Failure To Thrive

Party At The Burrow

Harry received a letter from Dudley the next morning. His cousin must have hand delivered it, dropping it through the mail slot in the door. It was weird for Harry to think that Dudley had actually been on his front stoop at some point. He retreated to his room to read the letter alone, having no idea what to expect.
Dear Harry,
Thanks for reading this. I know you don't really want to, but the fact that you are doing it proves what I said yesterday about your being the only one in the family who's not horrible. I've been trying, for a while now, to be better. I think I'm doing okay, which is what gave me the nerve to write this.
Harry, I'm really, really sorry about the way I treated you all of those years. About making fun of your bad dreams, and your parents being dead, and especially about hitting you and making you get punished for things I'd done.
When we were at the safe house last year, Hestia told me about a lot of the stuff you went through at school, and I connected some of the names that came up, and now know why you had nightmares. I'm sorry about all of the times you were really down and I just picked on you, instead of asking what was wrong. I wish I had been better.
I don't expect you to forgive me. I just hope that maybe after time, if I show you I'm different, we can try to be friends. If you don't want to talk about this stuff, I get it. It was awful. Maybe if you write back to me, you could tell me what your life has been like this past year? I'd really like to know.
Your cousin,
Dudley Dursley

Harry sat on his bed, staring down at the letter as his emotions battled themselves in his tired mind. He didn't hesitate when he thought of who he might feel comfortable going to with all of this.

Lucius entered the conservatory to tell his wife he was going to go have a look for Harry, to check up on him after the heaviness of the previous day. He found Narcissa sitting on the settee with Harry's head in her lap. The boy had stretch out beside her, curled on his side. She raised a finger to her mouth to warn her husband to speak in hushed tones. She'd been stroking Harry's hair to comfort him after he'd confided his sadness. He'd drifted off to sleep only a few minutes ago, and she wanted him to rest, waking on his own when his mind had settled a bit.
Lucius frowned in concern, but Narcissa's expression told him the boy was fine. He blew her a kiss and retreated from the room quietly, only to sense from the wards that someone had apparated onto the grounds in the front of the house. He went to see who was there, and opened the door to Arthur Weasley.
"Arthur," he said in surprise. "Do come in. Welcome." He held the door for the ginger wizard.
"Thank you, Lucius," Arthur said easily. He stepped inside and they faced each other in the foyer. "I won't stay," Arthur told him, "I simply wanted to be sure that you and your family will join in the gathering at the Burrow this Saturday."
Lucius' eyes widened in unguarded shock and hesitation. He opened his mouth to speak, but found himself speechless.
"Wonders never cease, do they?" Arthur said jovially. "It's going to be quite an event, so you must come. George has put together a bit of a show with the new pensive invention. I believe he collected memories from you?"
Lucius nodded, the corner of his mouth quirking upward. "He did. I wasn't entirely clear as to how they were going to be used," he admitted.
"That's all a part of the surprise," Arthur said. He put his hands in his pockets and rocked back on his heels for a moment. "The parties at the Burrow are a lot of fun. Normally we end up with a pick up quidditch match, but we'll keep things on the ground this time. Lot's of food and drink, and what will no doubt be a very entertaining display of collected memories."
Lucius blinked and cast his eyes to the side as he chose his next words, "Arthur, I've gone out of my way to express my disdain over the years at you and the way you've raised your family… At your priorities as a wizard. And I know that I was quite convincing." He brought his gaze back to meet Arthur's. "But the disdain was not for you. It was the only response I could formulate to mask my extreme discomfort at how utterly informal all of you Weasleys are all so capable of being. Until this last year, I've never been able to be comfortable around that kind of dynamic. I'm a bit better now, but I do have quite a ways to go." He hoped he was expressing himself in the way he intended. "I will be there, as will Narcissa, and Draco. And I'm grateful that you are willing to include us." He held out his hand to his former adversary.
Arthur gave him a crooked smile and gripped Lucius' hand firmly. "You'll do fine. We'll see you there."

