Title: The Unspoken Ally
Fandom/Genre: Harry Potter/NCIS Fusion
Relationship(s): pre-slash Tony DiNozzo/Sirius Black
Content Rating: R
Warnings: canon-level violence, language, fanon accepted conspiracy theories
Monday August 2nd 1976
198A KINGS POINT RD
Great Neck, New York
What flavor ice cream is in the freezer? Is my best friend from this week going to be my best friend next week? Should I convince my parents to let me stay up and watch Hawaii Five-O or M*A*S*H this week? Is it ‘there’, ‘their’ or ‘they’re’ for this sentence?
These are the normal type of questions that usually go through an eight year old mind. These are the types of questions that normally went through this specific eight year old’s mind even.
Eight year olds shouldn’t be asking themselves, “Where am I going to live?”, “Who’s going to take care of me?” and worse yet, “Is it my fault for not being there?”
And yet, those are the three questions that had been playing on repeat through the head of one eight year old Anthony Dominic DiNozzo, Jr. since he woke up Saturday morning, two days earlier, and found out from his family’s butler that his parents had been killed in a car accident late Friday night on their way home from a party on the east end of the Island.
He had spent those two days either sitting in his father’s home office or sitting in his mother’s music room, drifting between the two rooms like a ghost, and watching as the house staff continued about their regular duties as if his parents were just on an extended vacation.
Earlier that morning Tony had been given a crumb of information; his Uncle Clive, the older brother of his mother Mary, would be arriving from London that evening to finalize any arrangements for the funeral, his father’s business and Tony himself.
That’s what lead to Tony sitting in the front room’s window seat, staring at out into the summer storm, in anticipation of finally having those questions answered.
If he hadn’t seen the car arriving himself due to his constant watch, Tony would have almost thought the scene to have been plucked right out of one of his mother’s old black and white movies. Dark isolated manor house, populated by the young heir and a small selection of staff, being blasted by a thunderstorm. The nearly silent interior of the house broken only by the ticking of a grandfather clock…and the near perfect simultaneous timing in the clap of thunder, the gong of the eight o’clock hour and the chime of the doorbell.
“Anthony,” the quiet voice of his father’s long employed butler, William, broke the renewed silence of the room. “Come and meet your Uncle.”
Tony took a deep breath in an attempt to calm his nerves and climbed off the window seat before turning around and staring at the person that stood with William. The first thing the small boy noticed was that the man in question was quite large – tall, not fat. He also noticed that his Uncle appeared to be barely older than Tony’s own mother had been; which was strange to the eight year old as one of the only things he actually did know of his Uncle was that the man was almost twenty years older than Mary.
“Hello,” Tony finally greeted the man after a few moments of silent observation. “It’s nice to finally meet you Uncle.”
“Well, at least you have manners,” his Uncle replied, sounding surprised, in a British accent that painfully reminded the boy of his mother. “I wasn’t certain that would be the case after having met your father.”
Tony almost took offence at the comment; but he couldn’t really. He we eight, not stupid. He knew exactly what kind of face his father let the world see.
“Elsa insists on etiquette training,” Tony explained and shrugged lightly. “She said that the younger it’s drilled in the easier it will stick.”
“And Elsa is?”
“My governess,” the boy explained again before gesturing at the couch. “Would you like to sit?”
“Thank you,” his uncle replied and took the offered seat, giving Tony a pointed look to join him. “Now that pleasantries, of a sort, are out of the way; I am your Uncle Clive Paddington. I’m very sorry for your loss young man and I do wish we were meeting under different circumstances.”
“Yes sir,” Tony responded quietly, nodding slightly and trying not to fidget.
“I’m certain you have more than a few questions as to what will happen now. Unfortunately, before all of those decisions can be made I need you to do something for me; best to just get it out of the way immediately so we don’t drag things out unnecessarily.”
“Do something?” Tony questioned, honestly confused at this point. He had been assuming his Uncle had come to sign a few papers and ship Tony off to boarding school. His mother had been very firm in her depiction of her own family and how it operated. She had been sent away to boarding school at eleven and had barely had any contact with them after that, usually only the week between school letting out and summer camp starting and the week between camp ending and the new school year beginning. “Aren’t you just going to tell me where you’re sending me for school?”
