Chapter Three: Social Calls
Nott Manor while grandiose in appearance was also quite dark and foreboding, the place looked more like a medieval stronghold than an old manor home.
Whereas many old pureblood families tried to impress with riches and splendor- such as the Malfoy, Longbottom and Greengrass families, others sought to do so through intimidation. Among these families were the Blacks, Bones, Lestranges and Notts.
Of course not all families continued to adhere strictly to their families' original values as they grew and intermarried with other families.
Longbottom Manor, for instance, while still as wondrous as when it had first been built, showed influences from the Black and Nott Families, giving the manor an aura of hidden dangers. Bones Manor, on the other hand, before it had been destroyed by Voldemort, had undergone much more drastic renovations and had reflected styles traditionally more reminiscent of the Potter, Greengrass and Abbott families- turning away from their 'dark' roots over the centuries. Still, many a Death Eater had been felled by the Bones Manor defenses alone, not to mention that Amelia Bones was not one to be trifled with, before Voldemort stepped in and obliterated both the Manor and the woman who resided there. It was only luck on Susan Bones' part that she'd been staying with the Abbotts for the week when her Aunt had been slaughtered like some wild animal.
Many an ancestor of the Black Family would be spinning in their graves if they could see their Ancestral Home in the modern age- given the large amount of Dwarven and Muggle influence that could be seen throughout the interior of the house. However, even the most ardent purist and traditionalist would be impressed, even if they wouldn't admit it, by the amount of work the current owner put into upgrading the house's defenses. While the house was nearly completely devoid of anything resembling the Black Family's long and storied heritage, the house, at least in spirit, was still a Black Family icon just waiting for some foolish sod to try and infiltrate its defenses, whether by force or guile.
Never-the-less, the Nott Family, even before they were Death Eaters and ardent followers of Voldemort, had a long and storied history of ruthlessness and intimidation, matched only by the all but extinct Rosier family and the nearly defunct Black Family. Despite the families somewhat bloodthirsty reputation and dark leanings- or perhaps even because of it- Anastasia Nott was quite at home in this place.
Anastasia Nott, formerly Van Ryn, was a wealthy and beautiful pureblood graduate of Durmstrange only a year younger than her husband. She had silky golden hair and piercing icy blue eyes and prided herself on being the perfect pureblood wife, having been betrothed to Theodore since they were small children. She stood at his arm, dutifully and silent, observing everything around them and only giving input whenever directly asked. However, even though she was the Mistress of the Manor, she still couldn't help but feel insignificant in the presence of some of her husband's associates.
Natasha Zabini, in particular, was one that Anastasia steered clear of. The woman was "Slytherin" to the core, ambitious and cunning- eighteen husbands in all, each having left her with a sizable inheritance. Within the walls of the secret meeting room they were in, she was referred to as Black Widow, for obvious reasons. The Zabinis were a Matriarchal Family that originated in Italy that had migrated to England some three hundred years prior and they had been careful to not lose their name or identity in all that time. Though the family could hardly be attributed to any major event or magical breakthrough, they still held quite a bit of influence- mostly due to their cunning ruthlessness and overwhelming wealth.
Only Potter, Weasley and Malfoy in Theodore's year had comparable fortunes.
Daphne Greengrass, also known as Metus, was another one to not be trifled with. Hers was a name well-earned as she seemed to instantly intimidate most everyone who knew of the woman's true nature, and even quite a few who didn't. That Lady Nott had observed, only Draco and Astoria Malfoy and Natasha Zabini had not seemed to wilt by her mere presence. Even her Theodore was intimidated by his former classmate and it wasn't hard to see why either. The woman was not only deadly and cunning, but she was also ruthless and vindictive. Though Anastasia had never personally witnessed any such acts, it was said that those Lady Metus wished dead begged for it if their minds weren't already completely broken by then.
The Nott family matriarch could only shudder if someone like Daphne Greengrass had been under the employ of the Dark Lord all those years ago.
And then there was the one whom many would have found the least intimidating. Antares Hippos, who went by the moniker Lazarus, was a moderately wealthy Head of House for an minor pureblood family that was thought to be extinct almost half a century ago. With him was his business partner and muscle Gregory Goyle. They had the least amount of resources and influence within the Cabal, despite pooling their resources together, not to mention Hippos was too new to the game and Goyle, like his father and his father's father had the longstanding reputation of having the intelligence of an ape.
Still... Something about them seemed off to Anastasia, though she couldn't point out any one thing. There was something unidentifiable about them that rang false, though Theodore assured her she was likely seeing things that weren't there- especially where Goyle was concerned. She didn't find THAT likely either, but acceded to her husband's confidence that everything was as it seemed. Still, she kept a close eye on them, something that both Hippos and Goyle were either oblivious to or unconcerned about- she could never decide.
Eventine Rosier, also known as Atrocitus, was one to watch out for, though not through any sort of cunning or guile that he possessed. Sure, like other purebloods, he'd been trained from birth in the art of politics, back room deals and double crosses, he just simply didn't have the head for it. He was a brute, a ruthlessly efficient brute, but still a simple minded neanderthal when it came down to it. It was he, along with Violet Yaxley, that ran the protection and enforcement operations of The Cabal. He kept the men in line and assured that their clients paid on time, while Violet kept track of the day to day operations.
Violet Yaxley, AKA Vanité, was Rosier's exact opposite. Whereas Rosier was a large man with heavy musculature, and had the look of a common thug who came into a lot of money, Violet Yaxley was a small petite woman of great beauty. Unlike Natasha or Daphne, and to a lesser extent, Anastasia herself, whose beauty came naturally, Violet's beauty mostly came from cosmetics and whatever procedures she'd had done to enhance her beauty.
Her Cabal name was aptly chosen.
Vain she might be, however, Anastasia could not ignore the fact that the Beauxbatons Alumnus was extremely intelligent as well as extremely manipulative- after all she could keep Eventine in check, though Anastasia had suspicions that the two were sleeping together. Still, Violet was quick to cut her losses if need be. The woman was the type who would shake your hand and give you pretty smiles all while plotting what to do with the dagger she had hidden in her other hand.
Despite how well Rosier and Yaxley worked together, Anastasia ranked them as medium level threats both separately and together. They did not possess the level of cunning that Natasha Zabini had, nor did they have Daphne's prodigious magical skill and power or Antares' mystique. While ten years ago the two would have made a powerhouse team that most would have been reluctant to face, they were easily exploited in this day and age, though one had to be wary when maneuvering against them. They were, after all, formidable in their own rights.
The one that put Anastasia Nott the most on edge however, was the sixth member of the Cabal, the one who'd taken the moniker Janus- the leading healer of Azkaban who mostly specialized in the mind arts, Hugo Strange.
