Hey! Merry Christmas! Have an update! It's been forever, but I'm trying to make up for it. So now Aries's team got into some trouble, more conspiracies, a little kickass Madame Maxine, and a Gabrielle/Rue bonding moment. What more could you really want for Christmas? Hope you enjoy! Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter. I am fortunate enough to own a computer though. Onto review responses!

regfurby: I don't hate Sirius, but he's not really going to come off wonderfully in this story either. I'm trying not to do any bashing because that would be too easy. Dumbledore will suffer in time, but I haven't gotten there yet. Gabrielle is in 7th year for Aries, and I did mention it in the very beginning. Aries doesn't really have a plan for revenge, but you can bet someone else does.

digbygreen: Easier said than done, I'm afraid. The flash-backs do take you out of the story a bit, but I think they add something huge to the plot. I will say for certain that Lena is not Sirius's daughter, but I want him to think she could possibly be. The suicide is more complicated than it seems…

Xavras: I wish I could update more frequently, but I don't have enough time. I do use a spell-check, but a beta would make my updates even more infrequent. I try to get these chapters up as fast as possible, and that might mean grammar mistakes. Take it or leave it. Aries's relationship with Gabrielle is something I want to explore more, but it's not at the center of the plot. There will be a little more development this chapter. Aries would've liked to confront Dumbledore, but he is also at the Tournament for a reason, and he can't afford a fight with Dumbledore. Besides, I think Rue's threat would be much more efficient (not to mention scary). Sirius and Lily are the ones picking up the similarities between Zana and Aries because they were the ones closer to her. James knows Zana, but not to the extent that his wife and best friend do. His relationship to her really only exists through them. I actually have no Greek in my background at all, but I have done a bit of research to make sure that stuff is accurate. Thanks for your long (and very awesomely detailed) reviews! Hope I cleared up some stuff.

overbooked: There is a major conspiracy going on, though I won't give you much detail. Many people seem to want me to have the Potters be Imperuised or Confounded, but I think that's a cheap way out. Some say, "Well, good loving parents wouldn't just ditch their kid like that". I disagree. During World War II, English parents sent their children away to the countryside to avoid the bombings. Communication was probably difficult. Did that mean those parents didn't love their kids? No. I view the Potters in the same way. They were coming out of what is their equivalent to a World War. Their baby son just defeated the greatest Dark Lord of all time, but his followers are still at large. A leader everyone trusts gives them an option that will keep their son away from all of that. Lily and James are Order members and James an Auror. They can't really just go and hide with Harry. No, who really deserves the blame is Dumbledore. He's just a manipulative old bastard. Sorry, I just ranted a little bit there but it's something I've seen in multiple reviews and wanted to clear up.

Dee3: She does on some level, but she also knows the timeline is wrong. Lena is six years old, and none of them have seen Zana in eleven years. That would make Sirius being Lena's father a tad bit difficult.

Anon: I may take a while, but my stories never die. Add me to your story alert so that misfortune does not happen to you again. *winks*

M3X1CAN N1NJA: Thanks! The only reason the last chapter ended where it did was that I wanted to post an update that night even though I could've kept going. Honestly, I have to do a reread of my previous chapters almost everytime I update so I suggest you just skim them like I do.

RebeliousOne: That's true. In response to the Potters, see my previous response to overbooked. There will be punishments for those who deserve them, however.

Kairan1979: Yes, I do keep killing off Aries's loved ones, but I do it for the same reason J.K. Rowling killed off basically all of Harry's father figures: to make him self-reliant. Lily and James were blind, and there will be some form of punishment, but I do not see them as evil (see response to overbooked). They had good intentions in wanting their son to be safe. They just were misguided. Dumbledore, on the other hand, is going down.

Cooper: It's interesting you like Rue so much. I always thought of as that person only Aries and I would like. I never planned on that pairing because 1) I hate OC pairings most of the time because then you have to develop the OC very well and etc., 2) Rue has been badly hurt in her life by a man. I don't think she'll ever truly be comfortable in a romantic relationship, and 3) Rue and Aries have a very sibling like relationship.

adenoide: Again, see response to overbooked. Lily did give up her son, but she never claimed to stop loving him. She does have two other kids, but they are not replacements for the one she has lost. Losing Zana did hurt her kids, but there is more going on there than you know. You'll just have to wait and see who Aries's boss is.

