursed lips and flaring nostrils – looking as if there was something rotten beneath her aquiline nose. Her ice-blue eyes, however, were close to that of her husband and son – unblinking, seemingly staring at nothing except for the banked fires behind them as she ruthlessly pushed down the urge to scream in frustration.
This morning was, without doubt, the most horrific of her life.
Waking up only to catch sight of that tiny, limp, INSIGNIFICANT thing was only the first shock – the thought that she now knew how Hermione Granger would feel at seeing Ronald Weasley's negligible 'assets' almost made her throw up.
Grabbing her wand and waving it around, only for a shocking realization to blast through her mind as she screamed: she could feel NO connection to her cherished wand.
Seeing her husband doing the same as he cursed, screamed and wailed while accomplishing nothing was the next blow – quickly followed by the sight of his wand hand with only his wedding band glinting in the sunlight.
His Head of House ring was missing.
It took some time before she could make the fact known to Lucius – and even more minutes for the shaking wizard (or ex-wizard) to get his brain in gear and do something about it.
"Draco," he whispered – and both were in a mad dash for their son's bedroom, bursting in without a knock or a by your leave, catching Draco with his pants literally around his ankles, fist wrapped around his bits …
He'd gawked, frozen in the middle of wanking – only to cringe as Lucius roared, "SHOW ME YOUR HANDS!" Draco could only stare, yelping as Lucius roughly grabbed his hands and pulled him up, forcing him to stand on his bed as Lucius shook his wrists, forcing him to splay his fingers –
His bare fingers, devoid of any jewellery.
"WHERE'S MY RING, YOU FOOL?"
Draco's clueless response struck Lucius dumb – he could only stand there. Draco's frightened eyes turned to his mother who was staring, glassy-eyed, at his groin which kick-started his brain and he cringed, hands trying to cover himself only for Narcissa to grab his hands and pull them away …
Revealing his baby-sized penis, looking like it had a bad case of diaper rash or over-exposure to the noonday sun –
"What happened to you?" was the ear-rending shriek from his mother. Draco looked helplessly at his father … only to gape as he realized that his father, his naked father, was displaying almost the same equipment as he had: slightly thicker, perhaps; slightly longer, perhaps but no different really than his own: teeny, miniscule, INSIGNIFICANT …
Father and son stared at each other … and simultaneously felt their eyes rolling, before they collapsed in a dead faint as the still-naked Narcissa glared, eyes shifting from her son's diminutive penis to her husband's only slightly larger one, before she charged out the room and sped to the sitting room where she threw floo powder into the fireplace, stuck her head in as she screamed, "ST. MUNGO'S!"
Before she could let go another cry for help, she felt something hitting her naked bum – and banged her head on the fireplace even as she spun around to scream at whoever it was who'd had the nerve – only to blink at the delivery owl perched on a chair, one leg with its bag for payment extended at her.
Pulling her head out the floo broke the connection; as she turned to scream at the owl, she caught a glimpse of the paper on the floor and let loose a screeching wail that sent the poor owl speeding away without waiting for payment …
Narcissa Black-Malfoy wailed as she stared at the huge front page picture of Harry Potter and Hermione Granger kissing in the Great Hall of Hogwarts, surrounded by a golden dome even as everyone around them cringed from the brightness of the light, above the single-word, six-inch, all-caps headline: "SOULMATES!"
It took every ounce of Narcissa's considerable willpower to stop from shivering as the memories played through her mind, her hands mechanically preparing a sandwich as her brain continued to spin, seeking a way out of their predicament.
She ruthlessly kept her hands away from the unopened bottle of brandy before her, keeping her mouth from sneering at the male Malfoys across her. 'Croissants,' she thought, 'beautiful and appetizing on the outside, hollow on the inside. The slightest pressure and they collapse like paper bags filled with air."
She stopped her hands from shredding the lettuce as she forced her mind back to the matter at hand: what in the nine levels of hell was she going to do?
