Part the First
Halcyone and Voldemort, 31 July, 1996
She was sitting at the desk, the window looking out into the garden. White peacocks fluttered among the hedges, making her laugh, and she wondered at the whimsical nature of her hosts that they would choose to ornament their garden with such a bird. It was Hallie’s sixteenth birthday and Draco had promised her a surprise, just telling her to put on her prettiest wizarding dress and he would have Lady Malfoy loan her a shawl.
Her honey blonde hair was combed simply to the side, a wide part which covered her lighting bolt scar, before being pulled back to a knot at the base of her skull. She had the pretty little clips with butterflies at the ends of them, pink and green and blue, from Daphne for her birthday which she had ornamented her hair, which was otherwise in sharp relief.
The dress was simple, a white that fell in jagged layers with pieces of black lace jutting out from the folds, and she had transfigured a pair of slippers into sandals for the occasion. Draco had prattled at her the night before when she painted her nails red and she was lucky she had had enough to purchase some pink kissable lipstick two years earlier for the Yule ball.
She wouldn’t quite stand out on the Muggle street, but would perhaps get a second look.
There was a quick rap on the door and she turned to see Draco waiting in a waistcoat and summer robes, a pale purple shawl in his hands along with a small wrapped present. “All set?”
“You said I needed to prove who I was,” she stated, looking over at the desk where she had a small stack of papers. “A copy of my birth certificate from St. Mungo’s, my parents’ marriage certificate as ratified by then Chief Warlock.” The name was a scribble but magic would honor it. “And, then, of course my godfather’s sworn statement.” All these documents had only recently come into her possession as they had been kept in Sirius Black’s safe as her father, James Potter, had been too afraid to keep them in his or her mother’s, for fear of retribution.
Her godfather, Sirius Black, had been murdered just a few months before but when he learned that everyone thought that she was in fact someone else, he had instantly gone to the goblins and verified her baptismal name in his blood as well as fetching the documents.
Carefully, she folded each paper and was putting them in her purse as Draco held out the shawl for her, which she slipped on.
“At least Cousin Sirius was good for something,” he stated.
“I know with the Takeover well under way,” she told him imperiously, “we will soon have Britain and Sirius was—against that.” It still confused Hallie, especially as he was a Black, and they had unfortunately never gotten to speak about it. “However, he was my godfather and your cousin—” She smirked at the wide-eyed look on his face.
“The Department of Mysteries was a shambles,” he concluded, as he often had, and he led her out of the room into the Manor proper. “At least it distracted Dumbledore enough to sneak you back into Hogwarts.” His pointed face, although never quite handsome, looked stark with his gray eyes and against the backdrop of his family home.
“Well,” Hallie stated carefully as she took his hand and began to swing their arms back and forth. “With the inestimable Professor Lily Snape not putting up a fight, and Aunt Petunia letting me go wherever I want as long as I don’t bother her, what could he say?”
The two friends paused and looked at each other before laughing.
Lily Snape was perhaps the unhappiest woman either had come across in their five years at Hogwarts. She was undoubtedly beautiful, with her thick swaths of ginger hair and her bright green eyes, soft features and womanly curves, but she always had a sour expression on her face. She was “married” to Professor Severus Snape of all people, the ugliest man in wizerdom, but he was unusually devoted to her.
“I told Father not to let her anywhere near you this summer,” Draco promised when they got themselves under control and continued on down the hallway, out into the stairwell. “I know Severus is a friend and a supporter—”
“How can he be?” she asked, as many in Slytherin did, “with a Mudblood wife?”
He bit his lip and looked at her.
“Yes, I know. Everyone thinks she’s my mudblood mother. The only advantage of that misconception is that everyone thinks she’s a horrible witch who abandons wizarding children at birth.”
They were now heading down the stairs, Draco turned backward as he hopped down the stairs so he could look at her, and she was skipping every other step. If either Lord or Lady Malfoy were to observe them, the friends would have been reminded about comportment and decorum, but they were just a couple of teenagers out to have fun.