“I didn’t need to travel across the Atlantic to do that Anthony,” Clive pointed out and then handed Tony something that looked like a large unpolished blue gemstone. “Hold that in your hand and think very hard about it.”
“Think about the rock?” Tony asked, confusion coloring his words at the strange request. When his Uncle only nodded Tony shrugged and did as asked. He thought about the rock. And proceeded to drop it in shock when the rock began to do it’s best impersonation of a light bulb.
“Ahhh, well, that’s interesting,” Clive mumbled looking at Tony pensively.
“Interesting?” Tony squeaked, his own gaze focused on the rock. The rock that had no buttons. “How’d you do that?”
“I didn’t,” his uncle replied, this time sounding amused. “You did. And it certainly changes things.”
“Okay then, how’d I do it?”
“That is a much longer explanation then I’m prepared to give this evening. Suffice it to say – you’ll be coming back to London with me to stay.”
“And if I hadn’t, supposedly, made the rock go all sparkly?”
“Then you wouldn’t be going back to London with me and instead we’d spend tomorrow picking a school that would be the best fit for your academic and, if they interest you athletic, goals.”
“So sparkly rock and I get guardians – not sparkly rock and I get boarding school? Mom was right, you are a piece of work.”
“Perhaps,” his Uncle seemed to agree. “But that is neither here nor there. She understood at the time what the reasons behind our parent’s decisions were. Life was…harsh…in England at the time for people of her, let’s say, condition. You’ll understand better when we get back to London and I can explain more completely.”
“I don’t get to know about the sparkly rock until we’re back in London?” Tony, tired now, almost whined and immediately cut himself off from further complaints at the sharp look his Uncle threw him.
“No,” was the simple statement. “Your father’s manservant told me you’ve already eaten so off to bed with you. I have paperwork I have to get through tonight and meetings with your parent’s attorney’s tomorrow. The funerals will be held on Wednesday morning. We’ll be leaving on Thursday night.”
Tony held back any complaints he had at the tone his Uncle had adopted. He had been raised to know and recognize a dismissal when he heard one and without another word the boy simply got up and left the room with more questions then he had even before his uncle arrived.
The days that had followed Tony’s introduction to his Uncle Clive passed in a blur to the young boy. Tuesday had been spent watching Elsa organize the packing of his clothing and the few toys and mementos he wanted to take with him to England. When he had asked William about the rest of the house or his parents possessions all the man would tell him was, ‘Lord Paddington has made arrangements to close up the house until you’re old enough to make those decisions yourself Anthony.’
Wednesday’s funeral had left the eight year old nauseous and fighting back tears. Realistically he knew no one would fault him for crying but he couldn’t help hearing his father’s words in the back of his head, ‘Chin up son. DiNozzo’s don’t cry. Never let them see you’re hurting. It’ll just give someone else power over you. If you absolutely must cry; make sure it’s completely private.’
When he finally did get to lock himself in his room on Wednesday night; he let go and cried until he nearly made himself sick with it. It was the first time he truly processed the information that his parents were dead since he had received the news Saturday morning. He could no longer subconsciously pretend they were just away on a longer then usual business trip and he was simply waiting for them to burst through the front door calling for him to come and hear all about where they had been and how as soon as school was out they’d be going back – taking Tony with them this time – and show him all the sights.
He was never again going to sit with his father as the man went over business contracts – ‘You’ll learn by doing things Tony. Same as I did at my own father’s knee.’
He was never again going to play piano while his mother flitted around the room dancing and singing – ‘Beautiful Anthony. A waltz next. Play a waltz for Mama.’
He was never again going to sneak down the stairs long after he was supposed to be in bed, lured by the sounds of old jazz records and laughter, to peek into the living room and watch as they danced close together, smiling and talking and kissing, until he fell asleep in the doorway only to half-wake when his father picked him up and the three headed back upstairs; gentle admonishment falling from his parents lips about little boys needing sleep.
