The Diadone Method
Chapter Twelve – Explanations
Author's note: The good news – I'm not dead! The even better news – I finally got my act together and finished the next chapter!
This has been a long time coming and I really hope you aren't disappointed.
Also, yes, I know that Snape is rather OOC here but that is just how it ended up.
Nio, Evan, Neville and the twins settled down in the Room of Requirement.
"So, here's the deal," Nio said, "You give us a vow to keep whatever we tell you secret, and we'll tell you about the Marauders."
The three students quickly gave their vows and then looked expectantly at Nio, who gestured for Evan to begin.
"I'm going to start by saying that there are some things that we absolutely cannot tell you. Maybe you will find out eventually, maybe not, but for now, they will have to be left out." Sirius said.
Fred and George exchanged a look, "Like what?" Fred asked.
"Like our true names." Nio answered.
"What?!" George said. "Why?"
Nio glared at them, "Just because. Now, first things first, I am actually adopted, Sal adopted me when I was just three years old. It was a "complete" adoption in that apart from a select few people, the entire world has no idea that he is not my biological father. My actual parents are dead and have been for quite some time. For all – and I do mean all – intents and purposes, I am Antonio Dominick Diadone, son of Salvator Zito Diadone and the late Francesca Carmine Marcello-Diadone. This is true in both the magical and the Muggle world, there is no record of any adoption, anywhere."
"Wow." Neville said, "That's impressive, it's very difficult to change records in our world because they are created by magic."
The twins looked impressed, but not so much that they forgot about the Animagus in the room. "So what about you, Padfoot/Scruffs?" Fred asked.
"Yeah," George agreed. "And why can't you tell us your name?"
"Well, I'm actually known as Evan White, I'm one of Nio's bodyguards/tutors. I didn't even know he was magical until after I was working for his father. He did something which caused a wave of magic to rock the building after which we found out that we both had magic. It was then that I found out he had been consciously using controlled magic for years...without a wand or any proper instruction. I started tutoring him in magical subjects and the wizarding world, and he taught me how to do some of his wandless magic."
"Wicked!" Fred and George said together.
Sirius rolled his eyes at the twins' antics but he did have to agree with them. "True, when we went to Gringotts, we realized that Nio's birth father and I had been great friends here at Hogwarts and that I was actually his godfather. It was a truly strange series of events involving quite the complex web of miscommunications."
"So what are you doing here?" Neville asked Evan.
"I'm here as Nio's bodyguard, I don't know about those from the wizarding world, but those at all familiar with the Muggle world will know that Nio is an extremely important person, and there are plenty of people who would like to do him harm. Anyway, Hogwarts is great, who wouldn't want to come back?"
The twins grinned, "Yeah, especially if you don't have to spend all your time in class." Fred said.
"I know, the potential for nefarious deeds is almost limitless." Evan replied with a matching grin. "And I will be borrowing the map on occasion, just so you know."
Neville took this opportunity to contribute to the conversation. "Speaking of the map, what is up with those nicknames?"
"I will bow to your expertise on this one." Nio said with a grand gesture in Evan's direction.
"Ah yes, Moony, Padfoot and Prongs...three of the best pranksters to grace the face of this earth."
"What about Wormtail?" George asked innocently.
Evan's eyes flashed, "He...left. And we don't speak of him."
The young students in the room knew better than to pursue that subject line and refrained from asking any more questions about Wormtail.
"Perhaps you should tell them the meanings behind the names." Nio diplomatically suggested.
"Right." Evan cleared the stormy expression off his face and smirked at his captive audience. "Because you're all sworn to secrecy, I have no qualms in telling you that I am not the only Marauder to have successfully completed the Animagus transformation while still in school.
"As you know, I am a big black dog – some may even call me a Grim, though that would be a misnomer. Prongs, Nio's biological father, was a stage, Moony is a wolf, and Wormtail," Evan spat the name, "Was a rat."
Neville, who was much more intelligent than anyone gave him credit for, caught on to the tenses used. "You said Moony is a wolf, does that mean he's still around?"
Nio smirked, "Oh yes, Moony is most definitely still around."
"Why do I get the feeling that there is a prank somewhere in that explanation?" George asked.
"Oh, you have no idea." Evan said conspiratorially, "No fucking idea."
