You're all used to 2 chapters a day by now, so I haven't broken up the chapters from now on. Which should also eliminate the problem of strangeness happening to marked text…..this is the shortest book, less than70k words so not really a full novel…. It introduces some themes that will become important
Vernon Dursely was flattered to get an invitation from the owner of Grunnings Drills, for which company he was a director. An important man, but still not as important as the owner.
The owner was not a Grunning any more; he had married the daughter of the last Grunning and his name was Brian Clintock. He and his wife Laura were amicably not divorced and were reputed to run the most marvellous dinner parties. And Brian Clintock had invited Vernon and his wife and son to dinner.
Vernon was delighted. He was always terrified that his social superiors might find out about his nephew Harry Potter and his connection with ….THOSE people. Vernon loathed and feared magic and wizards and was not best pleased with Dudley for having decided – without even asking permission – to go swanning off with Harry to kill that Lord Thingey who had been so remiss as to fail to kill Harry when Harry was a baby.
Dudley was less excited about a dinner party than either of his parents; he thought it would probably be boring. Dudley had only ever been to one dinner party, but that had been at the house of his wizard friend Draco Malfoy, and they had been served food by house elves, whisking plates around by magic. Still, at least Draco had taught him what knives to use!
Vernon was worried.
"He's so posh, he's bound to have a load of cutlery" he grumbled "What if we use the wrong ones?"
"Oh that's easy, dad" said Dudley "You start at the outside and work inward."
"And how would you know that?"
"Draco told me…" he tailed off as Vernon went purple.
"Don't you dare let me down by talking about those types!" he yelped.
"Somehow I don't think the subject will arise" said Dudley trying hard to sound as urbane as Draco and wishing he didn't always feel that he had failed so miserably.
He was anxiously contemplating whether the rules of posh wizards like the Malfoys were the same as those of everyone else or whether they did things differently just to be perverse; which he'd not at all put past THEIR sort!
"You go to the library and find a book of etiquette and find out how normal folk do it" he ordered Dudley. Dudley sighed but did as he was told; and reported back.
"Like I said, dad, start at the outside and work inward" he told Vernon. Dudley felt sure that if his dad's boss actually cared all they much it was going to be a REALLY dull party and wished he could find a subsequent engagement! That however would really irritate his father; and Dudley knew that there were times not to make a scene!
When they drove up the crisp gravel drive to Brian Clintock's big Victorian redbrick mansion, Dudley stiffened.
There were of course more than one silver grey vintage Rolls Royce in the country; but there could only be one that had the numberplate LUC1US. And he peered to make sure this one did.
Maybe this dinner party was going to be less boring than he had thought.
Brian Clintock and his wife greeted the Dursleys warmly.
"Do you know Lucius Malfoy, Dursley?" asked Clintock "He has shares in the company…and his boy is head boy at the school my little girl is going to next term. I believe you've a nephew there yourself?"
Vernon went purple and the tic in his forehead started.
"Dursley and I haven't met" drawled Lucius Malfoy "But his boy and mine are good friends… well, Dudley my lad, how are you? Going into the business with your father?"
"I- I'm fine sir" said Dudley, grinning and meaning it "No, drills hold very little fascination for me I fear… I thought about the army, but…well, with what I know about…"
Lucius nodded gravely.
"You're not bad with cars I believe?" he said.
"I like cars… I don't know a lot" admitted Dudley.
"Well, if I sponsored you through a mechanics course would you be a second driver and mechanic under Jark for me?" asked Lucius "I could use your insights too in your world… I liked your broadcast on the wireless. Very moving, very telling."
Dudley flushed with pleasure.
"I'd really like that!" he said. "You've some excellent vintage cars – I love the E-type Jag, and I had to look up the Hirondelle on the Internet!"
"Draco wants to paint it red and cream to resemble the car of a fictional character called The Saint and get an appropriate number plate…..Good, that's settled…you said something Dursley?" he addressed Vernon.
"I don't want my son working for your types!" yelped Vernon. This was terrible; this Malfoy character wasn't even dressed in a proper suit but some floor length black velvet dressing gown!
Narcissa looked down her nose.
"What a strange little man your father is, Dudley" she said.
"He's afraid of – you know, what you are" said Dudley tersely "It makes him snippy."