Whenever she was in his presence, Lady Nott would always double and triple check her occulmency shields to make sure they were firmly in place, but still could not get over the feeling that he could see right through her into her very being. In her mind, he was the most dangerous of her husband's associates. While Theodore agreed that he was a potential major threat, he was thoroughly convinced that Lady Greengrass was still a much bigger one.
He was an observer with genius level intellect and Anastasia had little doubts that the German Healer could get into the mind of someone without the use of legilimency. He always seemed to be at least seven steps ahead of anyone he encountered, though Lady Nott suspected it was more like twelve. He always gave the hint that he seemed to know more than he let on- he was always calm and collected looking through actions to see motivations.
Anastasia suspected he might actually know the identity of the Wizard, but was withholding the information. Why, she couldn't be certain, but she felt that he did and if he did not, he was close to figuring it out. She never voiced this to her husband, however, because she lacked the proof and the reasoning for her intuitive suspicions. While the thoughts and motivations of the others could be hard to predict, Anastasia could make a reasonable guess through simple observation. Unfortunately, the likes of Strange, who was an enigma to even the most brilliant of observationists, was beyond even her ability to read.
And last but not least was Nicomedes, her Theodore, the reigning Magister of the Cabal. He'd been quick to snatch up his father's power base and assets putting as much in his name before the so called "Champions of the Light" began demanding reparations from Death Eater families. It was her Theo that managed to lead them through those dark times when the Ministry was cleaning house and ridding itself of corruption- not that they were entirely successful.
Anastasia didn't know all the details, nor did she want to, but she knew that the fall of the Dark Lord had been a trying time for all those of the Cabal, which is why the Malfoy family had been expelled from their organization. Lucius' close association with Voldemort had nearly led not only his own family, but the Cabal into ruin. While Draco Malfoy was doing his best to not let the Malfoy name fall into disgraced obscurity, her Theodore, Natasha Zabini and Deckard Greengrass had been hard at work stabilizing the Wizarding World in such a way that they would be able to take up the reigns of power once more- only THEY would be the leaders of the new tomorrow, not just the financiers and shadow council for whatever Dark Lord decided to revolutionize the Wizarding World as they had done under the reign of Magister Malfoy.
And now was the time for their golden age, only it was not without complications.
Losing the Malfoy money had been a huge financial blow to the Cabal. Anastasia wasn't sure how Lady Metus had done it, but her securing the unofficial aid of Draco Malfoy and MagiCorp was a great boon for them. However there were still stumbling blocks- actual honest people in positions of political power, namely Minister Shacklebolt and Director Granger and those in their inner circles like Malcolm Robards and Phillip Coulson.
Honest and incorruptible. Idealists who were in for a rude awakening because they refused to adhere to the way things were supposed to work.
And then there was Unspeakable Waller... Another person Madame Nott was wary of. The woman had schemes within schemes, wrapped up in plans, surrounded by enigmas and intrigues and capped off with several contingencies. While the woman could be reasonable at times, it was only if the situation benefited her in some significant, but incomprehensible way. The woman was a ruthless planner and schemer- something Anastasia Nott could both respect and revile, as she was much the same way, only where as Lady Nott worked for the betterment of her husband and his ambitions, Waller had her own hidden agendas.
The one thing that troubled Anastasia Nott the most these days however, was Harry Potter. Sure, The Wizard was a threat to them, but he was a somewhat known quantity- as known as he could be at any rate. It would only be a matter of time before they caught the would be vigilante and exacted their revenge.
Theodore didn't seem too intimidated and neither did Lady Greengrass nor Lady Zabini- though Anastasia had noticed that both Hippos and Goyle seemed to be paying as much attention to the Potter scion as she was. He was a wild card- a boy who faced the Dark Lord on multiple occasions, who took a squib of a boy and turned him into a formidable wizard when all others- his own family included- had given up on him. His death at the hands of Voldemort had not broken the Hogwarts resistance, only strengthened them and his resurrection had only spurred them on further. It was also on his word that the Malfoy Family got off fairly light when the judiciary hearings finally got around to prosecuting Death Eaters and Death Eater Sympathizers.
Only time would tell what affect Potter would have on the Greengrass-Malfoy dynamic.
While she would accept that Harry Potter was lucky- EXTREMELY lucky at that, she knew that all the luck in the world would not wholly account for his victories and accomplishments. Adding to the fact that Potter had been gone and out of the public eye for a decade, she knew that Potter could not and should not be discounted so easily. She only hoped that Theodore's arrogance and that of his allies wouldn't bite them later.
And so here they were, the members of The Cabal: Nicomedes, Black Widow, Metus, Lazarus, Janus, Atrocitus, and Vanité- seven in all, meeting to discuss recent events. Anastasia noted, as she stood at her husband's side, that Gregory Goyle had accompanied Lord Lazarus- as was the norm- and that Healer Young had accompanied Lord Janus on this particular occasion. Lady Vanité had a small cadre of men with her- likely her flavors of the month (or week if Anastasia was feeling particularly catty towards the woman) and Lord Atrocitus had a pair of body guards with him. Only Lady Widow and Lady Metus had come unaccompanied- which was normal for them, for they didn't trust anyone, not even those closest to them who were charged with their protection.
"We need to catch this vigilante," Lady Vanité exclaimed, almost snarling. The sultry smirk that usually adorned her face was missing- in its' place was an expression of rage. "We've lost twenty six percent of our overall revenue in the last month."
"The situation is being handled," Lord Nicomedes replied sternly.
"With absolutely no results," Vanité shot back, her voice almost literally oozing in contempt.
"Perhaps you'd like to try?" Lady Metus suggested in a cool tone and a raised eyebrow. Vanité did not make a rebuttal, but her expression all but said she wasn't backing down from her stance on the matter. "After all, if you believe yourself that much more capable, I implore you to try."
Vanité still didn't say anything.
It was well known that Violet Yaxley did not have many combat ready men under her command except the occasional assassin and her protection detail. She also wasn't the most accomplished magician of the lot either and was widely considered to be the weakest in magical power and skill within The Cabal. What she was good at was numbers. Not only did she run her own operations, but those of Lord Atrocitus, who couldn't be bothered, and she, or one of her trusted associates, often brokered deals between the leadership and various factions that worked for or with The Cabal.
"Unless you have something useful to say, keep silent," Greengrass rebuked. Vanité looked like she wanted to do nothing more than draw her wand on the Lady of Dread, but refrained from doing so.
"Metus..." Nicomedes warned, trying to mediate between the two women. Anastasia's eyes narrowed as Greengrass sneered at her husband.
"Vanité does bring up a fair point," Lazarus interjected. "What progress is actually being made. Shipments lost, more and more of our men being rounded up by the Aurors... Let's not forget your botched hit on the Director."
