Content Harry Potter Miscellaneous
  • Previous
  • Next

Author Notes:

You may wish to use the bathroom before reading this chapter.

Chapter 23: Tea with the Headmaster

"Mum? Don’t you have to go in tonight?"

Andromeda, still curled in her husband’s armchair trying not to think of her sister, gasped. She had almost forgotten that taking the day off meant she’d have to work the night shift. "Oh Merlin, that’s right — thank you, sweetheart, you’re a lifesaver."

Dora came carefully across the room, only tripping once, and hugged her. "Are you all right?"

"I will be, sweetie. Thank you. But I do have to get going now…"


One thing being a Healer taught you was discipline. Whatever was happening in your personal life could absolutely not be allowed to interfere with giving your patients the best possible care. So Andromeda pushed all her sorrow and confusion and worry to the back of her mind and made rounds with the best smile she could.

Right until a young wizard, wearing the uniform of an Auror-trainee, came stumbling out of the fireplace in the St. Mungo’s lobby while she was waiting at the on-call booth. "Emergency," he gasped out. "We need a Healer right away — someone’s dying—"

Andromeda snatched her kit and followed the boy back through the fire almost without hearing the destination he called out. He led her down a series of dark corridors, lined with identical doors, all barred —


And it wasn’t until he stopped in front of one of them that she realized what was going on, and who the patient was that she had been called to tend…

"There’s nothing I can do," she said flatly, turning quickly away.

"How can you know that?" the Auror in charge, a woman with blond hair going silver, demanded. "At least try." She waved her wand, opening the door of the cell.

Andromeda forced her emotion down and stepped in. But it wasn’t easy to look at that face, so still, so white, and not remember…

No, it was impossible. Andromeda put her wand away and took the patient’s hand, as she had done long ago, when she was still just tomboy Andy, and the patient was just her annoying little tagalong sister Cissy…


At first she thought she’d imagined the whisper, but then she saw that Narcissa’s eyes had opened, and were fixed on her.

"Yeah. It's me." She tried to smile. "Hi, Cissy."

"I’m… going. Aren’t I."

"I thought that was what you wanted."

"It is." Narcissa’s free hand fluttered up for a second, then fell back to the mattress beside her. "Will you… do something for me?"

"Anything." To make up for everything I should have done when we were girls… I’m sorry I told you to go away so often, you turned to Bella instead, and this is what came of it…

"My ring. My… heirloom ring. Take it."

"All right." Andromeda gently pulled the ring from her sister’s finger. She herself wore the mate to it, of course, and she assumed the third had either been confiscated or was with their oldest sister, in Azkaban… "Do you want me to do something special with it?"

"Yes. Draco. Give it… to him. When you see him again. Or if you ever… find out where he is. They said… they would teach him… my name…" A pause, a long, rattling breath. "I want him… to have something… of mine…"

"I will," Andromeda promised, stroking Narcissa’s face. "Hush now, go to sleep. I love you."

Narcissa’s face blossomed into a childlike smile. "Love… you…" Her eyes closed.

Andromeda clamped down on herself with all of her Healer’s control. There would be a time for tears.

She rose and faced the Aurors. The woman looked considering, the boy just looked amazed.

"She was my sister," she said in her most neutral tone. "She wrote to me today, telling me that she had poisoned herself. That was how I knew I could do nothing."

"My condolences," the woman said quietly, opening the cell door for her.

"Thank you." Schooling herself to uprightness and steady steps, Andromeda began to walk back down the hall.

She got as far as the next cell.

The smug smile on its occupant’s face pierced everything she had.

With a strangled oath, she drew her wand and Stunned the man, consciously restraining herself from killing him instead, or inflicting some kind of lasting damage.

"And thank you," the Auror said from behind her, with a short, grim laugh. "I’ve been wanting to do that for the last three hours."

"Oh, you’re quite welcome," Andromeda said, feeling her tension about to release itself in hysterical laughter. "I… think I need to get back, can you show me out?"

"Go on, boy, show Healer Tonks the exit," said the Auror. "Azkaban’s too good for this one," she added under her breath, but Andromeda heard her.