Because those were the parents Tony would miss for the rest of his life – the loud, loving and somewhat crazy couple who hated the necessary evil of leaving him during the school year but brought him everywhere with them come June. The rest of the world saw The DiNozzo’s – wealthy, entitled and admittedly somewhat snobbish; but the rest of the world didn’t understand the protection those masks presented his parents in the boardroom or at a charity gala. When everyone wants your money or your power the only way to keep it is to make sure the other side thinks you are better than they are.
It wasn’t until after a good, long, cry and a slew of memories passing through his head that Tony started to calm down and realize that as much as he would miss his parents there was a part of him that was glad they had died together. His mother always told him she and Tony’s father were soulmates and she didn’t think she could live in a world without him. He assumed it was similar for his father; who had always looked at his mother with the kind of sappy expression Tony only ever saw in movies.
The truth was, that his eight year old brain couldn’t even begin to imagine what life might have been with only one of his parents if the other had died. But somehow, he didn’t think it would in any way resemble the first eight years of his existence.
Thursday August 5th 1976
Davis, James & Locke LLP & Affiliates
405 Lexington Ave
New York City, New York
Tony felt unexpectedly anxious as he stared up at the familiar skyscraper that housed the offices of his father’s attorney Thomas Davis. For the last year he had been accompanying his father here on the last Saturday of every month; he would sit in Mr. Davis’ office and listen while his father and the lawyer went over anything related to his father’s import, export and shipping business, DiNozzo Enterprises, and then he would accompany the two men to lunch at The Cloud Club on the 67th floor.
This wasn’t going to be that type of day.
Once he was in his seat, this time in an unfamiliar conference room filled mostly with people he didn’t know or only barely recognized, he glanced at his Uncle who seemed to be taking turns staring down two men across the table from them. Tony was almost certain he had never seen either before – though one of them looked a lot like his father.
He listened as Mr. Davis spoke in confusing language and managed to understand enough to realize that he now owned everything. The business, the houses, the money…everything. Well, almost everything. He also apparently had another Uncle, this one on his father’s side, and he was very unhappy about the fact that all he got was a trust fund. Though, Tony was also pretty certain that a million dollars was a whole lot of money so he wasn’t sure why his other Uncle was angry.
“I don’t think you understand Mr. DiNozzo,” Tony tuned back into the argument between his, apparent, Uncle Frederick and the attorney. “Your father left you a trust fund and gave the entire business to your younger brother Anthony. He has now left the family business to his son, your nephew. This is entirely legal. If you would like, I could tell this entire room why that is? Or you could accept the continuance of your trust that your brother has graciously bequeathed you.”
“Don’t bother Mr. Davis,” his Uncle Clive interrupted. “He’ll take the money Anthony Senior left him or he can use his trust to pay for lawyers and be kept tied up in court for however many years that money lasts him. Those are his options. As we discussed on the phone before I left London, I’ve been in touch with the Board of Directors for DiNozzo Enterprises and they are more then happy to continue the status quo with my minimal input and your continued oversight until Anthony is of an age where he can make further decisions on his own.”
“You don’t have the authority to make those decisions!” Frederick shouted back and only got an eyebrow raise as a response. “Maybe I will tie it up in court. See what will happen to the business then!”
“You blew through your entire trust fund, before your own father’s death, by the time you were nineteen,” Tony heard his Uncle Clive announce to the room. “You tried to sell shares in the company to make money, shares you did not truly own no less and almost sent a business started by your grandfather under as a result, your father and younger brother were the ones to fix that and return the company to good standing both financially and in public opinion. You wouldn’t have a leg to stand on in court. Take your money and forget your nephew’s existence. You will not win this fight.”
Tony blinked and stared up at the man sitting next to him, his voice had become freezing cold as he spoke and the only thing Tony could think to describe the tone as was ‘dangerous’. This wasn’t someone that you angered; and despite his expensive suit and cultured air, the young boy had a feeling the man could back up every single world physically as well.
“Now, Mr. Davis, I believe we are done here? Anthony and I have a flight this evening and I don’t like rushing.”
“Yes Lord Paddington, we’re done,” the lawyer agreed and then dismissed everyone else from the room. “Tony, it’s been good to see you again. I’ll miss having you around here. But I promise I’m going to take good care of the day to day business for you.”
