Cherub woke to the sight of the predawn light in his window.
He smiled at the sight and let his mind drift over the myriad of experiences of the past few weeks and how full his life had become.
Reluctantly, he got out of his bed and went to his closet to find something to wear. The sudden realization came over him that he? was going to need to get new clothes, or at least have his old ones altered to accommodate his wings.
Reluctantly he went to the clothes that had been unpacked from his suitcase and retrieved one of the two sets of casual clothes he brought for the weekend.
After attending to morning business, he went to Chuffery's room to see if he was still sleeping.
A smile fell across Cherub's face as he watched his brother sleeping peacefully.
Cherub couldn't find the will to wake him so after a few minutes of just watching, he retreated into the hallway and made his way to the sitting room.
"Good morning Mr. Nightshade." Millicent said happily.
Cherub looked at her curiously and hesitantly responded, "Good morning Millicent."
"Catty is preparing your breakfast as we speak. James will be going up to wake Master Chuffery in a few minutes." Millicent said, glowing with happiness.
Cherub couldn't help but smile at her in return.
"Catty and James told me what you did for them. Thank you Mr. Nightshade. They both said it was the most perfect moment in their lives thanks to you." Millicent beamed.
"It was my pleasure, I was honored to be present at such a beautiful moment... Why are you calling me Mr. Nightshade all of a sudden?" Cherub asked curiously.
"Catty, James and I were talking last night and decided that since you are now the owner of Dour Oaks, you should be given the proper respect that comes with it." Millicent said seriously.
Cherub nodded in understanding and said, "I was given Dour Oaks and the rest of the Nightshade holdings, I didn't earn it. I didn't do anything to earn respect. Let the staff know that I don't expect them to call me Mr. Nightshade, nor will I until I've accomplished something to make me worthy of the family name. However, if any of the staff choose to call me Mr. Nightshade, I will humbly accept it for the honor it is."
"It's a big name to grow into. Just so you know, we're all proud of you and have no doubt that you will continue to make us proud." Millicent said with her beaming smile back in place.
"I'm going to the family dining room to await breakfast, if Catty is in as good a mood as you this morning, I'm sure it will be extraordinary." Cherub said as he stood.
"I'm downright grumpy compared to Catty." Millicent said with a huge grin.
* * * * *
"Good morning Chuffery, did you sleep well?" Cherub asked with a smile.
Chuffery walked to the table to take the seat beside his brother and nodded.
Before Cherub could say another word, Catty and James walked into the dining room carrying heavy laden silver trays.
"How many people did you think were eating this morning?" Cherub asked in surprise.
"I couldn't help myself Mr. Nightshade. I started making breakfast and the next thing I knew all this was made." Catty said happily as she arranged the food before the two boys.
"It looks wonderful. Did Millicent tell you about our visitors this morning?" Cherub asked as he began making selections from the abundance of food before them.
"Oh yes. Would you like to go over the menu after breakfast?" Catty asked with a huge smile.
"No thank you Catty. I've lived here long enough to know that anything you make will be excellent. Oh, I forgot to tell Millicent, we will be having one more visitor today and another joining us for dinner tomorrow." Cherub said in thought, then noticed that Chuffery was just sitting, looking at the food.
"I'll tell her straight away. Enjoy your breakfast Mr. Nightshade." Catty said happily and hurried out of the room.
James stood at attention, ready to attend to any need the boys might have.
"Is there any food here that you would like Chuffery?" Cherub asked carefully.
Chuffery looked at his brother with pleading eyes and nodded.
"Then do like I've done and make your selections. If there's something that you don't know what it is, then just take a little to see if you like it. If you don't, then you don't have to eat it." Cherub explained carefully.
Chuffery looked at Cherub's plate, then proceeded to pull the exact same selection onto his own.
"I'm going to have some tea with my breakfast, what would you like?" Cherub asked casually as he slowly filled his cup.
Chuffery mumbled something that Cherub couldn't hear.
"What was that again?" Cherub asked and leaned closer.
"Milk." Chuffery said in a whisper.
Cherub looked around and saw two varieties of juice but no milk on the table. That wasn't unusual since Cherub didn't like milk.
"James, would you please get Chuffery a glass of milk?" Cherub asked carefully.
James nodded and left the room.
"If there's anything else you'd like, just tell me and we'll get it for you. You don't have to like the same things I do." Cherub said seriously.
A moment later James returned with a glass of milk and sat it by Chuffery's plate.
Just as Chuffery was reaching for the glass of milk, Cherub asked, "Did you really want that milk?"
Chuffery stopped his reach then nodded hesitantly as he looked at Cherub.
"Then what do you think would be the proper thing to do?" Cherub asked, hoping Chuffery would figure it out.
Chuffery thought for a moment, then got a smile.
"Thank you James." Chuffery said in a voice that was more accomplishment than appreciation.
James smiled and nodded.
After Chuffery had eaten a few bites of food, Cherub said, "We pay James and the others to work for us. They cook our food and take care of us because it's their job. One day you might have a job working for someone else. Just think about how much better your job will be if your employer asks you politely and thanks you when you've done something."
"Nana said I don't ever have to work. I get to be just like Daddy." Chuffery said slowly.
Cherub stifled the scream of protest that welled up in him and calmly said, "You may choose not to work. Our family has enough money so you can do that if you want. I hope you'll find something that you enjoy doing and get a job doing it. Who knows, maybe one day you'll work for me?"
Chuffery stopped his eating and looked at Cherub curiously, then broke into a smile.
"And just maybe, someday I'll work for you." Cherub continued, matching Chuffery's smile with his own.
"Can I work for you now?" Chuffery asked hopefully.
Cherub considered the question carefully, then had an idea.
"Tell me Chuffery, can you read?" Cherub asked slowly.
Chuffery nodded quickly.
"Good, then I think I need to hire you to be my reader. When breakfast is finished, James can take you to the library to select a book. When you've found a good one, you can bring it back to the sitting room and read it to me." Cherub said in a serious voice.
"But what if it's a big book?" Chuffery asked with worry.
"Then you can read it to me a little at a time. Next time we go to Diagon Alley, I will pay you what I owe you for reading to me and you can use the money to buy whatever you want." Cherub said with a cheerful smile.
Chuffery seemed to be frozen in place.
"Are you okay Chuffery?" Cherub asked carefully.
Tears started forming in Chuffery's fear-filled eyes.
Cherub looked at James to find an equal look of concern.
"James, would you leave us alone for a moment?" Cherub asked slowly.
With a nod, James quietly left the room.
"What's wrong Chuffery? You know you can tell me anything, right?" Cherub asked in a gentle voice.
"Nana said it was bad." Chuffery said in a whisper.
Cherub couldn't resist the urge and pulled Chuffery into a hug.
Chuffery struggled against the hug for a moment, then stopped struggling and started crying.
"Just tell me what's wrong so I can help." Cherub whispered and rubbed Chuffery's back.
"You're not going to get mad and sell me like daddy did, are you?" Chuffery asked in a voice so low it could barely be heard.
