Home, Sweet Home
Home, Sweet Home
Ministry of Magic
Lower Level Detention Area
Lucius Malfoy sat on the steel bunk with his head in his hands. How could everything have gone so wrong in so little time? Just last month he and his comrades were going about their business, working to bring the wizarding world under the iron fist of his master. The muggle baiting and killing, the revels, he at the Dark Lord's right hand. By Merlin, he was supposed to be the next Minister of Magic! Now he was sitting in a cell next to that loser Rudolphus Lestrange and his equally loser brother, Rastaban. A couple of cells down was his wife's nutty sister, Bellatrix. There was one who had really gone off the deep end. Headfirst with no water in the pool. She just kept cackling about the Dark Lord returning and talking in that baby voice. When she got to Azkaban the Dementors would not have much to work with.
Lucius had been captured while he and Barty Crouch were following an Auror team trying to locate Pettigrew. Barty had been able to appirate out before he was seen but Lucius had not been so lucky. Lucius gave another groan and thought about his options. His shyster solicitor had suggested claiming that he was under the Imperius Curse and greasing the palms of as many Wizengamot members as possible. That and having Cissy make a big donation to Cornelius Fudge's campaign to replace Minister Bagnold. That, along with a hefty donation to St. Mungo's should get him off the hook. Get some favorable press and buy his way out. It was a plan worthy of a Malfoy. He didn't know what he would do if it didn't.
"I can't go to Azkaban!" he thought. "I'm too young, handsome, and have too nice hair to sit in a stinking cell in my own crap while being sucked dry by Dementors!" His thoughts were disturbed by the guard getting up from his chair and rubbing his belly.
"I'm going to go get a nice lunch at that new Italian place down the street," the guard sneered. Putting on a phony deferential tone, the guard asked. "Can I get you anything? Maybe some lasagna, spaghetti, or raviolis? No, how about some of that nice, soft warm bread? Oh, that's right. You're prisoners! I must have forgotten. I'll have the elves bring down your gruel and water when I get back." He wagged his finger. "Now don't go anywhere!" With that, the guard, without a backward glance, strode over to the door and went through, locking it behind him. Lucius shook his head and daydreamed of the exquisite tortures that he would inflict upon that guard should he get out and run across him in a different circumstance. The Cruciatus curse would be the least of his problems. The manor house had several large wooded areas where a body, once buried, would never be found.
A scraping sound jarred his thoughts, bringing him to attention. There on the other side of the cell door was the cretin he had been trying to capture when he was caught. Wormtail had a self satisfied look on his face that Lucius would just love to wipe off. He sneered. "Wormtail, what are you doing here? And how did you get here without getting caught? Are you just some fool Gryffindor sticking his head inside the lion's den or is there a reason for your visit?"
"How I got here is no concern, I came to help if I could. I brought this." Wormtail held up a small silver clip shaped like a snake. "It's a portkey. Pin it inside your robes and when they go to transport you, activate it by saying the Dark Lord's name. Do that once you are past the wards and it will take you to your house. You can take it from there."
"Wormtail, you do surprise me even now. I knew the Dark Lord kept you around for a reason. What about our comrades?" he asked, gesturing toward the Lestranges. They had not noticed Pettigrew whispering to Lucius.
"No way, they're friggin nuts!" Peter hissed. "That bitch wants to kill me! You're worth saving, those twits will go to Azkaban with a smile on their lips." Lucius could not find it in himself to disagree.
"I will use this as a last resort. I have a plan that should get me free from here and in good graces. If it doesn't work, I will owe you a debt. And I always pay my debts. What are your plans?"
"I've got one, but I need to keep it close to the vest. If I hear that you were convicted, I will contact your wife. If not, just know that I will be close." Hearing a noise from the door area, Wormtail ducked around a corner and disappeared. When the guard came back in the cellblock, he did not notice the well fed rat slip past him and into the corridor.
Thirty minutes later and two floors up, Peter was hiding in the atrium waiting for a chance to slip out of the Ministry unnoticed. He was not paying attention to his surroundings and therefore was surprised when he was picked up by a small red-haired boy.