“Umm, Thank you Mr. Davis,” Tony replied looking confused. “I’m, I mean, what if…what if I don’t want to run the company? Ever?”
“Then you’ll continue things as they stand now,” his Uncle Clive answered instead of the lawyer. “DiNozzo Enterprises thankfully is run mostly by a Board of Directors. Your father was CEO and was very hands on; but you wouldn’t necessarily need to be. I’ll make sure you stay abreast of developments as you get older so you at least understand the ins and outs of the company and when you’re twenty-one you’ll officially be CEO – but that doesn’t mean you’ll necessarily need to do what your father did in order to keep everything running correctly.”
“Right,” Tony muttered, still confused but at least understanding enough to realize he could probably do whatever he wanted when he grew up as long as he was willing to sign papers every once in awhile.
Friday August 6th 1976
27 Pembridge Square
Tony’s first thought upon seeing London, at least seeing more than Heathrow Airport as he had been there before with his parents for flight layovers, was that his mother had been exaggerating the city’s resemblance to ‘hell on earth’. Mostly he thought it looked like an older version of New York with funner looking busses.
His second thought, as they pulled up to what his Uncle had called, ‘the city house’, was voiced, “It’s very, umm, white?”
Uncle Clive laughed and nodded, “Nice diplomatic answer Anthony. I know the neighborhood isn’t much to look at right now…but it’s on it’s way up again. Thankfully, we don’t have to worry about the current riff raff neighbors much and my family has owned this home since it was built in the mid-1800s so we’re not going anywhere anytime soon. And yes, the house itself is very white.”
He scrambled out of the car once his Uncle’s driver, who hadn’t been introduced, opened the door and let his eyes wander around. His Uncle had said that he and his wife, Tony’s Aunt Lyra, lived in the Notting Hill area of London. He had made vague references on the way from the airport to the fact that the neighborhood had always been ‘artsy’ but that the late-60s and early-70s had seen the area decline into more of a ‘slum’ filled with low income immigrants and more of a criminal element rather than ‘starving artists’. Having walked down 42nd Street in Manhattan with his parents Tony didn’t think this looked all that bad.
The house was on the corner and quite large (and literally completely white) to Tony’s eye. Across the street from the house was what looked to be a fenced in, fairly overgrown, park of some type, though there was a decided lack of playground equipment at first glance.
“That’s Pembridge Square Garden,” his Uncle explained when he saw what caught Tony’s eye. “You’ll find spots like that throughout the city, especially in residential areas. They’re designed in such a way as to block out the city and make you feel like you’re actually in nature.”
“So, not a playground?”
“Not a playground. Though I do see children playing football in nice weather on occasion. Let’s head in, your Aunt should have a meal ready and then we’ll begin to get you settled. I want to keep you occupied for the rest of the day so you don’t fall asleep before this evening and get hit with jetlag.”
Tony nodded and followed his Uncle up the fairly tall stairs to the front door of the townhouse somewhat surprised that he had received as much of an explanation as he had been given since they arrived at the house. While they were still in New York Tony had come to the tentative conclusion that his Uncle was going to be the, ‘children are seen and not heard; do as you’re told’ type of man. Tony still didn’t have a clue about the blue rock and the last few days had been a whirlwind of packing and funerals and meetings. Maybe now that they were back where his Uncle knew the lay of the land he would be willing to open up more and explain what he meant when he talked instead of assuming that Tony understood or agreed with everything that came out of his mouth.
“Clive darling, you’re back!” a female voice interrupted Tony’s thoughts and general perusal of the, still very white, front hall. He looked up as a very beautiful, very pregnant woman around his mother’s age seemed to glide into the room.
“Lyra,” his Uncle greeted simply and then proceeded to kiss the back of, apparently, his Aunt’s hand. “You look lovely my dear.”
“Thank you My Lord,” his Aunt replied and curtseyed slightly, seeming to fall into some kind of formality once her initial excitement had passed. “And this must be Anthony,” she continued, again giving a slight curtsey, and looked him over. “You are a fine looking young man. I’m very sorry to be meeting you like this,” she continued. “I would have accompanied my husband however I’ve just started my confinement for the birth of your cousin.”