"No Chuffery, I'll never sell you. This will be your home for ever and ever." Cherub said gently, wanting to take away his brothers pain and fear.
"My pee-pee got hard." Chuffery whispered in an ashamed voice.
Cherub didn't reveal any reaction, but continued to hold Chuffery carefully.
Finally Cherub said, "It's okay Chuffery, you're a boy. That's supposed to happen."
"But Nana said I was being bad when my pee-pee got hard." Chuffery said seriously.
Cherub thought about the statement as a fire of anger began to build within him.
"Are you mad at me now?" Chuffery asked, and his body began to shake in fear.
"Shhh. No little brother. I'm not mad at all." Cherub said and pulled out of the hug enough to give Chuffery a kiss on the cheek.
Chuffery looked in wonder at his brother, not understanding what was happening.
"Chuffery, your pee-pee getting hard is part of being a boy. Nana probably thought it was bad because she was never a boy. That's why it's better to have James and I to look after you.? We understand stuff like that and know that it isn't bad or dirty at all." Cherub tried to explain.
Chuffery looked at Cherub with relief.
Cherub smiled at the easing in Chuffery's fear.
"Sometimes you get hard for no reason at all, and sometimes it happens when you think about something or someone. It's not bad. It happens to me too." Cherub said seriously, holding Chuffery's gaze.
"You get a hard pee-pee too?" Chuffery asked in wonder.
"That's right Chuffery. Like I said, it's part of being a boy. And as you get older, it happens more and more." Cherub said seriously.
"Does James get a hard pee-pee too?" Chuffery asked with wide-eyed wonder.
"Yes he does. In fact, if you didn't get a hard pee-pee sometimes, I'd be worried. It's a healthy thing." Cherub said and pulled Chuffery back into the hug.
"But Nana said I was being bad. She'd bathe me in cold water till it went away." Chuffery said in a whimper.
"Nana is gone now. You don't ever have to worry about her again. I tell you what, if you want to, even though it's not bath time, we can go right now and take a nice warm bath together. I'll show you that it's okay, my pee-pee might even get hard too. You'll see that there's nothing wrong with it." Cherub said gently.
Chuffery nodded into Cherub's shoulder.
"Come on. Let's take a bath." Cherub said with a gentle smile.
As they walked out the dining room door, Cherub noticed James waiting with a look of concern.
"Chuffery and I are going to take a bath in my bathroom. He's been raised by a woman who thought erections were dirty and wrong. This may take some time." Cherub said seriously as he held Chuffery close to his side.
"Would you like me to join you?" James asked carefully.
"Only if you want to, and only if Catty wouldn't mind. I wouldn't want to do anything to come between you two." Cherub said seriously.
"Catty knows I love her first and always, but she understands that I love you in a very different way and this is my way of showing you. A boy needs to know that he's loved." James finished quietly.
"Thank you James. And I love you too." Cherub said with a lump in his throat.
"I'll just tell Catty that you're finished with breakfast and be up to join you in a moment." James said as he walked toward the kitchen.
"Thank you James." Cherub said in a quiet voice, then proceeded toward the stairs.
* * * * *
"You told me last night that you could turn on the water and get it to the right temperature all by yourself. Would you like to show me?" Cherub asked gently as they walked into his bathroom.
"Yeah!" Chuffery said loudly and ran to the tub.
"Chuffery, you should probably get out of your clothes first so you don't get them wet." Cherub said gently.
Chuffery stopped in his tracks and turned to look at Cherub in deep thought, then started pulling at his shirt, trying to get it over his head.
"Slow down Chuffery. We've got all morning. If you need help with something just let me know." Cherub said with a chuckle.
Chuffery slowed his pace slightly, but continued to fight the shirt.
After a moment of amused watching, Cherub began to undress himself.
"I've set out some fresh clothes for Master Chuffery on your bed Mr. Nightshade." James said as he walked into the bathroom.
"James, I'm going to feel awfully uncomfortable being called Mr. Nightshade when we're all naked. Would you please call me Cherub while we're in here?"
"I think I would like that Cherub." James said gently as he began to unbutton his shirt.
Cherub turned at the sound of running water.
"You're doing fine Chuffery. Let me know when the water is ready." Cherub said with a proud smile.
Chuffery adjusted the faucets with as much seriousness as any nine year old could manage.
"You look very different with wings Cherub. How did that happen?" James asked curiously as he pulled off his trousers.
"I was born with them. Father got an expensive wizard to transfigure me to hide them before I was moved to Dour Oaks." Cherub said as he pulled off his underwear.
Cherub looked to see how Chuffery was doing and found him frozen in astonishment.
"What's wrong Chuffery?" Cherub asked quietly.
"James's pee-pee got a moustache." Chuffery said in awe.
Cherub smiled and said, "That's what happens when you grow up. Mine doesn't have a moustache yet, but it has a whisker or two."
Chuffery forgot about the bath water and hurried to closely inspect his brother.
"I see one! It's right there!" Chuffery said pointing to a lone pubic hair.
"It's easy to see now that I have black hair. When I was blonde, you couldn't see it." Cherub said as he guided Chuffery toward the tub.
"You had blond hair?" James asked curiously as he followed.
"Yes. The same color as Chuffery's. And my wings were white, well, more like a dirty off-white." Cherub said as he eased into the tub, then said, "You got the bath water just right Chuffery. This feels great."
"Yes, you did it perfectly Chuffery." James said in praise.
"If you used to have hair like mine... is mine going to turn black too?" Chuffery asked in deep thought.
"No Chuffery, I changed my hair color to black." Cherub said simply.
Chuffery got a look of deep concentration, then asked, "You didn't want hair like mine?"
Cherub immediately realized that he had to answer the question delicately.
"I didn't even know I had a brother when I decided to change my hair color. There is a professor at Hogwart's who has black hair like mine is now. I liked the way his hair looks so I changed mine to be like his." Cherub said carefully.
Chuffery looked Cherub in the eyes as he thought about what he was being told.
"If I knew I had a wonderful little brother with blond hair I probably would have kept it." Cherub continued, getting the sense that he might have avoided a disaster.
"Can my hair be like yours?" Chuffery asked cautiously.
Cherub thought about the question and finally answered, "If you really want it to be, I can make the potion to change your hair color."
Chuffery nodded with certainty.
"When we're done with our bath we can go make the potion. I'll let you help me." Cherub said absolutely.
Chuffery smiled, then looked at James curiously.
"What is it Chuffery?" James asked cautiously.
"Your pee-pee got real big." Chuffery said with hesitation.
"Remember that I told you it happened to James and I too?" Cherub asked seriously.
"But it got real big!" Chuffery said as he pointed.
Cherub smiled and said, "When you get older, that will happen to you too. I bet even now, your pee-pee is bigger when it's hard than when it's soft."
Chuffery looked down at his stiff little member, then at James and nodded.
"If you'd like, James could show you how to properly clean it. I doubt that Nana knew what she was doing."? Cherub said slowly.