"What – what a beautiful dress gown Madam Malfoy" said Petunia, trying to turn the subject. Narcissa smiled. The overall dark gold of her velvet silken gown suited her honey gold locks very well; and it was a figured velvet with the different heights of the pile seeming almost to be two different colours, contrasted with tiny blue flowers where the swags indicated in the figuring met. The same blue was a narrow piping at every hem.
"Why thank you Madam Dursley. Have you met Charlotte? My husband's mistress" she indicated the redhead. "She's a muggle like you, we find so much to talk about in comparing worlds; I expect you and your sister had conversations as interesting."
Petunia gave a strained, non-committal smile. She and Lily had mostly argued after Lily went to Hogwarts.
Charlotte smiled happily. She was visibly pregnant. Her gown was in the same blue silk velvet as Narcissa's flowers with a brocaded stripe of gold and cream velvet in it, very narrow, very subtle, and a hint of real gold thread.
"Its so nice that young Tamsin will be going to Hogwarts while Draco is still there" Charlotte said "He can keep her out of too much mischief I hope! My Erica won't be starting for a number of years, but out niece Julia will be starting next year…there have always been Malfoys at Hogwarts I think!"
"Er, so I believe" said Petunia "Where is Draco?"
"Oh he's upstairs playing exploding snap with the children…we brought Erica and Nathan" said Lucius. "He'll be down presently. The children will have their tea separately of course."
Dudley half wished he and Draco might be banished to a nursery tea too and play exploding snap.
"It's a fun game" he said. "I'm glad Draco taught me to play it!"
"Well we grown ups do sometimes pretend to despise such childishness, but when it's our children – or siblings – we soon forget our dignity and have uproarious fun with them, isn't that so?" he beamed around the assembled company.
"Oh definitely" said Brian Clintock "Tamsin keeps Laura and me young."
"When she isn't giving us grey hairs" laughed Laura "I confess, the first time she turned her hair blue to avoid going to the hairdresser I was a bit taken aback – I expect you were a lot more laid back with Harry, weren't you, knowing how it had already been with Lily?"
"NO!" said Vernon "The boy is an abomination!"
There was a shocked silence.
"DAD!" said Dudley shocked "When he's saved us all from being enslaved and tortured by Voldemort and his deatheaters, how can you say that?"
"I don't want to talk about it" said Vernon "please" he added hastily as he felt all eyes disapprovingly on him. This was terrible! He did his best to conceal Hary and his links to those kind from what he had always thought of as decent folk – his boss – and now Mr Clintock was acting as though these awful Malfoys were perfectly normal and that Harry was a fit subject for conversation. Did Clintock not realise what awful people these were?.
There was an embarrassed silence.
"Of course, old man, very modest of you" said Lucius "Always hard to be the parent figure of a hero….being the father of one hero and uncle of another, I guess it must be difficult at times and here we are forcing it on you! Tell me, are you interested in opera?" he began to talk about some opera singer Vernon had never heard of – and cared less about – but at least it was a change of subject.
Draco came lightly into the room, every inch a young aristocrat. His face lit up.
"Big D! I am glad you could come, I wanted to ask you if you could come to see a Quidditch match with me…there are muggle repelling spells, but I can get you through them, you'll love it!"
"Uh, yeah, if I'm not doing anything, I'd like that" said Dudley "Are you making up a party?"
"No, but I expect we'll run into most of the old crowd" said Draco "David's keen to go I know, he wants to train to be a referee."
Vernon pointedly ignored the conversation and remarked loudly that he didn't know about Pavarotti but he liked a nice musical himself.
It would have been embarrassing for Dudley had he not been deep in a conversation about the rival merits of various teams. Draco had explained Quidditch when Dudley had stayed, shown him some broom moves; and loaned him a copy of 'Quidditch through the ages' by Kennilworthy Whisp, pointing out that you did not have to play to enjoy the game.
Dudley was fascinated; in truth he had become as fascinated by all aspects of the wizarding world as he had been previously opposed to knowing anything about it. And part of him hoped that this meeting with the Malfoys in a social setting his father had hitherto considered suitable might help his father feel the same way.
He was doomed to disappointment. Vernon grumbled the whole way home about Mr Clintock being taken in by Those Types and hoping he would not regret the rash and foolish step to send his only daughter to That Place.
And when Dudley murmured that he would have loved to have had enough talent himself to go to Hogwarts they almost crashed when his father literally rounded on him in the back seat and told him to shut up and not make a fool of himself over what he knew nothing about.