Nio glanced quickly at Evan before continuing, "Let's just say that Evan here is dead, I don't exist, and Moony is in on it all. How's that for food for thought?"
You could just see the wheels turning in the boys' heads, all of them trying to figure out who these people might be. Nio wondered if any of them would figure it out eventually, it might be interesting to see if they did.
"Moving on!" Evan said loudly, pulling the boys out of their thoughts. "Questions?"
"What exactly does the mafia do?"
Nio looked like his birthday had come early. "Bit of this, bit of that...lots of things really."
The next few hours were spent educating three Purebloods on the Muggle criminal underworld. Needless to say, they were quite shocked at the range of crime in the Muggle world. Not to mention the art of subtly manipulating the open market. They could also see massive potential in extending the family business into the wizarding world...and discussed possible plans at length.
"So, what is up with you and Zabini?" Fred asked, remembering how they had come to find out some of Nio and Evan's secrets.
"Ah...Blaise Zabini." Nio said. "The Zabinis are to Italy what the Diadones are to England."
Evan sighed. "What Nio means to say is that there is a large part of the Zabini family who are squibs and they run one of the more prominent crime syndicates in Europe, the British Isles not included."
"You mean the Zabinis do what you do?" Neville asked in shock. The Zabinis were one of the older Pureblood families he knew of, that they would be involved in the Muggle world was a bit of a shock...especially considering how much trouble that would be to cover up.
"Yes, and no." Nio answered. "The Zabinis that you know really don't have much to do with their squib counterparts. Blaise recognized my name, but his part of the family is not really involved in the Muggle side of things."
Fred nodded, "Okay, but what were you guys talking about?"
"A few things, I needed to make sure that his family wasn't making a move in England, because that would mean a lot of messy work for us as we kicked them out. I also extended a hand of friendship, and the offer of being part of my plans for the wizarding world. I am happy to say that he accepted both."
"Wait a minute, there is going to be a Slytherin in our conspiracy?" Neville asked, a slight look of trepidation in his eyes. He had been raised in a completely Gryffindor house, Slytherin was practically a swear word to Augusta Longbottom.
The twins looked like they were in complete agreement with Neville, even Evan was a bit skeptical.
Nio raised an eyebrow, "Who better than a Slytherin? Anyway, the Hat said I would do better in Slytherin but that Gryffindor would help me to achieve my goals...which I'm pretty sure it found amusing."
"That actually makes complete sense." Evan said with a sigh. "In fact, I'm pretty sure Moony and I would be honorary Slytherins if anyone ever found out what we've done."
Nio grinned, "Assuming, of course, that they could look past your names."
George frowned, "Why?"
"Let's just say that while we were at school, we were quintessential Gryffindors." Evan explained.
"Actually, I'm pretty sure you were more Slytherin than Gryffindor by the time you graduated, most successful pranksters are. You guys more than anyone." Nio added.
That statement didn't really sit well with Evan, mostly because it was very true. Moony had managed to hide the fact that he was a werewolf from everyone besides the Marauders, they were all illegal Animagi, they could lie their way to China and back, and they hardly ever got caught doing something they weren't supposed to. Not to mention their activities after graduation.
By this time, the sun had risen and they had all been up all night...and they had classes today. Lovely.
Evan reached into a pocket no one else had known was there and pulled out five vials of brilliant red potion. "Here guys, you'll probably all want some of this."
Nio took a good look at the liquid and found that he didn't recognize it at all, which was rare seeing as he had become quite the adept potions brewer (even though he had trouble with the theory). "I didn't know you dabbled in potion creation." Nio said to Evan.
"Well, I have to do something while I sit around teaching your dad how to blow things up without hurting himself in the process." Neville and the twins grimaced as the ramifications of Salvatore Diadone knowing how to brew potions sunk in, especially knowing what they knew now.
"Well, what is it?" Nio asked.
"It's Pepper Up combined with pure caffeine, sugar syrup and a few other things." Evan said with a grin. "It should keep you going for at least six hours."
"Nice!" The twins said as they downed their vials in one gulp.
Nio waited until the twins had finished theirs before drinking his, you never knew where Evan would hide things and whether there was an unfortunate side-effect or not.
