Part the Third
Halcyone and Voldemort, 01 and 04 August 1996
Lily Rachelle Snape was a bitter woman. Her life had been one full of disappointment after disappointment. She had convinced herself, at the age of fifteen, quite effectively, that she deserved better than Severus Snape. He was ugly. He was hard. He had a hooked nose.
No, she had magic. Unlike Petunia.
She was beautiful. Unlike Petunia.
She deserved the world. Unlike Petunia with her idiot of a husband and a child. Bitch.
Her life had been rather—peculiar. She had been the IT girl, the golden girl, despite being a Muggleborn, at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft of Wizardry. Everyone had wanted her, everyone had adored her. Severus, dearest Severus, had always been lurking in the shadows, ready for a chat at a single flick of her wrist, even when his Death Eater friends wanted him. But as the years went on with her charmed life, her acceptance into the SlugClub, her position as Prefect, a darkness settled over England. The Takeover was coming.
Lily learned, with the rest of Hogwarts, to covertly watch a Slytherin student who always had her honey blonde hair brushed back away from her face, her eyes a bright blue, and the letters she received. Her face rarely betrayed anything, but occasionally, a smile would escape her lips at a particular reference that she would show her friend, or she would snatch at the letter a little more forcefully when the tell tale owl appeared.
This girl was Sacred Twenty-Eight, which Lily knew meant something, and she began to covet the girl her handmade robes that didn’t come from Madam Malkins. The neckties stitched by House Elf hands. The cufflinks with the Family Crest instead of the Hogwarts one, a shining gold despite everyone else’s being a dull copy of the metal.
Ideally, a handsome Slytherin would have noticed Lily and not cared about her blood status. He would give her perfumes and send her candies she would pretend to eat, but wouldn’t really because she was worried about how the pleats sat on her skirt.
The best she could do, however, was James Haraldus Potter. Not Sacred Twenty-Eight. But Pureblood. Fortunately, he didn’t seem to care when she suddenly noticed him after years of screeching at him unbecomingly. Now, he was thrilled.
He sent her perfumes. He sent her candies. He walked her to Hogsmeade and still Severus watched from the shadows despite the … misunderstanding, which had pushed them apart.
Sometimes she wondered, in the dead of night, if Severus hadn’t called her a “Mudblood” that fateful day by the lake, if things would have been different. However, she convinced herself that nothing would have changed. She would have worn that homespun robe and slashed her hand before eating pomegranate. Lily still would have put on the little blue suit and gone to the hotel for the beginning of her honeymoon. She still wouldn’t have been dreaming of her husband as he made love to her unresponsive body. Severus’s name might have been on her lips, disrupting the magic that broke the marriage bond completely.
The slash on her hand never healed. She had gone to a healer several months after she had separated from James Potter, but he said that she could never marry again. Seeking a second opinion, she was told the same.
Lily wasn’t even technically married to Severus, now over a decade later. She lived as Lily Snape and he gave her all her heart desired, and she knew that she could do no better. She was damaged goods and had the slash on her hand to prove it.
She had Harry, though—who carried the name ‘Potter’ because everyone thought she had still been married to James Potter at the time. Then there was Clemens, who was given the name ‘Snape’ as a curtesy.
Lily might still be beautiful, but no wizard would take her—Only Severus, a slave to the cause of the Takeover with a hooked nose, a half-blood, who never could have even made her “Madam Snape” even if it was within his power.
Lily might still be intelligent, but even with the mysterious fall of the Dark Lord, people feared giving Muggleborns a chance. Only Dumbledore let her come back to Hogwarts, where she watched witches, younger than her, with their whole lives ahead of them, prance about with their beaus and she knew she had missed her chance.
But at least she had ensured she had a child with Harry, although that had taken a dark potion. Then there had been little Clemens, who was an ugly copy of his father. Finally, at the death of James Potter, a little girl had been given to her by Dumbledore despite her “marriage” to Severus, and she was told that the little girl with James’s eyes was her responsibility. She was the closest thing he had to a wife, after all, and although no marriage certificate had been found other than her broken one, no birth certificate, the magics indicated that she was a lawful Potter. This child, “Hallie” apparently, was her responsibility. So, she shafted her off on her sister Petunia and paid a stipend, although her own children needed that money.
Of course, Lily couldn’t access the Potter vaults. She wasn’t a Potter. She wasn’t a pureblood, so it came out of her wages.