Dudley, to avoid being killed by dangerous driving, decided to say nothing about the fact that actually he knew a sight more about such things than a blinkered father who refused to know; and merely sighed gently. Petunia turned and gave him a sympathetic smile. Her own jealousy had turned her against the wizarding world; but Dudley was her whole world, and if he had wished to go to Hogwarts too, her heart wrung in sympathy. She knew how he felt.
Dudley subsequently escaped to meet Draco via the Loo network and went via Myrtle's loo to Mansion Malfoy's broom cupboard. He enjoyed his first Quidditch match, the Falmouth Falcons playing the Appleby Arrows; and Draco told him that he would see if he could get him an invite to the round Robin match between Durmstrang, Beauxbatons and Hogwarts if it was rescheduled.
"First we had Dumbledore's supposed death, then we got rather busy with Voldemort; and somehow it seemed a little superfluous to play Quidditch after that" he said "If we go ahead it'll be fun; Harry's our seeker and Krait and I are playing as chasers."
"I'd like that" said Dudley. He was however a little preoccupied.
"What's wrong?" asked Draco "Anything I can do?"
"I don't know… I have this problem…"
"No, not really… though my father will hit the roof when he finds out…"
"No! No, not at all; if I was I shouldn't have the problem…there's this girl, she's the school bike."
"The school bike….in that everyone rides her. You'd say broom I suppose."
"If a girl acted like that at school she'd be expelled from Hogwarts in short order…Krait only got kept because of her special circumstances when she got pregnant by Severus; and Molly and Arthur had to elope, you know. But it was only ever one man for each of them…ah. You got her pregnant?"
"And she'll be a rotten mother…she drinks and smokes pot and she has an awful family…."
"And so you think you ought to take the baby from her and apply for custody and you're not sure how your parents will take it?"
"That's the least of my worries….courts almost never give custody to fathers, you know."
"What if she signs the baby over to your care?"
"Well, that would be different, but…"
"Leave it to me" said Draco "What's her name?"
"What a name!" laughed Draco.
"Not as bad as Nymphadora Tonks!" protested Dudley.
"Fair point" he conceded. "Leave it in my hands."
And Dudley felt immensely comforted.
Draco planned to confund the girl of course; or even use the Imperius curse. The child had a high chance of being magical and he had no intention of leaving the poor babe in the hands of a woman who sounded quite awful! Besides, the child was the blood of Harry's blood; and that was significant.
Dudley and Draco were not the only ones having full holidays. David, who lived at Hogwarts, had been getting to know better the daughter of the Police Sergeant at the nearest muggle village, Camburnath, since she was due to start Hogwarts in September. Her father, Archie Trumball, was remarkably laid back about it, having always had a tradition – albeit laughingly mentioned – of witches in the family. By their pale blonde looks David reckoned it was more likely wizards than witches, Malfoy boys on the razzle. Archie was eager to hear all about the wizarding world and what it would mean for his little girl; he had already got to know David and was glad to renew the acquaintance.
David unofficially showed Alice over the castle, and introduced her to Hagrid, who fascinated Alice! It was while they were feeding the pumpkins on Hagrid's special fertiliser – and Hagrid was surreptitiously using the engorgio charm – when the sound of running feet came across the moor.
Hagrid's instincts were to pull them into cover.
The muggle, running and limping, made for what he perceived as the ruins of some old castle; and sank into the lee of a wall. He was bleeding.
"We should help him" said David.
"Ar, even if on'y ter git rid of him" said Hagrid.
They went over.
The man yelped in fear and pulled a gun.
"What?" said David "Whatever's that for? You'd pull a gun on two children and an unarmed man?"
"You be careful, see?" said the man "I won't hesitate to shoot. I need help…food, water, bandages. You live in these parts?"
"Ar, I be keeper here"growled Hagrid "I gotta cottage. And I ain't takin' in no critter what'll point a weapon at two young ones."
"You'll bring me food, and bandages if you know what's good for you – and them!" sneered the man, though his face was contorted in pain.
Hagrid raised his pink umbrella.
"Stupefy" he said casually.
The man slumped unconscious.
"Ar, you'll have to tie him up with ropes, David lad 'cos I can't remember the spell to do it" said Hagrid, scratching his head noisily.
"Not a problem" said David, running for ropes. Naturally Hagrid's ropes were made of unicorn hair, from tail combings; a thought that would have led Horace Slughorn to moan with horror at the 'waste' of such valuable resources. Hagrid sold spare unicorn hair to Wendy Malfoy, who might be a muggle but nevertheless happily embraced the world of her husband's family!
