A/N: No excuses this time. I am greatly embarrassed by how long it took to get this up. I will tell you that this likely has only a few chapters left. Not sure how many at this moment but we'll see. I'll try and have a rough estimate with the next update, which should be sooner as I am on vacation from work right now.
25th May, Malfoy Manor-
Hadrian leaned back in his chair, greatly amused. At seven months pregnant, Sirius was still very much a firecracker and currently his father Regulus was possibly in hot water with his elder brother, having mentioned the fact that the unborn Prince heir was likely going to need his sire's intelligence to avoid the trouble his bearer had often gotten into during school. Sirius wasn't angry at the insinuation that he was a trouble-maker, the reason for his currently flashing eyes was a perceived slight to his intelligence.
James rolled his eyes at his Lord and husband before sitting next to Sirius and soothing him quietly as only he could. They still shared an incredibly close bond as friends and it had only increased with the knowledge that they were actually brothers by marriage, after Sirius had gotten over the hurt that he hadn't been trusted with his brother's marriage. Reminding Sirius that he hadn't been a supporter of the Dark Lord at the time and James hadn't wanted to risk his unborn son had done a great deal to calm Sirius' aggrieved attitude.
Now James calmed his friend and helped his sometimes blunt husband avoid a good hexing, that and Severus appeared with a cup of tea for his pregnant Rose, one that very easily concealed a few drops of a Calming Draught once Severus took in the situation at hand. The man who snapped at students during the school year was endlessly patient with his Rose during the summer months, calming his tempers and easing the aches caused by late pregnancy.
Remus winced in sympathy with Sirius' plight, especially now that he himself was carrying. Gareth had let Fenrir 'disappear' a few months previous and was utterly delighted with Remus' pregnancy, though he treated him with far less fragile care than Severus did. Then again, Remus was a bookworm and loved the quiet peace of his household, Sirius was a hyper individual at the best of times and mischievous when bored at his worst. Not to mention that Remus was only 3 months gone to Sirius' 7.
Rabastan walked in behind Severus and shook his head, taking in Hadrian over on his loveseat perch with a glittering, possessive look in his eyes. Hadrian rolled his eyes lightly in response but moved over easily enough so that Rabastan could sit, the elder man winding his arm around Hadrian's waist out of habit. Hadrian rested his head on the firm, broad shoulder and smiled as his father let out a not-so-faked sigh of relief.
James had noticed Hadrian's reaction and gave a soft snort of laughter. He was looking much better already from the last time Harry had seen his father and he smiled at the thought, relieved that the old man's damage was finally being fixed. Regulus' arm was out of his sling as well, though he could still hardly use it. The best of Saint Mungo's had offered their assistance, but Regulus had declined in favour of his Lord's private healers, though where exactly the help was coming from was a secret of course.
Both James and Regulus had met with the Minister and two of his aides yesterday, confirming their status as alive but severely wounded and handing over papers that documented their bonding, Hadrian's birth and the damage caused by Dumbledore as assessed by healers in the Swiss version of Saint Mungo's, all keeping with their created story.
"My son seems a bit put-out by your overprotective behaviour," James commented with a smile and a small laugh at Rabastan's playfully exaggerated frown.
"My Rose seems to be reluctant to take it easy, though he needs to do so. After all, he does hold the future of the Lestrange family line."
The last few words didn't register at first and then Remus' eyes widened in surprise and happiness as his gaze darted to where Rabastan's protective hand laid over Hadrian's waist.
"Congratulations to you both," he said warmly, before anyone else had reacted.
Then James was laughing happily and removing himself from Sirius' side, going to his son's instead and smiling joyously. "When?"
"The end of December or the beginning of January, so just about a month after Remus," Hadrian smiled back at his bearer, directing a smile at Remus as well.
Regulus also levered himself out of his chair and moved over to Hadrian, resting his good hand on Hadrian's shoulder and leaning down to place a gentle paternal kiss on his silky hair. "I am happy for you, my precious Hadrian."
"Thank you, Father," Hadrian said softly, swallowing a lump in his throat as he realised that his children would have a very large family that would love and protect them always.
Regulus and James sat down again and sensing a need for a change in subject Severus said, "It is amazing what the Ministry can do when they put their minds to a problem, isn't it?"