The Malfoys came to meet up with Harry, Luna, Severus and Hermione so that they could all go to the Burrow together. Harry had knots in his stomach about the whole affair. He had no idea if Ginny would be there, and while he knew he could easily avoid speaking with her, he didn't want to think he was spoiling her fun by being there too. And that anxiety stretched out to include Lucius, for obvious reasons.
One by one, they flooed from Grimmauld Place to the Burrow. The party was in full swing already, and the lot of them were swept right into it. In no time, everyone was mingling, snacking, and speculating about the way George could have made a show out of their memories. There was quite a crowd that included many of the Hogwarts staff, all of the aurors who had been at the hearing on Monday, and all of the Weasley brothers. Harry scanned the guests and didn't see Ginny. He relaxed significantly at that point and went to fill a plate with finger food and say hi to Ron and George.
"So is this where the show’s going to be, then?" Harry asked as he joined Lee, Dean, Ron and George where they stood beneath an oddly shaped object that was covered with a large tarp as it hovered just above their heads.
"That's right, Harry," George said. He swept his arm around the yard to point out the obvious arena seating and blanketed spots on the small slope to the side of the seats.
"Are you sure we'll all be able to see that?" Harry indicated the floating contraption.
"You'll see," Ron said, smugly. "It's going to be brilliant. You'll love it."
"Ronny's helped a lot with the finishing touches," George told Harry. "He's gotten quite handy with what we're calling memory paring."
"Yeah," Ron said excitedly. "It's complicated, but I was able to cut out the boring parts from what we're showing."
"Wicked," Harry said with a grin.
Ron's expression sobered slightly. He jerked his head for Harry to follow him out of earshot of his brother and Lee. "Remember when I was thinking Luna had been… you know? Assaulted, when she was on her own with the kidnappers?" he asked in a quiet voice, his eyes scanning the crowd of guests to be sure he wasn't being overheard.
"Yeah," Harry said softly.
"Well, it was because she was crying when we found her," Ron said.
"Oh," Harry said, and his stomach clenched yet again. The thought of Luna in tears was unfathomable, actually.
Ron ducked his head down closer to Harry. "Turns out she was crying because she was afraid for you, that you were going to be hurt, or worse, and that, you know, it would affect your recovery," Ron explained. "I snipped out a part in her memory where she was told you would be killed or maimed as payback for Lucius and Severus betraying Voldemort. I guess that really go to her."
"She was that upset? for me?" Now the clench in Harry's abdomen was accompanied by a wash of warmth that spread through his whole torso. She really cares for me, he thought. That shouldn't be a surprise. Luna had been a loyal and valiant friend to Harry since day one. He'd been seeing her in a different light since the kidnapping, and knew he'd already opened his heart to her in bigger terms than friendship. His hormones would be quite happy for him to jump right into love. But Harry didn't think it was fair to Luna for them to start a real relationship, not when he was still emotionally immature. And he was. It wasn't time yet.
Strangely, he felt completely at ease with the idea of having a frank discussion with her about it.