Breakfast was a trying affair.
Despite Evan's miracle potion, the four conspirators (Evan/Scruffs had gone straight back to the common room to sleep in front of the fire, mangy cat) were still grumpy and the antics of their fellow Gryffindors were grating on their nerves. It seemed as if the rest of their house hadn't gotten the memo that loud noises and rambunctious behavior were only allowed after ten.
Blaise and Draco – who had decided earlier in the morning that the rest of the boys in their year were not really worth associating with and had therefore created a tentative Slytherin friendship – watched the Gryffindor table and noted, with no small amount of amusement, that four of its occupants did not seem to approve of Gryffindor morning behavior today.
Blaise guessed, correctly, that Nio had brought the red-haired twins and the Longbottom boy in on his plans but that they had little, if any, sleep. After getting their schedules, Blaise turned to Draco and said, "Well, potions should be interesting."
Nio had been successfully brewing potions since he was nine but he still didn't understand a lot of the theory, even after reading many many books on the subject. He had thought that they would cover things such as why you started with specific – and sometimes theoretically contradictory – ingredients in class, but it seemed this was not the case. That was how he ended up in the situation he was in now, having a heated discussion with the professor Evan disliked so much that he refused to attend the class, even invisibly to play pranks.
Nio ground his teeth together, quickly losing what patience he had left after a night of little sleep and dealing with imbeciles all throughout breakfast."But Fluxweed and Bulbadox juice cancel each other out! Not only are their pH values equally opposite but so is the nature of their inherent magic! Why would you start a potion with equal amounts of both added at the same time? Neither plant has anything to react with except the one that negates the effect of it in the first place. And the purified water is neutral! It doesn't make sense!"
Snape pinched the bridge of his nose, Diadone was asking questions even O.W.L. students didn't think to ask. "Mr. Diadone, if you really want to discuss the intricacies of potion making, class is not the time to do it. Just accept that this is how the base is made and move on to completing the rest of the potion."
Nio scowled, potions was interesting, why did the professor have to be such a bloody pain in the arse? And if class wasn't the place to ask about potion making, where the bloody hell was?
All throughout the rest of class, Snape kept a close eye on Diadone; even he had to admit that that kid was smart. In fact, he had the potential to be really good, more potential than he had ever seen during his tenure as Potion's Professor. He obviously understood the magical nature of the ingredients and he also seemed to have the ability to apply Muggle science to his brewing. Not many wizards had the educational history to do that and not many Muggleborns thought of it.
Even though he was distracted and still obviously annoyed (though Snape noted, in his professional capacity as a spy, that Diadone had extremely good control over his facial expressions), he was brewing a flawless potion; it already had slightly pink tinged smoke rising and he had yet to complete the final step. Clearly the boy had seriously studied potions and their ingredients, with Muggle and magical tests.
Nio was the first one done with his potion and when he placed the perfect concoction in the rack on Snape's desk, he was shocked when the professor said "Mr. Diadone, please report to my office at seven tomorrow evening. I believe we have some things to discuss."
All Nio could do was nod blankly, he wasn't taken by surprise very often, but this was certainly surprising. "Yes, Sir, I'll see you then." Maybe he would have his questions answered after all.
After suffering through the rest of classes, Nio, Fred, George and Neville headed to dinner with Scruffs trailing on behind them. They were all exhausted and wanted nothing more than to fall asleep in their food...but that would be undignified.
However, as soon as the meal was over, the four students fell into bed without a second's thought towards homework and slept like logs all through the night.
Draco was not quite sure what to make of Antonio Diadone. On the one hand, he was a Muggleborn and therefore scum – or so he had been told. But on the other, he was obviously rich and the rumor mill claimed that he and his father (not just his father) were two extremely powerful people with the influence, money and connections to prove it.
Thinking back to what he had said to Zabini the night before about being his own person instead of a copy of his father. He realized just how true he wanted to make that statement, there was much more to life than being a Malfoy who liked Dark Magic and hated Muggleborns.
But how do I do that? Draco asked himself. He'd never really had to think of things like this himself, he had been spoon-fed ideologies and friends for as long as he could remember. Finally, as he saw Diadone and his cat leave the Great Hall, he decided that there was no need to completely forget his father's lessons. Malfoy Sr. had taught him to respect money and power (usually theirs), Diadone had both.