"Yes..." Nicomedes agreed. "Papa Khan was less than pleased by the loss of manpower. Jessup and McMurphy were among his best men. You have put is in a precarious position with the Khans, Metus."
"I'm not worried. I shall deal with Papa Khan, should he try to back out of our arrangement," Metus calmly assured them. "I already have contingencies in place."
Anastasia noticed her husband's shocked expression, though it only lasted a brief moment. She also was well aware of the fact that the others had also noticed. The Khans were his domain, after all, and neither she nor Theodore relished the thought that Daphne was ready to seize a part of his 'territory'.
Anastasia also took note of the other's reactions.
Both Lord Atrocitus and Lady Vanité were both unsettled by the revelation, but likely only because they weren't able to make such a power play. Black Widow simply gave Daphne an appraising look, as if simply to say 'well played'. Lord Lazarus had no outward reaction and neither did Lord Janus.
"Why wasn't I informed of this?" Theodore asked heatedly.
"Should you have been?" Daphne asked mockingly. "You're more useless than my Darling Brother. Thugs like the Khans should be our underlings, not our partners. I keep my own council, Nott, never forget that."
Theodore bristled at the use of his name, rather than his alias. It was only due to Anastasia placing a calming hand on his shoulder that stopped him from physically or magically lashing out.
Lord Janus chuckled in amusement.
"Khans aside, what of the entity calling itself 'The Wizard'?" Lord Lazarus interjected.
Lady Metus actually scowled at the mention of the magi-vigilante. "He's been greatly underestimated. Either he is a wizard the likes not seen since Merlin or he possesses MagiTech on par with anything produced by MagiCorp or the Gnomish Union. I'm inclined to think it is the latter. If so, his use of hyper-advanced MagiTech points to him being an operative of the GU. However, if he is one of theirs, no one but the highest echelons of their government know who he is."
"A contact of mine within the Auror Corps says that our vigilante may have ties to the Dwarven Republics," Lady Widow informed them.
"That doesn't narrow it down much, most freelance specialists have ties to the Republics," Lord Janus pointed out. "And Nightingales, while often extremely loyal to the GU, are not exempted from this. More than one either came from or defected to the DR in the past."
"True, but how many of these specialists are in or around the United Kingdom?" asked Black Widow. "That should narrow down the list of possible suspects, even if this vigilante is a group of wizards as opposed to only being one man."
"What is being done in regards to either capturing or killing this vigilante?" Lord Janus asked.
Daphne grinned ferally and coyly replied. "Just something Darling Draco came up with."
Theodore frowned. "Don't screw this up, Metus. MagiCorp is under enough scrutiny due to Malfoy's past criminal history without our interferences. Nothing can be traced back to us, is that understood?"
Lady Metus scoffed at the Lord Magister. "I am no amateur. Everything that I have done has been for the betterment of the Wizarding World and our organization. Even the loss of the Khans at the Director's home was a calculated risk that was not without reward."
"What do you mean?" Lord Lazarus asked concernedly.
Daphne then simply smirked.
MagiCorp was a veritable fortress.
Siren, pulling back the hood of her cloak and letting her blonde tresses fall free, would be lying if she said she wasn't impressed. Draco Malfoy had done incredibly well for himself.
She pressed down on her left temple at the edge of her domino mask, illuminating the lenses. Before her, the domed lines of the MagiCorp wards came into being. She then raised her gauntleted right hand and presses a few buttons on it. Immediately, she began receiving information on what she was seeing. Once the read out was complete, she pressed another couple of buttons and deactivated her mask's lenses.
'Nightingale…' She heard within her own head, but it wasn't a thought of her own. Immediately, her blue-green eyes scouted for where the unbidden thought had come from. She felt a surge of fear run through her and she began to tremble involuntarily.
'No…' she thought as she searched in vain, coming to near panic. 'Wait…' Her eyes narrowed as she fought to control her reactions.
Spinning around, Siren was met face to face with a wraith-like entity that wore one of those stupid pointy hats that muggles often thought Wizards wore. Her eyes narrowed further as she bored into its glowing green eyes and she felt a subtle touch of legilimency on her Occulmency shields. Flicking back her cloak, she revealed her weapon of choice, a black whip that was hanging at her side, ready to be unleashed.
"Hello, Wizard," she greeted curtly. She watched the Wizard's eyes glow brighter and she couldn't help but smirk in response. The two continued their stand-off in front of MagiCorp when the Wizard moved first, flicking his wrist, a wand appearing in his right hand. Siren responded by releasing her whip from its holster and snapping it at the creature. Much to her surprise, however, the creature caught it with its free hand.
The creature then began to raise its wand against her. Thinking fast and cringing internally, she was only left with one recourse, as she knew she would not be able to draw her wand quickly enough.
She took sadistic glee in the fact that she saw the creature's eyes widen and change from green to a mixture of yellow and white.
A shockwave erupted with her voice causing him the creature to stagger, though he did not fall, nor did he relinquish his hold on her whip or his wand. However, it was the opening she needed. She willed her whip to retract, dragging her adversary towards her. Just as he got into close enough range to her to knock him out with a well placed kick with her high heeled boot, he released the whip and became intangible. Siren was gobsmacked momentarily as her foot sailed right through his head. The creature then regained tangibility and raised his palm. A shockwave, much more powerful than the one caused by her own voice, was emitted from his left hand, sending her sailing through the air. Siren, however, was able to twist her body in midair and performed several backflips before landing in a low crouch, her hooded cloak billowing behind her.
The Wizard, however, was not idle as he immediately began to glide towards her, aiming his wand at her, a red light was being emitted at the tip. Pressing a button on her left wrist, a blue shield emerged from her left gauntlet. However, much to her own surprise, the Wizard's stunning spell impacted with a great deal more force than she was prepared to deal with. The shield shattered and she was knocked off balance, landing squarely on her back. It was only pure instinct that allowed her to roll out of the way of his follow up spell.
Throwing off her cloak, she called her whip to her as she flipped to avoid another spell; this one was a purplish-light blue. While she hadn't been unable to identify it on sight alone, she knew better than to let such spells make contact with her in any way.
"Faas Ru!" Another shockwave was generated by her voice, but this one did not affect her opponent in the same way the last one did. The Wizard did not falter; however, his wand was wrenched from his right hand. The creature spun around and summoned the wand back to him with its other hand, but catching it in the same hand it had been wielding it in. It then completed the spin, flicking the wand as a fiery whip erupted from it. Siren easily ducked underneath it and smiled at her opponent.
"Ta, Ta for now, love!" she said mockingly, with a two finger salute and blowing it a kiss while winking as she activated the emergency portkeys on her belt, disappearing into the night.