The group sniggered in appreciation of his dry humour. Dumbledore's portrait had been removed, as well as his precious Chocolate Frog card. All honors accorded to him during his stay as Headmaster had been publicly removed and though his term as Headmaster remained in the school's history, it would be a considerable blight in the future. He had also lost his Order of Merlin, First Class. Turned out that Dumbledore and Grindelwald had been lovers and had both believed in the 'Greater Good', it had only been cold feet on Dumbledore's part that made him back away from their plans of occupation of magical Europe as a whole.
The man had confronted Grindelwald but he had somehow managed to poison the 'Dark Lord' ahead of the battle, so it had been a considerably less honorable battle than he had originally told the Ministry and Wizengamot. The International Confederation of Wizards had long since had their own doubts and Dumbledore's word hadn't been worth much by the end of his life. The IFC had in fact considered magical Great Britain something of a joke if their International figure was Albus long-named Dumbledore.
Aside from Dumbledore and all of his considerable faults, the Ministry had gone through the Staff as well. Severus had retired at the end of term and acted as an 'impartial' guide through the staff, though he was far from impartial. With Severus speaking in the right ears all of the Dumbledore supporters had been sacked without parting compensation and with significantly reduced retirement funds to support them. Filius Flitwick, Rubeus Hagrid and Professor Trelawney had been removed quietly enough, each of these three accepting their notices and leaving the grounds within two weeks. Filius and Trelawney had left student schedules behind, though Filius was the only one that the School Board paid attention to.
Minerva McGonagall, on the other hand, had suffered much more than simply being sacked and having her retirement reduced. With testimonies from the remaining Marauders, Severus Snape and Regulus Black they had investigated her past quite harshly and found her overwhelming bias toward her own house. While Severus may have been harsh toward other students and taken a gluttonous amount of points from students he disliked, if Slytherins caused actual physical or emotional harm to another he had punished them firmly according to the school's charter.
Minerva on the other hand had let numerous incidents slide, not just those of the Marauders and later Hadrian and his two sidekicks. Some of these had involved great physical and emotional harm, sometimes even on her own students. Her favoritism extended toward grades as well, when the School Board had investigated they had been horrified to see just to what extent she would bump up her favorite students grades and shove others down. She had actually been cut of her retirement in its entirety and stripped of her Transfiguration Mastery. She was forbidden employment in a teaching capacity and forced off school grounds. Rumors said that she had returned to Scotland in humiliated, quiet exile.
A side inspection on Hermione Granger had opened up its own can of worms, the girl had been cheating significantly on her tests and finals, even just on normal essays. She was stripped of any honors by the School Board and notified that if she chose to pursue a higher education at one of the few elite Wizarding Colleges they would be given documentation that labeled her for perjury and cheating in the past. The chances of any of these elite schools accepting her for study, or even a Master as an apprentice were close to none.
Ronald Weasley himself had been stripped of his graduation certificate, he had not actually met requirements when not boosted by the Head of his House. He would be required to take them again next spring after home study, if at all. Considering how expensive the tests were if one had to retake them, Hadrian highly doubted that Ronald Bilius Weasley would ever be a fully-qualified wizard.
He would get no help from Bill, that was certain. William Weasley had his own distractions in the form of becoming a proper pureblood, learning the niceties and politics that surrounded the Dark Sect, the etiquette lessons now that he was properly recognised as Rose and not the least of these, fending for himself and cautiously handling the sudden intense attention and Courting of the Dark Lord himself, who was fascinated and deeply attracted to him.
It caused some humor from Hadrian and all of his family when they watched the oddly shy reactions Bill possessed when faced with the interests from such a powerful individual. The twins, who had agreed to become their allies and spies instead of openly Marked followers, thought their brother was very amusing and would never have thought that their 'blood-traitor' family might be elevated so far. Away from their Muggle-loving father and over-bearing harpy of a mother these three members of the family had proven their worth and dedication, unofficially changing their formal last name from Weasley to Prewett, not that it would be known generally until some changes happened in the Ministry.
Regarding the rest of their family, Bill and the twins had sadly agreed that none of the others were likely redeemable and would not do anything against their punishment for siding with the wrong cause nor helping the remarkably nasty former Headmaster. It caused them some pain as they knew that not all of their family would just give up and the inevitability of losing someone from their previously tight-knit household was painful.
For now things were going quite well in life. Hadrian smiled softly, laying one of his hands across his still-flat waist and imagining the child within. His family was whole and with the blessing of the Goddess and magic, it would remain so. He could not have imagined how his life would be almost a year ago.