Chuffery looked at James in question.
"It's important to clean yourself properly. If you'll come over here, I'll show you how to pull back the foreskin." James said seriously.
Chuffery hurried to James' side.
Cherub rested back and watched as James demonstrated on himself, then coached Chuffery.
* * * * *
Movement caught Cherub's attention and he turned in time to see his wand slip halfway out of his folded clothes.
"Are you feeling left out?" Cherub asked in a relaxed voice.
The wand didn't move.
"Well you might as well come over here." Cherub said with a smile as he opened his hand.
In a flash of magic, the wand was in his hand.
"Why do you need your wand Cherub?" James asked curiously.
"I don't at the moment, but he was feeling left out." Cherub said as he sat the wand on the edge of the tub.
"Your wand feels?" James asked cautiously.
"Yes. He's a special wand. I'm still getting to know him but I can tell you he has a sense of humor and is a romantic." Cherub said with a smile.
"Can my wand come be with yours?" Chuffery asked hopefully.
"Of course, I'm sure my wand would appreciate the company. Where is your wand?" Cherub asked as he looked around.
"I left it in my room." Chuffery said with disappointment.
"Maybe next time." Cherub said as he relaxed in the warm water.
"There it is!" Chuffery said happily as he pointed.
"I guess my wand *was* lonely... I feel funny calling him 'wand', do? you think he should have a name?" Cherub asked in a relaxed voice.
"I think you should name him Herbert." Chuffery said firmly.
Cherub looked at Chuffery curiously, then said, "I think maybe he should be allowed to choose his own name."
The wand turned itself on the tub side to point at Chuffery.
"Does that mean you want to be named Herbert?" Cherub asked dubiously.
The wand turned itself in a circle and came to a stop pointing at Chuffery again.
"I guess that means my wand is now named Herbert." Cherub said in a somewhat disbelieving voice.
"Cherub?" James asked cautiously.
"Yes James?" Cherub responded, turning his full attention to James.
"Does this seem normal to you?" James asked cautiously.
"What's that?" Cherub asked, lost by the statement.
"You left here a skinny brown haired boy. You returned two weeks later as a black haired boy with wings. You have more money than you could spend in three lifetimes, you have a brother that you never knew you had and you have a magic wand named Herbert. Doesn't this seem the least bit odd to you?" James asked seriously.
Cherub thought about the question and finally said, "When you put it that way, it does sound like something an amateur writer would make up. But these are the cards I was dealt, I have no choice but to play them the best I can."
Chuffery splashed the water before him, looking a little bored.
"But for right now I have a tub full of water, a cute brother and a cute valet to focus on. The rest of the world can just take care of itself for a while." Cherub said with a smile at his tub partners and moved toward them.
"Okay Chuffery, I think it's time we did some bathing." Cherub said with a gentle smile.
Chuffery looked at Cherub curiously.
"James is the one who taught me how to bathe myself. He's going to tell us what to do. If you don't know what he's telling you, look at me and you'll see me doing it." Cherub said with a smile.
Chuffery seemed to be excited by the idea.
James handed Chuffery and Cherub each some soap and a wash cloth, then took one of each for himself.
James spoke in a clear voice, "We're going to work from the top down..."
* * * * *
"Well, you got to see a few hard pee-pees in there. Do you still think it's bad?" Cherub asked as he pulled on his clothes.
"No. It was nice. Can I still have hair like yours?" Chuffery asked hopefully.
"Of course. James, will you help us?" Cherub asked with a smile.
"I'll watch if you don't mind. I never had much of a talent for potions." James said quietly.
"This is an easy one. It takes longer to prepare for it than it does to brew it." Cherub said as he finally got his shoes tied.
"Can you help me?" Chuffery asked weakly.
"Would you like to learn how to tie your shoes now or later?" Cherub asked and waited.
"I want to make my hair like yours now." Chuffery said seriously.
"Then James can show you how to tie your shoes later." Cherub said and knelt down to tie Chuffery's shoes.
"I can get that Mr. Nightshade." James said quickly.
"I don't mind doing it James. Besides, this is the easy job. Teaching Chuffery to tie his shoes is going to be the challenge." Cherub said with a smile.
"I'm not dumb." Chuffery said in offense.
"I wasn't saying that you were Chuffery. Learning to tie your shoes is difficult at first, at least it was for me. It is much easier for me to tie your shoes for you than try and teach you to do it yourself." Cherub said seriously.
Chuffery thought about the statement, then asked, "Did Nana tie my shoes so she wouldn't have to teach me?"
Cherub shook his head and said, "I think Nana tied your shoes so you would need her. She did everything for you so you would always need her to be there doing things for you."
Chuffery looked at Cherub, frozen in deep thought.
"I'll always want you around too. But if I show you how to do things for yourself, then I'll know you're here because you want to be, not because you have to be." Cherub said seriously.
"Is Nana bad?" Chuffery asked cautiously.
"I don't know Chuffery. I know that she was wrong to not teach you things. And she was wrong to tell you that something as natural as a hard pee-pee is something bad. But I don't know if she was a bad person or if she was trying to do the right thing the wrong way. I'll probably never know." Cherub said honestly.
"Can we fix my hair now?" Chuffery asked hopefully.
"Yes. Come along Chuffery. We're going to do it right now." Cherub said with a smile.
* * * * *
"Mr. Nightshade?" Millicent asked from the doorway of the potions lab.
Cherub looked up from his work and was shocked to see her pale and trembling.
"Your Grandfather..." She trailed off with tears gliding down her cheeks.
Cherub closed his eyes and asked, "Is he gone?"
"Yes. An hour ago." Millicent said in a trembling voice.
Cherub walked to her and pulled her into a hug.
"It was his time. He knew it and was ready. I promise Millicent, he was happy." Cherub said in a gentle voice.
"Thank you... He loved you so much..." She trailed off in tears.
"James. Do you think you can finish the potion? It just needs to brew for a few minutes. I need to talk to Chuffery." Cherub said quietly.
"Yes Mr. Nightshade. I'll bring it when it's ready." James said sadly.
Cherub let go of Millicent and held his arms open to Chuffery.
"Come here Chuffery. We need to talk." Cherub said carefully.
Chuffery walked to his brother with hesitation and confusion.
"Come into the next room where we can sit down." Cherub said gently and guided Chuffery to walk with him.
* * * * *
"Grandfather Nightshade passed away this morning." Cherub said gently as he held Chuffery in his lap.
Chuffery looked at Cherub with confusion.
"He died." Cherub said, wanting to protect his brother, but feeling it was more important for him to understand.
Chuffery buried his face in Cherub's shoulder and started to cry.
"He loved us Chuffery. That's why he made sure we ended up together." Cherub said as his own tears fell.
"Nana always said Granpa was mean cause he wanted her to go away." Chuffery said into Cherub's shoulder.
"Chuffery, you need to decide who you think is mean and nice for yourself. Nana can't decide that for you and neither can I." Cherub said quietly as he rubbed Chuffery's back.