"Ladies and gentlemen," George called out with a moderate Sonorus-enhanced voice, "if you will please address your attention to the Cubic Pensieve (Patent Pending, all rights reserved), you will now be given a demonstration of what I like to call, 'Memories of Fun And Madness In Our Post Voldemort World.'"
There was a lot of loud chatter as people scattered to find comfortable places that had a good view of the floating object that was still covered with the large tarp. Many chose the stadium seating, but a good number went to the grassy hill that faced the makeshift theatre the Weasleys had erected for the event. Harry took a seat beside Lucius, and Luna sat on his other side. Harry glanced around to see where Severus had settled and saw him sitting nice and close to Hermione on a blanket on the grass, where Bill and Fleur, Minerva, Hagrid, and the senior Weasleys were all collected. Ron sat in front of Harry and Luna, and turned to grin excitedly at Harry. Beside him were Kingsley and Dean. They watched as George cast an obvious engorgio on his device, tripling the size, so that now, everyone would be able to see. With a swish of George's wand, the tarp was removed, and the object came into full view. It literally looked like a glass cube, but the reflections of the lights from the yard and house were magically muted so that in the deepening darkness of evening, the sides and corners were nearly invisible to the naked eye.
The telltale signs of memories swirling around became visible. Harry could see that George was in a low chair directly in front of the device, slightly below the lowest audience seats where he wouldn't block anyone's view as he swished and swirled his wand, as if directing an orchestra. The first memory began to appear, and the visibility was somewhat holographic within the cube, yet it had the illusion for the viewer that he or she was much closer, if not directly inside the cube itself. Harry looked over at Lucius and saw that his pseudo guardian was already leaning forward with elbows on knees in anticipation.
The opening visual showed a bright blue sky as the backdrop for the rapidly drawn flaming letters that spelled out Damned Near To God Status. Then George's voice narrated dramatically, "Yes, many of us are damned near to god - or goddess - status, as you will see. But first…" The flaming letters extinguished and were replaced with Surprise! That's a Portkey!
Harry watched someone's memory of him rejoining the 1st Year Memorial gathering with Lucius, right after Ginny had told him off. The sight of himself among the seven targets, all reaching for a glass, and disappearing simultaneously made him gasp, right along with the audience, even though most of those present had witnessed it as it had occurred the first time around. Harry grinned as Luna's perspective showed up next, and they saw her land heavily in a huge meadow in the middle of nowhere:
Appearing to be mildly curious, she looked around, seemingly casually casting a shield in time to block hexes that came within seconds after the simultaneous, and very loud, cracks - CRACK-CRACK! - of Blaise Zabini and his cousin, Raj appearing to her left. Both of the wizards were unsuccessful in their attempts to disarm Luna. She dropped her shield and stood there, studying them with her head slightly tilted. The two young males swished and slashed away, with memory Luna matching every movement of their wands, effortlessly countering their curses as they shot hex, after jinx, after hex.
"Bloody Looney Lovegood," Memory Blaise sneered at her. "No one will miss you. Why are you even bothering to defend yourself?"
Memory Luna's posture and expression remained casual and unruffled as she flicked her wand once and disarmed Blaise, flicked it again, and levitated him high into the air. Amidst Blaise's shouts of unadulterated terror, his cousin shot a panicked blasting curse at Luna, which jarred her shoulder and left a scorch mark on her jumper. She turned to him and glared (a sight that no one in the audience had ever yet seen), and they could all see that Blaise was now falling from the sky behind her. "Daddy brought me this jumper from Burma," she said with a stern tone to Raj, as she slashed her wand to shoot a hex at him that created a tremendous SWOOSH of air. It knocked him down and sent him rolling swiftly away, like a tumbleweed in a windstorm. As he disappeared from sight in the distance, Luna rapidly swished her wand upward to reverse Blaise's downward momentum, literally just before he hit the ground, and sent him soaring back into the air. His voice cracked as he screamed his outrage, again calling her Looney, and Luna narrowed her eyes. Blaise's yells were cut short by some sort of gag being magically applied to his mouth, and now Luna's stern frown returned to the mild curiosity she'd had when the scene had begun. She waved her arm and sent Blaise over to settle in the top of a very high tree, and turned to walk away.