“That’s okay? I mean, it’s nice to meet you as well,” Tony responded feeling overwhelmed and on a whim, and a guess, bowed to her.
“Oh that is adorable. Though we’ll have to work on your form among other things,” she said with a laugh. “I’m your Aunt Lyra.”
“My form?” Tony almost squeaked. “You mean…you two weren’t just joking around with those greetings?”
“Joking?” his Aunt asked and Tony saw his Uncle covering a slight grin, which didn’t help his conclusion that this had been some long standing joke between the couple. “Of course not darling boy. Your Uncle is Lord Clive Paddington, The 25th Earl of Nottingham.”
“Oh,” Tony replied in surprise. He didn’t quite understand English peerage but he processed enough of that statement to figure out it meant his Uncle was important. “So, bowing and stuff?”
“And stuff,” his Aunt agreed with a wink. “You’ll pick it up in no time. And luckily due to the circles we travel in you’ll find muggle customs and pureblood customs aren’t very different so you won’t have to learn two different rules of engagement so to speak.”
“Ahh, Lyra love? I hadn’t quite gotten that far,” Tony heard his Uncle whisper to his Aunt as he mouthed the words ‘muggle’ and ‘pureblood’ silently to himself.
“Well, whatever were you doing over there then?”
“I didn’t want to confuse the lad with everything else that was going on,” Clive replied and began walking into the house, gesturing for Tony to follow the couple down a hallway. He only caught a brief glimpse of a large formal dining room to his left and a very large living room area to his right as they passed.
“And you didn’t think perhaps stewing over a strange glowing rock for three days would be confusing enough without an explanation? Honestly Clive,” Lyra responded in exasperation leading the way down a set of stairs, placing them once more at street level, and into a much less formal sitting room that included a television, pool table and bar.
“This is the den Anthony. It’s the only television we have I’m afraid. The room itself is shielded. The rest of the house is not. That’s why there are no windows. We’re in the center of the house. Kitchen is through that door,” she continued, speaking this time to Tony, and pointed to one of three steel doors set into an otherwise all brick walled room.
“Come along Anthony,” his Uncle prodded and the eight year old hurried up, not having realized that both the adults had continued across the room and slid the door aside and were waiting for him at the entrance to what he assumed was the kitchen.
Once they had entered Tony got a chance to look around as his Aunt guided him to a breakfast nook in the corner of long, but narrow, rectangular kitchen. It spanned the length of the house itself, from the back to the front, but didn’t appear to be wider than eight feet. Three walls of the room were entirely made up of windows, the longest wall included a set of french doors that opened up onto the side yard and patio of the home. He glanced out the window behind him and had to look slightly up to see the wall that surrounded the property at street level above them.
“That’s the front of the house. Pembridge Square,” his Uncle explained as his Aunt moved around, gathering covered dishes and placing them on the table before sitting herself. “And that,” Clive continued, pointing towards the wall with the door, “is the street we are on the corner of, Pembridge Place.”
“You look overwhelmed Anthony,” his Aunt interjected before Tony could say anything. “Eat and then we’ll take you on a real tour of the house and show you your room. I think you’re going to enjoy it here even if the circumstances leave much to be desired. Also, relax a little dear. I knew your mother when she was younger, there is no way she raised such a serious little boy.”
Tony looked at his Uncle’s serious but kind face and his Aunt’s nearly bubbly demeanor and couldn’t help the slight smile he gave them both as they dug into a traditional English breakfast together.
A few hours later Tony was sitting in his new room on what he had been told was the 2nd floor of the house (even though he was almost certain it was the 3rd floor – which had resulted in an confusing explanation as to how Americans didn’t use the term ‘ground floors’ and that the kitchen was the ‘underground level’ and wasn’t considered in the layout of the other floors) frowning slightly as he looked around. Everything was still white. In fact, most of the house was decorated in neutral tones, glass and metals. It was a very modern decor which surprised the child as he was more used to the more classical european style his parents preferred. It also didn’t scream very ‘kid friendly’ to the young boy and while he had been raised in luxury he had never been afraid to break something or leave fingerprints on things just by walking into a room.