The creature's eyes turned a menacing red as it touched its own left temple and then began attempting to trace her portkey only to find that more than a dozen had been activated at once, making it impossible to figure out where the Nightingale had disappeared to. Grunting in frustration, the Wizard, after collecting the Nightingale's black hooded cloak, disappeared with a loud pop unaware of the silent observer that stoically watched to two fight against one another.
Siren sighed as she reached her safe house, collapsing bonelessly on the couch. She'd taken one more portkey to Hogsmeade before apparating to Diagon Alley and taking yet another portkey to her safe house. She would analyze the data she'd gleaned from the wards of MagiCorp before deciding her next move. Besides, it would do her good to lie low for a bit as she knew the Wizard, however he or she was, was now likely going to be coming after her.
She had to be ready for their next encounter, as she'd gravely underestimated her opponent- her damaged left gauntlet was a testament to that. The MagiTech marvel was completely useless having been irreparably damaged by a stunning spell of all things. Furthermore, she'd been forced into revealing that she had the capability of using 'The Voice', an integral part of how she'd been given the codename Siren in the first place. Of course her abilities went far beyond simply using ancient Viking Magic, as she'd extensively studied other types of voice magic. She doubted even Fleur Weasley (given her impressive performance during the Tri-Wizard Tournament against the dragon) could match her in that area now, despite the fact that the Beauxbatons Alumnus had her heritage on her side.
Siren closed her eyes, resting them for a moment. This mission had gotten a whole lot more complicated than she'd anticipated.
To say Harry Potter wasn't in a happy mood would be an understatement.
Though both greeted one another in even, neutral tones, there was an undercurrent of tension between the two of them.
"What do you want?" Harry demanded. Waller didn't answer, opting to push her way into Grimmauld Place instead.
"Impressive place," Waller commented. "A step up from that dingy pub."
"Waller..." Harry growled threateningly.
"You don't intimidate me, Rich Boy, so give it up," Waller replied bitingly.
"Your goons might get lucky taking me down, but you'd go down with me for sure," Harry responded in kind.
The tension from their mutual dislike of one another seemingly made the air within Harry's home and business headquarters thick with anticipation. The portly woman decided not to respond to that remark, opting to make her way towards Harry's bar. Though this had been the first time she'd ever been inside Grimmauld Place, without having to search for it, she'd instantly found her target- a bottle of Tarleton's Finest Ice Brandy (vintage 1885) and proceeded to pour herself a glass.
"What do you know about the battle outside MagiCorp Headquarters last night?" Waller demanded.
Harry smirked. "What makes you think I know anything?"
"I am neither stupid nor naïve, Potter. Nor am I in the mood for childish banter." Waller said angrily. "I want to know what you know about the Gnomish Union's activities within the Magical United Kingdom."
Summoning a bottle of Ogden's Finest and a glass, Harry replied. "Again, what makes you think I know anything?"
"The fact that you have several contacts within the GU- better ones than even I have or the fact that you were the one that confronted their Nightingale agent, take your pick," Waller said neutrally. "Surely Dr. Solus mentioned something in his latest missive."
"Mordin is retired and, due to his friendship with me, being kept out of the loop on a lot of things these days," Harry replied evenly. "I really don't know. But I'm guessing it's more than simple corporate espionage. The GU is taking a big risk going head-to-head with MagiCorp. Draco Malfoy is a lot of things, but he's not an idiot. So the real question is, what is MagiCorp doing that has the GU interested enough to send a Nightingale?"
At this, Harry gave Waller a pointed look which she scoffed at.
"I don't like your tone, Rich Boy," Waller replied scornfully. "Nor do I like your insinuations."
"Tell it to someone who hasn't been burned by your intrigues, double dealings, backdoor deals and hidden agendas," Harry responded spitefully.
"Pot calling the kettle, isn't it?" Waller rebutted. "Watch yourself Potter, Britain is a different place than what it used to be and you don't have any allies that can or will protect you here. You do not want to be my enemy."
"I sure as hell don't want to be your ally either," Harry argued.
"I only do what is necessary for the preservation of the order and well-being of our society," Waller snapped.
Harry snorted in amusement. "So you say, but we'll both have to agree to disagree."
"You play a dangerous game, Potter," Waller warned him.
"Maybe so, but I play for keeps," Harry replied. "I think it's time for you to leave now."
Waller huffed in derision.
"Thanks for the drink." She left her glass at the bar, which was then immediately taken care of by Kreacher. As she reached the front door, she paused, her hand on the knob. However, she did not look back at Harry. "I should have known you'd be stubborn. You're making a mistake, Potter. When you're battered, broken and all alone, remember this moment."
"You of all people know I don't break easy," Harry replied.
"Mr. Malfoy..." said the voice over the glowing orb-like intercom on Draco Malfoy's desk.
He was currently standing at a white board with several runic matrices interlocked with one another drawn on it- though it was incomplete. He was converting it from algorithmic form into a working aspect of theoretical magic. In his right hand was a black marker, his left, the arithmancy equations that the runic matrices were based on.
"Yes, Mercy, what is it?" He absently replied.
He was expecting no visitors this day, not even his Dearest Sister-in-law. Which was a relief for more than one reason for the Malfoy scion, as the Greengrass Matriarch usually only met with him if she was particularly displeased about something and she considered it his fault- which was more often than not. Even so, despite their mutual animosity, she'd left their last meeting quite pleased, as well as she should have been since he was gifting her with experimental MagiTech from one of his many black lab operations that he kept funded through carefully hidden bylines in his financial reports.
"You have a visitor," Ms. Graves informed him.
"Is it important?" Draco replied in a long suffering tone. "I am actually quite busy."
"Now, Drakey-poo, is that a way to greet an old friend?" taunted a familiar voice Draco hadn't heard in years.
Draco's brow raised in surprise. "Pans?"
He could only imagine her smirk on the other side of the door.
"Who else?" she teased.
"Send her in, Ms. Graves," Draco drawled.
If nothing else, whatever distraction his former betrothed, the world class reclusive traveler, Pansy Parkinson, had intended to provide would likely be a welcome one- given that he wanted to take his mind off of current events. Still, he wondered what she'd been up to all this time. They hadn't kept in contact for the last few years. The last time he'd even seen her in person had been at his and Astoria's wedding, just over five years prior.
She had been one of the bridesmaids.
"Yes, Mr. Malfoy," Mercy replied. Just seconds later, Draco was met with the site of a beautiful woman with short, close cropped black hair and brown/green hazel eyes.
"Draco!" Pansy exclaimed as she entered his office. She quickly rushed to him, engulfing him into a tight hug.
"It's been a long time, Pans," Draco told her. "What have you been up to the last few years?"
"Oh, this and that," Pansy replied with a dismissive wave. "Traveling mostly. You know how it is, seeing the world, meeting new people... That sort of thing."
"Well, it's good to see you again, regardless. Looks like traveling has suited you well," Draco noted.