ImmortalMyrddin: See response to overbooked.

Gruffard: Thanks! It always said in canon that Lily was an exceptionally bright witch so I tried to infuse that into the character.

FreelanceBum: See response to overbooked. Well, if you marked it on alert, that means you're interested at the very least. That's good.

Aries sent Lena home that afternoon and soon after received a summons. Ignoring Gabrielle's concerned gaze, he ducked out of his Transfiguration class and found his team waiting for him in the hallway. Tapping his wand to his tattoo, the team of five was whisked off to some unknown location.

Gabrielle wasn't too worried initially. Aries had been summoned during class before. She wasn't sure how he was able to maintain good grades, but the point was he always came back before too long and didn't ever seem hurt. When there was no sign of Aries by dinner, however, she got worried.

Jacques did his best to reassure Gabrielle and a frantic Iris, but it was obvious that he was worried too. Toward the end of the meal there was a crash in the Great Hall, and everyone looked up to see Aries and some unknown people trying to get up.

Things did not look good. The scary girl, Rue, was digging through a bag for something while the brown-haired girl was putting pressure on the brown-haired boy's chest wound. The Japanese boy was trying to keep off his right ankle, and Aries had a splotch of red showing through his t-shirt.

"Rue, do something!" the brown-haired girl said panickedly.

Rue continued looking through her bag. "Em, I'm doing the best I can, but I don't think I have anything that can heal that. I can give him a Blood-Replenishing potion and hope he doesn't bleed out."

Aries pinched his nose, trying to think. "What language was the curse in?"

"Russian, I think," the Japanese boy responded.

"Excellent," Aries grinned. He said something in Russian, and then the wound closed immediately. Emma looked at Aries in amazement. Rue rolled her eyes.

"How did you…?"

"I guessed. Can you set Mu's ankle?" Emma nodded, moving to help Isamu. Rue turned to Aries.

"Shirt off," she ordered. Aries raised an eyebrow.

"For a little cut?" he teased.

Rue narrowed her eyes. "That little cut made a great slash on your shoulder. Shirt off now." Aries went to open his mouth, but Rue cut him off. "And hold the sexual innuendo please."

"You're no fun," he grumbled, pulling his shirt off. She focused on healing his shoulder, but everyone else was just staring at Aries. His chest was well-muscled and defined, catching the eyes of many girls much to Gabrielle's ire, but that was not what the majority of the people were staring at. No, all eyes were on Aries's tattoos. On his left shoulder was a detailed sailboat with a name and date etched in Greek on the sail. Right above his heart and going down were lines of music. The most eye-catching of his tattoos, however, were the bold letters inked across his back, proclaiming: What doesn't kill you makes you stronger.

Rue raised an eyebrow. "Haven't seen Tinte yet this year?"

Aries shook his head. "Not sure what I want yet."

Iris, having gathered her thoughts since her cousin came popping in, said, "Yia-Yia is going to kill you if you get any more tattoos."

Aries smirked. "Not unless I give her my puppy eyes and explain that my tattoos are a way to express myself."

Iris pouted. "No fair! You get tattoos; Yia-Yia gets a little upset and then gets over it in a heartbeat. I even mention getting a tattoo; she has a hemorrhage."

Aries shrugged. "I'm the sad pathetic grandchild, 'Ris. It works in my favor sometimes."

Aries's team, also never having really looked at their boss's tattoos, were fascinated. "Aries, what do the notes stand for?" Emma asked, having little skill in reading music. She could read enough to tell it was something on the piano, but that was about it.

Aries smiled sadly. "It was my mom's favorite sonata. Franz Liszt's

Piano Sonata in B. Minor. She took me to see it performed once."

"Was that what you played at the funeral?" Rue asked uncharacteristically softly.

Aries shook his head. "No, Liszt's stuff is nearly impossible to play. I wrote that piece."

There was silence for a moment, and then Emma asked, "What was your mom like?" Aries and Rue had really started working for their boss after Aries's mom died. The team had been assigned to them in pieces a year later. Aries was still an enigma to them.