“Don’t worry dear,” his Aunt told him, sitting next to him on the small couch in the large bedroom. “Once your Uncle and I explain everything I’ll be able to redecorate in here for you so quickly your head will spin. Why, it’ll be like magic,” she added with a bright laugh that reminded him painfully of his mother.
“Why can’t you explain now?” Tony finally asked the question that had been burning inside of him since they began the tour of the house after breakfast.
“Your Uncle had a call to make from his office,” she explained. “We’re going to double check that your things have been unpacked to your liking and then we’ll go downstairs and tell you everything. I promise.”
At that Tony blinked and looked around, “Wait…who unpacked?”
“Kip,” his Aunt replied without any further explanation. “He’s yours…sort of. You’ll understand later.” Tony almost rolled his eyes at that but he had a feeling that would go over with his Aunt about as well as it would have with his mother. “So go ahead dear, look around, check the closets and drawers and let me know if you want something moved.”
Tony finally heaved himself off the bed and began poking around in the various drawers and closets, surprised to see a lot more clothes then what he had brought with him and had to ask, “Where did all the extra stuff come from?”
“I had a few things purchased for you. It was easier than moving everything from New York. We’ll do more shopping next week.”
“Okay,” Tony mumbled but couldn’t find anything wrong with the arrangement of his things. He wasn’t exactly used to making that type of decision on his own anyway. He had the same room since he was born and everything had just been put where it was placed for as long as he could remember.
“Now, major rule for this house as you are a small, easily injured person,” his Aunt said, extremely seriously, once Tony had come out of the attached bathroom. “And if you break this rule you will not be able to sit for a week as far as I’m concerned. Do not under any circumstances step foot on any of the balconies off the bedrooms,” she continued, pointing towards the french doors that overlooked the backyard of the house. “I don’t care if there is a fence on it. As far as you are concerned those doors do not even exist until you are twelve. Do you understand?”
“Yes ma’am,” Tony replied quickly, nodding enthusiastically. “I promise.”
“Good, because if you’re dead set on breaking yourself I am more then willing to do it for you. My maiden name is Black, you haven’t met a spanking until you’ve been given one by a Black.”
“Umm, any other rules Aunt Lyra?” Tony asked, because it seemed like a good idea.
“Just a few,” Lyra conceded. “You will apply yourself fully to any type of school work you are given or lessons that I conduct with you. Despite how relaxed we are in private, your Uncle has a very important position in our world and how you perform publically reflects back on him. You will therefore have to conduct yourself befitting a gentleman at all times and it is through those lessons that I give you that you will learn how to do that both properly and effectively. Your room is to be maintained in a neat and orderly fashion. That does not mean you can not play and have fun; it just means you will clean up your own space. Kip will do the actual cleaning, but it is not his job to put things in hampers or put books and toys away. With me so far?”
“Yes ma’am,” Tony responded. “Those were the same at home. Elsa and William would have my hide if I left an unnecessary mess for them to clean.”
“Good. I know you are only eight…but…well, things will be slightly different to what you’re used to now. I know it doesn’t entirely make sense yet, but you’re going to be entering a different type of society soon. And anything will be perceived as a weakness that can be used against you.”
“Dad used to say that in public we wear our masks so the world can’t get in,” Tony almost whispered the response he gave her and glanced up to see a sympathetic expression on her face.
“That’s very good advice,” she responded softly. “Now, breakfast is at seven in the kitchen on weekdays before your uncle leaves for work. We usually just have a light brunch on the weekends around ten, also in the kitchen if we don’t have guests. Lunch, if you’re not at school, can be whenever you feel like it. And I expect you home, and dressed, properly for dinner at seven in the formal dining hall every evening. That one is important as on occasion your Uncle Clive will bring business associates home with him without warning. We must always be ready for public scrutiny. For now, I want you to relax a little, try not to fall asleep as you’ll throw off your internal clock and come downstairs in about a half hour. He should be done with business by then.”
“Yes Aunt Lyra,” Tony replied to the woman as she walked out of the bedroom. Releasing a sigh he flopped onto the couch and stifled a yawn wondering not for the first time just how amazing this explanation was going to be and hoping it lived up to the expectations.
