The Diadone Method
Chapter Ten – Allies
Edited: October 8, 2013
Dumbledore sat in his throne-like chair in the Great Hall, eagerly awaiting the arrival of the first years; this was the year Harry Potter would be joining their ranks, it was time for step two in his grand plan for control of the Boy Who Lived. Step one was alienate him from the wizarding world and make sure he didn't have a very good childhood, step two was to mold him into the perfect hero who would eventually become the willing martyr. After all, a boy who could throw off a killing curse was too powerful to be allowed to hang around; that much power was too easy to corrupt.
When the first years started filing into the hall, Dumbledore subtly scanned their faces looking for the telltale mop of black hair attached to a face with glasses covering killing curse green eyes. He nearly fell out of his chair when he couldn't find what he was looking for; there was no one who looked like James Potter, Lily Potter or a combination of the two. But he didn't panic, it was entirely possible that he grew up to look completely different; he would wait until the sorting was over before showing any concern.
Dumbledore briefly considered that maybe he should have checked up on the boy once in a while but he quickly dismissed that thought; he was sure the Durselys did their job of keeping him downtrodden and lonely, but he also trusted Petunia to get him here in one piece. Dumbledore was briefly brought out of his musing when the Muggleborns got all excited about a kid called Antonio Diadone, but because none of the staff – himself included – kept up to date on Muggle news, he didn't have any idea what the big deal was.
However, when McGonagall got to 'Rosland, Samuel' and 'Potter, Harry' hadn't been called, Albus went into full-blown freak out mode. Not that he would ever refer to it as such, that was too undignified, no, he preferred to think of it as going on 'emergency alert'.
But as Albus looked around the room he noted that not many other were panicking, Ronald Weasley (who he had picked out to be Harry's influential best friend, thank you compulsion charms) looked vaguely disappointed before turning back to his neighbor and continuing his conversation. Minerva, much to his surprise, didn't even bat an eye and the rest of the hall seemed to have forgotten that Harry was supposed to be starting school this year. It didn't even occur to him that they just thought Harry was still in hiding and being given private tutoring.
After the feast Dumbledore hurried back to his office, he had a celebrity to find. In his haste, he completely forgot to mention that the third floor corridor was off-limits.
Minerva had to stifle a laugh as she saw Albus race off to his office, no doubt he would be spending a good chunk of his time searching for the now nonexistent Harry Potter. She just hoped she would be around to witness the inevitable mental breakdown when he found that Harry Potter had dropped off the face of the earth.
Harry Potter's trail ended with lost adoption papers and Albus couldn't even go after Rebecca Charleston who had received custody of Harry from Sirius, because he'd already convinced her that Harry was safe where Albus had left him. For all that he knew, Becca had never even seen the boy.
As she walked to Gryffindor tower to welcome her lions back, Minerva laughed and wondered when she'd developed such a mean streak. Probably when Albus left a baby on a doorstep in November. She thought as she said the password to the tower.
Previously: With that, the boys said their good nights and closed the drapes around their beds.
Nio on the other hand, closed, locked and silenced his; he needed to have a chat with a certain feline/canine/human friend of his.
When Sirius was sure that Nio's bed was secure, he morphed back to Padfoot and from there into Evan.
"Evan, you'll never believe who is here at Hogwarts." Nio said at exactly the same times as Evan said;
"Nio, Peter is here."
"WHAT!?" Nio said loudly, thanking his ability to completely silence his surroundings.
"Yeah, he's Scabbers, Ron's rat." Sirius said with a growl. "I'd recognize him anywhere."
"Wow. Congratulations on not killing the traitorous bastard." Nio said. He was impressed that Evan had managed not to eat the rat, after all, it was Peter Pettigrew who was responsible for ruining Sirius' life and killing two of his best friends. "We will have to figure out what to do with him."
"True, but we have all year to do that." Sirius said, mentally patting himself on the back for acting like the responsible adult he was supposed to be. "But you said something about someone else being here?"
"Right, there's a kid named Blaise Zabini, and judging by his reaction to my name at the sorting, he's related to the Zabinis we know."
"Really, what was his reaction?" Sirius asked with a raised eyebrow; it could get awkward if the Zabinis were making a move in Britain, magical or Muggle.