Diadone also seemed to already have ties to Zabini which would make a relationship between the two much more acceptable. After all, Zabini was a respected Italian Pureblood, there must be some reason for their interactions.
Now, all I need to do is find a time to approach him without either of our houses killing one of us on sight...
Nio managed to get up at his usual time of five the next morning and, despite their exhaustion, he and Evan worked through all their exercises and even slipped in a sparring session.
As he was making his way to breakfast, Nio was waylaid by none other than Draco Malfoy.
Draco had heard along the grapevine that Diadone was always up early, so he stationed himself in an alcove near the Great Hall just after six. Funnily enough, despite the early hour, he had no trouble staying awake. There was just too much to think about.
"Diadone!" Draco called out when he say the kid descending the stairs.
Nio looked around until he spotted Malfoy emerging from the shadows. "Malfoy." He said curtly, wondering what the pureblood wanted.
"Can we talk?" Draco asked, still not quite sure if he really wanted to do this.
With a raised eyebrow, Nio replied, "Sure. But not right now, how does tomorrow evening sound?"
"Yes, that would be fine. Where would you like to meet?"
Nio, not wanting to risk the Trophy Room again, replied, "I will let you know tomorrow." Then he continued on to breakfast, his coffee was waiting.
Draco let out a sigh of relief, he had an entire day and a half to plan. It would also give him a chance to corner Zabini and try to find out the connection between him and Diadone.
After breakfast, Fred and George decided that History of Magic wasn't worth attending and decided to go on their first official exploratory mission of the year. They had quickly learned that the castle didn't stay the same over the summer and therefore they had to do a bit of a walk-around to update the Map. Luckily, the Map somehow managed to identify which parts were most likely to change and directed them towards them.
Fred took the first turn following the map. Something he saw confused him.
"Hey George, who do you think Fluffy is?"
George rolled his eyes as they stepped into a secret passage that had changed its entrance cover, "I'm going to need a bit of context here."
"There's a dot labeled Fluffy in a disused corridor on the third floor." Fred explained as he expertly avoided a floor stone that liked to drop a few inches when stepped on.
"Well, it can't be another Marauder or Marauder-related person because we would recognize the name..."
"George, I do believe this warrants an investigation!"
"I agree, dear brother of mine, I agree."
Then Fred frowned, "Do you think we should bring one of our new conspirators?"
"How about just Evan?" George suggested.
"Sounds good, it looks like he is asleep in the dorms right now."
After collecting the large cat from the Gryffindor tower, the twins headed to the third floor corridor.
Fred tried the door, "Locked." He grumbled.
"Alohomora." Evan – now in his human form – muttered. The door swung open.
George scoffed, "Seriously? That's it?"
"Your most basic unlocking charm?" Fred added with a small frown.
Evan shrugged, "Whatever, let's go."
The three pranksters slipped inside the increasingly interesting corridor and closed the door behind them. Despite the fact that "Fluffy" was in the furthest room from the entrance, they looked in each and every room they came across. Nothing they came across was worth much of their attention, but they would have been terrible investigators if they hadn't thoroughly explored everything surrounding the mystery.
Finally, they came to the last door. "Well, here goes." Evan said as he unlocked then silently opened the door.
The first thing they all noticed was the massive sleeping Cerberus. Then there was the fact that while it had a collar, there wasn't a leash of any kind.
Fred quickly raised a silencing ward and George cast a spell to mask their scents. Evan was suitably impressed with their reaction times and shot an overpowered sleeping charm at the large dog, just to cover all their bases.
"Whoever named that thing needs a reality check." George said faintly.
"And possibly a hit over the head." Fred added.
"Perhaps a memory modification."
"Or a copy of Magical Beasts."
"The definition of a XXXX creature wouldn't hurt."
Evan blinked as he took in the twins' commentary, it was like listening himself and James when they were on a roll...only more intense.
"What do you think it's doing in here?" Fred asked.
"I don't know, take a look around."
With that, the three of them placed the silencing and scent-masking charms on themselves and split up. After ten minutes, Fluffy started to stir and they quickly made their way out of the room. Before leaving the corridor, Evan cast as many wards as he knew on the door. Taking the hint, the twins also placed their own, unique, deterring charms. As they walked back to the entrance, the three also placed a series of rather dangerous and complicated (not to mention embarrassing) booby traps behind them.