“Tony? Tony sweetheart? Are you okay?”
Tony blinked and stared back at his Aunt and Uncle who were looking truly worried for the first time since he had met either one of them. Worried to the point that they had used his nickname no less.
He then turned his attention back to large pig in the center of the room. The pig that had until five minutes ago been a coffee table.
“I fell asleep upstairs right?” Tony asked, looking back up at them and actually let out a loud laugh when they merely traded concerned glances before shaking their heads in the negative. “Oh. So, magic’s real?”
“Yes,” his Uncle responded and then turned the pig back into a table. “Do you know if you ever did anything strange when you were younger?”
Tony simply shrugged and replied, “Depends on what you mean by strange. I’m pretty sure I never turned anything into a pig!”
“How about a duck?” his Aunt asked with a laugh and then instead of an ottoman next to Tony, there was a duck.
“Nope. Never did that either,” Tony shot back and poked the duck, pulling his hand back quickly when the bird snapped at him. “Can I do that?”
“Not yet,” his Aunt told him. “After a few years at Hogwarts? Absolutely.”
“Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry,” his uncle expanded. “It’s a boarding school for young wizards and witches here in the United Kingdom. Your Aunt and I attended. I graduated in 1948 and she graduated in 1949.”
That caused Tony to pause in his frantic scrambling of questions about magic that had flown into his head upon the appearance of the pig and instead he asked, “You’re that old?! But Aunt Lyra’s pregnant.”
“I’ll have you know I’m only 45 young man,” his Aunt responded indignantly. “That’s not even close to middle age for a witch.”
“To answer your real question Anthony,” his Uncle interjected, seeming to understand what Tony meant. “Wizards and Witches age more slowly than muggles. That’s why I look so close to your mother’s age despite being eighteen years her senior.”
“And Mom? She was a muggle?”
“Technically, your mother was a squib,” his Uncle explained. “The Ancient and Noble House of Paddington is an old Pureblood family. Now, we’re not quite Sacred Twenty-Eight; but we are old and titled. So, when your mother never showed any accidental magic my parents held out hope until after her eleventh birthday passed. At that point, well, it is what it is.”
“So they kicked her out?” he almost squeaked his reply thinking what could happen if the glowing rock was wrong.
“Not hardly Anthony,” his Uncle immediately disagreed. “Despite being Pureblood our family has always had business in the muggle world, part of the reason we were never considered for that Sacred Twenty-Eight rot. So I, and your mother after me, attended muggle school from the age of five. When I turned eleven I went to Hogwarts in Scotland. When your mother turned eleven she instead went to Cheltenham Ladies College in Gloucestershire. She was given all the same opportunities as I was, only in the muggle world. And yes, I was also sent away to various types of summer camps as much as possible. Our parents cared for us very much; they just had no idea how to be actual parents without throwing money at something. I believe your mother assumed her lack of magic was the reason more than anything else as she was only just born as I was graduating Hogwarts so she missed seeing that my childhood was the equivalent of hers.”
Tony frowned and picked through the explanation before deciding his Uncle was probably not lying, he hoped.
“When you get older I’ll get more into the ins and outs of it with you Anthony,” his Uncle continued. “But I believe eight to be a little too young to expect you to understand the motivations your mother might have had for leaving us so completely when she did.”
“Alright,” Tony conceded. “So…magic?”
“Yes,” his Aunt agreed. “Magic.”
“So cool. Was that the only thing?”
“No actually,” Clive responded. “That was the fun part. The rest has to do with the words we’ve been throwing around. Pureblood, Sacred Twenty-Eight and even my titles. It’s a long and confusing explanation for an eight year old – even if you grew up in this world. So I’m just going to boil it down to this – there is a war going on right now in the magical world Anthony and while you are technically a half-blood…there are some that will consider you to be muggleborn due to your mother’s status as a squib. For the political climate of the time, that’s not a safe position to be in.”
Tony listened as his Uncle outlined a war over blood – really more a war over a person’s upbringing. His Uncle explained that he couldn’t care less where someone came from and the only color he really cared about was green, as in money. You either came from it and had the brains to keep it and make more of it or you came from nothing and had the brains to make your own money. He respected either. He found out in that conversation that his Uncle did not tolerate people who just lived off the wealth accumulated by their ancestors hard work or skated by on their pedigree.