"It was a very schooled reaction, just a flicker of recognition and surprise; no offense but I don't think even you would have noticed it."
"None taken." Sirius said with a shrug.
"Anyway, I sent him a note telling him to meet me in the trophy room at midnight."
"Good idea, we need to know if he's part of the active family and if so, how involved they are. Also, if they have plans for Britain; Sal won't appreciate the competition."
"I agree." Harry said. "That's why I set up the meeting, then we can report to Dad if there is an issue."
Nio and Evan spent the next few hours reading and dozing, respectively. At 11:30 they both turned invisible (and Evan back into Scruffs) so as to avoid detection during their first of many midnight forays into the school.
Blaise settled into his dorm and immediately hid in his bed, he wished he could call his dad from Hogwarts but not only would it fry the phone, but it was a really bad idea to pull out such a Muggle device in the Slytherin dorms. He might be a pureblood, but being caught with a cellphone was a one-way ticket to seven years of hell.
Blaise was so restless that instead of waiting till 11:45 (which was when he needed to leave) he sneaked out of his dorm at 11:00, meaning he arrived way too early. But hey, at least he could look at the trophies while he waited, he headed for the old Quidditch cups. He worked backwards from 1990, when he got to 1977, he recognized the captain's name; James Potter. Potter...
There had been quite a lot of quiet speculation about the whereabouts of Harry Potter, he was supposed to have started Hogwarts this year, but was nowhere to be found. Blaise didn't really see what the big deal was; he was probably in hiding or disguise or something, he was a celebrity after all.
Blaise's thoughts were interrupted as Antonio and his 'cat' arrived and it only took a split second for Blaise to realize why he brought the cat; the intimidation factor alone was almost more than if he'd been openly carrying a gun. That wasn't to say that Blaise didn't think Antonio had a gun on him, quite the opposite in fact; he was almost positive that the Diadone heir had some sort of weapon tucked away in those robes, probably more than one.
"Mr. Diadone." Blaise greeted, "I have to say, it is a surprise to see you here."
Nio smiled as he led the way to a desk which he had conjured on his way in. "I could say the same Mr. Zabini. I assume from your reaction at the feast that you are, in fact, a member of the Italian Zabini family?"
Blaise nodded so Nio continued, "I was unaware that the Zabinis had a presence here in Britain."
Blaise wished that his parents had been a bit more involved in the family business, then he might have had a better idea of what to do in this sort of situation. This was definately not what he had been expecting to do on his first night at Hogwarts; he had thought he'd be fending off Malfoy (it was well-known in Britain that the Zabinis were rich Italian Purebloods), not meeting with the heir to one of the biggest crime empires in Europe.
With a deep breath, Blaise took his first steps into the criminal underworld. "First, I want you to know that I am in no way, shape or form authorized to speak on behalf of the Zabinis-" Antonio cut him off.
"If you're old enough to go to boarding school, you should know that you're old enough to represent your family. If you weren't you should have used a fake name." Nio said in a rather patronizing tone of voice. He knew that Blaise had not been expecting someone like Nio to be here but it was true, in their world, as soon as you're able to carry on a semi-intelligent conversation, you're a face of the family.
Nio took pity on the poor kid, "But that's not the point, continue."
"Right, um..." Blaise said nervously. "Uh, yeah...So, I guess the best way to put it is to say that the Zabinis, as a family, aren't doing anything here, the business is still only operating on the mainland."
Nio smiled, "Okay, that's good, I wouldn't have liked having to deal with you. But if you're not up to something, why are you here without changing your last name or informing people like my dad? Surely you'd be worried about being recognized, you could have easily avoided a situation like this."
Blaise sighed, "In the wizarding world the Zabinis are an old and well-known pureblood family, on the mainland at least. That sort of notoriety is a very good way of keeping your family safe, especially in the last thirty years of so.
"I guess we didn't expect anyone to know enough about both the Muggle and wizarding world to make, or even think to make, the connection between the mafia Zabinis and the pureblood Zabinis. Especially since the 'family business' was started, and continues to be run, by a long line of squibs or almost-squibs."