"Granpa was nice. He ate basketti with us and bought me my wand and made it so I could live with you." Chuffery said seriously.
"I think so too Chuffery. It's okay to be sad that he's gone. I'll be here to hold you whenever you need me." Cherub said as he hugged Chuffery tightly.
Chuffery nodded and let his tears fall without restraint.
* * * * *
"Mr. Nightshade?" James asked hesitantly.
"Yes?" Cherub responded, still hugging his brother.
"The potion is finished." James said and presented a beaker to Cherub.
"Thank you James. I know you don't like potion making. I appreciate you taking over for me." Cherub said honestly.
"It was no burden. The part of potion making I dislike is the preparation." James said with a smile.
"Chuffery, are you still sure you want hair like mine?" Cherub asked carefully.
Chuffery nodded and sniffed back his tears.
"If you drink this, your hair will be like mine in about five minutes." Cherub said and held out the beaker to Chuffery.
"I love you Cherub, I want to be just like you." Chuffery said seriously, then drank the potion.
"You need to drink it all." Cherub said quietly, not wanting to sound harsh.
Chuffery kept drinking until it was all gone.
"That wasn't bad was it?" Cherub asked with a smile.
Chuffery nodded that it was.
"Well you won't have to drink it again unless you want to change your hair to another color." Cherub said with a smile.
"Would you like something to drink to get the taste out of your mouth?" James asked gently.
"Yes. Please." Chuffery said with a smile at James.
As James hurried out of the room, Cherub said, "That was very polite Chuffery. I'm proud of you."
Chuffery handed Cherub the empty beaker and snuggled into Cherub's embrace.
* * * * *
"Mr. Nightshade, your guests have arrived." Millicent said from the study doorway.
"Show them to the sitting room, we'll join them in a moment." Cherub said and shifted Chuffery off his lap.
"I guess we got so comfortable we forgot about your hair." Cherub said as he looked at his brother's jet black hair.
"Can I see?" Chuffery asked as he looked around the unfamiliar room quickly.
"Yes. Come over here and I'll lift you up." Cherub said with a smile at his brother's enthusiasm.
"Wow!" Chuffery said as he saw his reflection.
"Cute little guy isn't he?" Cherub asked with a smile.
"I look like you now... can I have wings too?" Chuffery asked in hope.
"I'll have to get back to you on that. I haven't found a wing potion yet." Cherub said as he put Chuffery back on the floor.
"I wanna see some more." Chuffery said indignantly.
"We have guests Chuffery. Come to the sitting room so we can greet them." Cherub said firmly.
"You... you want me to go too?" Chuffery asked in wonder.
"Of course. You're my brother. I always want you around." Cherub said as he held out his hand.
Chuffery immediately took the offered hand and happily followed his brother out of the study.
* * * * *
"Hello everyone." Cherub said as he walked into the sitting room.
"Hi Cherub. How are things with your father?" Harry asked immediately.
"As good as can be." Cherub answered honestly, then pulled Chuffery from behind him.
"Everyone, this is my brother Chuffery Nightshade. Chuffery this is Draco, Harry and Granger." Cherub said formally.
Hermione flashed an aggravated look at Cherub but said nothing.
"You failed to mention that you had a brother." Draco said cautiously.
"I didn't know. Our father isn't one for sharing information." Cherub said as he guided Chuffery to take a seat with him on the couch.
"Mr. Nightshade?" Catty asked from the sitting room doorway.
"Yes Catty?" Cherub responded automatically.
"Would your guests like a snack after their journey?" Catty asked carefully.
Cherub glance to see Harry and Draco's nods and Hermione's disinterested stare.
"Yes, would you set it up in the gazebo. It's too nice a day to spend all of it inside." Cherub said with a smile.
"Right away Mr. Nightshade." Catty said and hurried out.
"You ask your staff to call you Mr. Nightshade?" Draco asked curiously.
"No. I just asked them not to call me Choab anymore, they came up with that themselves. Let's go outside and have a snack. When we come back in I'll show you your rooms. Your things will be brought in by then." Cherub said and stood.
Chuffery stayed nearly glued to his brother's side as they left the sitting room.
"This is the nicest house I've ever been in." Harry said as they walked down the hallway.
"Well, it's the only house I've ever been in so I have nothing to judge it against." Cherub said casually.
"What do you mean?" Hermione asked quietly.
"Oh, I guess you haven't heard the story. When I arrived at Hogwart's I didn't look like this. My father had some spells put on me to make me look plain... come in here." Cherub said and diverted them into the study.
"Here's what I looked like before." Cherub said and handed Hermione a picture.
Chuffery moved from Cherub's side to see the picture for himself.
"That don't look like you." Chuffery said in confusion.
"I know Chuffery, Father didn't want me to look like him." Cherub said with a note of coldness in his voice.
Hermione put down the picture and looked at some others on the desk.
"You don't have any pictures of your parents?" Hermione asked curiously.
"No. I met Father three times, yesterday being the third and hopefully last." Cherub said and pulled Chuffery back to his side in a hug.
"What about your mother?" Hermione asked, a tone of concern in her voice.
"I've never met her. I've never even seen a picture of her." Cherub said and led the group out of the study.
* * * * *
"It really is beautiful here." Harry said as he looked around the wide open yard, then took a finger sandwich from the tray.
"I guess so. I hope you brought your brooms, I plan to do some flying this weekend." Cherub said with a smile.
Harry and Draco nodded as Hermione got an uncomfortable look.
"You may use my broom Granger. I obviously won't be needing it. Although it isn't the latest model, it will still do the job quite well." Cherub said frankly.
"Thank you." Hermione mumbled.
"So tell me what happened after I left. Last I heard, Granger would rather not be in our company." Cherub said casually.
"Um. Well, at dinner last night, Professor Quirrel came in screaming about a troll loose in the school." Draco said in thought.
"Darla had mentioned that Hermione was in the girls bathroom..." Harry interjected.
"So Harry had to do his hero thing and we went to get Granger out of the bathroom." Draco said with a glance at Hermione.
"While we were in there warning her, the troll came in." Harry said next.
"They're Gryffindors alright. Harry and Granger took down that troll in two minutes." Draco said in an impressed voice.
"It seemed longer from my point of view." Harry said with a very 'Malfoy' expression on his face.
Draco smiled at the expression and said, "Your point of view was on the troll's back with your wand stuck up it's nose."
"Then Hermione did this really good Leviosa spell on the troll's club and hit it in the head." Harry said with excitement.
"I leave the school for one night..." Cherub said in wonder as he shook his head.
"Tell him about Professor Snape." Hermione said darkly.
"Well, Professor Snape had a cut on his leg, but it didn't look like something that the troll did, it was more..."
"It was done by a dog. A big, three headed dog." Hermione said firmly.
Cherub looked back and forth between Harry and Hermione trying to figure out what they were talking about.
"You know how they told us to not go to the third level... I kind of did." Harry said shyly.
"So did I." Hermione said insistently.