Not wanting to risk McGonagall's ire should they miss Transfiguration as well as History, the twins bade Evan – now Scruffs – farewell with the promise of a long discussion later.
All throughout dinner, Nio had trouble sitting still, not that many people would notice. In less than an hour he was going to be meeting with Snape, he hoped it was so that the surly professor could explain the base from potions yesterday, but there was always the chance that he would be reamed a new one for talking back in class.
Severus seemed to be eating his dinner in his usual, scowling, manner but in actuality he was watching the Diadone boy. That child was an enigma. He had clearly had a significant amount of potions experience, possibly even instruction, but if the rumors were true, he was Muggleborn. Now there was a contradiction. How could someone born and raised in the Muggle world have learned enough about potions to impress the youngest Potions Master ever? Even I wasn't that good when I first started school! He thought to himself. And I've always been considered a prodigy!
Feeling eyes on him, Nio looked around for their source. Finally identifying Snape as their owner, he raised an eyebrow.
Realizing that his staring had been noticed, Severus tilted his head towards the door in what he knew Diadone would recognize as an invitation. The boy nodded and clearly began making excuses to his friends. Severus did the same to his colleagues and left the hall.
Nio knocked on the door to Snape's office and waited to be admitted. He had been surprised when Snape invited him to move their meeting to almost an hour earlier, but seeing as he was impatient to get it started, he didn't mind at all.
The first thing Severus noticed when Diadone entered his office was that he had an extremely organized but unprotected mind. Severus didn't use Legilimency on his students except under dire circumstances but the mind arts are complicated and something most people didn't know was that once advanced enough, you couldn't completely turn off your skills, even if you wanted to. Usually this wasn't a problem because in a school this large there were so many unprotected minds, that he unconsciously tuned them out. It helped that they were mostly chaotic and developing minds which were hard to read without at least some concentration.
Unfortunately, another little-known fact about the mind arts was that an organized mind was very easy to read. The reason this wasn't widely known was because up until now, every organized mind was also protected. The second step of Occlumency was to organize your mind, the first was to raise basic barriers so your organized mind didn't call out.
Severus hadn't noticed Diadone's mind in class or in the Great Hall because there were too many other minds around. Now, however, it was taking a significant amount of his concentration to avoid violating this particular student's thoughts, they were just too clear and focused to ignore. He had originally planned on offering to tutor the boy in potions but that plan was scrapped now that they were in a room alone. There was no way he would be able to focus on potions without first teaching him the basics of keeping his mind to himself.
Taking a deep breath and raising his own mental barriers to maximum, Severus addressed the boy who was becoming increasingly confused.
"Diadone, I was going to offer to teach you some of the more intricate aspects of potion making but that is going to have to wait."
Nio frowned, something was obviously wrong with Snape. Not everyone would have noticed, but he was sweating slightly, there was a small amount of tension in his shoulders, and there was a strained tone to his usual scowl.
"Professor," Nio said carefully, "Is everything alright?"
Finally giving up on trying to pretend the majority of his concentration was not being taken up trying not to commit a crime, Severus sighed. "May I ask who taught you to organize your thoughts?"
Nio sat up very straight in his chair, his frown having turned into a scowl. "What do you know?" He asked in a tone that brokered no argument, every single one of his senses going on high alert.
"I know that somehow, you have managed to organize each and every one of your thoughts but have not even tried to protect them." Severus said, finally noticing that he was beginning to sweat. "I do not use it very often, but I have the ability to read minds. Organized minds are much easier but up until now, I have never heard of one not being the least bit protected. For all intents and purposes, you are screaming your thoughts at me. It is very distracting and I am having a hard time keeping them out."
Nio's jaw dropped in shock as he tried (and nearly failed) to think this through. "What?!" He asked in as level a tone as possible considering the circumstances.
Severus realized that unless he did something soon, he would end up with Diadone's thoughts in his mind whether he liked it or not. "I will explain in a minute." He said in a clipped tone. "For now, please try to empty your mind. Take all your thoughts and ignore them."