Blaise really wanted to ask about Antonio's background and possible Diadone activity in the magical world, but knew enough to know that Pureblood or not, he was on Antonio's turf here; should the boy decide to, he could easily make Blaise's life extremely difficult. And, the Diadones were so powerful that if they really tried, they could probably ruin the entire Zabini family. His parents would probably kill him personally if that happened...if his grandfather didn't get there first.
Nio's brow furrowed as he rapidly processed this information, he worked though each and every possible history scenario and future ramifications of the situation, "I see." He said, after he narrowed down the options in less than five seconds, "So how did you end up in England?"
"My father married an English witch and they decided to move back to England to raise us kids. Also, I don't know how much you know about Italian wizarding politics but about twenty-five years ago, an anti-Pureblood movement was started. The movement was really popular and about twenty years ago they held the majority of the seats in government. As a relatively young member of the well-known and very pureblood Zabini family, my parents thought it would be in their best interest to leave Italy for a while."
"Interesting." Nio said, that scenario was number nine on his list. "Now, I can see that you're just dying to ask me some questions but worried that I'll be insulted and take it out on your family. So first of all I'd like to inform you that while we have a truly ruthless reputation, the Diadones don't go after people for no good reason. So, ask away."
"How long have the Diadones been magical? Why doesn't anyone seem to know you? Is your success due to the use of magic? How do you deal with the Statute of Secrecy? Are you the first Diadone at Hogwarts?" The questions tumbled out of Blaise's mouth before he could really think about them.
Nio smiled, "I would think the answer to all those questions is obvious, I'm the first Diadone with magic."
Blaise took a moment to think, then, much to Nio's surprise, he started to laugh. "Oh that's brilliant!"
"What?" Nio asked with an intimidating scowl.
"The Purebloods won't know what hit them!" Blaise managed to say through his laughter. "A Muggleborn with more money and power than they could possibly imagine. Almost everyone in the magical world looks down on Muggles, the Purebloods especially, they think that that Muggle world has nothing worth anything, they will probably insult and belittle you. I can't wait to see this, it won't even matter if you don't have much magic!"
Nio smirked, "Oh, I don't think that that will be a problem; us Diadones don't do anything halfway, I have a shit ton of magic. Turns out, my godfather was magical, as soon as he saw my first bit of accidental magic he started training me..." As a demonstration Nio flicked his wand (just for show) and vanished the table and chairs, he then caught himself and Blaise with semi-solid air before they hit the ground.
Blaise gaped; not only could Antonio do silent magic, but he could also vanish things before their first class! "Okay then, that makes it official, the Purebloods are screwed."
"I agree. Now, I know you said you can't speak on behalf of your family but I have an offer for you. If you want, you can owl your parents before you answer because I'm pretty sure this is all very new to you. See, I have plans for the wizarding world and it is always good to have allies, especially when starting a new endeavor.
"In this case, my father will only be involved to a certain extent, he has the current Diadone empire under control but his ability to work in the wizarding world is severely limited for fairly obvious reasons.
"So, I would like to extend my hand of friendship to you, personally. If your father wants to contact mine they could possibly work out something between them, but this particular friendship will just be between you and me. I think we can do great things together."
Nio knew that he would eventually be taking over from his father so any alliances made by his father would most likely pass on to Nio, but he also understood the importance of building his own relationships and networks beyond those of his father. Here was a perfect opportunity to do so, and with someone who, like him, had a foot in both worlds.
Blaise's mind froze and then started racing; Antonio Diadone was offering his "hand of friendship". In mafia speak that meant an alliance which went beyond the normal "You watch my back, I'll watch yours", this sort of relationship could either be a really good thing, or really bad one.
On one hand, a friendship not only earned you the protection of the family but also a certain closeness that could be compared to that of arranged marriages, just not quite as extreme. On the other hand, if they went down, you usually did too. This being a Diadone's offer made it virtually impossible to refuse, even though he and his parents weren't really involved with the other part of their family, Blaise knew that saying 'no' would be similar to saying 'I plan on working against you'; not a smart thing to say to a Diadone.
Nio watched as Blaise seemed to struggle with the decision, the poor kid was a bit out of his comfort zone here, so he decided to put him at ease. "Zabini, I know what you're thinking about and I just wanted to let you know that I'm not going to take it the wrong way if you say no. I understand that this isn't what you were expecting when you came to Hogwarts, and that you and your parents don't seem to be involved with the family business.