"Oi, Dad! Look what I found!" The boy, Percy Weasley, had come down to the Ministry with his father, a minor bureaucrat. It was "Take your kid to work day" at the Ministry and young Percy was having the time of his life. "Can I keep him? Please Dad? Please?"
Percy's father, Arthur Weasley looked at the rat. "Fine looking specimen, Percy. He seems pretty tame too. He must be a magical rat looking for a familiar." Wormtail squeaked and nodded his head vigorously. This beat hiding in the sewers for the next fifty years or so! "Arthur laughed at the rat's antics. "Well Percy, It looks like you have a new pet." He put his arm around his son and walked toward the floo access. Percy put the rat in his pocket and followed his father. When they got to the outbound floo, they met another worker coming out of the inbound.
"Hello Arthur, going home?"
"Sure am. You going on duty?
"Yeah, no rest for the wicked. 'Night Arthur."
"Goodnight, Sirius. Come along, son." Percy never noticed how his new pet quivered in fear at the bottom of his pocket.
Ministry of Magic
Department of Magical Law Enforcement
"Hey, Frank. What's interesting tonight?"
"Nothing much. Been really quiet today. Crouch wants to bring in a couple of Dementors to baby-sit the prisoners downstairs until their trials, but the Minister is having a fit about it. Crouch is going to win this one though, he's got Amelia on his side. They are claiming that Malfoy and the Lestranges are too much of an escape risk to leave to us. With Pettigrew still on the loose I have got to agree"
Sirius shivered. He hated the Dementors. Yes, they were a necessary evil, but if it was up to him, he would somehow figure out how to destroy them. If those things ever broke away from Ministry control, they could wipe out the country. At least they didn't, as far as he knew, have the ability to reproduce. Still, it would not hurt his feelings if Malfoy and crew got a bit of a taste of what they were going to face if convicted. He figured that Malfoy would attempt to buy his way out.
"Speaking of the Malfoys," Sirius said. "I have a contact at Gringotts who says that Narcissa is spreading money to certain members of the Wizengamot. I leaned on Darius Pirzadeh yesterday and found out that Narcissa has asked to see him tonight. Mad-Eye and I are going to work a bit of a sting tonight. Moody made Pirzadeh disappear for a bit and I will be going in his place. Maybe we can find out what my cousin is planning. Lucius may have some company by morning."
"Sounds like fun. Let me know if you need any help. For now though, I need to get home to Alice and the kids."
"Ah, yes. Frank, how is Harry doing? Does he need anything?"
"He's fine. You ought to see him and Neville getting along. They have really been good for each other. I took them both for a broom ride last Saturday. You would think they were born on a broom; they both took to it so well. And Neville showed his first bit of magic yesterday, right along with Harry."
Sirius cocked an eyebrow. "Really, what happened?"
"Alice told Missy to put the boys down for their nap. When she went in the room, they were playing with a ball, sending it back and forth, but they were levitating it! Missy went to take the ball away from them to put them down and suddenly found herself back down in the kitchen. I'm not sure which one did it, maybe both, but it freaked Missy out. Alice found her in the kitchen crying because she failed to take care of the kids. Alice had to go in there with her and lay the law down to the boys. Somehow I don't think they will do that again."
Sirius snickered. "Hell, Frank. The Marauders ride again. When those two get to Hogwarts, they may break our records for detentions."
"Sure enough. So, dinner on Friday night?"
"Yeah, mind if I bring a date?"
"Yeah. I'm really starting to get comfortable having her around, and Harry really likes her also."
"Sounds serious. Sure, bring her along, she and Alice get along like gangbusters."
"Okay. Well, you had better get home before Alice gets worried. I'll call you if there are any problems."
Frank headed out of the office to the floo and Sirius looked over the daily reports while waiting for Moody. A couple of minutes into it, the cellblock guard came up looking somewhat disturbed.
"Auror Black, I think we may have a problem with Malfoy."
"Oh, what kind of problem?"