"I’ll second that," she answered venomously, and quickly followed the trainee, who now seemed afraid that she might hex him at any moment.

I need to go home. And cry for about an hour. And have my husband hold me, and tell me the world hasn’t all gone mad.

But first I have to finish my shift.

Duty comes first, after all.

She squared her shoulders and climbed into the fireplace.

"St. Mungo’s Hospital!"


Harry woke up early on Sunday morning. And when Harry woke up early, so did everyone else in the house.

We have got to teach him the meaning of "quiet", Remus said with a groan.

Best of luck. Danger rolled over and checked the clock. Ack. 7:15. There are days I wish I had never got into any of this…

Harry burst into their bedroom. "We going to Hogwarts t’day!"

"That’s right, Harry. Hogwarts today," Remus said, sitting up to receive the armful of wiggly, excited almost-four-year-old. "But not until this afternoon. You’re going to wake everybody up if you keep yelling."

"Going to?" Sirius asked from the door with a yawn. "Try did."

"Good morning to you too."

"Why we going to Hogwarts?" Draco asked. He was in one of his timid moods, where he seemed afraid of everyone and everything. These alternated with his "king-of-the-universe" moods, in which he demanded impossible things and called people names. Both were rather hard to take. But every now and again, a third Draco looked out of his eyes, this one neither painfully shy nor arrogant but energetic and eager to learn, and Danger suspected the longer he was treated kindly, the more this third Draco would emerge.

"We’re going to have tea with the Headmaster, Professor Dumbledore," Aletha said, as Sirius came into the bedroom and sat on the foot of the bed, Neenie and Draco following him in. "He wants to meet you and talk with us. And he’ll have biscuits for you. But we’re not going until four o’clock, so there’s no reason to be up now, Harry." She planted her hands on her hips and made a face at the boy, who made one right back.

"Well, as long as we are all up, who wants breakfast?" Danger asked, swinging her legs out of bed.


Breakfast was followed by some time in the back yard. "Go get dirty," Remus told the children, opening the door for them. "You’re having baths after lunch."

Harry careened out the door and tore around the house once, yelling for sheer joy. Neenie and Draco looked at one another with identical expressions of amused tolerance before meandering out themselves. Aletha followed them out, dressed in gardening clothes, with Meghan behind her, one hand on Padfoot’s back for balance (walking still being a relatively new skill to her).

It wasn’t long before the sun and the joyous yells from the small grassy area drew Remus outside as well. The children and Sirius were kicking around a big, inflated ball, about as tall as Meghan was, which didn’t seem to bother her at all as she chased it and threw herself at it. Occasionally, one of them would break off to see if Aletha had turned up any worms. Worms were a fascination of all four children, neither of the girls having developed the aversion to them supposedly common to their sex.

After a while, Harry went to relax in the shade. Remus could see him, lying on his stomach, heels in the air, looking at something in the grass in front of him —

And talking to it —

As he got closer to Harry, he could hear part of what the boy was saying. Hear, but not understand. Harry was, indeed, a Parselmouth. And he was apparently having a spirited conversation with the small garden snake in the grass in front of him.

Wonderful. Another thing for the tell-absolutely-no-one-about-this list. Right up there with his real name and that scar on his forehead.

If he reaches the age of 11 even close to normal, it will be a miracle.

"Hi, Moony. You wanna talk to Sisseehh with me?"

"Is that the snake’s name, Harry?"

Harry nodded. "She never met anybody who could talk snake b’fore. Can you talk snake, Moony?"

"No, Harry. Almost nobody can talk snake. I think you’re probably the only one. And it scares some people, so it has to be a den-secret. All right?"

"All right. Can Sisseehh live in the Den?"

Remus tried to imagine Danger and Aletha’s reaction to a pet snake.

I somehow doubt they’d be enraptured by the idea…

"Why don’t you ask her if she wants to live indoors, Harry?"

Harry turned back to the snake and hissed at it — at her — for a moment. The response was inaudible to Remus, but Harry frowned a little. "She says no, she likes outside. But she’ll stay ‘round now she knows I live here, and we can talk lots and lots. She knows stories to tell me!"

"Is she going to tell you one now?"