"YEAH! Whoooo hoooo!" The collective roar of applause and hooted appreciation for Luna was deafening in the night air. Harry slipped his hand into hers and turned to really look at her, letting her see how utterly gobsmacked he was by what he'd just witnessed. She smiled at him, and there was so much more in the smile than she'd ever let him see before. But her eyes were immediately back on the pensieve because they were now watching Harry handle ex-auror Winger, and Normal Thickeness. Everyone laughed and cheered when memory Harry blasted Normal into the peacock shaped bush. There was a collective gasp as he countered Winger's slicing hex, then another gasp of wonder when they saw memory Harry's open void absorb Normal's next curse. He could feel Lucius giving him a sharp look of disapproval after memory Harry had snapped Normal's wand. But he was saved from acknowledging it by the transition into Lucius' memory of facing off with Rodolphus:
Memory Lucius landed with a grunt on the grass in the exact spot that Harry had dueled Voldemort and induced the priore incantatum spell, nearly four years prior. Lucius jumped to his feet and dodged behind a stone grave marker, as a curse that looked like a bolt of lighting shot into the ground where he'd just landed. The audience could see Rodolphus Lestrange, but it was clear that memory Lucius still could not. He crawled behind the cover of a row of grave stones and snuck a look around the last one in time to see Rodolphus cast an angry bombarda that destroyed a marker that was two spots away. Lucius stretched his arms outward, hands moving as if he was shaping a large sphere, molding a swarm of crackling energy into a ball. He swung one arm back and lobbed it at Rodolphus. Lucius ran across the open space to a better area of cover, as his sphere flew in an arc that circled around Lestrange's head and body, inflicting a rapid succession of electrical shocks. Rodolphus literally looked like he was being electrocuted, his body jerking spasmodically.
"AHHH!" The audience responded with wonder. "OHHH!"
In spite of the fact that George was navigating the memories by hand to keep the show going, he still managed a series of catcalls, including a, "YEAH! Damned near to god status, that one!"
Harry was laughing in spite of the intensity he felt at what he was seeing. It was full, visual proof of what he'd known all along about Lucius, and he supposed the way he was shaking was some sort of reaction to his sheer awe at the blond wizard's power. He looked over at Lucius now, who was sitting up straight again, eyes on the memory, and imagined he was sensing just a snippet of the level of control his pseudo guardian had to have employed to have refrained from using his wand in that conflict.
Memory Lucius began levitating each of several decorative boulders that dotted the grounds, and wandlessly blasted them with so much power, the pieces flew like bullets. Many of them made brutal hits on Rodolphus' body, but he was able to shield himself enough to prevent significant injury. Memory Lucius stood his ground, his expression thunderous as he demanded, "Where is my son? my wife? Harry? Hermione? Luna?" Each question was punctuated with a forward thrust of the heel of his hand, causing a blast of magical energy that Rodolphus was hard pressed to block with his shield. The final burst hit Lestrange directly in the chest and knocked him to the ground, winding him. Lucius charged over to him and attempted to take his wand. They exchanged blows. Lucius got in a couple of solid punches before Rodolphus was able to use his wand to blast Lucius backwards, and the scene went black.
The visual morphed into a ferocious wand battle between the Lestrange cohorts and Arthur, Bill, George, Kingsley, Dean, and Lee. Harry recognized the graveyard, and knew this was what had gone on while he was with the unconscious Lucius. Sparks flew, arms slashed and lethal spells rented the air. Every one of the Weasley men stood with identical posture of command, and no nonsense. Harry loved getting to see them from this perspective. They were so obviously from the same bloodline. He leaned forward and clapped a hand on Ron's shoulder, yelling, "Whoa!" with the audience as they watched first George, then Bill, then Arthur send blasting hexes at their assailants that slammed them one-two-three into the side of a mausoleum, where all were instantly bound with a type of webbing that shot out of the Weasleys' wands - no doubt a George invention, because it looked suspiciously like spider's web. The next to fell his assailant was Dean, and the gruesome sight of the skinned Naomi impostor brought a disgusted groan out of everyone. Harry leaned forward to shoot a look at Draco and saw he was just as repulsed as everyone else. Draco leaned forward to where Dean was sitting a level down and said something snarky that made Dean laugh. Next, they watched Lee cause his assailant to spin in place so quickly, his heels began to drill a hole into the dirt. When Lee ended the spell, the wayward wizard collapsed in a dizzy heap. The audience cackled at that, as the memory went on to show the Minister of Magic cut right through the absurdity of the last remaining vigilante wizard's attempts to wreak havoc, sending a spell that pulled the wizard's feet out from beneath him, and trussed hands and feet behind his back.
More cheers, and now some high fives were going around the audience.
Next they all saw what was probably Ron's perspective of flying over Harry and Lucius, and landing in time to jump into battle. Harry got to see himself in action, including the wand-snapping, to which Lucius again gave him that sharp look of parental disapproval. "Trust me," Harry told him in a low voice. "Severus set me straight on that." Lucius said nothing as he turned his attention back to the pensieve, but after another moment he wrapped an arm around Harry and gave him a squeeze.
Now the memories began to break into very short segments that were punctuated with enthusiastic cheers from the audience:
…Bill casting a spell to dismantle the wards at the Munson Estate, the sky above the property covered with rapidly rippling streaks of woven magic being pulled apart to open the grounds, and allow their entry…
…Harry and Severus were in the Munson study, and Severus flung a blasting hex over his shoulder at Smith, not hesitating to let Harry cover him while he continued to search for that illusive door…
…Percy sprinting ahead of Bill and launching through a window on the side of the estate, somersaulting as he went, landing on his feet as his magic cleared the air of shattering glass…
…Harry flying through the air, cushioning his impact with the wall just in time. Severus balancing an unconscious Narcissa on his bent leg to free his wand arm and twist around to shoot his duct taping hex at that last assailant…
…Narcissa glaring at two young men who were now covered in white flour and screaming as a hot frying pan chased them around the dirty basement, scald marks clearly visible on the seats of each of their trousers.
…Hermione smirking with satisfaction as Rabistan Lestrange hit that high note she'd described, his trousers shrinking rapidly…
…Neville rapidly strumming a muggle electric guitar and going into a classic riff, looking unbelievably cool as he sang, "She's got it, yeah baby, she's got it!"…

