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"Nana always cuts it up." Chuffery said as he looked at his plate of spaghetti.
"Well if you want to cut it up that's fine. But if you don't that's fine too." Cherub said quietly.
Chuffery reached for his spaghetti with his fork, then pulled it back suddenly.
"What if I make a mess?" Chuffery asked in panic.
Cherub smiled and said, "Let me show you how I do it."
Very slowly and carefully, Cherub demonstrated winding a single strand of spaghetti onto his fork.
"Do you think you can do that?" Cherub asked with a smile.
Chuffery picked up his fork and was finally able to catch a single spaghetti noodle. With painstaking effort, he wound the spaghetti until it was all on his fork.
"Now eat it." Cherub said and demonstrated by taking a bite.
Chuffery followed his brother's example and was soon happily chewing his spaghetti.
"You're very good with him. I dare say now that I've seen you in action, I can't help but believe that you'll be able to raise him into a fine young man." Aristotle said happily then took a small bite of his own spaghetti.
"Thank you Grandfather. I honestly believed that my own childhood was one of the worst things that could be done to a person, but after talking with Harry and Draco, I realize that we each have our own challenges to face and overcome. I look at Chuffery and see what he has to overcome and I have to do whatever I can to help him." Cherub said as he kept his gaze on Chuffery who was becoming more confident in his spaghetti eating abilities.
"He's making a mess." Aristotle said in comment, not upset by it at all.
"I'll give him a whole pot of sauce to play in if it will keep that smile on his face." Cherub said tenderly.
Chuffery looked up to see his grandfather and brother watching him.
"You have some sauce on your chin." Cherub said gently.
Chuffery had a look of terror at the statement, as if he expected to be severely scolded.
"Calm down Chuffery, that's why you have a napkin, just wipe it off." Cherub said quickly, concerned by his brother's drastic reaction.
Chuffery picked the napkin up from his lap and stared at it.
"Watch me." Cherub said seriously.
Chuffery turned his undivided attention to his brother.
Cherub dipped two of his fingers in the sauce on his plate and put a big smudge of sauce diagonally across his mouth and chin.
"Do I have some sauce on my face?" Cherub asked Chuffery seriously.
Chuffery giggled and nodded.
"Then here's how I fix it." Cherub said and made a show of wiping his mouth and chin clean.
"Can you do that?" Cherub asked hopefully.
Chuffery nodded, then proceeded to wipe his mouth and chin thoroughly.
"Now you look as good as new." Cherub said with a smile.
"What's on your face?" Chuffery asked as he pointed.
"You mean my scar?" Cherub asked curiously.
Chuffery looked at Cherub in confusion, not understanding the word.
"I guess I was hurt a long time ago and it left a mark. I don't know what happened." Cherub said and looked at his grandfather in question.
"After your birth, your mother was quite mad. She would transfigure herself into all manner of creatures and terrorized the members of the house. The mark on your cheek is from the one and only time she ever found you. I believe she was some form of cat when she did that. After that attack, you were moved to Dour Oaks." Aristotle said as he drifted off in thought.
"Why didn't Father have her sent to a mental hospital where she could get some help?" Cherub asked with concern.
"Because 'the prick' believed that it would bring shame to the family name. He thought that given time she would return to normal. It seemed to work for a time, but when she became pregnant with Chuffery... well I told you about that. It's hard to say if a mental hospital would have helped, but it certainly would have been preferable to doing nothing." Aristotle said distantly.
"So Father sacrificed Mother's sanity in favor of the family pride?" Cherub asked in confirmation.
"Yes. 'The prick' was always quite good about pointing out how others failures would make the family look bad. He just didn't seem to notice that his own behavior was worse by far." Aristotle said sadly.
"I'm just curious. Does father have any concept of 'shame' or 'regret'?" Cherub asked in honest curiosity.
Grandfather Nightshade smiled at the question and said, "No my boy. He doesn't. I didn't realize that until he was well into adulthood. You've made quite an astute observation given your limited exposure."
Cherub gave a slight smile as he said, "I've had quite a few years to formulate different theories about why my parents hated me. I never guessed about mother's insanity, but the possibility that father might be a prick did occur to me."
"Trust me, I've dwelt on the question of your father for many years. You have your life ahead of you and your brother to watch after. Focus on those with a future, your father has no desire to become anything better than what he is." Aristotle said with regret.