“It’s a wonder Dumbles didn’t order her to take you,” he griped as he whipped around a corner. His pristinely cut platinum blond hair swished a little, the sunlight catching from a window, but Hallie only scoffed.
“As if I would go. With the Muggles I can terrify them into thinking I’ll perform accidental magic. Dudley’s decided to no longer terrorize me but to impress me—”
(“He’s in love with you, the fat whale,” Draco put in.)
“—and everyone thinks I’m so beautiful and such a credit to the family that the Dursleys have to treat me well and get me new clothes.—Lily Potter can have my supposed ‘twin’ Harry and that other child of hers, Clemens.”
They skipped down the final steps into the entryway, which was made almost completely of white marble. Skating across the floor in his shoes, Draco led the way as he crossed the hall to the far side to the floo room. Hallie wasn’t far behind him.
He threw in the powder, shouted out their destination, and the teens hurried into the flames, only to elegantly walk out the other side.
The room was cramped and small with exposed beams and a wooden floor. To one side was a door that obviously led out to Knockturn Alley and directly in front of them was a raised platform with some sort of cone on it. Hallie looked at it for a second before turning her attention back to Draco, whose fingers had gone around her wrist and he whispered in her ear, “Let me do the talking.”
“Heir Draco,” a little wizard greeted from behind a podium, a large book of what seemed to be reservations and notes in front of him. “You are most welcome at The Wicked Stepmother.”
Draco neither smiled nor smirked, his face impassive, and he inclined his head.
“Are you dining with the lady?”
“I am—for her birthday,” he told the little wizard, his voice casual. “As it’s her sixteenth birthday, I thought as a gift I’d put her up for membership. She’s an orphan from the last war but we brought the usual identification—birth certificate,” he began to list but the little wizard—strangely—cleared his throat.
No one interrupted a Malfoy.
A Malfoy always got what he wanted and everyone always paid attention.
Draco’s father, in fact, was Lucius, Lord Malfoy, one of the four lords and, thus, one of the four most important wizards in Britain. Excepting the Dark Lord if the Takeover was successful, no one was more powerful than him and the other three lords.
“May I see?” the little wizard asked kindly. His voice, Hallie would have expected, would have been nasally, but it was deep. It didn’t fit him at all.
Still, she stepped around Draco with a smile and got out her purse which hung around her wrist. “My mother was Sacred Twenty-Eight,” she explained carefully. “I don’t know much about her, I’m afraid—Lady Maia Gaunt.” At first she didn’t notice that the little wizard, who was taking notes with his quill, had completely stilled, so she continued to get out her pieces of parchment as Draco came up behind her. “Father was Monsieur James Potter.” She was still fiddling with her parchments so, at the wizard’s silence, she quickly added, “I have their marriage certificate. I assure you that they were married at the time of my birth.”
The little wizard looked between the friends and licked his lips. “Lady Maia Gaunt,” he repeated.
“Yes,” she responded. “I don’t know which of the four lords she was related to—” A person was only a ‘lord’ or ‘lady’ if their father or grandfather was one of the four lords “—but my godfather assured me—”
She was aware how silent the cramped room was and she looked up at the little wizard.
He was staring at her with large, gold eyes, as if he had seen a ghost. “I knew your mother, if I may say so, my lady. You look very much like her with your hair and the turn of your face.” Setting down his quill he reached out his hand and she put the three folded pieces of parchment in them.
“It’s all there,” she promised, “sealed by magic.”
“Mabelle Halcyone Gaunt,” he read carefully. “You carry your mother’s name, Lady Mabelle.” His deep voice caressed her name in the way she knew it was meant to be spoken. Names, she had learnt in Slytherin, had power. She was named ‘beloved’ and then for the Pleides.
Glancing at Draco who nodded encouragingly, she explained, “My godfather Monsieur Sirius Black explained that my parents wanted me to carry the name of the Sacred Twenty-Eight that and,” (she paused) “To this day people still speak of the scandal of my father’s first marriage to the Mudblood Lily Snape. They wanted me to be removed from that, although most people seem to think my name is ‘Hallie Potter’ no matter what I do, and that Lily Snape’s son—Harry Potter—is in fact my twin, when it seems he’s nothing of the sort.”