"At different times. There's a three headed dog up there guarding a trap door." Harry said seriously.
"And we think the troll was let into the school as a diversion so someone could try and get past the dog while everyone was out of the building." Draco said in summary.
"And you suspect Professor Snape?" Cherub asked, sounding more hurt than concerned.
"No. I mean, Granger does, I think it's Quirrel." Draco said seriously.
"What do you think Harry?" Cherub asked carefully.
"I think it doesn't matter which one it is. We need to assume that either or both of them are in on this. We will need to get past that dog when both of them are occupied somewhere else." Harry said with a calculating look in his eyes.
"Well, just so you know. I trust Professor Snape completely. But I'll go along with what Harry said as long as you aren't going to plan to harm Professor Snape." Cherub said seriously.
Movement caught Cherub's eye in time to see an owl swoop down and drop a letter into his lap.
"A love letter?" Draco asked with a playful look.
"Doubtful." Cherub said with a smile and opened the letter.
Cherub my boy,
I am writing this letter immediately following the most delightful evening I can remember. I had a lovely dinner with my grandsons, then to make the evening complete, I took my grandson Chuffery to buy him his first wand. I know my time is short, but I couldn't darken that wonderful evening by telling you the complete truth.
You're a smart boy, you may have seen through my deception already, but in case you need confirmation of your suspicions... yes. I manipulated you into accepting Chuffery. It was on my insistence that Chuffery was brought to the office and the dreaded nanny was left home. Gwendylfarb was to let you wait in the waiting room until you had a chance to get to know Chuffery. When she saw you leading him from the lavatory by the hand, she knew it was time.
Had I simply asked you to assume responsibility for your brother, you might well have refused. Please forgive a meddling old grandfather. It was my last chance to try and put right some of what I let go so horribly wrong. That is all the confession I have to make. Everything else I told you was the complete truth.
The pages that follow are the spells I mentioned that every parent should have.
Please know that I have always loved you and have always been proud of you,
Give my love to Chuffery,
This was on your grandfather's desk when he had his attack. His last thoughts were of you. He wasn't able to finish the last spell, but Gwendylfarb and I completed it for him. I hope they are of use to you.
Cherub looked up from the message with tears in his eyes.
"What is it Cherub? Bad news?" Draco asked with concern.
"Our Grandfather died this morning, he was writing this letter when he collapsed." Cherub said in a shaky voice.
"Cherub! Why didn't you say something sooner?" Harry asked in disbelief.
"I'm okay, really. I just met him for the first time yesterday. He new it was nearly his time to die and wanted to... say goodbye, I guess." Cherub said in an unsure voice.
Draco got a distant look for a second, then asked, "Was your grandfather Aristotle Nightshade?"
"Yes." Cherub said, then motioned for Chuffery to come to him.
"From what my father said, Aristotle Nightshade had so much money and property that no one could keep count of it all. Apparently, he never brought any of his children into the family business and kept all the power to himself." Draco said in distant memory.
"From what I know of it, that's right." Cherub said quietly as he hugged Chuffery tightly.
"I hate to sound greedy, but do you think he left you anything?" Harry asked curiously.
Cherub smiled and said, "Yes, he told me yesterday."
"What did you get? Wait, let me guess, this house, that's why you invited us here isn't it?" Harry asked as he looked around again.
"Yes, he gave me the house." Cherub said peacefully.
"Wow. Eleven years old and you have your own house... I need to mention this to my father." Draco finished in a calculating tone.
"He gave me everything." Cherub said in barely more than a whisper.
"What?" Harry asked with wide eyes.
"All the Nightshade holdings, properties, businesses, and vaults." Cherub said absently.
After a long silence, Chuffery wiggled off Cherub's lap and went to grab another sandwich.
"You... Own all of it?" Draco asked in wonder.
"Well, technically it's in trust for me, but yes. Just about anything associated with the Nightshade family is mine." Cherub said quietly.
"What are you going to do now?" Draco asked in stunned disbelief.
"Fly. Care to join me Draco?" Cherub asked hopefully.
"Um. Sure. I need to change." Draco said absently.
"What about our favorite Seeker?" Cherub asked with a smile.
"Huh? Oh, yeah." Harry answered with distraction.
"What do you say Granger? Would you like to fly with us?" Cherub asked as he stood.
"Why did you even bother to invite me? You don't want me around and you don't want me to fly with you!" Hermione said angrily.
"Well, since you asked, you were invited because Harry and Draco said they wouldn't come without you. As far as wanting you around, I can't really say, I never had the opportunity to get to know you. Since Harry claims you as a friend, that's good enough reason for you to be here. And as far as wanting you to fly with us... I offered because I thought you might enjoy it. It seems a lovely day for flying." Cherub finished in a reasonable voice.
"But you don't like me because my parents are muggles. You think I'm so worthless you won't even call me by my name." Hermione said in tears.
"Granger, I do believe in the importance of bloodlines and breeding, but that doesn't mean I would exclude someone from being a friend simply because of their parentage, no more than I would automatically be friends with someone because they came from an old family. As for calling you by your name, it is a gesture of respect to call you by your family name until I am invited to do otherwise." Cherub said seriously, then noticed that Harry, Draco and Chuffery were watching the exchange in silence.
"Oh." Hermione whispered.
"Granger, you are a guest in my home. I will offer you every courtesy while you are here to make you comfortable. If you would like to join us flying, you would be welcomed, if you would like to rest after your journey this morning, I'll show you to your room. If you have any other ideas, just tell me and I'll see to it." Cherub said as he looked her in the eyes.
"Please call me Hermione." She said quietly.
Cherub smiled and said, "Of course. Would you like to fly with us Hermione?"
"Yes." She said in a shy whisper.
"Then I'll show you your rooms." Cherub said gently.
* * * * *
"This room is beautiful." Hermione said in wonder.
"I'm glad you like it. Harry and Draco's rooms are just across the hall. Mine is through the double doors at the end of the hall and Chuffery's is to the right of mine." Cherub said in a pleasant voice.
Harry and Draco went to their rooms as Cherub led Chuffery to his room.
"It's a warm day. Would you like to wear short pants while we're outside?" Cherub asked gently.
Chuffery craned his neck to look up at his brother and nodded.
"Then go pick out what you'd like to wear. I'll help you with your shoes when you're ready." Cherub said as he took a seat in the chair by Chuffery's bed.
Chuffery stopped his motion and asked, "Are you going to wear short pants too?"
"No Chuffery, it wouldn't look right with a button-up shirt. I'll just wear this." Cherub said seriously.
Chuffery walked away from his dresser and stood beside his brother.
"Does this mean you would rather not wear short pants?" Cherub asked carefully.
"Then give me a hug and we'll go see if the others are ready." Cherub said gently.
Chuffery immediately moved in to give Cherub a tight hug.
"Ooof. You're pretty strong Chuffery. I keep forgetting that you're nine years old." Cherub said as he returned the hug.
Chuffery continued the hug without comment.
* * * * *
"What kind of broom is it?" Hermione asked carefully as she inspected the broom she was handed.