She only visited Hallie when she went to see her sister Petunia and her family. Harry was a bit enamored with her, which was a problem, but she tried to counteract. She did. Secretly, she hoped the little changeling was a Squib.
The girl had, of course, come to Hogwarts, and that particular child of James Potter was sorted into Slytherin. It was almost poetic justice, and Lily watched as she flourished. Severus took to the girl despite being the child of his enemy, as he viewed himself as the girl’s stepfather, no matter what Lily said. The thing called him “Uncle Severus” even. She became close to the Malfoy boy, and Lily saw that Hallie was going to have everything she never did. She would be beautiful, a leader in the wizarding world, a pureblood, and the wife of one of the Four Lords.
Yes, Lily Snape was a bitter woman, but she was never more bitter than when the Lord Marvolo Gaunt came to call.
Severus had said he was back. He’d been called away at the end of the Third Task of the Triwizard Tournament over a year before, and had been busy making potions for the horrible excuse of a warlord since. At first, Lily tried to disrupt the potions, until Severus had uncharacteristically slammed her against a wall and explained to her harshly that it was the Dark Lord who kept her safe from persecution, unlike other Mudbloods from their time at Hogwarts.
“Lily Evans,” the sophisticated voice intoned and she turned from the one window in the room, her dull ginger hair flying behind her.
In front of her stood a man with dark brown hair, an auburn sheen to it, startling blue eyes, and a handsome face. He was tall and in simple black robes. Where he stood, the colors of the room seemed to bend around him. His head was tilted to the side, his hands, wrapped up in the folds of his robe, so that he seemed to be a spirit that had just suddenly appeared in the middle of her library.
“Lord Gaunt,” she murmured, looking up at him with her shocking green eyes. “It is you, isn’t it?”
He tilted his head to the side, his only answer, and Lily looked down at her hands. “Severus isn’t here.” There was a slight quake in her voice, despite herself, and tried to recenter herself.
Clemens was with a friend out in Ottery-St.-Catchpole—and Harry was out in London at Headquarters. He and Hallie had joint-inherited it from Sirius Black and it seemed the little bitch didn’t want it, at least not yet.
Lily’s wand was tucked into her boot, and if she could bend down quickly enough—
Something of what she was thinking must have shown in her face because Lord Marvolo reached out a pale hand, his arm a column of white skin, and flicked his finger up. “Ah, ah, ah, Miss Evans. I wouldn’t try that.”
Although he used no magic against her, she stilled and then shrank into herself. “How may we help you, Lord Gaunt?”
Pondering her a moment, he then moved across the room, his arm still outstretched in a silent command, and he sat down in an armchair in front of the empty fire grate. After a moment, she followed him and, when he made no objection, she sat across from him. She’d never been so uncomfortable in her life, and that included lying naked, on a bed, on her wedding night, and trying to imagine another man.
“Tell me of your husband, Miss Evans,” he commanded, as he folded his hands in front of him. “After your marriage.”
She swallowed painfully. “James Potter?”
“He—he was always with his best friend, Sirius Black.” She searched her mind back and found nothing. “I don’t know. I remember Bones wrote about a series of picnics and parties about a year after we were married. There was a group of them.” She shrugged. “I remember thinking it was strange—and then it calmed down.”
“And the baby,” he added in. “You must know something about the baby.”
“I know nothing about the baby,” she scoffed. “She was given to me after Potter’s death. I performed spell after spell on her and only learned that she was a pureblood and her name. But still Dumbledore wouldn’t take her back. The Ministry would do nothing without a birth certificate, and so I shafted the little heathen off to my sister.”
Lily wasn’t even looking at Marvolo Gaunt, but when she glanced back, his smooth face seemed almost pinched. “What does the Professor think?”
Of course, he would view Snape as a professor and not her. She was a Muggleborn and she taught Muggle Studies. Worthless, in the Lord Marvolo’s mind. She wondered, for the hundredth time, why she hadn’t been sacrificed in a ritual already… unless that was in her future.
“Severus,” she stated, “enjoys playing the beneficent stepfather, although I’ve forbidden him from playing favorites or ‘welcoming her to the family.’” Lily rolled her eyes. The idea was ridiculous.
Marvolo Gaunt settled. “I am pleased,” he stated, and immediately she relaxed, “at my follower’s view of the child. What I dislike is how you’ve treated her—placing her with Muggles, a pureblood. You yourself know what it is like to be a witch among Muggles, Miss Evans. I would think you should know better.”