He nodded, waving his wand carefully over the parchments to most likely check their authenticity, and handed them back. The little wizard made a note in his book. “Happy Birthday, Lady Mabelle.”
Draco squeezed her hand as she put away the documents and led her to the cone opposite the floo. She could hear the little wizard come up behind them and she took in the strange wooden object, knowing how it worked as Draco had come to the Wicked Stepmother with his father the day after his birthday, leaving Hallie to herself as Lady Malfoy couldn’t be bothered with her.
Glancing at the little wizard, she reached out with her holly wand and inserted it in the cone. For a moment, nothing happened, and she held her breath, praying that somehow the documents hadn’t gotten it wrong, that she really as the pureblood daughter of Maia Gaunt and James Potter. She grasped onto Draco’s hand, squeezing it tightly in fear, but his thumb stroked the side of her finger.
With a creek, the cone began to turn counterclockwise and she let out a breath.
At first the movement was slow, a little wobbly, as if the cone had to think about it, and then it began to spin faster and faster, a little crick where it would pause, and then it would continue. It seemed to last for minutes upon minutes, to the point where Hallie was getting a little dizzy. Then, finally, with one long groan, it stopped.
Immediately, the little wizard hurried forward and went to the side of the cone where parchment as thin as Muggle tickertape was being expelled, and he bent over to read it. “Welcome to The Wicked Stepmother, Lady Mabelle,” he greeted with a smile as he tore off the parchment once it had stopped coming out of the cone. “The silvers. Dark into the blues. You have worthy magic.”
Letting out a breath she didn’t know she was holding, Hallie smiled at Draco and he lifted their joint hands until it was hovering about two inches beneath his lips and then he lowered it again. “Happy Birthday, Halcyone.—Now I get to show off the pride of Slytherin House.”
He began to lead her back behind the podium, when the maître d’ asked carefully, “May I inform your uncle it is your birthday? I don’t believe he is aware.”
She paused, shocked, and turned to him. “I don’t have an uncle.”
“If you’ll forgive me, Lady Mabelle,” he apologized, bowing to her. “Your mother was raised by her father’s cousin—or ‘uncle’, as she called him. I know he would be anxious to know you are alive and well.”
Releasing Draco’s hand, she moved toward the little wizards. “There are other Gaunts?” she questioned dangerously. “Why am I not?—” She turned and her eyes met Draco’s. “Why am I living with Mrs. Snape’s relatives if there are Gaunts?”
“The Dark Lord will set this right with the Takeover,” he promised dangerously. “But we can fix this now, or as much as it can be fixed.—I wonder if Father knows him.” Nodding his permission to the little wizard, he came back up to Hallie and took her hand. “Come on, don’t you want to open your present in front of everyone?”
“Only you like to show off your gifts,” she laughed as they hurried down the hallway, following pink sparks that would lead them to their table.
With their rose tea ordered and shortbread, Draco held out the gift with a smile. “Happy sixteenth birthday!” he exclaimed, just loud enough so the tables around them could hear him if they wanted, but not so loud as to be obnoxious or grasping.
“Do I have to guess?” she asked with a smile as she picked up the box wrapped in pink, the color he always insisted on wrapping her gifts in since they were first years. “If you make me guess, we’ll be here through dinner.”
Rolling his eyes, Draco griped, “I learned my lesson third year.—Open it! I want to see your face!”
She smirked at him and carefully began to tear away the paper, always careful of it as she would save ever single piece. She still had the paper from his first Christmas present. There was a small jewelry box, orange, with brown ribbon that she didn’t recognize but was certain was expensive. Smirking again, just to put on a good show, her eyes briefly caught sight of a tall wizard with piercing blue eyes and thick dark hair. Their gazes met for a moment and her breath caught despite herself and, blushing, she went back to the box and opened it to show a beautiful equilateral cross on a silver chain.