I know, hasn't it?" Pansy replied snobbishly. "Like what I've done with my hair?"
Draco shrugged. "Sure."
"Oh, you always were useless about that sort of thing," Pansy remarked with a sigh.
"So what brings you back here?" Draco asked as he took a seat at his desk. Pansy immediately took one of the posh, comfortable chairs on the opposite side. "It's been a long time since anyone's heard from you."
"Surely it can't have been that long, Drakey-poo," Pansy cooed. "Besides, can't I have come back to see my oldest and dearest friend?"
Draco snorted in amusement. "Things are rarely that simple for you. And could you cut it with the act, it's getting annoying.
Pansy huffed. "Oh fine, ruin my fun."
Draco shook his head. "Why are you back?"
"What I said wasn't a complete lie. In fact, it's not really a lie at all," Pansy replied in a less vapid manner. "I have missed everyone horribly. Even that cold hearted bitch you call your sister-in-law."
The insult to Daphne brought an easy smirk to Draco's face.
He knew there were few people that Pansy genuinely disliked, but Daphne Greengrass was someone that Pansy actually hated even back in their Hogwarts days. Not even Potter and his entourage had collectively managed to dredge up that sort of ire from the Parkinson heiress, and that grouping included Granger- one of the few people Pansy actually went out of her way to antagonize- at least until third year when she'd found out the "uppity mudblood" had a vicious right hook.
"So, what are your other reasons for coming back?" Draco inquired.
Pansy sighed. "There's not really all that much to it. I've been all over the world, seen places I never dreamed I would..." Pansy's tone perfectly intoned her nostalgia as she half lost herself to her memories. "Or might never again. But it gets tiring after awhile, especially when I hardly ever get the chance to meet up with my old friends because they're all so busy."
Draco looked more than a bit uncomfortable. "Pans..."
"I get it, Draco, I do... But would it really kill you to take a break once in a while?" Pansy asked. "You're my best friend and the man I almost married, yet I've spent more time with your wife and son in the last five years than I have with you."
Draco fought down the little bit of resentment he felt at her words, because "a break", if he wasn't careful, COULD mean his death or at least harm to those he cared about- which included her. He worked tirelessly for the sake of the protection of his family and friends. It certainly wasn't his fault that Pansy had decided to up and leave England in the wake of Voldemort's defeat, living off her trust fund, completely bereft of any and all responsibilities.
"I know Pans and I'm sorry about that," Draco apologized. "So let me make it up to you by inviting you over for dinner. Astoria would be glad to see you, as would Scorpius."
"I wouldn't want to impose..."
"Nonsense!" Draco interrupted. "You're family to me in all the ways that matter. Certainly more than Daphne ever will be."
"Get me an invite to your party this weekend, and it's a done deal," Pansy negotiated with a teasing smile.
Draco rolled his eyes. "So THAT'S what you're here for?"
"You know I could never resist a good party and Astoria throws some of the best," was Pansy's retort. "Your wife would make a killing in the muggle world as a party planner."
"Maybe," Draco acknowledged noncommittally. Not that he doubted his wife's talents, far from it. She was spectacular at anything she put her mind to. However, what he did doubt was that she would ever want to make a career out of something she did on a whim as a hobby. "It shouldn't be a problem, but Tori is in charge of the guest list, so you'll have to talk to her."
"The real power behind the throne of the Great and Powerful Malfoy," Pansy quipped. Her cocky grin then turned into a warm smile. "You know, I had my doubts, given who her sister is, but she's good for you."
"Too good, I think," Draco replied with a smile of his own. "For the likes of me."
This was an old argument between them. Despite any misdeeds he may have done in the past, Pansy knew Draco to be quite the catch, even before he founded MagiCorp and continued to thrive despite the best efforts of the British magical government, The Gnomish Union and other outside influences that would see him fail spectacularly.
Pansy simply shook her head. "So, how is my godson doing?"
This topic was a sore one on many accounts, though not between Draco and Pansy. It was one of the few times Draco and Astoria had truly argued over something. Astoria had wanted her sister to be their son's godmother and Draco wasn't about to let that stand, for many reasons- none of which he could share with his wife.
In the end, Draco had won, on the account of Scorpius having been born a boy. Otherwise, Daphne would have ended up as Scorpius' godmother. Draco didn't even want to contemplate the consequences of that particular course of action.
"Scorpius doing great," Draco informed her. "He might look a lot like I did at the same age, but he's definitely his mother's son."
"And yet you love him all the same," said Pansy.
"I do, but because he is so much like his mother, not in spite of," Draco stated. "If nothing else, I think I've learned from father's mistakes. He always wanted me to be him. I don't think he was ever comfortable with me being my own person. Even now, things are rather strained between us. Especially now."
"I'm sorry to hear that," Pansy replied with a genuine frown. "What about your mother?"
"Mother is as supportive as she's always been. I don't think she really gets most of what I do here, but she tries," Draco told her with a small smile. "She's even warmed up to Tori now that she has a grandchild to dote on."
"Astoria mentioned as much when she came to visit me in Milan," Pansy said. "For which I'm glad, as Narcissa can be quite the stone cold bitch when she puts her mind to it. I think she could even give your sister-in-law lessons."
"My mother is a Black," Draco offered in way of explanation. "Aunt Andromeda is much the same way."
"Speaking of Andromeda... I hear Potter's back..." Pansy said in interest. "Any idea what he's been up to all these years?"
Draco shook his head. "Nothing concrete, just rumors. He is somehow both an 'enemy of the state' in the Gnomish Union and a 'person of interest' in the Dwarven Republics, but there are several conflicting stories as to why. There is also lingering tension between him and the Goblin Hierarchy, dating back to when he broke into and stole that dragon from Gringotts London, but they won't dare make any overt moves against him while he has the protection of the DR and the Merchant's guild."
"Who'd have thought the Golden Boy would still be so interestingly mysterious even after all these years?" Pansy asked, mostly to herself.
Draco groaned. "Not you too."
"Apparently, Potter is all the rage these days," Draco informed Pansy. "Astoria has been trying to figure out a way of contacting him and convincing him to come to the ball at the Manor this week end. Personally, I doubt Potter would come, invited or not. He's always been a bit of a recluse. Besides, his last visit to the Manor wasn't exactly pleasant."
"Nevermind the history between you," Pansy added. "But, who knows? He might surprise you."
"We'll just have to wait and see."
Violet Yaxley was many things, but at the top of that list was angry and aggravated.
'That bitch...' she thought furiously.
She wished she could move against the Lady of Fear and Dread, but the Lady of Vanity knew that Daphne could crush her like an insignificant bug, as Greengrass had been maneuvering to be the dominating force within the Cabal- the little stunt with the Khans was but one of many schemes the woman had.