What were they going to do?
The loss of magic was the heart of the matter … from that single irrevocable fact sprung all sorts of complications that her husband, the supreme idiot, had not factored into his 'cunning and ambitious' plan.
Who in Hades would have thought that those two were soul mates, of all things?
She shook the thought violently away – useless to ponder that, she knew. The reality was there for all to see – the loss of their magic, combined with what happened to the two males sitting with her was further proof. Magic had claimed its due for their attempt to interfere in the bond … she grimaced and started cursing to herself.
If anything, magic should be grateful to them for pushing those two bobabilicons together, she raged silently. Harry and Hermione Potter-Black (oh, how she hated seeing that name in the Prophet) should be giving THANKS TO THE MALFOYS for getting them off their arses and getting hitched!
She shook that train of thought off, knowing that it would only be a circular argument – like a kneazle chasing its tail, ending nowhere until she dropped from exhaustion.
Back to her – their – problem.
Magic was the core of their existence. It defined them, gave them their identity, their position in society and in life. Without magic, they were nothing more than muggles and – in the circles where they'd lived and moved – that was worse than being a mere squib.
Much, much worse.
Without magic, neither Lucius or Draco could head the Noble House of Malfoy – the disappearance of the ancestral ring confirmed it.
Which meant no access to the Malfoy vaults.
Not that it meant that much now … her intellectually-challenged and strategy-impaired husband had depleted their fortune, such that his reckless scheme to gain control of the Family Black and its vaults seemed, at first, second and even fifth glance, the only game in town.
For it to backfire so spectacularly … she shuddered.
At the same time, the loss of both magic and the Head of House ring meant that access to this house, the seat of the Noble House of Malfoy, was only a matter of time. It was just plain luck, she thought, that Voldemort's presence here during the year had torn down some of the old wards … otherwise, they'd be out on the street with no shelter, no clothes, no money – and no fucking future! The line of inbred fools who'd lived here for decades didn't want 'filthy muggles' contaminating their refined air … the only place muggles could 'live' here was in the dungeons.
She fought down the shakes that grabbed her – there was no way she was going to stay down there among the filth, dried blood and rats. Worse – she knew that the wards were recharging … give it a week at most and they'd be out on the street.
And that brought another problem to the fore.
Where the hell were they going to go? Without magic, they were no better off than muggles – and their 'friends' had made a career, a hobby, an avocation of hating muggles.
Sure, she thought, they could make a claim that the Dark Lord had taken his revenge on them for turning on him during the last battle … claim to all and sundry that Voldemort had stolen their magic in a fit of pique for showing that they were truly of 'the Light' … they'd get a few seconds of token sympathy before the ravening hordes tore them limb from limb.
There would be no one to protect them – for years the name Malfoy struck fear in the hearts of the unwashed masses but that was only because of their fear for the name, for their magic and wealth … all of which was now gone.
Magical Britain would fall on them like wolves. The French Malfois were not an option – they fully subscribed to Lucius' narrow-minded views and would see them as fingerlings to be devoured and spat out.
She snorted at the thought of throwing herself at the mercy of the Head of House Black, Harry Potter-Black. Sure, she'd 'helped' him fool the Dork Lord Voldemort into believing him dead – but how far would that go with the Mudblood Granger at his side? After what Granger had gone through in this very house, she somehow doubted that the girl would be magnanimous in victory.
Generous in taking revenge, maybe. Potter's better instincts – what Draco had laughingly called Potty's weaknesses – might give her a chance but it wouldn't extend to her offspring and spouse, of that she was sure.
Enough, she thought. Britain was out – magical or muggle, their 'condition' made that a risky proposition at best. The Continent was out as well – same conditions apply.
Elsewhere … She paused, eyes narrowed as her brain finally quit its cycle of despair and synapses started firing smoothly once again.
A/N. One more chappie to go, and it's a wrap. Hopefully, won't take long!