"Well, to tell you the truth, it was purchased to sweep the pantry. When I saw the new broom, I got the idea that I wanted it and hid it until I was able to make the flying potion to enchant it." Cherub said with a shy smile.
"You enchanted it yourself?" Hermione asked in awe.
"Yes. Mrs. Puckett was a little put out by my taking it, but even she seemed to admire that I was able to enchant a broom." Cherub said as he thought about her expression when she saw him flying on her new broom.
"Mrs. Puckett?" Harry asked curiously.
"She used to be the head housekeeper. She's retired now." Cherub said? absently.
"I expected you to have the Nimbus 2000." Harry said honestly.
"Well, I suppose I could if I wanted. But until five weeks ago I had never gone to the shops and seen the latest brooms. I've always been content with this one." Cherub said quietly.
Draco didn't wait for further conversation. In a quick move he took to the air.
Harry saw the movement and was after him in a flash.
Chuffery watched Harry and Draco with childish wonder.
"Are you going to join us?" Hermione asked cautiously.
"Yes, just give me a minute to get Chuffery ready. Then I'll give you a tour of the property." Cherub said happily.
Hermione accepted his answer and took off on the broom, more slowly than the boys.
* * * * *
"Would you like to fly with the others Chuffery?" Cherub asked carefully.
"Can I really?" Chuffery asked hopefully.
"Well, since we don't have anymore brooms, I'll carry you, but we'll be flying." Cherub said slowly.
Chuffery nodded with excitement.
"Give me a second to make you lighter, then we'll go." Cherub said and positioned Chuffery before him.
After making the now familiar gestures, Cherub lifted Chuffery into a hug.
"Now hold on tight." Cherub said and spread his wings.
With little effort, he pushed off from the ground and was soon in the air.
Chuffery let out a squeal of delight.
Cherub put his arms around his brother and held him tightly.
"If anyone would like, I'll take you on a tour of the property." Cherub said as he joined his classmates in the air.
"That sounds great." Harry said happily.
"Go ahead Nightshade, we'll follow." Draco said with a contented smile.
* * * * *
"That was fun." Chuffery said as he nuzzled Cherub's neck.
"I'm glad you liked it. One weekend soon I'll get you your own broom so I can show you how to fly for yourself." Cherub said as he walked toward the house, still carrying Chuffery.
"You have a beautiful home Cherub. I guess if you had to be stuck in a place all your life, this is better than most." Harry said as he and Draco followed immediately behind.
Hermione followed alone, listening to everything.
"As I've said, I have nothing to compare it to. But I can imagine worse places." Cherub said as he entered the house.
"Maybe you could come to visit my relatives sometime. Then you'd appreciate what you have." Harry said offhandedly.
"Oh I do appreciate it Potter. I'm used to it and comfortable with it, but I understand that I have more than most and am grateful for all of this. Until yesterday, I lived here because my family wanted to keep me somewhere remote and hidden. It was theirs and I owned nothing. Now that this is all mine I can't even describe the sense of responsibility that comes with it." Cherub said seriously.
"Mr. Nightshade?" Millicent asked from behind the group.
"Yes?" Cherub asked casually.
"An informal lunch will be served in the family dining room when you are ready." Millicent said in a gentle voice.
"Thank you Millicent. We will go and wash up for lunch and be down directly." Cherub said with a kind smile.
Millicent nodded and withdrew.
"I'm surprised that I'm hungry already. I guess all that flying really took it out of me." Draco said as he took the lead to go upstairs.
Hermione was looking for a place to put down the broom she was still carrying.
"Hermione, if you'd like, you can keep that broom in your room. That way you'll be able to find it when you want to. If you leave it anywhere down here, it's likely to end up in one of many broom closets. I've spent many afternoons searching for that broom." Cherub said with a smile.
Hermione mumbled a thank you and followed the group up the stairs.
* * * * *
"Okay, now that we've had some play time. Suppose you tell me why you're here." Cherub asked as soon as the group were all comfortably seated.
"You invited us." Draco said casually.
"Come off it Malfoy. When I left Friday, Hermione couldn't stand the sight of any of us, Harry looked like he was in pain every time he saw her. And you weren't the least bit interested in any of it. Now you refuse to visit my home without her. Just tell me how you got from there to here." Cherub said as he gathered selections from the feast before them.
"We told you about the troll..." Harry began.
"That explains how the ice got broken. But it still doesn't fit." Cherub said firmly as he looked Harry in the eyes.
"After we were done talking to the Headmaster, we got to talking." Harry said quietly.
"Go on." Cherub said seriously, then noticed that Chuffery was sitting quietly, staring at the food.
With a simple gesture, he indicated for Chuffery to help himself.
"Okay. It's really simple I guess. The three of us compared notes and have an idea of what the three headed dog is guarding." Harry said quietly and received an icy stare from Hermione.
Cherub looked from Hermione to Harry and said, "Unless I need to know, I get the sense that Hermione would rather you not tell me what that is."
Harry glanced at Hermione, then said, "Well, we're not sure anyway. What it ends up being is that we think we'll have a better chance of figuring everything out if we work together and we needed some time to sit down and talk."
Cherub nodded in thought, then finally asked Hermione, "So you haven't been convinced that we didn't corrupt Harry?"
She gave a shy smile before saying, "Sometime since we arrived, I think I accepted that you aren't evil. But I'm still not sure about you corrupting Harry."
Cherub smiled and said, "It's progress."
"Now what we need to do is decide what we're going to do next." Draco said seriously.
"I think I need to talk with Hagrid." Harry said in thought.
"I can ask a few questions around Slytherin and see if anyone knows anything." Draco said with a look of deep concentration.
"I can do that with Gryffindor." Hermione said seriously.
"Do you guys need me to do anything?" Cherub asked cautiously.
"You've already done it. Inviting us here, away from Hogwart's, is more of a help than anything I can think of." Draco said seriously.
"You never know who's listening or watching there. I've heard that Ravenclaw has actually taken to following some of us and tracking our movements." Harry said darkly.
"Why would they do that?" Hermione asked in surprise.
"Because our little upset a few weeks ago had the potential to become an all out house war. The big brains at Ravenclaw want to keep an eye on events so that if another blowup is about to happen, they can get their people to safety. They shouldn't be a problem for us. They won't go to the Headmaster with what they've learned unless someone is in danger. They're completely motivated by self interest." Draco said seriously.
"How do you know all this?" Hermione asked cautiously.
"Ravenclaws aren't the only ones with spies." Draco said with his trademark 'Malfoy' grin.
Hermione actually chuckled at the action.
"So is there anything else major on the horizon?" Cherub asked, sensing that something was bothering Harry.
"Yes. Actually, I need your help." Harry said quietly.
"You've got it. You know that." Draco said immediately.
Harry smiled and said, "You might not like some of what I'm about to say Hermione, but I need to let the guys know what's happening."
Hermione cautiously nodded.
Chuffery tugged on Cherub's arm.