"When I went to lunch earlier, he was really in a blue funk, looked like the end of the world was staring him in the face. When I came back, he was upbeat and cocky. He didn't have any visitors but something changed."
Moody had slipped into the office and listened to the guard's suspicions. "Good job, Iverson. Sometimes noticing little things like that can save your life. I knew you were a good student when I trained you." He grinned. "I believe it might be time to do a bit of a cell search on Mr. Malfoy."
Iverson smiled, something that was almost as scary as Mad-Eye's smile. They were definitely cut from the same bolt of cloth. "Thanks Auror Moody. I want to see the look on his face when I tell him about the body cavity search. The muggles do have some good ideas on occasion."
Thirty minutes later, Malfoy was outraged, Bellatrix was doubled over with laughter at his plight, and the portkey was safely in the hands of the Aurors. Mad-Eye had confirmed that the clip was a portkey and Lucius was questioned under Veritaserum to find out where it came from. Mad-eye erected anti-animagus wards in the cellblock and Malfoy had a charge of attempted escape added to his alleged crimes."
"You know, Malfoy, if you had tried that escape plan after your trial, the Dementors would have hunted you down. The standing order for them is to administer the Kiss to any person even attempting escape."
Malfoy sneered. "I hate to disappoint you, but I'm not going to be convicted. And when I get released, I am going to ruin you."
"Big talk, Malfoy," Sirius said. "You're going to spend the rest of your miserable life in Azkaban. But I'll tell you what. Don't give us any more problems and I will ask one of the Dementors to wear pink panties so you won't miss my cousin Narcissa too much."
Malfoy was locked back away and the two Aurors went back upstairs to leave him to the tender mercies of the cellblock guard. "Ready to go, Black?" Moody asked.
"Sure. Got the polyjuice?"
"Fresh from the lab. I brought along a few of Pirzadeh's hairs."
"What did you do with him?"
"Got him locked in my trunk so he can't blow the whistle to Mrs. Malfoy. If all goes well, he has agreed to testify against her to save his own arse. Might as well get going. You go straight there, I'll apparate with our back up about a quarter mile down the lane. Watch out for their house elf though, Pirzadeh says that he is a real nutter."
"Aren't they all"
Sirius, posing as Darius Pirzadeh, had been welcomed into Malfoy Manor and given a cup of tea while waiting for Narcissa. Moody was right, the house elf, Dobby, was even stranger than the usual class of servant. He figured that Narcissa would have him giving himself punishments on a regular basis. He was so hyper and Cissy was oh, so refined. A few minutes later, Narcissa came in and got right down to business.
"Darius, I called you here to ask you to make sure that Lucius does not get convicted. I am prepared to make it well worth your while."
"Narcissa, I am but one vote. Do you have others?"
"Yes, I have given several people the same offer."
"As to the offer, what are you suggesting?"
"A thousand galleons now and another five thousand when Lucius is freed. Is that acceptable to you?"
Sirius/Pirzadeh gave her a surprised look. "That is some serious money, especially if you are bribing enough members to ensure an acquittal."
Narcissa laughed. "Some members are already predisposed to vote for acquittal. You however, are one of the more independent members."
Sirius reached up and pulled on his ear lobe, activating the communication device hidden there to summon the rest of the team that the time was ripe for the raid. "In that case, let's see the money."
Narcissa sent the house elf to bring a bag of gold down into the drawing room. When he had, Sirius counted the money, stood and shook hands with Narcissa. "You just bought yourself a vote."
At that moment, the front door was blasted off the hinges. The elf, Dobby, squeaked in terror and disappeared. Moody and three hit wizards rushed into the room while Sirius grabbed Narcissa and placed her into anti-magic cuffs. Moody walked up to her and smiled.
"Narcissa Malfoy, you are under arrest for bribery of a Wizengamot member."
"You can't do this! Darius, are you in on this? Why are you betraying me?"
Sirius looked at his watch. "3-2-1…." He began changing back into himself. "Sorry Cissy, but you stepped in it this time. We will find out who else you bribed though. I'm sure that you will enjoy their company in Azkaban."