The crowd roared. Harry yelled along with everyone else.
…A close up of Lucius, saying very definitively, "I'm telling you, he's damned near to god status."...
…An isolated visual of the muddy gnome, with Hermione in the background, laughing hysterically, as the gnome lumbered forward, toward the audience, its grunts and odd groans so intensely comical that they nearly masked a very disturbed, "Good lord," from the witnessing Lucius…

The entire audience was laughing uncontrollably, gasping for breath and wiping their eyes. Lucius had leaned forward again, elbows on his knees, hands covering the lower part of his face as his shoulders shook with mirth. Harry'd never seen him laugh like that. Leave it to a Weasley to finally break down that final barrier.
The scene of blue sky appeared again, this time the flaming letters spelling Magic, or Mayhem? as George's voice narrated, "One must ponder, and form one's own personal philosophy of the intricate relationship between the two. I personally believe one cannot exist without the other…"
The blue sky faded and the succession of segmented imagery resumed in earnest:
…A view from the back stoop of the Burrow as George apparated and disapparated rapidly, all around the back yard, creating loud and repeating noises: crack! crack! crack! crack! crack!…Molly Weasley throwing up her hands, yelling in exasperation, "Oh, will you stop that, already?"…
A roar of entertained laughter from the crowd.
…Harry, as he flew through the air in Diagon Alley after Umbridge had blasted him, hitting the side of the building, and standing up quickly, with a hasty, "I'm fine."…
A chorus of hoots and a "You go, Harry!" from Lee Jordan.
…George, as he asked, "Can we call you Severus, then?" and Severus replying, "I believe I'd greatly prefer that to bloody arsehole."…
Howls of laughter. Smirks of amusement. Gasps of offended senses.
…Percy racing down the hill on the Hogwarts grounds, propelling a terrified and bouncily levitated Rory Bolero along beside him….
"Go, Perce!" Bill Weasley called out.
…Auror Smith declaring, "I'm following the letter of the law, Weasley." And Arthur leaning in close to say to his face, "Bollocks."…
…Neville strumming a muggle acoustic guitar, sitting beside Draco, both of them having magically grown their hair and used a heavy dose of black eyeliner around their eyes, both singing in harmony the chorus of More Than Words, by the muggle band Extreme.
…Severus standing in pink satin leggings on the duel field at Malfoy Manor, hands on hips, cone of shaving foam on his head and all over has face as he declares, "You did not just do that, Potter!" and foam sprays away from his mouth…
…Molly screeching (again), "Oh, will you stop it already?"
…Lucius turning to look at Severus, "I blame you."