Understanding that Snape was having trouble, Nio didn't see any harm in doing as he was asked. Taking a deep breath, he quickly cleared his mind as he would during meditation. Then, knowing that it would be impossible to carry on a conversation if he ignored everything, he opened his senses and focused only on what he could hear.
Severus let out a huge sigh and leaned on his desk while he caught his breath. It wasn't until Diadone's thoughts had disappeared that he noticed just how loud they had truly been. Only an expansive, skilled mind and lots of training could have allowed the boy to have such a profound effect on him...and then to completely shut it off. In fact, if he didn't know better, he'd say that Diadone was purposefully testing him!
Having noticed that Snape's breathing was evening out, Nio risked forming enough of a thought so as to ask what was going on. "Professor? What was that?"
"That, Mr. Diadone, was your first lesson in Occlumency." Severus responded. Then, before Diadone could respond, or worse, start thinking loudly again, he continued. "Your second is to imagine some sort of barrier around your mind, most people start with a wall. Please work on that until I return."
Nio frowned, he had no idea what Occlumency was but it seemed as though it would be a good thing to learn. Especially if without it, people would be able to read his mind. Or, if Snape was telling the truth, to not shout his thoughts at people with a certain ability.
With a deep breath, Nio started to build a tall obsidian wall all the way around his mind, carefully tucking all stray thoughts behind it. After a moment's consideration, he turned it into a sphere. If someone could get inside his mind, who is to say they couldn't climb the wall or dig a trench? After all, that's what he would do. Then, as an extra defensive measure, he filled the barrier with his magic.
Severus returned from his private office with a small book in hand and was pleasantly surprised to find that the boy's mind was completely shut away, more so than many adults he had met. "Very impressive, Mr. Diadone. Now, please read this as soon as you can."
Nio took the book offered to him 'Occlumency for the Beginner'. "Thank you, Professor." He said, "But if you don't mind me asking, was this what you asked me to meet you about?"
Severus had to cover his smile, "Indeed it was not. I had intended to offer you private potions instruction. However, it seems as though that will be delayed for a while. The sooner you complete the exercises in that book, the sooner we can discuss the questions you asked in class yesterday."
By the time Nio got back to his common room, he had already read the first chapter and was infinitely grateful to Kimiko Sensei for her thorough lessons in meditation. He only wished he had thought to build a barrier around his well organized mind.
Evan lay on Nio's bed and stared intently at the shivering lump on Ron Weasley's pillow. Scabbers, Wormtail, Pettigrew... he would be perfectly happy to eat that rat up in a second, but this was almost better. Scaring the shit out of the rodent in his cat form was extremely satisfying. Especially because he wasn't doing anything even remotely wrong.
Peter felt the eyes of Nio's 'cat' on him and he curled into an even smaller ball. That thing was always staring at him, like it was just waiting for the perfect moment to pounce and rip him to shreds. But it never even chased him! It would just look! He shivered, he almost wished the thing would do something to put him out of his misery.
Author's Note #2:
I've gotten a few not so nice reviews/personal messages over the duration of this story so I want to say this; if you don't like my story, then you don't have to read it. Especially not all the way to the twelfth chapter. This site has more than half a million Harry Potter fanfiction stories, I'm not forcing you to read this one. There is this funny thing at one of the top corners of your browser, it is a box with an X in it. You click that and this story will magically disappear and you never have to read it again. Thank you, and I'm sorry you don't enjoy my writing.
In regards to the discrepancy between the technology used in my story and what was available at that time; I have taken the artistic liberty which is a fanfiction author's prerogative and made it mostly modern. (I probably won't be including things such as the 4G network and tablet computers...but you never know. Actually, that gives me an idea...)
As to why the twins haven't noticed that Scabbers is Wormtail on the map; Ron only just got to Hogwarts and they haven't had any reason/need to look at the first-year boys' dorm yet. As for when the rat was with Percy...I really don't have an answer for that. Blame the original plot hole please.
About me switching to another site; I won't be doing that, I've had my fair share of frustration with finding stories elsewhere and its just, well, frustrating.
A romantic relationship for Nio; I don't really think I will have one. On the off chance that I do, it won't be Nio/Hermione or Nio/Ginny, neither of their personalities (which I don't plan on changing much) would work with Nio.