Even at eight Tony could understand and respect that stance. Mostly because it made more sense than the other things about the magical world his Uncle was pouring on top of the boy. It wasn’t until a few minutes later that something else registered with Tony and he quickly questioned it, “Wait, you want to adopt me?”
“Yes,” his Aunt was the one to reply this time. “Your Uncle’s family has always lived in the Wizarding World, but at the same time somewhat apart from it. He doesn’t stand with the ‘old guard’ on either side of the line. We’re in a strange position politically – we’re not neutral remotely, we disagree strongly with the Blood Pureists…but the magic we practice is ‘too dark’ for the vaunted “Light Side.”
“Albus Dumbledore is a hypocritical, manipulative, power hungry asshole,” his Uncle snapped causing Tony’s eyes to widen at the surprising swear from a man that so far had only shown a mostly buttoned up ‘upper-class’ type persona.
“That’s another part of the problem,” his Aunt continued as if his Uncle hadn’t spoke. “You either believe that Albus Dumbledore is the be all and end all of decision makers…or you don’t. Those that don’t follow Tom Riddle, who has been ridiculously calling himself Lord Voldemort since he was in school, by choice or circumstance. And then there’s us…and a few other families. Though we’re by far the most prominent.”
“And what do we think?” Tony asked.
“That both of them are wrong,” Clive replied. “Riddle was a few years ahead of us at school. I was a Ravenclaw so I didn’t know him but your Aunt was a Slytherin and a Black, even if she was a mildly disgraced one. So she saw his insanity in real-time.”
“I was. And Tom Riddle is a jumped up half-blood who was raised in an orphanage and instead of attempting to make something of himself with the impressive brain he was given…he instead recruited sycophants who like to hurt people they disagree with. But that’s more detail than an eight year old really needs.”
“Quite,” Clive murmured. “The point to this Anthony is simple.”
“At its core, yes. Because I don’t spend much time socializing with Wizarding nobility they don’t know us very well. I do more business in muggle Society. While, your Aunt has very little contact with her family for a lot of reasons but mostly because of two reasons – the first is that her father Marius was a disowned Squib and the second is that her cousins think Riddle is the answer to all the World’s problems. All that boils down to our answer being a blood adoption – you will in essence be our son. The very Old families, of which we qualify, don’t even register births with the Ministry until a child has been accepted to Hogwarts anyway. So no one will even think to question it.”
“Easier to dispose of squibs without questions that way,” his Aunt muttered sounding disgusted.
“So, I’ll be your son? What about the baby?”
“You’ll be our son Anthony,” his Uncle agreed. “As will the baby. But you’ll be the eldest and my heir. As far as anyone, your Aunt and I included, is concerned you’ll be our first born, Lord Anthony Dominic Paddington, future 26th Earl of Nottingham.”
The next three years passed by in an insane blur of pureblood etiquette lessons, family history lessons, ritual magic instruction, politics and estate planning – both for the magical world and the muggle world and muggle school and athletics.
He took his Aunt’s words in his bedroom that day to heart immediately following the blood adoption and threw himself into being a proper Paddington (while still honoring his parents memory and never truly forgetting he was also a DiNozzo). He tried his hardest to excel at everything he did – whether it be something as unimportant as playing football (soccer to his American brain) with the local boys or as important as being a good big brother to Crispian (who was born three months after his arrival in London).
By the time his eleventh birthday, July 19th 1979, was punctuated by the arrival of his Hogwart’s letter, no one except his Aunt and Uncle – Mum and Father – would have any clue that Tony hadn’t been born to Clive and Lyra Paddington. Physically the blood adoption had helped – darkening his hair from a golden blonde to more of a dark chestnut brown that was a near perfect match to Clive Paddington’s and Tony’s grandfather before him. It had helped that he had already physically favored his mother, Mary’s, side of the family but the icing on it all was his eyes – they had changed from the DiNozzo green to the famous silver-grey of the Ancient and Noble House of Black.