"All right, I’ll let you two talk. We’ll call you in when it’s time for lunch."

"OK." Harry turned back to the snake, listening intently.

And a new high on the surreal-o-meter has been reached.

Oh, you have one too?

Yes, when did yours start registering?

Right about the time I fell in love with a werewolf.

Touché. It’s official, Harry’s a Parselmouth. He’s making friends with a snake as we speak.

Is it poisonous?

No. And "it" happens to be a she, according to our little native speaker.

All right, is she going to come in the house?


Then fine. As long as no one sees him. Right?


I hope.


After lunch was lesson time for the three older children. Draco was just beginning to sound out words, so Harry and Neenie both beat him out in reading, but he showed talent for mathematics. Danger found herself enjoying her role as teacher quite a bit.

Maybe I would have made a good primary teacher. If the past three years had never happened, that is.

And that’s something I’m not willing to wish. Not by a long shot.

Draco’s reward for finishing his work was some time with Aletha in the music room, where she taught him some of the simpler songs the other children already knew. Neenie and Harry’s was to have Sirius read a story to them, something they adored. Danger found herself making excuses to stay in the room while he read to them — she liked to listen herself, she admitted finally.

Sirius does read well. Elocution lessons, he says, one of those things pureblood children get tutored in once they get old enough to pay attention. Poor Draco — he would have gone straight from hardly ever seeing a human being to lessons six hours a day. It’s a wonder any of the purebloods survive.

Baths for all the children were organized after lessons were over. Neenie shared a tub with Meghan, as they had done since before Meghan could sit up, when Neenie had cradled the littler girl in her arms so that the supervising adult could get her washed. Harry and Draco took their turns in the other bathroom, and then it was time to get dressed and ready for the big outing.


"Don’ wanna wear a dress," Neenie complained, wiggling away from Aletha’s hands.

"Don’t you want to look pretty?"

"No. I’m a warrior. Warriors don’t look pretty."

"Oh, yes, they do. You look at me. Do I look pretty?"

"Yeah," Hermione admitted.

Thank heaven, she never gets totally irrational the way Harry does sometimes.

"Well, I’m a warrior. I fought a terrible beast on Thursday and chased him away from our Den. So you see, warriors can look pretty."

Hermione cast a doubtful look at the dress, but allowed herself to be helped into it.

"But it’s only girl warriors who get to look pretty," Aletha confided as she gently combed Hermione’s hair. "Boy warriors have to look handsome. And I think that’s harder."

Neenie giggled. "Harry’n’Draco gonna look han’some?"

"I hope so," Aletha said. "Where are your good shoes?"

"B’hind the bureau."

"What are they doing there? No, never mind, don’t tell me, I don’t want to know. Just go get them."

Neenie sped out of the bathroom and down the hall to the cubs’ room, where the boys were dressing. A two-part screech of outraged little-boy modesty arose, and Aletha had to muffle her face in a nearby bath towel to keep from laughing out loud.

Ah, how I love my Pack.


Sirius was a bit nervous as the time for leaving approached. He hadn’t left the Den undisguised in… well, ever.

But if we can’t trust Dumbledore, who can we trust? And it’s not as if I haven’t been to his office before… for one reason or another.

As Aletha’s mantel clock ticked over to show four o’clock, he lifted Harry up and entered the green flames with (he hoped) no outward signs of trepidation. "Headmaster’s office, Hogwarts," he said, and held Harry close as they spun through the Floo connection.

Dumbledore was expecting them. The usually empty floor space of his office was filled with a large round table, with one high chair and eight regular chairs set up, three of them with booster seats. The man himself turned from doing something esoteric to the teapot with genuine welcome on his face. "Sirius, what a pleasure to see you again, under less tense circumstances than the last time."

"Agreed," Sirius said, shaking Dumbledore’s extended hand. "Harry, this is Professor Dumbledore. Say hello."

"Hi," Harry said, sticking out his own hand as Sirius put him down. "You got a long beard."

"Indeed I do," Dumbledore said, shaking hands with Harry, his eyes twinkling. "I seem to recall," he said to Sirius, "a certain young man whose first audible comment upon arrival in the Great Hall in his first year was ‘Great Merlin, his beard’s enormous!’"