'If Deckard Greengrass had even a fraction of the cunning his daughter had, Voldemort would have been a mere figurehead for the Cabal.'
Daphne Greengrass needed to be knocked down a peg or three, regardless. Fortunately, even if Vanité could not move against Metus directly, she could do the next best thing- she could have one of her own defeat the Wizard and have him brought before the Cabal so that they could assert their own brand of justice.
What the others failed to realize, and constantly underestimate her for, was despite the fact that she didn't have a large army of thugs and simpleton underlings to do tedious grunt work for her, she did have access to one particular resource in droves. After all, anyone would use brute force to solve one's problems, it took gifted, practiced hands to deal with an issue with finesse and grace. So while Vanité could not take any of the others, except perhaps for Lord Janus, who didn't appear to have but half a dozen underlings under his command, in direct confrontation, she would show each and every one of them who was the undisputed mistress of the lords of the more subtle acts of violence- the assassin.
She started sifting through several dossiers she'd managed to acquire on specialists who would be perfect for this sort of job. Typically, her first inclination would have been to hire either Wilson or Lawton, but their ties to Metus and Black Widow respectively, made them unsuitable. Besides, their 'bring in alive' rates were often double or triple their regular hit rates, and they were already expensive enough as it was- not that their prices weren't worth it, they were the best in the world at what they did.
Still, she needed someone who not only had few, if any, ties to the Cabal, but someone who was ranked among the best of their peers. Someone who could easily incapacitate the Wizard. The problem was, who to choose from?
And then she saw it, her perfect match.
She touched the intercom orb, compliments of MagiCorp, on her desk. Immediately, it began to glow.
"Yes, Miss Yaxley."
"Get me Copperhead."
Harry Potter was a nervous wreck and he knew it. He also tried not to show it, but his best friend, Hermione Granger, Director of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement, wasn't fooled in the slightest.
"Oh relax Harry, everything is going to be fine," Hermione tried to reassure him.
It had been just short of a decade since the last time he was in this place and wasn't entirely certain of the reception he'd receive. Steeling himself, they made their way towards the misshapen house that housed a great deal of priceless memories for him.
It was bigger now, but it still looked very much like it always had. He couldn't help but wonder who would all be there. He knew Ron and his family wouldn't be, as he had some prior engagement with his in-laws, but he hadn't thought to ask about anyone else.
Hermione had hinted that Bill, Fleur and their family might be in attendance, and immediately he wished he'd have brought Teddy along just for the entertainment value in seeing his interactions between his godson and the little girl who was his best friend in the entire world. However, the uncertainty of how the others would react to his presence, not only ate at him, but also kept him from bringing Teddy with him. Like with him in his youth, the Weasleys had been a bit of a second family to Teddy and Harry didn't want that image of them tainted by any residual tension there might be between his godfather and those who might have been his own in-laws, once upon a time.
"Easy for you to say, Hermione, you're not the one who just up and disappeared for nearly a decade," Harry commented ruefully.
"Well, that should teach you to think things through before committing to a course of action," Hermione shot back.
"Look before I leap, Hermione? Really?" Harry replied with a raised eyebrow.
Hermione rolled her eyes at this. "Just be yourself. I haven't heard of anyone, before or since you came into their lives that was so quickly accepted. Even if someone wants to have a go at you, Molly wouldn't let them- if anything, your most likely to be smothered to death by one of her hugs. Besides, Ginny won't be here, so that's one bit of awkwardness you get to put off for another day."
"That's my name."
Harry still couldn't quite get used to the fact that Hermione had loosened up quite a bit in the last decade that she would not only use sarcasm in casual conversation, but use ti somewhat frequently- at least when talking to him.
"Oh. Sorry?" She'd said this with a grin.
'Bitch,' Harry thought to himself before taking a deep steadying breath. "So, who is going to be here anyway?"
"Just family today," Hermione replied. "Since you'll see most everyone else at the Malfoy Auror Charity Ball tomorrow. Bill and Fleur and George and Angelina and their families."
"What about Charlie and Percy?" Harry inquired.
"Both out of the country," Hermione replied. "Charlie is still out in Romania and Percy is the Senior Undersecretary for the Minister of International Cooperation. He's currently at a conference in the United States setting up a new international task force. Audrey, Percy's wife, might be able to visit, though it's doubtful, as she's been staying with her parents since Percy left as she's been put on mandatory bed rest for the duration of her pregnancy."
"International task force?" Harry asked.
Hermione nodded. "I don't really know much about it myself, but they have a representative stationed here in Britain already. They'll fall under the direct purview of the ICW and are only supposed to get involved in matters of international crisis and jurisdiction."
Conversation of the new international task force were put on hold as the reached the front door of the Burrow.
Hermione looked at Harry with a grin, asking him the same question she asked when they visited Ron.
"Ready to face the music?" she even asked it in the same teasing tone.
Harry just looked at her with a raised eyebrow. "Once more into the breach..."
That said, he proceeded to knock on the door. They only had to wait a short moment before someone came to the door, though unlike at Ron's mansion, the opening of the door wasn't preceded by the sound of a stampede. Instead of a gaggle of children to meet them at the door for the first time since Harry's return, it was none other than a grinning George Weasley.
"Well if it isn't the lost Weasley brother," George greeted.
"Hey George," Harry greeted in return. He then reached out to shake George's hand,
"None of that now, you're family," George replied, as he not only took Harry's hand, but pulled Harry into a brotherly hug thumping him on the back a few times.
"I now have a 'kick me' sign on me, don't I?" Harry asked.
"Would I..." George began to ask in mock outrage. However, he was interrupted by both Harry and Hermione answering him in perfect unison.
"Not exactly original," Hermione commented as she pulled the sign off Harry's back.
"One should never mess with the classics," George rebutted. "Besides, I figured I'd slowly break Harry in before going straight for the heavy hitting stuff."
"I think you'll find I'm a much harder target than Ron or Percy will ever be," Harry challenged with a smirk.
"Is that so... We'll just have to see about that, won't we," George replied with a speculative look in his eye.
"I've already disabled the curse you put on the sign," Harry informed the one eared man, whose face changed from a grin to an expression of shock.
"I have to keep some trade secrets now, don't I?" Harry asked, his smirk not leaving his face.
"Yeah, you're definitely the lost Weasley brother," George commented with a grin.
"How is it that he's automatically the 'lost Weasley brother' when I've never been a 'Weasley sister'," Hermione inquired.
"Aside from the fact that you didn't marry Ron, there's still a chance you could end up with Harry or Charlie, so it would be weird for our 'sister' to date one of our brothers," George explained.
"That is utterly ridiculous," Hermione scoffed.
"I don't know..." Harry hesitantly argued. "I think he might have a point. While there have been a few moments where I considered you the sister I never had, I've always been well aware of the fact that you were NOT my sister."