Cherub looked over at Chuffery who now had a full beard of spaghetti sauce framing a glowing smile.
"I think this is a two napkin job." Cherub said and noticed a napkin at the second table. With a gesture and a thought, the napkin flew to his waiting hand.
Chuffery looked at Cherub in awe.
"What?" Cherub asked, wondering 'what now?'.
"You done magics like Nana." Chuffery said in amazement.
"Of course. Haven't you ever seen anyone but Nana do magic before?" Cherub asked carefully.
Chuffery shook his head, which slung little spatters of spaghetti sauce in all directions.
"Hold still a second." Cherub said and began to wipe Chuffery's face.
"Leave that to me Cherub." Aristotle said with humor in his voice.
Cherub pulled back and saw the smeared mess of sauce nearly from one ear to the other on Chuffery's smiling face.
Grandfather Nightshade pulled an old wand out of his robes and pointed it at Chuffery.
After a few mumbled words, the spaghetti sauce disappeared.
Cherub looked from Chuffery's clean face to his grandfather in question.
"When you have children, there are certain spells you need. Remind me and I'll show them to you after dinner." Grandfather Nightshade said as he put his wand away.
"I would like that, thank you Grandfather." Cherub said with respect.
"Granpa done magics too!" Chuffery said as he felt his face.
"That's right Chuffery, we are wizards, just like you're going to be." Cherub said with a smile.
Chuffery looked at Cherub with disbelieving eyes.
Cherub thought for a second, then got a smile and pulled his wand out of his pocket and said, "Watch what I'm about to do."
Chuffery focused all his 9-year-old attention on Cherub.
Cherub waived his wand at a napkin on the neighboring table and said, "Denfizia Mariposa."
Chuffery squealed in delight as a butterfly fluttered out of the napkin.
"Now you try it." Cherub said and handed his want to Chuffery, handle first.
Chuffery stared at the wand in his hand, then at his brother.
"The words are 'Denfizia Mariposa', just point the wand at that napkin and say them." Cherub said seriously.
Chuffery pointed the wand and said, "Den... Den..."
"Denfizia Mariposa." Cherub whispered carefully.
Chuffery waived his wand much as Cherub had done and said, "Denfizia Mariposa."
A butterfly emerged from the napkin and began to happily flutter around the room as Chuffery followed it's every moved.
"You did that Chuffery. You just used magic of your very own. Maybe we can stop by Olivander's and get you your own wand on the way home tonight?" Cherub said with hope.
"If you wouldn't mind, I would be honored to by my grandson his first wand." Grandfather Nightshade said with a peaceful smile.
"What do you say Chuffery? Would you like Grandfather Nightshade to buy you your very own wand?" Cherub asked happily.
Chuffery nodded ecstatically.
"Let's finish this meal so we can be on our way. Olivander's isn't open all night you know." Grandfather Nightshade said seriously.
"I'm done." Cherub said and laid his napkin on his plate.
Chuffery copied Cherub's action and said, "I'm done."
Grandfather Nightshade smiled at the two boys and said, "I suppose my meal is finished as well."
Cherub and Chuffery watched their grandfather expectantly.
Aristotle looked at the boys curiously, then realized what they were waiting for.
"I'm done." Grandfather said and put his napkin on his plate.
Chuffery hopped off his chair and was bouncing with anticipation.
"May I have my wand back Chuffery?" Cherub asked quietly, not wanting to sound harsh.
"Can I do it again? Pleeeeeeeeese?" Chuffery begged.
"No Chuffery, you may not." Cherub said firmly and held out his hand.
Reluctantly Chuffery handed over the wand.
"But in just a few minutes we're going to buy you your own wand and you'll be able to use it whenever you want." Cherub continued.
Chuffery looked at Cherub, then his Grandfather to find them both nodding.
Chuffery hugged Cherub tightly, not knowing how else to show his gratitude.
* * * * *
"Aristotle? Oh dear me. To what do I owe the pleasure of your visit this evening?" The shopkeeper asked in shock.
"It's good to see you again Olivander, it's been too many years. I've come to get my grandson his first wand." Aristotle said with a gentle smile.
"Oh my yes. A fine looking young man..." Olivander trailed off as he looked at Cherub curiously, then asked, "Weren't you in about a month ago?"
"Yes sir... I looked a little different then." Cherub said shyly.
"Of course! I remember you now. I sold you a muggle wand." Olivander said with a smile.