Sirius laughed aloud as Aletha stepped from the fireplace with Meghan. "Only you would remember that this long, Headmaster."

Danger, who came next, had to be introduced (dream meetings didn’t count), as did Neenie, but the real moment of truth came when Remus exited the fire, holding Draco in his arms.

"Hello, Draco. I am Professor Dumbledore." Probably wisely, Dumbledore stayed a short distance away from the boy, letting him set the pace.

Draco’s shoulders went back and his chin went up.

Oh, damn it, he’s into one of his arrogant moods again…

"My father says you an old coot," Draco announced.

"He may be right," said Dumbledore gravely.

Draco seemed to have been expecting a different reaction. He looked curiously at Dumbledore, his posture returning to normal. "What’s a coot?" he said finally.

Remus and Danger carefully avoided looking at one another, the way they did when they were talking privately. Probably laughing, instead of talking, Sirius thought. He wished he had an outlet like that — he was just stuck trying not to laugh at his newest son.

"It’s not a polite word, Draco," Aletha said quietly. "You’re not in any trouble, but it’s not a word to use about someone else. All right?"

Draco nodded, looking a little shamefaced, having reverted to his timid mode.

"Children," Sirius said, getting attention from Draco and Neenie. Harry was investigating the table, and the refreshments on it. "Harry." The boy jumped and turned around guiltily. "Time to listen. We’ll have tea in a minute." He nodded to Remus.

"Listen carefully, cubs," Remus said, subtly loading his tone with listen-to-me-and-obey overtones, as he was so good at doing. "Professor Dumbledore is our Pack-friend, which means he is allowed to know our den-secrets. This office is another Den for us. In here, it is safe to use your in-den names and to wear your real faces. The moment you go past that door—" He pointed it out. "You are out-of-den, and you need to use out-of-den names and not talk about den-secrets. Understand?"

"Unnerstan’," Hermione said, as Harry and Draco gave nods.

"Good." Remus turned to Dumbledore. "Your party," he said.

Dumbledore smiled. "So it is. Come, let us have tea. And perhaps we can discuss the exact method by which the son of Lucius Malfoy came into your hands."

"Yes, perhaps we can," Sirius said, pulling out a chair for Aletha. "And perhaps we can also discuss getting some kind of warding on that house so that you know if something happens to all of us. Which it did, Wednesday night."

"Lucius Malfoy caught on to us somehow," Aletha picked up the story. "He got into the Den, Stunned us all, and took us to his manor. He had various uncouth things planned for us which I will not spoil a pleasant meal by relating. Suffice it to say, he deserves everything he’s getting."

"Narcissa made a deal with us," Sirius took over again. "Our freedom, and Lucius’ removal from the picture, if we would take Draco and raise him with Harry and Hermione."

"She poisoned herself," Danger said quietly. "She didn’t ever want Draco to have divided loyalties. She even asked us not to teach him about her."

"She asked. And you responded?"

"We said no," said Remus. "Draco deserves to know his mother’s name, and what she did for him, the same way that Harry does. And they will. As long as we live."

"Which may not be much longer, if another dementor comes calling," growled Sirius.

"Yes, I did get word of that," Dumbledore said. "Through the stories about your rampage through the DMLE, Aletha. Is it true you threw a chair over three cubicles?"

"A chair? No, it was a bloody great form they wanted me to fill out! A chair, honestly… This horrid little woman, looked like a toad, with this awful saccharine voice, kept insisting that ‘you must have been mistaken, dear, there’s simply no way a dementor could have been in your house,’ until I wanted to step on her…"

"Dolores Umbridge," Dumbledore said, his voice becoming suddenly alert. "You spoke with Dolores Umbridge?"

"Yes, I think that was her name. Why does it matter?"

"Because Dolores Umbridge has no business in the Department of Magical Law Enforcement," Dumbledore said crisply. "She works directly for Cornelius Fudge. She was his candidate for the position you now hold, Aletha."