"If you want to just be friends in the regular sense of the word I'm not going to hold it against you. I also don't expect you to make possibly life-changing decisions at one in the morning in a dusty trophy room. We can talk again in a few years, assuming of course you keep your nose out of trouble. The same goes for if you decide you're not really interested in continuing to work together, I'm not exactly asking for a binding contract or anything."
Blaise let out a breath he didn't even know he was holding, he really had no idea what he was doing here, all he knew was that the Diadones were rich, powerful and extremely influential, and that Antonio seemed like a cool kid who also happened to have an amazing amount of control over his magic.
The part of him that knew about the way the crime world thing worked was telling him that he had a lot to gain from being friends with Antonio. The part of him who knew of the ruthlessness and inconsistency of relationships and alliances in Slytherin and the pureblood community in general, was telling him that this was a genuine offer of friendship which would last forever unless one of them betrayed the other.
"You know, I think we can do this. I accept."
Nio grinned, "Great. Now, the relationship between Slytherin and Gryffindor being what it is, I suggest we keep this between ourselves for now, at least in the wizarding world."
"I agree." Blaise said. "Anyway, it's past one, I have a letter to write and we both have class tomorrow, I suggest we call it a night."
"Sounds good. I will be in touch, and don't be afraid to talk to me, I meant what I said about friendship, we're both eleven year old kids, this doesn't have to just be a formal working relationship. Maybe we can work on fixing things between our houses, it would make life a hell of a lot easier around here."
Nio thought for a moment before adding, "And you can call me Antonio, we are friends after all."
Blaise smiled, this had the potential to be very interesting...first name basis with a Diadone. Now that was not something that happened every day. "And you can call me Blaise, and you're right, it should probably be just between us."
Nio nodded and walked out of the room. Blaise gathered himself back together, pasted a mildly indifferent pureblood expression on his face and headed back to his dorm.
Blaise slipped back into his dorm only to find that Draco Bloody Malfoy was still awake, he groaned, he'd heard all about the Malfoy family from his father and his mother.
Draco scowled as he saw Blaise Zabini try to sneak back into the dorm, it was nearly two in the morning, what could he possibly have been doing?
"Sneaking out on the first night, Zabini?" Draco drawled.
Blaise rolled his eyes, "It's none of your business, Malfoy." He said with a frown, he really didn't want to have to deal with any more politics tonight. He and Antonio might have ended their meeting as friends but it had started as a political dance to which he barely knew the steps.
"What could you possibly have been doing? It's the first night." Draco continued, undeterred.
Oh, just making friends with probably the most powerful and wealthy kid in Europe. Blaise said in his mind, out loud he said; "I repeat, none of your business, Malfoy. Now get your pompous nose out of my life and go to sleep." He said, putting a lot of emphasis on Draco's last name.
Draco frowned, he hadn't really expected Blaise to tell him what he'd been up to but the boy's cold attitude and repeated use of his last name gave him the feeling that he was being judged, and found wanting. It wasn't a nice feeling.
From what his father had drilled into him, he had been given the impression that he'd be respected and held in a sort of awe by his classmates; he was quickly finding that this wasn't always true. He was also realizing that his father had been wrong about a few other things as well, so he made another good decision (not that he understood it's gravity at the time...again).
"Hey!" Draco called quietly to Blaise, "I don't know what your problem is, but you have no reason to be so rude, you haven't even met me yet."
"You're a Malfoy, you rule the world." Blaise said sarcastically. "What more is there to know?"
Draco almost wanted to smack his palm on his forehead like he'd seen a few of other people do but didn't because it would probably leave a mark. His father was obviously wrong about the name 'Malfoy' holding respect everywhere you went.
"I'm not my father, I'm my own person." Draco said more confidently than he felt, it wasn't everyday you announced your differences from your family to another pureblood. "It'd be nice if you could hold off judging me until you have something to judge other than my name."
Blaise raised an eyebrow, this was an unexpected development, a Malfoy with a personality. Between Antonio and now Draco, this was looking to be a very interesting year. And Blaise had a bad (or was it good?) feeling that he'd be right in the middle of it. Hey, at least he wouldn't be bored.