Once the man was securely tied, David and Alice went across the moor to find Archie. They walked; though David was hoping to work with Archie to set up a bothy outside the village where brooms might be left for greater convenience for those who had friends in the village.
Archie Trumball was delighted to have the man in custody; the spell had worn off by the time the sergeant had driven his police land rover across the moor and scowled through the gag Hagrid had added to David's efficient bonds since he did not like the language issuing from the captive's mouth.
"Ay iphm, ah've nae doot but this is one Dougie Macpherson" said that worthy "He's wanted in connection wi' a bank robbery mind, but it seems there was a squabble over the diveesion of the loot. We hae his friends in custody in Glasgae and he'll no' be lang in joining them. Ye shouldnae have tackled him."
"Och, we didnae" said Alice "It was Hagrid, he cast a spell tae send him tae sleep."
"Weel, it's a very useful thing then" said Archie. "I'll tell him he angered yon keeper and wis slugged on the chin, I'm thinking, for he'll no need the truth."
Muggles tended to believe what they wanted to believe; and it was a well known fact that a loss of consciousness could cause some memory loss. Macpherson did not even need to have his memory tampered with – which was just as well since it was rather a delicate business that was probably beyond Hagrid – and would recall the big man lifting his umbrella and would rationalise that he had been hit with the handle of it.
David had every intention of accompanying Alice to Diagon Alley for her kit; Archie was grateful for he could not easily leave his post and Alice's mother lived with her boyfriend – a higher ranking policeman – in Glasgow, and was not likely, Alice said to accept her daughter's abilities, speaking with her delightful soft lilt, more received English than her father's broad brogue but with an attractive highland lilt.
"Mummy and her boyfriend are awfu' townies" she said "And she'd no want me underfoot, she's said so often enough. He's a superintendent and he doesn't like children."
David sniffed. He had no time for women who had children and then did not want to bother with them. He had been very much wanted by his parents, dead some years since in a car crash caused by a drunk driver, together with his little sister who would have been Alice's age.
And she would have plenty of friends to start the new year with; he was meeting up with various friends and their pet protégés, of whom Tamsin Clintock was only one.
With the arrival last year of Ed Dinalt, looking like another miniature Severus like Bil Prince, Severus and Krait had been looking into the boy's background. Ed was adopted, and it turned out he was in fact Bil's half brother, the child of Crassus Prince and a witch who had no desire to be a single mother. Severus, probing, uncovered several other illegitimate Prince children, including several who had muggle mothers. Crassus Prince seemed fond of seducing then leaving muggle women; the one he had married, Bil's mother, was the one Severus suspected him of murdering. One of the mothers was a supposedly muggle born witch, whose colouring was such that Severus thought her likely to have been a half sister of the infamous Jonathon Malfoy whose predilections for using women was like enough to Crassus Prince's. The final younger child he found had been the child of a squib, flattered up by Crassus when he met her out with her wizard brother. Her brother Anthony had made unpleasant jokes about Prince, how he resembled Professor Snape; and the poor girl had made the mistake of assuming anyone who resembled someone her brother disliked couldn't be all bad. Severus promptly offered Hilary Arbuckle a job helping out in his extensive nursery while her son grew up alongside his cousins. The other three had jobs; the Malfoy woman was an archivist, and Severus directed Lucius' attention to her to employ on the Malfoy family records; the muggle women were successful career women, one in insurance, and the mother of the oldest, due to start Hogwarts next term, was a journalist covering wildlife stories. Her son Callum was an engaging child with auburn hair and blue-grey eyes and who sported a slight humped back. He spent much of his leisure time drawing the fairies he could see quite plainly in the garden. A trip to St Mungo's sorted out his back, and he too would meet up the others in Diagon alley
There were older ones too, Severus supected; but making sure his little cousin Callum was prepared for school was the main thing at the moment. He was also working on getting custody of Bil's new half brother, born to her father's new witch wife, the one who had treated the little girl so badly.
Ron Weasley – rather reluctantly – was to see a new in-law onto the train.