"Ick. I can see why you wouldn’t want her around, Headmaster. After the fourth time she told me I must have been wrong, I snatched the form out of her hand, crumpled it up in front of her face, threw it over her head, and said, ‘Well, if it wasn’t a dementor, it was a damn good imitation, since the only thing it responded to was a Patronus Charm, and it got itself out of the house right smart when I did one of those. I have a one-year-old daughter, Madam, and I want to be able to put her to sleep without worrying about having her soul sucked out. If you’re not going to listen to me, I’m taking this to the Daily Prophet.’ And I did."

"Which explains the next morning’s headline," Dumbledore said, half-turning and Summoning a newspaper from his desk. The front page proclaimed:


Private home invaded, Ministry worker claims

Are your children safe? Ministry declines comment

"With this, along with the other recent news," Dumbledore glanced at Draco, whose attention was riveted on his ginger snaps, "there are likely to be elections in the near future. I will, of course, be as apolitical as possible. It would be unscrupulous of me to do anything to influence the voters’ choice. For instance, I would never dream of making public the fact that Cornelius Fudge sleeps in pajamas with feet attached."

Sirius choked on the biscuit he was eating. No. No way. He did not just…

"And I would certainly not tell such a fact to people noted for their pranking ability."

Oh yes he did.

Danger sighed and closed her eyes, an expression of bliss sliding onto her face.

"Nor would I tell them that on the night of 2 August, the Minister’s private residence will be guarded by an Auror named Shacklebolt, who, if he is given the proper reassurances, might allow himself to be overpowered. While denying later that he did any such thing, of course."

"And you wouldn’t want those people to act on this information that you haven’t given them?" Remus asked, flashing a quick hand signal across the table.

"I don’t believe this." Me either…

"No, of course not."

"Then I think we understand each other," Aletha said, her lips curving in an extremely satisfied smile.

"Quite so." Dumbledore reached for the teapot. "More tea, anyone?"


After they had finished tea, the Pack assumed their out-of-den identities and went down to visit Hagrid. As they came down the grand marble staircase, Danger suddenly stiffened. Remus — don’t say anything.

Why not?

I don’t know. A hunch. Just don’t.

"The Headmaster is very nice," Danger said a bit inanely to Aletha.

"Oh, yes, isn’t he?" Aletha answered, picking up her cue excellently. "So darling and so funny — I haven’t laughed so much in weeks."


As I thought. No one I need or want to be concerned with.

The dark figure in the doorway to the stairs vanished with a billow of cloak, returning to his preferred haunts, below ground, where he could work uninterrupted by foolish students for another blissful month before the resumption of that tiresome thing known as the school year.


Hagrid was overjoyed to receive them in his house — Remus went through the Pack-friend ritual for the cubs again with Hagrid, naming his hut as "another Den" for them as well, and their behavior towards him soon reflected that.

"Never though’ I’d see th’ day," he said, bouncing all three older cubs on his knee at once. "Son o’ James Potter, son o’ Lucius Malfoy — raised together. An’ raised right. They’ll be Gryffindors, mark me words."

"We certainly hope so," Aletha said, laughing. "And they’ll know not to be afraid of the big man who calls them off the train. You remember what I did when I saw you?"

"Not abou’ ter fergit, am I?" Hagrid guffawed. "Yeh almos’ ran over two o’ yer classmates before one o’ the purebloods told yeh who I was an’ all."

"I never knew that," Sirius said with interest, looking at his wife. "The things you learn when you go on an outing to Hogwarts."

"Feetie pajamas," Danger said very quietly.

"Pardon?" Hagrid said in confusion.

"Check the Prophet on 3 August, Hagrid," Remus said with a wicked smile. "The Marauders are back."


An owl was waiting impatiently on the window ledge when they got home. Aletha took the letter from it, and it flew off immediately.

"There’s something in here," she said, feeling the envelope. "I think it’s a ring."

She ripped the letter open and turned it over. A gold ring fell into her hand. "Sure enough. Let me see who it’s from."

Sirius took the ring from her hand and looked at it. "It’s from Andromeda," he said. Then he looked at it again. "No… I take that back. This is from Narcissa."

"It’s from both of them." Aletha read the letter aloud.