Aries stared at her. For a moment, Rue thought he was going to hex Emma, but then he turned away. "Like a roller coaster," he finally said. "My mom was like a roller coaster, up and down constantly. When she was up, everyone loved her. Every city we lived in, some guy would propose to her. We would just go on these adventures all the time. There was never a plan. One time, we were supposed to go to a party, and we ran into a group of gypsies. My mom charmed them, and they invited us to lunch. Next thing you know, we're in a different city. Five hours later, we show up at the party. Almost everyone had left."

Gabrielle laughed, remembering that day. "It was my ninth birthday," she said. "I was so mad that you didn't show up, and just as I was about to help Maman put away the leftover cake, you and Zana popped into our background. You were wearing an eye-patch, and Zana had a beautiful scarf tying her hair back. I opened my mouth to yell, but you were both smiling, and you had all these beautiful things to look at."

Aries smiled. "That was the only way I figured you'd forgive us," he teased. Gabrielle stuck her tongue out at him. Jacques rolled his eyes.

"And when she was down?" Emma asked gently, sensing a bruise there.

Aries' eyes darkened. "Mostly she locked herself in her room and wouldn't come out. She wouldn't eat or sleep. I'd have to ride those days out. Usually, she would snap out of it fast, but sometimes she didn't. She got better after Lena was born, but she still had bad days. One week, she didn't come out of her room for a week. The only thing we had in the house was peanut butter. Lena and I had eight distinctive meals made from peanut butter before the Delacours found out and invited us to dinner."

"How did you know?" Isamu asked, curiosity aroused. "When it was a bad day, I mean?" He winced as Emma wrapped up his ankle extra tightly, her silent way of reprimanding him for the tactless question.

Aries shrugged his shoulders, annoying Rue who was trying to patch him up. "I listened for the music." Upon seeing quizzical looks from all but Rue, he explained. "Good or bad days, my mom always played the piano. If it was a good day, she'd play themes for movie scores or just listen to the radio and play what she heard. We have a grand piano in the living room, and whenever she was in a good mood I'd join her there, and we'd make up our own melodies. On the bad days, she'd lock herself in her room and play on the portable piano. They were either old Greek lullabies or her original compositions."

Rue murmured a spell at the cut, causing Aries to hiss in pain. "That piano has seen better days," she added absentmindedly, now starting to wrap Aries's shoulder. "Then again, that's what happens when you take a sledgehammer to it."

Aries's face reddened slightly. "You could've stopped me. I was drunk, after all."

Rue shook her head. "No, I couldn't. You wanted to do that, drunk or sober. Drunk just made you braver."

Aries said nothing in reply. Most people seemed shock at Aries taking a sledgehammer to his piano, but few really understood the significance of the gesture. Even Jacques looked a bit lost. Gabrielle and Iris understood. Aries had worshipped that piano like Iris's Yia-Yia worshiped God. It was the one thing he loved more than anything. It had been in the Kalgarias family for generations and had been passed on to Zana when her parents died. Aries had learned how to play on that piano, had composed his first piece on that piano. To utterly destroy it like he had was his way of turning his back on music.

Rue finished wrapping Aries's shoulder. "Okay, you can put your shirt back on now," she said. "Wouldn't want your little Veela girlfriend to start throwing fireballs, would we?" Gabrielle blushed fiercely while Jacques chuckled silently, wincing when Iris kicked him painfully.

Aries winked at Gabrielle before carefully putting on his shirt. He assessed the rest of his team. Isamu's ankle's had been set, and other than a few minor cuts and bruises he was fine. Marsaille had gained a little more awareness after downing a Blood Replenishing potion, though Emma was still mending the three fingers that had been jammed. He himself had received the bad shoulder gash and a possible fractured wrist (though he'd sooner drink blood than mention it to Rue). Both the girls had been fine, but considering the three guys had entered first that wasn't surprising. It was clear to him now. This had been a trap.

"Anyone want to address the elephant in the room?" Aries asked theoretically.

By now, students had begun to make their way out of the Great Hall, leaving only a handful of people left. Gabrielle and Iris remained, concerned about Aries, and Dumbledore and a few of the professors (including Lily Potter) were present as well as Madame Maxine.