“Oh, Draco,” she sighed, her eyes going up to her friend. “I’ve wanted one for ages.”
He genuinely smiled at her. “I know you have, Halcyone.” He got up and picked it up out of the box, letting the four points, fashioned to look like broomsticks, catch the light. “It shines in the night, not enough for a Muggle to wonder about it, but enough for a wizard to notice,” he murmured into her ear.
Smiling, she turned toward him and looked up at her best friend. “Well, I have to put it on,” she decided. “Lucky we ladies always wear our hair up.”
“You didn’t first year,” he griped good-naturedly as he set the pendant down on her sternum and let the chain reach around her neck.
“For eight days!” she laughed happily as she felt the necklace slide against her skin and settle.
Her eyes flashed toward the door again where the wizard was standing there, watching her, his robes a complete black, which contrasted with his pale skin and haunting blue eyes. She looked demurely down, knowing she shouldn’t be caught staring, and was glad when Draco came around her again so she could occupy herself with looking at her friend.
“I tried to measure it so you could hide it under your uniform,” Draco was now explaining, the wizard coming up behind him. “I know how some wizards and witches like to wear theirs all the time, in case they happen to find themselves in the Muggle world, so they can signal others of our kind. Uncle Roman never takes his off.” He rolled his eyes. “He has a collection, but he’s always wearing one.”
“Your uncle is vain,” she told him plainly. When she had first visited the manor two years earlier for the World Cup, he had taken one look at her, stated that she was blonde, asked her if she was a pureblood, and then when she might be of marriageable age just “in case” he felt like finally getting married.
“You’ll enjoy being my aunt,” Draco teased.
She scoffed, the wizard now close to them, as if he were actually coming to their table, which was peculiar. “I will never be your aunt, Draco. I’ll marry Blaise Zabini instead and then be murdered by his black widow of a mother for some perceived slight.”
At this he laughed, but quieted when a hand came down on his shoulder. The fingers were long and graceful and one wore a large ring with a black stone. It was rather crudely made but it was an interesting piece. “Young Malfoy,” the wizard greeted, his voice smooth and sophisticated, and Draco immediately looked up and stood at the sight of the wizard.
“Lord Marvolo,” he greeted, bowing. “I wasn’t expecting to see your illustrious personage.”
“I understand you have taken my cousin out to celebrate her birthday,” he said instead, partially ignoring him. His blue eyes were now soaking up Hallie, who was sitting in her seat, blushing, trying not to openly stare at the handsome man.
“Cousin?” Draco was looking wildly between them, his eyes flashing in wonder, until a sudden understanding came into his gaze, and he nodded. “Yes. May I present Lady Mabelle Halcyone Gaunt? I’m afraid Dumbledore calls her ‘Hallie Potter’—which is why—” His voice trailed off.
“Which is why,” the wizard agreed, his voice ringing with finality. Without even asking, he swept into Draco’s seat, although another was being levitated for the table. “You must be confused,” he apologized.
“A-a little,” she admitted quietly, now free to look at him. “I didn’t know my mother had any family. I don’t even know what she looked like.”
“A bit like you,” the wizard told her, fondness in his voice. “Not as pretty, but perhaps that is the birthday glow.”
“And you’re her uncle?” she asked, glancing at Draco. “You’re my great-uncle, Lord—”
“Marvolo Gaunt,” he told her simply with a smile, which made his face appear almost angelic. “I was named for my grandfather, your grandfather Mordecai’s grandfather.” These names were all new to her, but she simply nodded. “Sebastian said you were living with Mrs. Snape’s relatives,” he asked quietly, leaning forward.
The tables near them leaned in so as to hear. Lord Marvolo’s very appearance had caused a stir, but Halcyone was so involved in her uncle that she frankly wasn’t paying them any attention.
“I’m with Draco this summer,” she answered with a smile. “We’re the best of friends.” Her hand moved up to the cross around her neck, as if for comfort, and she felt the circle that surrounded the four points of the cross.
He drummed his fingers on the table.
Draco sat rigid in his chair, as if afraid to make the slightest movement.