Dear Aletha,

As you requested, I will not ask you any questions you can’t answer. But in case you should ever happen to see my sister’s son, would you please give him, or his guardians, this ring. It was Narcissa’s, a family heirloom, and she wanted him to have something of herself. I would also appreciate occasionally hearing news of Draco, if that can be arranged. Whether it can or not, I will keep my silence.


Andromeda Black Tonks

"How did she know what Narcissa wanted?" Sirius wondered aloud.

"The Healer," Aletha said quietly. "The Prophet article about Narcissa’s death mentioned that a Healer couldn’t do anything to save her. It must have been Andromeda."

"She had to watch her sister die?" Danger closed her eyes in sympathy. "God, how awful."

"We will send her news of Draco," Remus said. "Every few months. It's the least we can do."


On Harry’s birthday, all four cubs received presents — gold chains to wear around their necks, each with one or two rings hanging from it. Sirius had retrieved his own heirloom ring, which had been placed in the Black family vault after his arrest, and Meghan now carried it.

"She’s the next generation of the house of Black, after all," was his reasoning. "No reason for me to wear it, now that she’s here."

"Not to mention you hate most of your family," Aletha said, kicking him gently in the shin.

Draco bore his mother’s ring, of course, and Harry and Neenie each had two — their parents’ wedding bands. Danger had kept her parents’, and James’ and Lily’s had been given to Remus as the closest family friend available.

"This way, the ones who loved you will always be close to your heart," Danger explained to the children. "You can wear them always, even in the bath — even when you go to bed. Because your parents’ love for you is always there, even though you can’t see it."

"But you our parents now," Neenie said in confusion.

"You can have more than one set of parents," Danger said. "Look around you, silly girl — you have two sets as it is!"

"Don’ call me silly." Neenie pouted.

"You know what happens to pouters," Remus said, inching his hand across the table towards the girl. "They get…"

"Tickled!" shrieked the boys, and pounced on Neenie.

The party ended, as most parties did at the Den, in happy confusion.


Cornelius Fudge awoke, wondering why he felt oddly chilly, and what all the whispering was about around him.

As he opened his eyes, the reason became horribly apparent. His bed had, somehow, been transported into the middle of the Atrium of the Ministry of Magic. His covers had been removed, except for one sheet, which had been emblazoned with the words:


Said sheet had been placed sideways across him, to show that he was, indeed, wearing the mentioned articles of clothing.

He had also, apparently, been Stuck to the bed. He certainly couldn’t move. He had a horrible premonition that the sheet was Permanently Stuck to his favorite pajamas.

And the whispering noise was exactly that. People standing near his bed, staring and whispering. A lot of people.

The only thing which could make this worse would be…

From somewhere nearby, he heard the distinctive "poof" of a camera going off. He groaned and hid his head under the pillow.

This is the worst day of my life, and it hasn’t even started yet.


Saturday 4 August 1984


Staff leaves with ex-Minister; Vilias to take over in interim

By Rita Skeeter, Special Reporter

Minister of Magic Cornelius Fudge had something less than a good week last week. First, the arrests of the Malfoys, in whom the Minister expressed public confidence at the time of their original trials. Secondly, the suspicious death of Narcissa Malfoy — was it suicide, as reported, the general public wondered, or something more sinister? But the final straw that broke this hippogriff’s back was the by now infamous exposure of the Minister’s choice of sleeping apparel by a person or persons unknown. This dreadful event has already gained Fudge the moniker "Feetie Fudge."

Fudge resigned today, citing "health concerns" as the cause. Head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement Lars Vilias will take over the day-to-day concerns of government until new elections can be held. One Ministry insider, frothing with rage, told this reporter, "Mr. Fudge has been vilely defamed by this scandal, and I intend to see justice done on whoever perpetrated it. They will not escape my wrath forever."

"Oh, I’m so scared," Sirius whined. "Save me, save me."

"Cheers," Remus said with a grin, lifting his glass. "To a prank successfully pulled."

"To a corrupt idiot removed from office," Aletha toasted.

"To Feetie Fudge," said Danger with a very carefully straight face.

"Eurgh, wonder what that would taste like?" said Sirius.

The Pack fell apart laughing.

  • Previous
  • Next