Hermione gave him a strange look, "What do you mean by that?"
"A discussion for another time," Harry said with a smirk as he walked into the house leaving slightly gobsmacked Hermione behind.
"Oh, no! You're-" however, before she could properly demand an explanation, Harry waved his wand and Hermione promptly disappeared.
"HARRY JAMES!" could be heard from somewhere upstairs.
George started laughing hysterically.
Bill, who had walked into the room just as George was answering the door, was chuckling as well. "Good one, Harry, but you'd better watch your back."
"What did you do?" George asked, still laughing.
"Turned her coat into a timed portkey with a half second delay," Harry replied.
"If I ever tried that on Angelina, I doubt you'd be able to recognize my remains after she got her hands on me," George commented.
"Hell, if I ever tried that on Fleur, there wouldn't even be remains left over," Bill replied.
"She always did have a bit of a temper problem," George said to his brother. "Never could take a joke either."
"What's going on in here?" asked a confused and concerned Molly Weasley as she came to investigate the shouting and the laughing. However, any and everything she might have said was completely forgotten when she saw who it was that was standing in the foyer. "Harry Potter! Oh how have you been!? I've been so worried about you! If not for Andromeda..."
She said nothing more as she was overcome by emotion, pulling Harry into a crushing hug that was exactly how he remembered.
Harry gladly returned the hug, whispering to her. "I'm sorry."
Molly sniffled as she pulled away. "Nonsense! You're all right and you're home again. And looking completely underfed! When was the last time you ate?" She then turned to her sons. "Supper is ready, so if you can get the others, we can tuck in. Come along, Harry." She immediately turned towards the kitchen to start serving dinner.
Harry went to follow her into the dining room, however, he was stopped by the voice of a rather precocious ten year old girl.
"You're Teddy's godfather, aren't you?" asked a girl with a light dusting of freckles across her nose, her mother's silvery blonde hair and sparkling deep sapphire eyes. Her attitude and demeanor, however, was pure Weasley. If he were a betting man, however, he was almost completely sure that her temper would be a cross between the infamous Weasley temper and her mother's simmering rage.
Upon looking upon her for the first time, Harry was certain of two things. The first being that the young girl was most definitely Victoire Weasley, the little girl born on exactly the one year anniversary of his defeat of Voldemort. The second was the fact that his godson was in trouble if the girl decided she wanted him in a few years, as he could already tell the little Victoire would grow up to be as devastatingly beautiful as her mother and would be quite the heart breaker.
"And you must be the one Teddy calls the absolute best friend anyone could have," Harry replied with a smile. Though he might have embellished what Teddy had said a little, even if Teddy had told him in passing that Victoire was his best friend.
Victoire blushed furiously, however it was only her cheeks that turned the faintest pink. Obviously, she hadn't inherited the telltale "Weasley Red", something she'd likely no doubt be thankful for.
"H-he really said that..." she asked almost bashfully.
Harry had to fight to keep a straight face. Apparently, Victoire was already nursing a small crush on his godson. He wondered if he should start placing bets on when Teddy would notice the young girl's affections and whether or not she'd make the first move, rather than the boy. He'd have to talk to George about it later.
"More or less," Harry replied with a smirk. "It's nice to finally meet you, since he talked about you quite a bit when he came to visit me.
"Well... I... Thank you," Victoire stammered in mild embarrassment as she went to go see if dinner was served yet.
"'Ello, 'Arry," said a familiar accented voice.
"Fleur," Harry greeted with a smile, one that was easily returned. Her smile also readily confirmed something he'd secretly thought ever since he was fourteen- that Fleur Weasley was the most beautiful woman he'd ever met. "It's been far too long.
"Zat eet 'as," Fleur replied as she gave him a quick hug. "Was eet truly nezessary to tease Victoire like that?"
"No, but it was fun, and it's not like I told her anything untrue... From a certain point of view," Harry replied smirkingly. "Teddy does consider her his best friend and he does talk about her all the time... If not quite in the way I might have implied."
"'Oo are 'orrible, 'Arry Potter," Fleur told him as she let out a small giggle, her smile never leaving her face.
"It's part of my charm, I'm told," Harry roguishly replied.
"So eet ees," Fleur noted. "Let us eat and 'oo can regale us wiz tales of your travels."
Harry bowed. "Lead the way, milady!"
Pansy was simply stopping by Scorpius' room to say good night, before she too either retired for the evening or stayed up to talk with the Lady of the Manor. When the former betrothed of Draco Malfoy arrived, however, Draco was still tucking his son into bed, talking to him about some mysterious topic she couldn't make out due to the low tones the spoke in. However, one thing Draco told Scorpius was something she was curious about. However, she opted not to talk to Draco about it as he was having a father/son moment, and she did not want to interrupt that.
So it was with great curiosity that Heiress Parkinson sought out Lady Malfoy, whom she found in the manor library.
"Astoria..." Pansy began, unsure if whether or not to being up what she heard.
"What is it, Pansy?" asked Astoria concernedly.
"I was about to say good night to Scorpius, but Draco was already there saying goodnight," Pansy began.
"It's part of their nightly ritual," Astoria said with a smile. However the concern still didn't quite leave her face. "What's wrong?"
"It's probably nothing... It's just... Draco said something to Scorpius, and I was curious about it," Pansy told the Malfoy family matriarch.
"Einai Kalytero Anthropo Apo Ton Patera Toy," Astoria quoted, much to Pansy's shock.
"Draco says it to Scorpius every night," Astoria replied, a hint of sadness in her voice.
"I don't recognize it... I know it's not Latin," Pansy responded.
"It's Greek. It means 'Be a Better Man Than Your Father'," Astoria informed her husband's former betrothed.
"Why do you suppose he would say something like that to Scorpius?" asked Pansy.
It was Astoria's turn to hesitate. "He's hiding something from me. He thinks I don't notice, that I'm completely oblivious, but I'm not. I know Daphne is as well."
Pansy looked startled by the implications. "Surely, you don't think..."
Pansy's line of thought actually made Astoria smile. "No, not even for a second. Draco's fidelity has never been in question. But given the possibilities of what my sister and husband might be involved in..."
"You wish it was," Pansy finished for her. "Astoria... Tori... If you need someone to talk about... Things... I'm always there for you. I'll drop whatever I'm doing at the time if need be. You are just as important to me as Draco is."
Astoria gave Pansy a sad smile, taking Pansy's hands into her own. "I appreciate that. Thank you."
"You're my friend. It's what friends do," Pansy replied with a comforting smile, sharing a brief moment that was broken by the blonde woman's husband.
"Am I interrupting anything?"
Astoria gave her husband a blinding smile, though Pansy could tell it wasn't quite as genuine as the blonde would have liked. "Oh, just some girl talk, nothing too important."