Narcissa glared at Sirius and spat. "I should have known. The white sheep of the Black family. Mark my words, this is not over."
Sirius shook his head sadly. "Yes it is. I warned you against marrying Malfoy. Now he has dragged you down with him."
Just then, Dobby reappeared. He saw Narcissa in cuffs and gasped. "Mistress Malfoy! Dobby is so sorry!" He began to bang his head against the floor.
Narcissa got a sadistic smile on her face. "Cousin, may I borrow your glove?" Sirius, knowing what she was wanting to do, removed his glove and handed it to her. She tossed it to Dobby. "You are worthless! You failed to protect me. I am dismissing you from my service!"
She was surprised when Dobby did not break down in tears, but rather stared at the glove with an almost worshipful look on his face. "Mistress has freed Dobby! Oh, thank you, Mistress!"
Moody shook his head and grinned at Sirius. "I told you that he was a nutter."
Sirius went over to Dobby and bent down. "Dobby, is it?" When the elf nodded, he continued. "Dobby, would you like to come to work for me?"
"Oh, yes, Mr. Black. But Dobby is a free elf and will be wanting wages and clothes."
"I wouldn't have it any other way. How much do you want?"
Dobby thought about it for a minute. "Dobby wants two knuts a week and one day off a year. Dobby also wants Master to buy him clothes."
"Hmm… How about a galleon a week and one day off a week. I will outfit you in a uniform."
Dobby's eyes grew even larger. "Dobby could not accept more than one galleon a month and one day off a month, with Master buying Dobby's uniforms."
"Whoa. You drive a hard bargain, Dobby. I'll tell you what. I'll accept those terms, but you cannot call me Master, you have to call me either Sirius or Mr. Black." He held out his hand.
Dobby gravely took his hand and shook it. Moody looked quizzically at Sirius. "Black, have you gone 'round the twist? Why are you hiring a house elf?"
"Simple. With Lucius and Narcissa both in custody, I am Draco's closest relative. It is my responsibility to see that he is cared for."
"And just how do you plan to do that? You weren't able to take custody of the Potter kid, what makes you think Dumbledore will not interfere with you now?"
"Draco is not 'The Boy Who Lived'. He would have a hard time interfering with a blood relationship. I am Head of my House, whether my mother likes it or not. I have been thinking about this, when we get back, I am going to take a leave of absence to make all of the necessary arrangements." He looked over at Dobby. "Dobby, I want you to take Draco and all of his things to my flat in London. I will be home in the morning."
"Yes, Mr. Black sir!" The elf popped out to begin his new job. Moody took one of Narcissa's arms while Sirius took the other.
"Come on, Mrs. Malfoy. We have a nice warm vial of Veritaserum waiting for you at the office." Moody took out a portkey, held it against Narcissa, and Sirius grabbed on. Moody activated it and they disappeared, leaving the rest of the team to search the house for more evidence.
After questioning Narcissa under Veritaserum, Sirius called all of the Aurors including Frank and Amelia. The spent the night conducting raids on Wizengamot members who Narcissa had bribed. The Gringotts goblins confirmed the large withdrawals that Narcissa had made and the resulting deposits of the recipients of her largess. One by one, the bribed members, when faced with a term in Azkaban, turned the ill gotten money over to the Aurors and agreed to testify against Narcissa. There were enough counts to make sure that she never saw the outside of prison in her lifetime.
It was an exhausted Sirius Black that used the came out of the fireplace at his flat. He stepped out of the fireplace to see Dobby and another elf he recognized as his mother's elf, Kreacher, yelling at each other, but no sound was coming from them. Dobby noticed him, and waved his hand, returning sound to the flat.
"Mr. Black, sir. Dobby put up a silencing charm so this elf,…" he spat the word while glaring at Kreacher. "….. would not wake up the little master."
"I appreciate that, Dobby. Kreacher," he said brusquely, "What do you want?"
"Young Master, disgrace that he is, broke his mother's heart…."
"Don't give me that, Kreacher. She doesn't have a heart."