"A muggle wand?" Cherub asked cautiously.
"Yes, yes. Most wands are enchanted to act as a channel for a wizards power, sort of a control or focal point. Your wand does nothing. It is just for show. You don't need it, but since Hogwart's requires you to have one, you have it as a prop." Olivander said in a lecturing tone.
"But why do you call it a muggle wand?" Cherub asked curiously as he pulled out his wand to look at it.
"Because it has no magic. It hasn't been enchanted in any way. What you have there is simply a wooden stick. " Olivander said seriously.
"But Chuffery was able to use it to do magic." Cherub said seriously.
Olivander looked carefully to the slightly younger boy clung to Cherub's side.
"He certainly is your brother. Aristotle, your grandsons are quite special. They carry the raw talent that their father could never harness and the exact control of their mother. I should think they could be capable of great things given the proper upbringing." Olivander said with eyes that seemed to look into their souls.
"Olivander, my time on this plane of existence is nearly done. Cherub has volunteered to see to the needs of his brother. It is my hope his guidance will be enough to allow Chuffery to reach his full potential." Aristotle said seriously.
Olivander got a sad look in his eyes as he looked at Aristotle, then he said, "Let me get something to give your grandson a head start. I won't be a moment."
Cherub shifted Chuffery around so that he could give him a proper hug and asked, "Did you hear what Olivander said? You're going to be a big strong wizard when you grow up."
"Like you?" Chuffery asked from the hug.
"I'll be right there with you Chuffery. I'll become a great wizard so I can show you how it's done." Cherub said peacefully.
"Here we are. Chuffery was it?" Olivander asked as he removed a wand from a dust covered box.
Chuffery disentangled himself from Cherub and walked to stand before Olivander.
"Try this. Just give it a waive." Olivander said gently as he presented the wand, handle first to Chuffery.
Chuffery took the wand and waived it as he had waived Cherub's in the restaurant.
"Quite a nice technique." Olivander said as he looked at Chuffery consideringly.
"What's the 'denny' words so I can make a butterfly?" Chuffery asked Cherub hopefully.
"Denfizia Mariposa." Cherub said quietly, enjoying the fact that his brother was wanting to do something without being told.
"Denfizia Mariposa!" Chuffery said happily and waived his wand at a display stand beside the counter.
A burst of two dozen butterflies of all different colors fluttered up from the stand and swirled through the air.
"Now say 'Magico Quellum'." Olivander instructed with a smile.
Chuffery waived his wand and happily said, "Magico Quellum!"
All the butterflies vanished with little winks of light.
"The enchantment on this wand somewhat limits his magic and allows any spell he casts to be undone with that one magical phrase. When he has learned sufficient control, you can bring him back by and I'll give him a wand suited to his ultimate potential." Olivander said happily.
"Is there nothing for my grandson Cherub? The boy should have a proper wand." Aristotle said seriously.
Olivander looked at Cherub in thought and said, "Perhaps. This may take a few moments. I'm not entirely sure where I put it."
"Chuffery, when we get home I'll show you a few spells that you can do to practice with your wand. For now you may use the 'Denfizia Mariposa' to get used to it." Cherub said with a gentle smile at his brother's excitement.
* * * * *
By the time Olivander returned to the front of his shop, it was infested with every manner of butterfly known to be.
Olivander chuckled at the sight and said, "It warms my heart to see the young take such delight in magic. Too soon we forget to enjoy the wonder and beauty of it."
"Quite right." Aristotle said warmly.
"Young Mr. Nightshade. Try this wand to see if it suits you." Olivander said and held the wand for Cherub to take the handle.
"It's heavy." Cherub commented.
"Give it a try." Olivander said anxiously.
"Luminae Aurora." Cherub said calmly and made a swirly motion with his wand.
A fountain of sparkles erupted before him, exploding outward in slow motion.
"That's pretty!" Chuffery exclaimed with wide-eyed wonder.
"Remind me when we get home and I'll show you how to do it yourself." Cherub said with a smile.
"Does the wand feel comfortable?" Olivander asked seriously.
"Fine. I can feel the enchantment, what does it do?" Cherub asked curiously.
"Hand the wand to your grandfather." Olivander said with a smile.
Cherub did as instructed.
"Aristotle, go ahead and use Cherub's wand." Olivander said with a smile of anticipation.
"Fengrem..." Grandfather Nightshade began to say when the wand disappeared.