"Should I be worried?" Draco asked nervously.
Pansy smirked at Draco. "Always, Drakey-poo. Always."
Draco groaned in complaint. "I really wish you'd quit calling me that!"
"Well... That has to be some sort of record," Harry stated with a smirk as he and Hermione were walking away from the Burrow. "The biggest invisible prank war in history and I managed to get away without a single curse or hex hitting me."
Hermione had a less pleasant expression on her face. However, that was likely due to the fact that her hair was half green with red polka dots and half blue with orange stripes- the result of a duel attack by both her and Bill that had failed miserably. However, she came out of it a fair bit better than Bill had, as he, apparently, was left without a single hair on his entire body.
Of course, "invisible" prank war was a bit of an overstatement, as Harry was sure that Molly had been well aware of what had been going on since the very moment Harry and the others entered the room, but remained willfully ignorant of all discreet and not so discreet goings on , until a stray spell had hit one of the non-combatants- namely Fleur.
George hadn't been kidding when he said the french beauty couldn't take a joke.
Fleur had been willing to tolerate the goings on at the kitchen table while Molly and Arthur remained "ignorant" of the silent 3-on-1 spell battle going on between Hermione and the Weasley Brothers against Harry, while Angelina and the kids had been quite amused by the impressive spell work- that is until a spell sent by Hermione was deflected by Harry towards George, who deflected back to Hermione who sent the hex back towards Harry, who then sent it towards Bill, who not only hadn't expected the spell to be sent towards him, but also sent it spiraling towards Fleur, who promptly sprouted a red nose and antlers.
If not for Harry's quick thinking, Bill might have ended up char broiled by Fleur's fireballs.
He quickly turned Fleur's fireballs to ice, making them fall and hit the table, shattering all over the place and then did the one thing Bill was certain either he or Harry was going to pay dearly for later, he turned Fleur's bra into a portkey and sent her back to Shell Cottage. Both Harry and George had a feeling it was going to be Bill, not that they voiced as much the the eldest Weasley son, after all, Fleur always did have a soft spot for Harry after the second task of the Tri-Wizard Tournament.
Hermione let out a low growl and proceeded to draw her wand.
"Now, now..." Harry said placing his hand on hers, pushing her wand down. "You shouldn't be casting spells while angry. Here, let me get that."
He then drew his own wand, the holly and phoenix feather he'd gotten from Olivander before the start of his first year, and with a wave, a flick and a twist Hermione's hair was restored to normal.
"Thanks..." she said after a moment. "Harry..."
"About what you said... What exactly did you mean by it?"
Harry sighed. "I'd have thought it obvious."
"Humor me," Hermione replied.
Harry shook his head. "Did you ever once, in the seven years we spent together, wonder what it would be like if we'd dated?"
Hermione looked completely gobsmacked by where the conversation was going.
Harry gave her a slightly strained smile. "Never crossed your mind, did it?"
"I... I always thought you thought of me as a... a sister," Hermione stuttered out a reply.
"A couple times, sure. But mostly, no," Harry answered. "I had more crushes at Hogwarts than just Cho and Ginny, you know. I had a brief crush on Parvati first year, Fleur fourth year, Luna fifth year, Tonks during both fifth and sixth years. You were never far from my thoughts, even if there were times- like fifth year- where I never admitted it, even to myself."
"I... I had no idea..." Hermione weakly responded, not sure how to answer his revelation.
"I know. I wasn't exactly forthcoming with my feelings," Harry assured her. "Hell, I never really talked about that sort of thing with my roommates- not even Ron. Especially Ron when it came to you, Fleur, and Ginny."
"I don't know what you want me to say..."
"I'm not expecting you to say much of anything at the moment," Harry replied. "After all, I haven't been in the country a week yet. I have too much to do to get completely settled in before I start contemplating a serious relationship with anyone."
"It's something to think about, at least," Hermione commented.
Harry looked up at the stars for a brief moment. "Yeah, I suppose it is."
Azkaban Asylum Codex Entries:
Occupation: Acquisitions Specialist/Nightingale
Hair/Eye Color: Blonde/Blue
Aliases: Undesirable #6, Nightingale, Self-Proclaimed "Best Thief in the World"
Facts: Her origins are unknown, but her skills are undeniable. She is one of the best non-Gnome Specialists in the Gnomish Union and is their highest ranked Nightingale. Though she is known world-wide in many underground circles, she never did much work in the UK until the arrival of The Wizard.
She is as deadly as she is sexy and is as effective at close and medium range combat due to her ability to skillfully wield her wand and enchanted whip simultaneously. Like the Wizard, she too possesses unique abilities and is known as Siren for more than just her looks, as she has the ability to infuse magic into her voice.
Capable of using the Ancient Norse magical technique known as "The Voice", she is more than able of preforming great feats of magic without the use of her wand- something that has allowed her to take advantage of the situation on more than one occasion.
Name: Pansy Parkinson
Occupation: Pureblood Socialite/Heiress
Hair/Eye Color: Black/Hazel
Aliases: Miss Parkinson, Pans, "Pug-nosed" Parkinson, Lady Parkinson, Parkinson Family Heiress
Facts: Touring the world as matured Pansy in many ways. No longer is she the simpering spoiled little girl of yesteryear. In her place is a woman of fine breeding who knows what she wants and how to get it.
Though she does not regret the dissolution of her betrothal to Draco Malfoy, she still has a soft spot for him and considers him her closest friend and confidante. The feeling is mutual, as she was named godmother of Draco's son, Scorpius Hyperion Malfoy. She has also become fast friends with Draco's wife, Astoria, but still harbors an intense dislike of his sister-in-law, Daphne, for reasons dating back to their tenure at Hogwarts.
Name: Astoria Malfoy
Occupation: Pureblood Socialite/Philanthropist
Aliases: Lady Malfoy, Tori, Malfoy Family Matriarch, Mrs. Malfoy
Facts: Despite having Draco Malfoy as a husband and Daphne Greengrass as a sister, Lady Malfoy has no connections to any illicit dealings, except through those she calls family, whose dealings she is mostly willfully ignorant of.
She is the ray of sunshine in Draco Malfoy's life and the last bit of goodness in Daphne's.
Unlike many pureblood socialites, Astoria is more than arm candy for her husband (though she is that as well) and does a lot of charity work for various causes. She is also fiercely protective of her family and would stop at nothing to protect those she cares for. She secretly harbors a sense of kinship and admiration for Lily Potter who did everything in her power to protect her son until the bitter end, something Astoria knew she herself would do in the woman's place without hesitation.
Though she is a very sweet and sensitive woman, she is also a very formidable witch and it would be a grave mistake for anyone to mistake her innate kindness for weakness.