"Gee, Aries, I know Mar's getting a little flabby, but that doesn't mean…" Isamu jested, a smirk on his face.

"Fuck you, Mu!" said Mar raspily. "Just because I don't have abs on abs that girls want to lick like Aries does not mean I'm getting flabby. I have a girlfriend. What's the last date you went on?"

Before the squabble could further escalate, Rue cut in. "I think Aries was referring to the fact that we were set up tonight."

"But by who?" Mar asked. "Not many people have access to our operations, and those who do wouldn't want to risk them. That would cost them money and manpower."

Aries shrugged. "Could be a test," he suggested. "To see if we're ready for the next level," he clarified upon seeing his team's confused faces.

Emma looked horrified. "But everyone's contracts are up when the year is over," she exclaimed. "Why would they need to test us?"

Aries and Rue shared a look. "Not everyone's," Rue said.

Isamu raised an eyebrow. "What do you mean not everyone's?" he demanded.

"Rue and I still have time left, time that will be excused if I win the Triwizard Tournament," Aries explained, eliciting interest from the professors in the room.

Mar's brow furrowed. "But why?" he questioned. "What does it matter to the boss if you win the tournament?"

"No idea," Aries replied. "Bastard didn't make it easy either. I have to win all three tasks, not just the tournament overall."

Dumbledore, unable to resist any longer, put on his grandfatherly persona and asked, "My dear boy, may I ask what agency contracts young people such as yourself for services and what do they entail?"

"You can ask," Aries responded. "That doesn't mean you'll get an answer."

"Young man," McGonagall tried to scold, seeing the refusal to answer the headmaster's question as but the effort failed when Aries spoke yet again.

"Sir, my team and I are all of age and not currently enrolled in your school. As such, you have no authority or grounds to ask such questions. Ma'am, I am not a student of this school, and while I will be as polite as circumstances let me be, I will not obediently bow to the whim of an old man everyone in this country seems to revere."

Dumbledore and the Hogwarts professors were stunned while Madame Maxine just smiled triumphantly. From there, she took over.

"Dumbledore, it has been a long night for my student and his friends. Apparation or Portkey seems unwise with so many injuries, don't you think?" Madame Maxine noted coolly, her heavy French accent enhancing the coldness of her words,

"They can use my fireplace," offered Lily Potter, eliciting an icy glare from the headmaster. Much to her surprise, Aries flashed her a grateful smile before turning back to Rue. She gestured for the team to follow her. Only Rue stayed behind.

"We need to talk to Henri," she declared. "He'll have more information."
Aries shook his head. "No way he's home this late," he argued. He paused for a moment before suggesting, "Why don't you just stay the night, and we'll talk to him in the morning?" Aries turned to his headmistress. "If that is alright with you, Headmistress?"

Madame Maxine hesitated. She had no objection to this girl staying the night, but she did not want rumors of anything improper floating around. As if reading her mind, Gabrielle spoke up. "She can stay in my room, Madame."

Madame Maxine smiled. "That will do, Ms. Delacour. Now you girls get to bed, and Mr. Kalgarias, please escort your cousin back to her ship." Her students immediately did as she said, causing looks of awe from the Hogwarts staff and frustration from Dumbledore. She smirked slightly at the older headmaster before leaving.

Hagrid could only watch in admiration as the Beauxbaton headmistress left the room. He had always said Dumbledore was a great man and still believed that to be true, but Madame Maxine was one hell of a woman. He'd need to step up his game if he was to stay with her. Hmm, maybe one of her students could help give him a makeover…

Gabrielle lead Rue to her room, neither girl saying a word. Rue liked the silence, its familiarity, and Gabrielle was intimidated enough by the girl to not talk unless spoken to. Truthfully, she had only volunteered her room because this was Aries's friend. That had been enough for her.

Unlike many, Gabrielle did not have a roommate, though the room thankfully did have two beds. As a part-Veela, she did not have many female friends, and most of her classmates preferred to have three girls to a room rather than share with her. Her only real friends were Aries, Jacques, and recently Iris. It was refreshing to talk and socialize with a girl who was not jealous of her looks or heritage. Then again, Iris was so stunning in her own right that it would be redundant for her to be jealous of Gabrielle.