Cherub felt in his pocket to find the wand there waiting for him.
"Good, good. It likes you." Olivander said with approval.
"Likes me?" Cherub asked carefully.
"This wand has more than an enchantment. It has a consciousness. Since it likes you, it will help you. It won't allow anyone else to use it and if misplaced, will return to you of it's own will." Olivander said happily.
"Can it talk?" Cherub asked cautiously.
"I shouldn't think so. But anything is possible. Your wand can enhance your spells, refine your aim and in certain circumstances, provide defense against offensive magics used against you." Olivander said in a proud voice.
"Is it something like the enchantment of the Hogwart's sorting hat?" Cherub asked curiously as he looked at the wand.
Olivander thought about the question and said, "I suppose you could say they are brothers. Similar enchantments with different purposes."
"Speaking of brothers, I should be getting mine home soon." Cherub said with a smile.
"Do you remember the words to undo the butterfly spell?" Cherub asked Chuffery carefully.
"Magico Quellum!" Chuffery said abruptly and shook his wand like an eraser at the butterflies. In a wink all the butterflies vanished.
"Lovely. Just lovely." Olivander said in appreciation.
"Put it on the Nightshade account my friend, we must be going." Aristotle said in a tired voice.
"Yes, of course Aristotle. May your journey ahead bring you wonders and delights." Olivander said gently.
"Yes, yes. May yours as well." Aristotle said and moved to the exit.
"Thank you Mr. Olivander. My new wand is great, here, you can have your stick back." Cherub said and handed Olivander his original wand.
"Thank you young Mr. Nightshade. Take care of that wand. It should be the last one you'll ever need." Olivander said with a gentle smile.
Chuffery followed Cherub to the doorway when Cherub stopped him.
"Do you like your new wand?" Cherub asked carefully.
Chuffery nodded happily.
"Then it would be proper for you to thank Mr. Olivander for taking the time to find you a good one." Cherub said patiently.
Chuffery turned around shyly and said, "Thank you Mr. Olivander. I like my wand a lot."
"You're very welcome Chuffery. Come and see me again when you get your Hogwart's letter and I'll set you up with one more like your brother's." Olivander said with a smile.
Chuffery nodded and turned to join his brother at the door.
* * * * *
Cherub got into the carriage and noticed his Grandfather's sullen expression.
"Is there a problem Grandfather?" Cherub asked in concern and he automatically put an arm around his brother.
"No my boy. I just have something to say before you travel on to your home." Aristotle said, trying to put cheer into his voice.
Cherub glanced to see Chuffery examining his new wand.
"I summoned you today because I can feel my spirit growing restless, ready to move on. It had been my hope that I could resist the pull of the next life until you were a bit older, but it was not meant to be." Aristotle said in a distant voice.
"I just met you Grandfather, I don't want you to go." Cherub said with tears in his eyes.
"I know my child. But we cannot change what is to be. Andrew knows of my wishes when I move on. There will be no ceremony or memorial. Anyone who wanted to pay respects to me has had nearly a hundred years to do so. Just know that you have made me very proud and given me hope for the family I've devoted my life to protecting. You've filled my last hours with peace and love. It's more than I could have hoped for, more than I dreamed. When I leave this carriage, I shan't be seeing you again. Hold the memory of this day as the wonderful thing it is. I shall carry it with me into the next life and cherish it as my most valuable treasure... Eating spaghetti with my grandsons..." Aristotle trailed off with a gentle chuckle.
"I promise Grandfather. I'll see that the family is taken care of." Cherub said seriously.
"Chuffery is your only family now. Leave the rest to face what comes on their own. My meddling in their affairs over the years in an attempt to correct my mistakes has caused far more harm than good. Perhaps letting things progress without interference may yet allow one of them to awaken from the superficial existence they have become trapped in and strive to be something more. Perhaps not." Aristotle said gravely.
The carriage came to a stop outside a grand mansion.
"One last thing Cherub, perhaps the most important thing." Aristotle said seriously.
Cherub looked his grandfather in the eyes, devoting his full attention.
"I know you've carried the hurt about your father, and you've every right. You may feel cheated by him, cheated of your childhood and cheated of the love that every child deserves. But it's done and past. Don't let it consume you. Consider this my final wish and final words of advice to you. The best revenge is to live well." Aristotle said firmly.
"I'll remember Grandfather. I love you." Cherub said, tears now freely falling down his cheeks.