Molly and Arthur had surpassed themselves in the preparations for the wedding of their son Bill to the veela, Fleur Delacourt; with Krait's intervention, Molly and Fleur had become close friends, especially since Bill had become badly scarred in a battle with a Ministry Deatheater who had used sectumsempra and lost him his ear and much of his good looks. Bill had refused to let the Blood Group heal his scars, but wore them proudly, for Fleur loved him anyway and Molly began to love Fleur for that. Everyone had gone to the wedding, and Madame and Monsiur Delacourt had declared that their younger daughter wanted to go to a school so full of valiant people, where wonderful Harry Potter was. As Harry had rescued her during the triwizard contest she had more excuse for her hero worship then most.
The other child that members of the Kindred had been asked to keep an eye on was another goblin child; a little girl called Garjala. Kinat had been asked to look out for her by her father, Golgo the Goblin activist, whom Kinat's father had described as 'all squeak and no trousers'. Kinat faintly despised the man for not sticking to his principles that wizarding values were no good; but Kinat's father insisted that you had to credit any parent for wanting the best for his own children. Kinat had nothing against Garjala herself; she was, he said, out of the common mould and a good sport besides; so he agreed.
This would be five new children the Kindred knew
"And quite as likely to get into trouble as any of the marauders past and present" said Krait, chatting with friends at the wedding. She had been passing around her new baby son, who had arrived late and on Harry's birthday; and having been connected to her by Blood at the time of the Battle had also got the lightning scar all the Blood Group shared. Harry was his godfather, naturally! Small Richard Harry had a tuft of black hair and was born, like his sister, a snake animagus. Lilith, at two years old, was busy bossing him. Richard beamed his baby smile upon the world and ignored her.
"Wagers on houses for the new ones anyone?" said Ron lazily.
"Oh not wagers… guesses maybe" said Krait as Hermione opened an indignant mouth. "We've a Prince who should be Slytherin; David's little friend will likely be Gryffindor or Hufflepuff; likewise the Clintock child. Gabrielle may well be Ravenclaw, veela being vain; and Garjala will probably be a Gryff because she's supposed to be mischievous and impulsive with a generous streak wide enough to make most goblins deeply suspicious of her."
"They'll be in whatever house the hat puts them" said Harry, lazily "And it'll doubtless be appropriate. And I'd not be too sure about the Prince boy; he has no preconceived ideas, and Sev mentioned to me that Albus wondered if hatting is doe too soon. I think he meant that Sev could have been Gryff; he's brave enough."
"Really, Harry, there's no need to insult my husband!" laughed Krait "Implying he might have been as beef-witted as the rest of you!"
"Oy" said Ron.
Hermione opened her mouth indignantly then shut it laughing.
"I always like to make Hermie rise" said Krait, cheerfully.
"Well, that's fine behaviour I must say for a junior professor, Madam Snape" said Hermione.
"Your point…I'll be Madam Malfoy, I think; no point having two Professors Snape on the staff" said Krait.
"He's really going to teach Chanting as an elective now?" asked Harry.
"Yes; to seniors. It's why I'm teaching potions to first and second years to free up some time for him."
"Horace Slughorn's not staying on?"
"Meh, he only took the job to be safe while Voldemort was out there…and hid when the battle started" said Krait scornfully.
"Is Padfoot teaching DADA again?" asked Ron.
"No, he's teaching geomancy fairly full time; we've got Alastor Moody back for a term or two, then Remus Lupin as a permanent replacement but he wants to do some work helping other werewolves before immuring himself in the world of academe" said Krait.
Krait was happy to be a part time staff member properly; it enabled her to keep an eye on the newly-returning Abigail Greengrasse, who had birthed Krait's half brother Salazar whilst in a sleep induced by Severus to protect her from her erstwhile boyfriend, Tom Riddle otherwise known as Voldemort. She had awoken on cue to the key phrase 'Voldemort is dead' and had been aghast to find out that she was a mother. Krait was easing her into getting to know Salazar; but as the girl had missed so much schooling – and had not aged in any case – she was to repeat her OWL year, putting her a year below her younger sister Emmeline; and then go on should she so wish to do NEWTS while Krait continued to care for Salazar. Krait did not mind; she adored her little brother, who was of an age with her own daughter Lilith. Even as the half house elf half sister to them both was only a few months older than Richard. Krait loved children; and loved as derly as her own two their adopted sons and daughters, Erich, Grace, Romulus, Jade and Lydia, and also the children of Severus' house elven second wife Sirri, one of Krait's dearest friends; Sirri's children Mimi and Sevvy were dear to her as would be the child Sirri was expecting by Severus.
Life was full for Krait; and very happy!