Harry had his arms wrapped over his middle now, his stomach aching from laughing so hard. He had to wonder how in the world George and Ron had gotten all of these memories. He also had to appreciate how far out of their way they'd gone to include the Malfoys throughout this entire show. And as if by power of suggestion-
…Neville standing with his electric guitar, strumming rhythmically, waiting to join in the chorus as Draco sang into a microphone, "Sailing away, on the crest of a wave, it's like magic! Oh, rolling and riding and slipping and sliding, it's magic!"…
Harry didn't think the crowd could grow any wilder at this point.
…Lucius, (again) saying very definitively, "I'm telling you, he's damned near to god status."...
…A closeup of Ron's face as Molly asks, "Where's your brother?" followed by crack! crack! crack! crack! and the nearly simultaneous appearances of Bill, George, Percy, and Charlie dangerously close behind Ron, and all five brothers saying in unison, "Hi, Mum."
…Luna and Hermione facing each other in the backyard at Grimmauld Place, wands at the ready, both chanting, "One, two, three, mutatio capillus!" and a split second later, both bursting into laughter at the sight of the other's extraordinary new hairdo…
…Severus and Harry facing each other, also in the backyard. A microscopic flick of Severus' wand, and his comically raised eyebrow as the sound of a loud smack lands on Harry's behind, causing the teen to bellow,
"OW, not cool!"…
…Ron sitting at the outdoor table at Malfoy Manor, arms over chest, impersonating Severus perfectly, "I never claimed to be articulate."…
…Harry on the ground with his arms trapped in the twist of his shirt, up over his head, laughing hysterically, while Severus mercilessly applies tickling jinxes to his ribs…
…George and Ron, standing nose to nose, George impersonating Umbridge, asking, "Hemm, hmmm. So, you'd wanted to teach Defense against the Dark Arts? But you did not get the position?" followed by Ron impersonating Severus, answering, "Ob-vi-ous-ly." with perfect Snape-like enunciation….
…Lucius in his bed in the infirmary, hair shorn off, bandages adorning his head, left arm, and left leg, muttering, "Mystery solved," before passing out…
…Remus Lupin, sitting with one leg slung onto his desk at Hogwarts, tapping the Marauder's Map with his wand, saying, "Mischief managed."...

Harry had provided that last memory of Remus, but the sight of him up there brought a huge lump to his throat. He had to swallow hard and blink rapidly to keep his cool.
The cubicle turned black for a moment, as smoky lettering appeared to display, The Grand Finale. George's voice announced, "Ladies and Gentleman, I give you The Muggle Lovers, performing for you a muggle classic by the Bay City Rollers, You Made Me Believe In Magic!"
The audience roared with applause and hollers, attention riveted on the cubicle.
The darkness faded to show Neville, Dean and Draco on a stage, in what Harry assumed must be the backyard of Neville's family home. Dean was in the background, sitting behind a set of drums. A microphone was set up with its arm bent to reach over to Dean as he counted, "One, two, three, four!" and began to tap his drumsticks on the symbols, setting a steady beat that he switched over to the drums. Neville joined a moment later, strumming his electric guitar to the four-four rhythm. He moved to stand closer to his microphone, which was next to where Draco stood. Draco bobbed his head to the beat, bringing his own mic up as he began to sing: "I believed that love had gone, I'd no strength to carry on. Thought my world was upside-down. Then, you walked on into my life, went to work to set things right. What's the secret that you, that you used?…"
Dean and Neville joined in the chorus and they all sang loudly, "You made me believe in magic, you know that I could be truly in love! You made me believe in magic, your love's put magic into my life!"

The next hour was spent circulating among a crowd of extremely impressed fellow guests, commenting, shaking hands, laughingly recapping funniest moments, and feeling a sense of connection that mattered so very much to everyone present. Harry looked around for Severus and saw him heading over, but stopping first to give Draco a hard hug and a rare grin. Harry was out of earshot and couldn't hear what they were saying.
"We're going to be filthy rich, Harry," George said from beside him. "You, me, Severus, Ronny."
"I didn't do anything to help," Harry said in confusion.
"It was your bleeding idea!" Ron said, closing in on the two of them with a huge grin. "I've gotten pretty good at condensing the memories, if I do say so myself. I'll be in charge of that, when we sell the full service to people."
Harry was lost. "Okay, all I said was that I wanted a way to review memories that didn't require leaning into a pensieve basin. That's it. You lot did everything else."
"Like I said," George told him, "your idea. And Severus, here," he stepped over to open their little circle to include the older wizard who had a pleased smirk on his face as he joined them, "he's contributed several functional charms that have smoothed out all the rough edges. Kingsley just told me, Severus, that he wants to discuss a purchase of several of our cubes for the Ministry's court system. He sees no reason to continue waste Ministry resources interrogating suspects, when you can just have a look at what they've been up to for yourself!"
"How exactly did you manage to get all of those memories together and compiled so quickly, gentlemen?" Severus asked both Ron and George.
"Perseverance," George said smugly.
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