The two girls got ready for bed in silence, though the young part-Veela did receive a nod of thanks when she set out a clean pair of pajamas for the dark-haired girl. Rue slipped out of her all-black clothing. Gabrielle, who had glanced back at the girl to see if the pajamas fit, couldn't help but gasp. There were faded strap marks and scars of other horrible things littered across her back in addition to the gruesome scars on her face.

"What are those from?" Gabrielle blurted out, her horror evident. The only person who had nearly as many or more marks on his body was Aries, and she knew how horrible his childhood had been before Zana.

Rue threw the nightgown over her head. "My father had an affair with a half-blood that wasn't his wife. When I was born, the Lady Macnair was furious. I was raised in the Macnair manor for two years until she decided my uncle was too lonely. I was given to him." Rue finally looked Gabrielle in the eyes, and she was shocked by the deadened look to the icy blue orbs. "My uncle was not a good man. He raped me every day from the day I turned three until I was six."

Gabrielle was shocked not only by the story but by the matter of fact way Rue had told it. She reached out and touched Rue's shoulder, shocking the girl. "I'm sorry," she said sincerely.

Rue looked at her, her icy eyes confused. "Thank you," she said tentatively, almost as if normal social interaction was strange for her.

The two got into their respective beds, Gabrielle turning off the lights with her wand. She thought Rue was asleep until she heard her say, "You know he really cares about you, right?"

"Who?" Gabrielle couldn't help but ask.

Even in the dark she knew there was an You're-an-idiot eyeroll. Aries would've done the same. "Aries," she said.

Curiously won over the beautiful Beauxbaton student and she couldn't help but ask, "How did you two meet?"

There was silence for a long time, and Gabrielle though her question was being ignored until Rue spoke again. "When I was six years old, I finally snapped. I went into the kitchen, took a steak knife, and carved lines into my face. I didn't really know what I was doing, but I knew my uncle couldn't stand to be with me if I wasn't pretty anymore. I was right, and he threw me out. Two days later, Henri found me. He said that he'd take me somewhere warm and safe and that he'll teach me how to defend myself so that no one could hurt me ever again. I didn't believe him at first, but he gained my trust. Three weeks later, he tells me that a boy is going to be joining me in my training."

She laughed. "I was unhappy to say the least. Excluding Henri, I didn't like men. When this boy showed up, I disliked him immediately. He was smiling, being kissed goodbye by his mum, and instantly charming. He told me his name was Aries. I said nothing. Henri told him my name, but I wouldn't say a word. The next three days went on like that, Aries trying to get me to talk and me not saying a word. Finally, Henri announced he would be leaving the two of us in the house alone except for the house elf for the next two weeks."

"Why?" Gabrielle asked, unable to contain her shock. Two six year olds alone for two weeks? It's a wonder the house remained.

Rue seemed to be reading Gabrielle's mind. "I know it sounds crazy, but Henri said that the best way for two people to become best friends was to be stuck together. The first three days proceeded like the last ones until Aries decided it had been long enough since he'd practiced on the piano. Eager to get away from this strange boy, I was in the other room. As soon as I heard the music, I was drawn back in. I just sat in the doorway, listening. It was so beautiful, so unlike anything I'd ever heard. In reality, Aries wasn't that good yet, but he was still skilled. After he finished, I told him, 'That was beautiful.' He just grinned and said, 'Does that mean you'll talk to me now?' Then, after each time he'd practice, we'd talk for a little bit, and eventually I got comfortable with him. We'd talk all night, wishing on stars and telling stories. By the end of the first week, we were friends. The second week we spent learning to be kids again."

Gabrielle laid in her bed, soaking in the story. And to think she had judged this poor girl, maybe even been jealous of her, this poor girl who had no one but Aries and Henri. She didn't want to show pity, only compassion. Few seemed to appreciate pity. "Thank you," she responded. "For sharing your story with me."

Gabrielle shut her eyes and tried to go to sleep, but she was not so far gone that she didn't hear the faint, "Thank you for listening." Smiling, Gabrielle fell into a deep sleep, not knowing the girl across from her would also sleep through the night for the first night in many years. It was a picture that would cause Aries Kalgarias, coming into the room to wake the girls up the next morning, to smile.