The best and worst thing about being a cat was having time to yourself to think. Given the nature of his domestic issues, Orion had been thinking a lot about his marriage and his children.
Were it not for Sylvia and Andrew, Orion would want a divorce. The divorce would mean that the children would need to be taken care of either by Gemma or by Orion. As he saw it, Gemma was incapable of caring for herself, much less two babies. She was determined to have her way, rigid with her expectations and haughty belief that she knew what was right. That was no environment for a child to grow up in.
He could divorce her now and continue down his blood traitor path by working with the muggles. He enjoyed it, made good money at it, and had a stable life with friends and satisfaction. But his children would be in what he considered a neglectful, abusive environment. No, he wanted custody. And dead men had no custody rights...that left him one recourse: he needed to be alive.
Legally, that would mean opening a tin of flobberworms. He would have to spin his story carefully and construct a plausible alibi. Where did the body that looked like him come from? Why had he faked his death? Where has he been, all these months? Considering that his parents were heavy supporters of the regime, Orion knew that his answers would have to please the government as well as the leadership of the company he planned on retaking control of.
Grey clouds hung ponderously over the family manor. Drops of rain spit out of the clouds in starts and sputters, making the mood perfectly grim as Orion approached the front door and knocked.
Coobi answered, wearing the traditional tea towel, but edged in black for mourning. The elf forgot his courtesy and instead squealed in a high pitched sound of shock and joy.
"Master Orion! It can't be!? Oh but it is! Oh wonderful day!"
Orion smiled and crouched down to the elf's level and greeted him as an equal instead of a servant.
"Its lovely to see you again as well, Coobi. Could you please do me a favor and have my parents meet me in the business meeting room? Thank you."
The elf's puzzled look wasn't lost on Orion as he headed to the green decorated room. His mannerisms were different though his face was the same. It would be quite a shock for everyone when it was revealed just how different of a man Orion was than the boy he had been.
Case in point: he stood in the middle of the room waiting for his parents rather than sit with the haughty and rude expectation that they come in without a greeting. His mother entered first, her hair shot with grey that Orion didn't remember seeing before. Her gold eyes pierced him, looking haunted.
"Anthony, tell me I'm not seeing things again," she half whispered with her hand on her chest. When his father confirmed that she wasn't seeing anything, she swept over to Orion and hugged him tightly. His father was more reserved, but Orion could see shock, joy, relief, and puzzlement battling in his mind.
"Where have you been?! What happened to you? Oh my boy, my sweet, precious boy, you're home!"
Orion held his mother as she cried into his chest, then gave her the lines he had practiced.
"I've been finding myself and what I am meant to do. I had a series of unfortunate mishaps that led to a nervous breakdown and a wonderful revelation. Please, mother, father, sit. I'll try to explain."
The family arranged themselves carefully, almost warily, around each other. Orion decided to lead with the truth, mostly.
"After I left Siberia, well...ran away from the family, I looked for Gemma. She had fallen in with a bad crowd due to false promises. In my youthful foolishness, I followed her into a web of secrecy and manipulation. This group turned out to be a resistance group...but they were also a refugee center. I trained as a healer with them, but wanted to make my escape from them. The only way to do that and not be pursued was to fake my own death. I was genuinely hit by a bus...I took advantage of the accident to make my escape. Unfortunately...I wound up in a muggle hospital. And their government knew exactly what I am."
His mother gasped in horror and covered her mouth.
"They didn't experiment on you, did they?"
Orion frowned at that.
"No. they offered me a job."
That seemed to be so unlikely that his father laughed. When the elder Burgess saw his son's face, he sobered.
"You mean that you took it? And that's what you've been doing while your mother and I thought you were dead? We lose both our sons and you decide to galavant with with backwards, primitive, ignorant-
That was too far. Orion's glare cut through the tirade as he answered deliberately and carefully in a measured tone.
"They're not. Not backwards, not primitive, and certainly not ignorant. They know about our world. Enough that they wonder if they should do something about it. I was working with them to make sure that a second witch hunt doesn't begin."
"Then why did you come back, if you've become such a muggle lover?" Anthony's tone suggested that he would rather have a dead pureblood idealist for a son than a living muggle sympathizer.
A tight smile, learned from Agent Callaway, bloomed on Orion's face.
"Because I want a divorce from Gemma and I want custody of our children. Dead men don't get custody."
His mother looked mortified and his father looked appalled. Orion wasn't surprised by their reactions, but a clinically detached part of his brain wondered how much of their reaction was a show for being proper and how much was genuine. His friends had coached him on this decision. Agent Cox was opposed to divorce on principle, but he also admitted that he wasn't in Orion's shoes. Callaway had warned him to consider his options carefully, a sentiment echoed by Professors Faust and Witte. Orion wanted what was best for his children, even if that meant hurting Gemma grievously.
"So you would take our grandchildren away from us?" his mother hissed the question, not seeming to care so much for the twins as she was using them as a weapon to jab at her son to get him to go her direction.
"Don't put words in my mouth, mother. I want what's best for them. I don't believe that's with Gemma, and I don't believe that's in your custody either."
A bright, hot pain bloomed across his face as his mother slapped him. His father spoke, leaving his mother in a white faced rage.
"I ought to disown you for your cheek and slander, boy."
"If you wish to do so, then do it. We both know it would be to spite me rather than because you considered it best for the company."
"I think I preferred it when you were dead!"
"I certainly loved you more."
Orion's last retort made his mother sob. She folded into her skirt and cried before standing and leaving the room without a farewell. Anthony peered at the boy.
"The muggles have corrupted you, made you disrespectful and forgetful of your place."
Orion shook his head and offered his father a small and enigmatic smile.
"If that is so, then so be it. My place doesn't matter so long as I know who I am."
His father looked at him, puzzled.
"Who could you be outside of the family?"
"I'm a healer, father. An ambassador. I'm a friend, an agent, dependable. Reliable. I'm whomever I want to be. But most of all right now, I'm happy. I'm satisfied, and I have a purpose."
Bless his father, he looked like he was trying to understand.
"Well...you'll visit, won't you son?"
Orion sat back and rented his fingers against his lips. In that question, there were several layered messages. The first and most clear was that his father wanted to keep contact with him. The second was that he wasn't welcome back in the home. The third was that he was not disowned. Exiled, but not disowned. Interesting.
"Of course, I will. And you and mother are more than welcome to come visit me in my home as well. We are family; we should not throw that away over philosophical differences."
Orion smiled as he delivered the smooth line. It was an olive branch of sorts. Of course, he would need to actually go and get an apartment somewhere. He put a bookmark in that thought as he and his father devolved into the pleasantries of their farewells. Once free of that social obligation, he left the manor and headed back to Dresden and Milo's house. Orion knocked and let himself in.
"Anyone home? I'm back."
He headed to the kitchen and sat at the table. There was a copy of the Daily Prophet, so he started leading through it to look at the properties listed for availability.