"Yes?" Cherub asked.
"Can I have some juice?" Chuffery asked in a small voice.
"James is by the door. If you wave to him, he will come over and ask you what you would like." Cherub said quietly.
Chuffery scooted in closer, as if to whisper in Cherub's ear, but instead, kissed him on the cheek.
Cherub smiled and sat back up in his chair.
"Gryffindor's spirit has nearly been broken. They've lost faith in their leaders, they've been dealt a setback in the house cup points that seems unrecoverable and have the feeling that all of Hogwart's is looking down on them." Harry said seriously.
Draco and Cherub considered the statement and couldn't disagree.
"The dust has settled from the 'upset' and the Gryffindors are beginning to realize what went wrong. The problem is that they lack any strong leadership to lead them to something better." Harry said without emotion.
"You?" Draco asked cautiously.
"That's what I want to discuss with you. All three of you. You're my closest friends and I need your honest opinions about the decision I'm about to make." Harry said and looked down at his food in thought.
"You're planning to switch houses." Cherub said in realization.
"Going back to my true house." Harry said to his plate.
"You mean it?" Hermione asked in wonder.
Harry nodded, evidently not happy with the choice.
"I think I get it." Draco said, drawing everyone's attention... except Chuffery, his attention was completely devoted to serving himself another helping of food.
"You're the-boy-who-lived, the pride of Gryffindor. Now that the house has basically fallen, you'll step in and put them back in order. Basically be a figurehead, someone they can rally behind." Draco said seriously.
Harry nodded, still looking unhappy.
"Won't they see you as a traitor?" Cherub asked in thought.
"The Weasleys can help me with that. In the hearing I said that I didn't agree with the way the Gryffindors were behaving. I think the Gryffindors will respect that I chose to move when I couldn't support the actions of my house." Harry said in thought.
Cherub nodded in agreement and said, "Reinforcing the idea that you did what you believed to be right."
"And beyond that, my time in Slytherin has helped me understand what it is to be a leader. It's important for a Gryffindor to follow their heart, but jumping in blindly and following your heart, especially when you don't have all the facts, can lead you into trouble. Using what I've learned in Slytherin, not only can I try to exemplify the best? qualities of Gryffindor, but also make well thought out decisions that are in my house's best interest." Harry said seriously.
"I can see you've thought about this a lot." Draco said as he absently picked at his food.
"I've been thinking about it since Darla sat with us at dinner. Although there was some tension for the obvious reasons, she seemed almost relieved to be away from her own table. That bothered me. We're in these houses to be around people who share our philosophies so we can support each other and hopefully inspire the best in each other. It occurred to me that Darla might be ashamed of her house and relieved to be associated with Slytherin, however briefly." Harry said in thought.
"I think you're right." Hermione said weakly.
Everyone looked to Hermione to expand on her statement.
"I think half the people at the Gryffindor table that day were jealous of Darla. I know when she came back to the dorm that night, she was more popular with everyone." Hermione said in a distant voice.
"When are you going to do it?" Cherub asked, realizing that it had already been decided.
"I'll change into my Gryffindor robes as soon as we return... I'll be sleeping in the Gryffindor rooms from now on." Harry finished with regret.
"Oh." Draco whispered.
"I can't be seen as ambiguous by Gryffindor. They have to know that I am with them, that they come first. To do that... I have to put their needs before whatever I might want." Harry said in a low voice.
"You don't want to leave them?" Hermione asked cautiously.
"Draco and Cherub are my friends. I love sharing their room... but Gryffindor has to come first." Harry finished firmly.
"Heroes." Draco muttered with a shake of his head.
Cherub nodded in agreement.
"So what do you need me to do?" Hermione asked Harry cautiously.
"Be yourself. Tell the truth. Do what you believe is right." Harry said seriously.
"Then why did you ask me to discuss this with you?" Hermione asked hesitantly.
"Because you needed to see for yourself that this wasn't some Slytherin plot planned by Draco and Cherub. It's likely that somewhere along the way, someone will suggest that I'm a puppet being controlled by Slytherin. I think it's a good idea if you're witness to everything."
"Very Slytherin thinking." Draco said with a smirk.
"Thank you." Harry said with an answering smile.
"What about the Slytherin House Quidditch team?" Cherub asked in thought.
"I'll resign. Face it. The teams are so uneven at the moment the games are hardly worth watching. It may be my own arrogance talking, but if Gryffindor will accept me as Seeker, we should be able to hold our own against the other houses." Harry said distantly.
"If that were to happen, I think Gryffindor would have the most spirited cheering section." Cherub said with a nod.
"And the rise of the Gryffindor Quidditch team could be a rallying point to the rest of their house; working toward victory after being so near defeat." Draco said in a calculating voice.
"It sounds like it could work." Hermione said in thought.
"So what do you need us to do?" Cherub asked Harry hesitantly.
"Talk me out of it." Harry said quietly.
Cherub nodded sadly.
"Why would you want them to talk you out of it?" Hermione asked in confusion.
"Because once Harry switches back to Gryffindor, he probably won't be able to spend time with us." Draco said in a sullen tone.
Hermione looked from Draco to Harry in confusion.
"We're friends Hermione. We enjoy each other's company. Even though we all understand and agree that this needs to be done, that doesn't make it easy. There's a selfish part in each one of us who wants to forget the plan and be able to just hang around together and have fun." Cherub said regretfully.
"The time may come when we can. But I have a feeling it won't be anytime soon." Harry said sadly.
"Then we'd better enjoy this weekend. We are going to need to build up enough memories to get all of us through the days ahead." Cherub said, trying to sound confident.
"Yes. And first thing on my list is to enjoy this meal that I've been ignoring. It looks wonderful. Your cook is quite good." Draco said with a forced smile.
"James? Will you be sure to tell Catty that we appreciate her lunch?" Cherub asked with a smile.
"Yes Mr. Nightshade." James said formally but was unable to contain his smile of pride for his fiancé.
* * * * *
"Mr. Klegg has come to see you Mr. Nightshade." Millicent said from the sitting room doorway.
"Andrew, come in. I'd like you to meet my friends Harry Potter, Draconis Malfoy and Hermione Granger, and of course you know Chuffery. Guys, this is Andrew Klegg, my business manager." Cherub said as he stood to shake Andrew's hand.
"A pleasure to meet all of you." Andrew said in a quiet voice.
"How are you doing Andrew?" Cherub asked as he indicated a chair for Andrew.
"As well as I can be." Andrew said quietly.
"What brings you here today? I thought you'd? be attending to Grandfather's affairs." Cherub asked carefully.
"Everything was done well in advance. I'll have some things to file with various Ministry offices on Monday, but otherwise all my work? is done." Andrew said in his businesslike tone.
"Then what brings you here today?" Cherub asked again.
"I remembered what you said yesterday about wanting to see December Nightshade's work and did some checking. She has a showing at a small gallery in London tonight. I thought you and your guests might like to attend." Andrew said with a small smile.