"I love you too my boy, both of you." Aristotle said and soon had his arms filled with both his grandsons.
"I love you granpa." Chuffery whimpered.
"Listen to your brother Chuffery. If you do as he says, you'll have a happy life." Aristotle said with a smile.
Chuffery nodded into his grandfather's chest.
"Now off with you. The two of you have a new life to begin." Aristotle said firmly as he sat his grandsons aside and exited the carriage.
Cherub watched his grandfather slowly walk to the front doors of the grand mansion to be greeted by one of the household staff.
"Goodbye." Cherub whispered as the carriage pulled away.
* * * * *
"Yes?" Millicent said cautiously as she answered the door.
"Hello Millicent. I forgot that I've changed a little since I left, I'm Cherub."
Millicent looked at him carefully, then a smile came over her face.
"Master Choab, it's good to see you. You look wonderful." Millicent said and hugged him.
"I prefer to be called Cherub now."
"Oh, of course." Millicent said and straightened, a little ashamed by the display of emotion.
"Millicent, I'd like you to meet my brother, Chuffery." Cherub said and pulled Chuffery from behind him where he'd been hiding.
"Your brother? Master Cho... Cherub, what a wonderful surprise!" She said with a grand smile.
"I think so too. I'm going to take Chuffery into the sitting room. Would you and James join us?" Cherub asked gently.
"Yes, right away." Millicent said happily.
"Come along Chuffery. I want to show you your new home." Cherub said as he took his brother's hand.
* * * * *
Chuffery sat silently in the sitting room, looking at all the unfamiliar things around him.
"Master Choab?" James asked cautiously from the doorway.
"It's me James. Please call me Cherub. Come in." Cherub said gently.
James walked in, looking curiously at Cherub and Chuffery.
"James, I'd like you to meet my brother Chuffery. Chuffery, this is my friend James." Cherub said peacefully.
Chuffery and James shared equal looks of wonder at each other.
Millicent walked into the room and stood beside James, awaiting Cherub's instructions.
"Both of you, please sit down." Cherub said and indicated the comfortable chairs opposite the couch he was sitting on.
James and Millicent cautiously took their seats and waited.
"Quite a few things have happened today, too many to tell honestly so I'll just tell you the end result." Cherub began.
"Grandfather Nightshade transferred all the family property and holdings into my name today. My father is no longer welcomed at Dour Oaks and has no authority over me or my brother." Cherub said carefully.
"It was my decision to retire Mrs. Puckett. Although she might have been able to manage a while longer, there was no reason she should have to. She will be well taken care of and it is my hope that she will enjoy her new found freedom." Cherub said seriously.
"Millicent, if you would be willing to accept, I would very much like for you to have the responsibility of the Head of Household position. Should you choose to take it, you would receive a substantial increase in salary and have the authority to hire whatever help you feel is appropriate, which includes the hiring of house elves if you like." Cherub finished in a businesslike tone.
Millicent blinked in astonishment, then said, "Yes... yes, thank you."
"Good. Mr. Klegg will get with you about the particulars sometime soon. If you have any concern about the salary or anything else, just let me know and I'll see to it." Cherub said firmly.
"Yes sir." Millicent said automatically.
Cherub smiled at being called sir, then turned his attention to James.
"I am aware that you were intending to leave Dour Oaks with Catty after I left for Hogwart's. If that's still your intention, you may go with my blessings and best wishes. But circumstances have changed since I left and I hope you'll consider staying on." Cherub said seriously.
James sat with rapt attention.
"Chuffery has need of guidance and supervision. I can think of no one better to provide those things than you James. I will be attending Hogwart's and not be here to see after him myself, as much as I would like to. If you'll be willing to be Chuffery's valet, I'll authorize a 5,000 galleon bonus and a substantial increase in your current wage." Cherub finished with a smile.
"Oy! That's more than 'alf my wage last year!" James yelped in surprise.
"You're worth it James, and quite a bit more. Should you and Catty decide to get married, the guest cottage will be yours for as long as you want it. Please consider the offer carefully and speak with Catty about it if you'd like. I don't want you to feel pressured into anything." Cherub said seriously.
"Begging your pardon Master Choab... Cherub. But I am a wizard who can do little more than a basic spell and my education is barely adequate. There aren't many opportunities for someone like me. I don't need to speak with Catty about this, I'd be daft to pass on this and I know she'll agree with me." James said honestly.