Earlier in the Gryffindor first year boys' dormitory:
Neville was laying in bed trying to make sense of everything that had happened that day; for the first time in his life he'd made a friend his own age and he'd been invited to join two older students in their rule-breaking adventures. Then he'd found out that his new friend was the son of a rich, powerful, Muggle criminal. It was all very overwhelming. He'd also seen said new friend perform some pretty advanced magic just to send a note to another first year. A Slytherin first year.
Just as he was finally about to fall asleep, Neville heard Antonio and Scruffs slip out of bed and then out the door. Wondering what on earth the boy could be up to, Neville followed him down to the common room. Unfortunately, by the time he got there, Antonio and his cat-ish pet were gone, probably to the trophy room, which he'd asked for directions to from the twins. Neville sighed, maybe he'd wait up for him to get back and then ask him what was going on.
Fred and George hopped completely silently out of bed, grabbed their trusty map and headed to the common room. It was time to see what their new mini crime lord friend was up to, more specifically, who from Slytherin he was meeting in the trophy room in the middle of the night. When they got downstairs, they weren't too surprised to see Neville on one of the couches.
"Fancy seeing you here." Fred said.
"Who would have thought that our mafia friend's roommate would notice his nighttime wanderings." George added.
"It's not like he knew the crime kid was up to something."
"Or that he could probably hear him get out of bed."
Neville looked up at the twins. "Hey guys." He said with a smile. "I was going to ask him if I could join him but he left before I had a chance to ask."
"Well dear friend, would you like in on a secret?"
"One of Hogwarts' best kept secrets in who knows how many years."
Neville's eyes lit up, people were trusting him with their secrets already? This was amazing! "Sure!" He said enthusiastically. "I'd love to."
The twins ushered Neville over to 'their' corner. They briefly wondered what it was about these two first years that had caught their attention and made them so eager to share their map, but shrugged it off, they were following their instincts which had never led them astray.
Fred pulled the Marauder's Map out of his pocket and spread it on the table, he muttered the password under his breath (no need to spill all the secrets) and leaned back so Neville and George could see too.
Neville's jaw went slack, he couldn't believe what he was seeing; it was a complete map of Hogwarts, with people on it. There were even little name tags attached to little dots, some moving, some not.
George manipulated the map until it was focused on the trophy room. When he and Fred saw the names, they were speechless for a full minute. There, right in front of then, were the names 'Padfoot' and 'Prongs Jr.' The fact that the third name was Blaise Zabini really didn't hold a candle to the fact that the map, which never lied, was telling them that one of it's creators was in the school.
Neville on the other hand, was just confused. "Guys? I thought this was supposed to show names, this just has Padfoot and Prongs Jr. written on it. Those aren't real names.
"Do you know what this means?" George asked his twin, completely ignoring Neville.
"That our dear Antonio and the lovely Scruffs are much more than they say they are." Then the two took pity on Neville and explained about the Marauders and what the implications of the names on the map were.
Nio was exhausted, but extremely pleased by the time he returned to the Gryffindor tower, his dad would be happy with his progress, and classes hadn't even started yet. Not to mention the fact that he now had four friends around his own age, that really was a first.
However, Nio's good mood vanished the moment he entered the common room and he was confronted with three set of accusing eyes. Before he even got a chance to explain, one of the twins started speaking.
"Welcome back, Antonio and Scruffs."
"Or should we say, Padfoot and Prongs Jr.?"
Nio and Evan froze, but it didn't take long for Nio to figure it out.
"The Map." Nio said quietly. "Fuck it, we forgot about that bloody map."
"Yeah, the map." Neville said with a frown. "And according to Gred and Forge, the map never lies."
"It doesn't." Nio conceded. "It can't."
"Yeah, well, that doesn't explain why your name is currently listed as..." Fred looked inquiringly at George who checked the map.
"Prongs Jr." George said.
Neville's frown turned into a full-blown scowl. "And why Scruffs is labeled as Padfoot."
Sirius felt like banging his head against the wall, he had been planning on sneaking into Filch's office to retrieve the map but it appeared he was a bit too late. The only good thing about the situation was that when the Marauders made the map, they charmed it to show their nicknames, not their real names. Otherwise the twins and Neville would be looking at Harry Potter and Sirius Black. That would not have been good.