The elf glared at Sirius. "As Kreacher was saying, Young Master needs to come home, Mistress has passed away."
Sirius sat down in shock. He loathed what his mother had become in the past twenty or so years, but it was still a shock finding out that she had died. There would never be the chance to try and heal their relationship. "All right, Kreacher. I'll make the arrangements. Go to the house and sit with the body. Make her presentable and I'll come with the morticians." The elf nodded curtly and popped out.
"Dobby, I have to leave for a while. Will you be alright watching Draco?"
"Oh yes, Mr. Black. Dobby watches and cares for the little master all of the time anyway."
"Good enough, I'll be back as soon as I can. If a lady named Sarah comes by, explain what has happened and ask her to get in touch with me tomorrow." When Dobby nodded his understanding, Sirius went to the fireplace, threw in some floo powder and called out, "Leeks and Son Funeral Home!"
12 Grimmauld Place
The funeral home workers were, if nothing else, efficient. Sirius had gone to the funeral home, made the burial arrangements, the escorted the workers to the Black family home. By this time, he was exhausted, and not in the mood to listen to Kreacher's mutterings. It did not help matters any that his mother's portrait chose that time to wake up and begin berating him. She also yelled out instructions to the funeral home employees regarding the way she wanted her funeral. Fortunately, they took it in stride, looking over to Sirius for confirmation. He shook his head.
"No guys, don't listen to her, I'm the one paying the bill." Turning toward the portrait, he gave a Black worthy sneer. "Mother, you are about to reap what you have sown. There is not going to be a big funeral where a bunch of old, evil hags like you can sit and commiserate about how far the family has fallen. No, what is going to happen is these men are going to take your body away, it will be cremated and your ashes scattered. Where those ashes are scattered will be the only decision. There will be a notice in the Prophet that you have passed on and the burial will be private. So it's up to you, if you shut up, I will scatter the ashes someplace like Stonehenge, but if you keep screeching, you'll find yourself in a dumpster in an alley in muggle London behind some Chinese restaurant." The painting immediately shut up.
The last order of business for the day was Kreacher. The house elf had been muttering insults and veiled threats the entire time the funeral workers had been there. After they left, Sirius summoned the elf.
"Kreacher, is there anyone who you would prefer to work for?"
"Worthless Master would let Kreacher go work for a worthy family?" the elf said in wonder. "Kreacher would go work for the Malfoys or Lestranges in a heartbeat."
Sirius laughed. "I'm afraid that isn't going to happen, that bunch is on their way to Azkaban. I can tell that you hate me just as much as my dearly departed mother did, so you will never work directly for me. For now, stay here and keep the portraits company while decide just what I am going to do with you and with this house. You might try cleaning it a bit. Maybe I can find some evil dark lord who wants a summer house."
"Master would find someone like that to sell the house and Kreacher to? Maybe Young Master is not as worthless as Kreacher thought." Sirius rolled his eyes and left, using the floo to his flat.
Sirius arrived home at about 7:00 am, dead on his feet. He found Draco and Dobby in the kitchen, with the child in a high chair eagerly taking bites of banana, smearing them on his face before finally getting them in his mouth. Sirius watched the scene for a moment, wishing that it was Harry in the high chair instead of Narcissa's whelp. "Nothing to be done about that now, maybe I can at least raise this one so that he doesn't turn out like his father." He put on a smile and greeted Dobby.
"Good morning, Mr. Black sir. Would sir like some breakfast?" Sirius' stomach rumbled in response.
"Something light if you have it. I plan to go to sleep soon. Did Sarah come by?"
"Yes, sir. Miss Nalett just left before you came home. She said that she would stop by after work at 5:00."
"Excellent," said Sirius, taking the muffin with butter and jam that Dobby offered. "I am going to head into bed. Wake me up about 4:00. Will you be okay with Draco during that time?"
"Oh yes, sir. Little Master will be in good hands. Dobby will make sure of that."
"Very well, good day, Dobby." Sirius stumbled to his bedroom to begin a well deserved rest.