"You have something far more powerful than magic or education James, you have a good and caring nature. Without you in my life I doubt I would have been able to enjoy the friendships I have developed at Hogwart's or been worthy of the trust my Grandfather has placed in me. You have my greatest respect and admiration. Please discuss it with Catty and let me know of your decision tomorrow." Cherub said gently.
"Yes Master Cherub." James said with pride in his voice.
"Now on to other matters. Chuffery will be living here now. I have instructed that his belongings be brought here and that he is to have my old bedroom. My things are to be moved into the master bedroom." Cherub said seriously.
"When the things arrive, I'll see to it." Millicent said immediately.
"Thank you Millicent. I have also invited two friends to stay with us over the weekend. And one of my Professors may be stopping in. I don't know that he will be able to stay the night, but please have rooms prepared for all three just in case." Cherub said in thought.
Millicent nodded seriously.
"Let Catty know about the additional guests so she can prepare enough food, and ask her to get in the necessary ingredients to make spaghetti. It's Chuffery's favorite food and I'd like for him to be able to have it when he wants." Cherub said and squeezed his brother's shoulder.
"Yes sir." Millicent said immediately.
"Arrange for a tutor, Mr. Higgenbottom if he's available, to come and see to Chuffery's studies beginning next week. I'd like for him to have the advantage of a good education by the time he's ready to attend Hogwart's." Cherub said in thought.
Millicent nodded again.
"James, for the time being, I'd like you to instruct Chuffery in the use of magic. When he's progressed beyond what you're comfortable teaching him, find a tutor who can help him. Perhaps Mr. Higgenbottom could suggest someone." Cherub said with a smile.
"Yes sir." James said warmly.
"Chuffery, would you like to show James and Millicent your butterfly spell?" Cherub asked his brother quietly.
"I forgot the words." Chuffery said with a tinge of sadness in his voice.
"Denfizia Mariposa." Cherub whispered, making sure to draw out the words to emphasize the correct pronunciation.
Chuffery waived his wand at the floral centerpiece on the coffee table and said, "Denfizia Mariposa."
A flurry of butterflies erupted from the centerpiece and began to fly around the room.
Millicent and James watched the beautiful sight with grand smiles.
"Very well done Chuffery. Do you remember how to undo the spell?" Cherub asked carefully.
"Go ahead." Cherub prompted.
"Magico Quellum." Chuffery said with a smile and waived his wand like a practiced wizard. All the butterflies vanished in twinkles and sparkles.
"Very well done Chuffery. What a beautiful spell. You'll have to show me how to do it." James said with a smile.
Chuffery looked at James in wonder.
"James knows quite a few spells that I know you'll like, but I learned that one at Hogwart's... actually, it was a spell someone used against me, but he was trying to do something else." Cherub explained.
"Defensia Oriposa." Millicent said with a nod.
"What does it do?" Cherub asked with interest.
"It temporarily blocks one's ability to use magic. It leaves one defenseless against another's spells." Millicent said seriously.
"How awful. You say this was cast against you? Are you having trouble at Hogwart's Master Cherub?" James asked with concern.
"No James. The student who cast it against me was expelled. All he managed to do was make me cough up a butterfly. It was actually quite funny." Cherub said with a smile.
"Please be careful Master Cherub. You're very dear to us and we'd hate to see anything bad happen to you." Millicent said seriously.
"Thank you both. I have a group of good friends who watch out for me. We all take care of each other." Cherub said peacefully.
"I'm so glad to hear that. I was concerned for you, knowing that you never had the chance to play with other children." James said quietly.
"I was concerned too James. But most of my friends grew up the same way. It's part of what forms our bond of friendship." Cherub said with a smile.
A chime from the entry hall drew everyone's attention.
"I'll see to that." Millicent said and hurried from the room.
A moment later Millicent returned and said, "A group of men with Master Chuffery's belongings are here. They said that they were instructed to move the current contents of the room, then bring in the new contents. Then they'll pack Mrs. Puckett's belongings and take them away."
"Would you see to it Millicent? James and I are going to show Chuffery around the house." Cherub asked kindly.
"Yes Master Cherub." Millicent said happily.
* * * * *
James led the way as Chuffery and Cherub followed.
Chuffery watched and listened as James conducted a tour, explaining the function of the different rooms and pointing out the features of each room as they passed through.
Cherub let his mind drift during the tour, just enjoying the look of wonder and excitement on Chuffery's face as he experienced each new thing.