"Care to explain?" George asked, crossing his arms.
Nio grimaced, "Do we have to?"
Fred immediately picked up on the 'we' in that sentence. "What do you mean 'we'?"
Nio turned to Scruffs, "You think we can trust them?" He asked.
Sirius stared intently at the twins and Neville. He nodded, gave a cat shrug and then sat down. He tapped his head with a paw and then swiped his paw over the top of it before crossing his eyes and shaking his head.
It took a moment but Nio figured out what Evan was trying to say. 'Yes, but we can always wipe their memories.' Then Evan spread his paws as wide as possible and hooked his two smallest toes together. Nio stifled a laugh, a cat indicating a pinkie-swear, now that was something you don't see every day.
The boys watched as Scruffs did some very un-cat-like things, then Nio turned his attention back to them. "Okay, we'll tell you but we reserve the right to Obliviate you if we feel you're a risk, we also need vows from each of you.
The twins looked at each other and seemed to hold a conversation with their eyes, Neville just stared at Scruffs (or Padfoot, if the map was to be believed) like he was from Mars. Hesitantly he nodded his head, it sounded like it would be worth it. The twins came to the same conclusion.
Nio nodded. "Okay, but the common room isn't the best place to do this so why don't we go to the Room of Requirement?" Nio was greeted by three blank faces. "The Come and Go Room? No? Well, I guess you'll be learning something new today."
The twins looked so excited that they might spontaneously combust, after all, they had been illegally exploring the school for two years and this was something they'd never heard of, let alone found.
Nio nodded to Evan who flicked his tail and led the way out of the common room with the four students hurrying after him. On the way to the room of requirement, Nio was trying to decide how much to tell the three boys; obviously they'd reveal that Evan was a dog Animagus who could morph into a cat and that Nio was descended from 'Prongs', but the question was, do they pretend that Prongs was his mother or do they admit that Nio was adopted. Then there was the million dollar question, would they reveal their real names, or would they stay as Antonio and Evan? Oh well, Nio thought I guess I'll just have to play it by ear.
Sirius walked up and down the hallway three times to make the door appear, then he used his paws to open it – his cat form was tall enough that it wasn't much of a reach at all.
When Fred and George saw the door appear and Scruffs/Padfoot open it they both grinned. "Wicked."
"Nice." Nio said, looking around at the replica of one of the smaller lounge rooms in the mansion; this was where he, Vince and Evan would just hang out when they weren't doing anything else. It was also where Nio and Evan had their Final Fantasy marathon that lasted nearly a week.
As soon as the door was closed, Sirius changed back to Padfoot and then to himself (albeit with brown hair); Neville squeaked and the twins jumped, much to Sirius' amusement. He knew from personal experience that it was really hard to surprise a prankster.
Nio smirked, "Evan, you frightened them." He admonished jokingly.
"Why yes, I did." Sirius said proudly. "That was kinda the point."
"You- but- cat- dog- and- Animagus..." Fred stuttered.
"I think what my brother is trying to say is that he thought it was impossible to change the form of your Animagus." George added helpfully.
Sirius grinned again, "I didn't really change my Animagus, it's just a bit of wandless transfiguration. What I'd like to know is how you managed to get your hands on my old map."
It was Fred's turn to smile, "Well, way back when were were ickle firsties, we had yet to perfect our pranking ways and ended up being caught by Filch."
"We have since become much more accomplished and do not get caught anymore."
"He has an entire drawer in his office labeled "Confiscated and Highly Dangerous."
"Naturally, we took a look." George said as if it was the most obvious thing in the world.
"A piece of blank parchment was hidden away at the back and we knew that it must be interesting." Fred added.
"It took us a few weeks to figure out how to activate it, but it's been the secret to our success ever since." George finished.
Sirius looked at the twins with something akin to pride. "Well, I was going to demand that you return it, but the fact that you found it in your first year and have been using it ever since is just too impressive. I hope you continue to use it well."
"And let us borrow it every now and then." Nio added.
"Ah yeah, that too." Sirius said with a grin.
Author's note: So, that's all for now. I'm sorry for the evil waits between updates but unfortunately University and sleep come first. Anyway, I will be finishing this story eventually, just bear with me.