“I’ve been away since, from what I can calculate, you were about a year and a half old. I’m not entirely certain when your father died, but I know he would not have wanted you with his first wife’s Muggle relatives. He was devoted to Maia. I couldn’t keep him away from her, and it seems they got married without me even realizing it.” This was said wryly and his eyes flitted to her, resting on the cross around her neck and then skating up to her pink lips, which she was biting. “You should have been left with friends of mine, friends like the Blacks or the Malfoys, not with Muggles.”
Carefully, Draco reached out for her and let his hand slip into hers. “She’s been safe with us in Slytherin, Lord Marvolo. Prefect,” (she blushed) “hopefully Head Girl in her time if you can beat out that Mudblood.”
She scoffed quietly to herself. “She wishes she could beat me. I’ll win over Dumbledore. He loves Mrs. Snape.” At this she rolled her eyes. “I am supposedly her daughter, after all.”
Lord Marvolo’s face darkened. “That will not stand,” he promised, looking between the friends. “Mabelle—”
“Halcyone,” she interrupted and then blushed. “I just—I’ve always been ‘Hallie’ until Hogwarts, and then in Slytherin I’m ‘Halcyone’.”
“A Pleiades,” he murmured, “like Maia. Like my mother Merope.—I will see the goblins, with your permission, Halcyone, to arrange that you have your mother’s dowry. To arrange transfer of your guardianship to me. I’ll start in with the Ministry tomorrow.”
“I don’t know you,” she stated a little in worry. “Not that you don’t seem kind, Uncle Marvolo.”
“Cousin Marvolo,” He corrected. Lord Marvolo thought for a moment and took her in with Draco. “Friends,” he murmured and then took a deep breath. “I’ll visit Lord Malfoy. Arrange a few dinners or teas or family meetings. Something. Lady Malfoy will know.”
Somehow, Hallie doubted that. Lady Malfoy was the least maternal woman she knew. She wondered, sometimes, what Draco’s childhood was like with an uncaring mother and a doting father. Then there was Roman to consider. Hallie was unable to figure him out.
“Shall I leave you to your tea?” he suggested when it came, a hot steaming pot and three cups with shortbread. He stood, elegant as ever, and looked down at her. Then, surprisingly, he leaned down and kissed her cheeks three times. “Happy Birthday, my dear one,” he whispered. “I may not have known you for long, but already you are dear to me.”
With a final brush of her cheek with his fingers, he turned and left the tearoom.
Draco immediately breathed out. “By the gods. Do you have any idea who that was?”
“Cousin Marvolo,” she responded as she began to pour her tea. “I’ll get him to write out a family tree for me. Maybe I should ask for one for my birthday.”
Not really paying attention to her murmurings, Draco accepted his tea and took a sip. “Cousin Marvolo,” he told her, “seems to be the name of one of the most powerful wizards in the country.”
“He said he was away,” she hummed to herself. “Do you think he’ll really take me away from the Dursleys? Is he strong enough to fight Dumbledore?”
The witch at the next table turned her head slightly, clearly to listen in better, and Draco sent her a nasty look.
“Halcyone, darling, if there’s anyone who can fight Dumbledore, it’s your Cousin Marvolo.” He sighed. “I can’t believe I just called him ‘Cousin Marvolo.’”
Laughing a little, she questioned, “What else would you call him?”
Draco looked at her plainly over his teacup. “Of course, you wouldn’t know. You grew up an orphan in the Muggle world because of that hack they call a wizard. Halcyone, dearest.” He set down his cup and folded his hands carefully. Draco was silent for several long moments. “Perhaps he should tell you himself.”
She sighed and picked up a shortbread. Hallie could feel her hair pulled to the back of her head and it was getting a little uncomfortable. In fact, she was surprised she wasn’t getting a headache. “Well, you gave me a necklace, tea, and a long lost relative for my birthday. I honestly don’t see how you’re going to top this next year,” she teased.
He grinned at her unrepentantly, the height of pureblood youth and fashion. “I don’t think I’m even going to try.”
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