"The young Master's room is prepared." Millicent said to the group who were just leaving the owlery.
"Do you want to see your room Chuffery?" James asked with a gentle voice.
Chuffery nodded happily.
The group went upstairs and entered the room that had been Cherub's only two weeks earlier.
Cherub reflected on the fact that it seemed like a lifetime ago that he had been in there.
Chuffery let go of Cherub's hand and ran to a box of toys located under the window.
"Your brother seems to be a wonderful boy." James said quietly.
"He is. But he's going to need a lot of attention. When I met him, he was afraid to speak or move without permission. I don't think he's ever been allowed to do anything for himself or make any decisions." Cherub said in a matching quiet tone.
"I noticed that he's unusually still and quiet." James said with concern.
"I trust that you'll be able to get him past that. Just be the example of a good person that you always were for me and I'm sure he'll be fine." Cherub said with a smile.
"You've changed so much. Not just your look, but you. When you left I was concerned that you would follow the dark path... you seemed so... angry." James said with difficulty.
"I was. I was looking at the world through a child's eyes and seeing myself at the center of everything. When I arrived at Hogwart's I met some good people who helped me to see that the world is a bigger place than I realized. Thanks to your example, I was able to care about others and find that my place in the world is what I make it to be. Not the center and not on the outside looking in, but participating and living in it." Cherub said in an introspective voice.
"I did that?" James asked in wonder.
"Yes, that and much more." Cherub said with a smile.
"Master Cherub, Mr. Klegg is on the floo in the sitting room." Millicent called from the doorway.
"Will you stay with Chuffery?" Cherub asked carefully.
"My pleasure." James said tenderly as he watched Chuffery going through his box of toys.
* * * * *
"What can I do for you Mr. Klegg?" Cherub asked as he took the seat before the fireplace.
"Good evening Mr. Nightshade, I just wanted to brief you on the matters we discussed earlier.
"Please call me Cherub."
"If you will call me Andrew."
"Agreed. What news do you have for me Andrew?" Cherub asked casually.
"Your father signed the contract. Mrs. Puckett will be staying in a hotel tonight, and leaving for the South of France in the morning to approve the house we've selected for her. I'm sure you're aware of the arrival of the belongings of your brother and your suitcase. Professor Snape graciously accepted your invitation to discuss Chuffery's guardianship and said he would come to Dour Oaks to meet with you on Sunday. Mr. Potter and Mr. Malfoy accepted your invitation for the weekend and will arrive mid-morning tomorrow... and have requested to bring another guest." Andrew finished with a note of apprehension.
"Did they say who?" Cherub asked curiously.
"A Miss Granger. They were insistent that they would not be able to attend without her. I took the liberty of extending the invitation to her, but I can withdraw it if you would rather." Andrew finished quickly, the concern evident in his voice.
"No. I don't mind her coming, I'm just surprised. Is there anything else?" Cherub asked, sensing that Andrew was holding something back.
"I'm afraid so. Your Grandfather's health has taken a serious turn. I'm afraid he's not expected to survive the night." Andrew said gravely.
"He knew it was coming Andrew. Please try to be happy for him, he was able to find his peace and is looking forward to moving on to his next adventure." Cherub said calmly.
Andrew's face in the fire looked at Cherub with astonishment, then said, "You just said nearly word for word what he told me when I last spoke to him."
"That's because I understand. His work here is done, he's ready to go, let our best wishes go with him." Cherub said serenely.
Andrew nodded and said, "Cherub, if you ever want to talk about him, I'm here for you. I've known Aristotle for nearly forty years and I'd be glad to share some of his stories with you."
Cherub smiled and said, "I think I'd like that Andrew. I can't think of any better way of honoring Grandfather's memory.? Please come to Dour Oaks some weekend when we can sit and talk as friends."
"I'll do that Cherub. Take care of your brother and try to enjoy your weekend." Andrew said weakly.
"You too Andrew." Cherub said quietly.
Goodbyes were exchanged and the fire returned to its normal glow.
Cherub remained sitting and stared into the flames, letting his thoughts wander.
* * * * *
"Master Cherub?" James asked from the sitting room doorway.
"Yes James?" Cherub asked as he looked away from the fire.
"Master Chuffery is ready for bed, would you like to say goodnight to him?"
Cherub smiled and stood as he said, "I'd love to."