Cherub looked at Andrew carefully and said, "As much as I would like that, I don't think my appearance would be accepted among the muggles."
Andrew gave a full smile and said, "That's why I came in person. I am quite capable of putting a glamour on you to hide your wings for the evening."
"Really? I thought that type of glamour was difficult to conjure due to the invisibility factor. You're not just altering my appearance." Cherub said in interest.
"Well, the spell isn't without its challenges, but even though I don't get as much practice as I used to I am quite adept at glamours." Andrew said pleasantly.
"What do you say guys? Would you like to go to an art gallery in London?" Cherub asked, liking the idea the more he thought about it.
"I don't have anything to wear." Hermione said with regret.
"I don't think that will be a problem. We have all afternoon to get ready. I'm sure Millicent will be able to come up with something." Cherub said casually.
"We only brought casual clothes." Draco said cautiously.
"I think you can both wear something of mine. We're about the same size. None of my clothes here have been altered for my wings, so I'm the one who'll have to search for something." Cherub said calmly.
"Why do you have formal clothes if you didn't leave the house?" Hermione asked curiously.
"Mrs. Puckett always insisted on having a formal Sunday dinner. She felt it was a good way to learn proper dining etiquette." Cherub said in thought.
"You may have to help me with the etiquette thing, I'm not really used to it." Harry said nervously as Hermione nodded in agreement.
"Not a worry Mr. Potter. This affair won't be nearly that formal. I believe that what Cherub wears as casual attire should be sufficient for this evening. This isn't a major gallery and Miss Nightshade isn't a well known artist so I anticipate a more relaxed atmosphere." Andrew said calmly.
"So what do you think? Should we go?" Cherub asked as he looked at his classmates.
Everyone seemed to be in agreement, then Cherub noticed Chuffery looking at him timidly.
"Chuffery, we're going to London to an art gallery this evening. You may go with us if you would like, or you may stay with James if you would rather." Cherub said seriously.
Chuffery scooted closer to his brother on the couch and said in almost a whisper, "I want to go with you."
"Good. I hope we'll all have fun." Cherub said and hugged Chuffery gently.
"Are you sure he isn't going to be bored? I mean, an art gallery doesn't sound like too much fun for a kid." Draco said hesitantly.
"Chuffery is only two years younger than we are. I can't see any reason he shouldn't be included in anything we do." Cherub said, making a conscious effort to keep any trace of offense out of his voice.
Harry, Draco and Hermione looked at Chuffery with surprise. They had all assumed him to be younger due to his more childish manner.
"If you'll excuse me, I'll just have a word with Millicent and James so they can prepare your things." Andrew said as he stood.
"Would you send James in here when you finish?" Cherub asked quietly.
"Of course, I'll be right back." Andrew said and left the room.
"I've never been to an art gallery before. This should be exciting." Hermione said with a smile.
"I've never been around muggles before. I may need your help to behave properly." Cherub said with concern.
"It's not that hard. Just don't talk about magic and don't call them muggles to their faces." Harry said with a smile.
"And remember not to use any magic at all. The ministry of magic is very strict about the underage use of magic in muggle communities." Draco said seriously.
"It shouldn't be a problem. But I think Chuffery should leave his wand at home, just so he isn't tempted." Cherub said in thought.
"Chuffery has a wand?" Hermione asked in surprise.
"Yes. If you asked him, he might show you a spell." Cherub said with a smile at his brother.
"Chuffery, would you like to show us a spell?" Hermione asked in a voice that was obviously geared toward a young child.
Chuffery leaned close to Cherub and asked, "What is the 'denny' words?"
Cherub smiled and whispered the words to Chuffery.
With all the flourish of a practiced wizard, Chuffery pulled out his wand and clearly said, "Denfizia Mariposa."
The centerpiece of the coffee table once again erupted in butterflies to the delight of everyone present.
"How beautiful." Hermione said as she watched the display.
"He just got his wand last night so he hasn't had a chance to learn any other spells." Cherub said with a smile of pride at his brother.
"Magico Quellum." Chuffery said with a grand waive of his wand and all the butterflies vanished in sparkles.
Draco got a curious look and asked, "That isn't a standard spell."
"No, it's an enchantment on his wand. He can dispel any spell that he casts with that one phrase." Cherub said as he hugged Chuffery with one arm.
"If he can do magic this well at nine years old, he should be outstanding by the time he goes to Hogwart's." Harry said in thought.
"Well, I hope to give him an advantage in spell casting and potions. But he will still have plenty to learn." Cherub said with a relaxed smile.
"You're going to teach him potions?" Hermione asked curiously.
"Yes. We have an excellent potions lab and an extensive library. I plan to show him enough to be able to do a basic potion himself, then if he shows an interest, he can work at his own pace. I'll be home on weekends to answer any questions he might have." Cherub said casually.
Andrew entered the room followed by James.
"You wanted to see me Mr. Nightshade?" James asked formally.
"Yes. As Andrew told you, we will be going out tonight. If you and Catty would like to take the rest of the evening off after we leave, Chuffery and I will attend to our guests tonight." Cherub said with a gentle smile.
"Yes. We would like that very much Mr. Nightshade. Thank you." James said with cheer in his voice.
"Then it's settled. You two have a good evening." Cherub said warmly.
James gave a single nod and withdrew from the room.
"They told me what you did last night." Andrew said with a smile.
"It wasn't that much." Cherub said with a shrug.
"It was to them." Andrew said warmly.
"Come on. Give." Draco said impatiently.
Cherub smiled and said, "James and Catty were going to leave so they could be together. Under the household rules of my father, household staff couldn't... fraternize. If they were caught they would be immediately fired. Last night I offered James a higher wage and removed that restriction."
"And offered them the guest house, gave James a substantial bonus and provided a ring for him to propose with." Andrew added with a kind smile.
"Well, they belong together. I've been watching them sneaking around for nearly three years. I'm just glad I was able to help." Cherub said with a blush.
Hermione looked at Cherub curiously, but didn't say anything.
* * * * *
"Come in here a minute while Hermione is getting ready." Cherub said and led Harry and Draco into his bedroom.
Once inside, a three-way hug was established immediately.
"Harry, I'm going to miss you so much." Cherub said, letting his regret be heard in his voice.
"That goes for me too Harry, I don't know how such a goody-goody Gryffindor was able to get to me so completely, but you did it." Draco said in pain.
"I know guys. And while I'm alone in my bed in the Gryffindor rooms, I'll be thinking of you both. Wishing I was with you." Harry said as tears began to fall from his eyes.
"Cherub and I can wait until you have Gryffindor put back together. You can come back when you're ready." Draco said hopefully.
"I wish it were that simple. I really do. The problem is, the light of that hope shining before me might distract me from doing what is best for my house. I can't have that distraction, and besides, it wouldn't be fair to you. If things work out someday that we can be together without hurting our houses, then we can start fresh. I love you both, more than I've ever loved anyone. But as far as us being boyfriends..." Harry trailed off, unable to talk past the lump in his throat.
Cherub whispered to complete the thought.