Cherub walked with James to the bedroom. As Cherub entered, James waited by the door.
"Hey little brother. How do you like your new bedroom?" Cherub asked quietly as he approached the bed.
"It's nice. And James is nice. He showed me how to run the bath water and make it not too hot and let me do it all by myself." Chuffery said with enthusiasm.
"Well, I think James is going to be here for a long time to take care of you so you'll have a chance to learn a lot more things from him." Cherub said as he sat on the edge of the bed.
"I love you Cherub." Chuffery said in a whisper.
Cherub leaned in and hugged Chuffery gently as he whispered, "I love you too Chuffery."
"Will you be here when I wake up?" Chuffery asked hopefully.
"I'll be sleeping in my room just down the hall. Do you see that rope right over there?" Cherub asked and pointed to a very decorative rope hanging from the ceiling.
"If you need anything during the night, just pull on that rope and a few minutes later someone will be here to help you." Cherub said seriously.
"Good. You get some sleep, then tomorrow we'll have all day to play and do magic and spend time with my friends." Cherub said with a smile.
Chuffery nodded again.
"Good night little brother." Cherub said and leaned in to kiss Chuffery gently on the cheek.
"Good night Cherub." Chuffery said and closed his eyes.
As Cherub got up from the bed, he made a subtle gesture to the lamp and it went dark.
From the doorway, he gave one last look at his brother before closing the door.
* * * * *
"Would you like me to draw your bath Master Cherub?" James asked gently as they walked away from Chuffery's room.
"No, thank you James. I'll be doing it for myself from now on. Your only job is to look after the needs of my little brother." Cherub said seriously.
"I don't expect you to serve me or my friends, we have other staff who can attend to that. You don't have to try and keep Chuffery out of our way or anything like that, but if he doesn't want to be involved in whatever we're doing, be available to watch after him. I have a feeling that he's going to be very needy for a while and it will be more than enough of a job for you." Cherub said frankly.
"Yes. From what I saw tonight, I think you may be right." James said with concern as they entered the sitting room.
Cherub motioned for James to have a seat.
"He didn't know how to wash himself or use the faucets." James said quietly.
"I had to teach him to wipe his butt." Cherub said seriously.
James got a pained expression as he said, "How could anyone think they were helping a child by making him so dependent?"
"I don't know James, but it's up to us to undo the damage." Cherub said seriously.
"Would anyone like a nice cup of tea?" Catty asked from the doorway, carrying a tea service.
"Yes, thank you Catty, that would be lovely. Would you care to join us?" Cherub asked and gestured to the seat beside James.
Catty nodded hesitantly, sat down the tea service and took the offered seat.
"Would you like to tell her?" Cherub asked James with a smile.
"Millicent already told me that Mrs. Puckett's been retired and she been given her job." Catty said quickly.
"No love. Master Cherub has offered me a job." James said as he looked into her eyes.
"But... We were going to leave... so we could be together." Catty said with tears in her eyes.
"Shhh... Let me finish." James whispered and took hold of her hand.
Catty tried to put on a brave face as the tears began rolling down her cheeks.
"I'll only take the job if you agree. Master Cherub will pay me a 5,000 galleon bonus for taking the job and give me a rise in pay besides." James said softly.
Catty looked at James with wide eyes.
James slipped from the chair and came to rest on one knee.
"And if you'll be my wife, the guest house will be our home for as long as we want to live there." James said as he looked deeply into Catty's disbelieving eyes.
Cherub felt his wand vibrating in his pocket.
He pulled out the wand and it seemed to waive itself, pulling Cherub's hand along with it.
In a sparkle of magic, a golden ring with a dozen tiny diamonds embedded in it appeared on the edge of the coffee table beside James.
"Thank you Master Cherub." James said with a smile and picked up the ring.
"Catty, will you marry me?" James asked hopefully as he held up the ring for her to see.
Catty couldn't find her voice, but nodded forcefully, desperately fighting to hold in her tears.
James gently lifted her hand and slipped the ring on her finger.
"Congratulations." Cherub said in a whisper as he got up and walked out of the room.
"Thank you." James said in a hoarse whisper as tears fell down his cheeks.
Cherub watched James and Catty come together in a kiss as he closed the sitting room door and smiled.
He looked at the wand in his hand and said, "Olivander said you were smart but he didn't mention how much of a romantic you are."
The wand gave a brief tingle in Cherub's hand which he knew to be the wand's laughter.