There was a creak in the doorway and Lily looked up desperately from the Lord Marvolo’s angry eyes to see Severus standing there. His hair was as lank as always no matter what Lily did to try and change that, his nose as hooked as she remembered from childhood, his skin as sallow. She knew the face should be dear to her, but it was always just a disappointment.
“Severus,” Lord Marvolo Gaunt intoned and immediately her lover came over and bowed on one knee.
The sight sickened her.
“Halcyone Potter,” he demanded, not having Severus even stand. “You’ve taken pains with the girl.”
“She’s bright,” Severus concluded, “in not only Potions. I didn’t even need to think who I wanted to be my Prefect. She’s popular, fair, has the correct politics.”
“I met her on her birthday,” Lord Marvolo mused as he signaled that Severus should rise, “with Heir Draco. An elegant girl—like her mother—” (Lily looked at him in shock) “—Lady Maia.”
Severus was now sitting on the arm of Lily’s chair and he nearly fell off as he choked. “Lady Maia, my lord? Lady Maia Gaunt?”
“The same,” he agreed. “I remember Lady Maia’s last year at Hogwarts she had a particularly ardent suitor—one James Potter. I’m still uncertain to this day how they met unless it was when they were students.” His eyes shifted from the couple to look out the window. “He actually told me he would kill me if I kept him from Lady Maia, which was laughable although he was an Auror.”
Lily wasn’t entirely certain what she was hearing. Who was Lady Maia? However, she could well imagine Potter telling the infamous Lord Marvolo Gaunt that he would kill him for some brash reason such as a girl. He was like that. His passions ran hot and long and scorched everything in their paths.
It was Severus, however, who spoke. “I doubt if Lady Maia would have appreciated if anyone had killed her beloved uncle.”
Blinking, Lily was surprised to hear that the man in front of her had a niece. Then she remembered the girl with the clufflinks and the robes, and thought that perhaps this was Lady Maia. “Girl,” she whispered, her throat dry. “Slytherin. Exquisite robes. She always got those letters that everyone watched for. Blonde hair and blue eyes.”
“Yes,” Lord Marvolo agreed carefully. “That would have been Lady Maia, my cousin’s only child, and the mother, it turns out, of Halcyone Potter. Your husband didn’t need to kill me to spirit the most precious thing away in my life. I thought she had a flat in London with friends, but she always was a clever Slytherin.” He shrugged, as if it no longer mattered, which Lily supposed it didn’t. “But they have given me something precious in return. They have given me Halcyone, someone which you would have rot away with Muggles, Miss Evans.”
She gulped nervously.
“I looked after the girl,” Severus put in quickly. “I went on the first of every month and put my own wards on that house—different wards than Dumbledore. I put in compulsions to love, to cherish. She went from screaming in her crib unattended the first month to having toys and enough milk to drink. Potter—” (Lord Marvolo leveled a look at Severus, who bowed his head) “—Lady Halcyone may not truly be treasured like a wizard child, but she is valued.”
If she had thought about it, and really all thought processes had been suspended, Lily would have realized that she was furious with Severus for interfering in the life of her husband’s spawn. However, Lord Marvolo Gaunt looked mollified, which could only be a good thing.
Breathing out in relief, she quickly glanced down at her hands.
Without any warning, Lord Marvolo stood. “She is ‘Mabelle Halcyone Gaunt.’ I’ve taken care of the Ministry and the necessary letters have been written. However, as you probably know, she prefers ‘Halcyone’ and will be known as ‘Halcyone Gaunt.’ I want her afforded every luxury is Slytherin as Lady Maia was in your time. She’s my kinswoman and is now under my protection and will be until the day she dies. Understood?” His blue eyes flashed to the color of ice and Severus quickly nodded and then sank to his knees again.
The man that wielded so much power in dark circles that even he frightened her stared at Lily but she only stood in respect for a guest, willing herself to be strong.
He lifted his hand, the robes falling away from his arm, and let the palm face flat downward. Immediately, she felt a pressure against her shoulder and she was forced to sink to her knee.
“There will be consequences, Miss Evans,” he told her as soon as she had reluctantly bowed her head in submission, figuring she would do it before he made her. She was well and truly trapped. “Lady Halcyone clearly had a bright future in front of her, and I’m going to give her a brighter one, brighter than the one her mother ever would have found.”
With that, he swept from the room, the door left yawning behind him. She didn’t even hear him floo out but after several minutes she took a deep breath.
“Hallie is his niece?” Her voice was skeptical. She honestly couldn’t imagine it.
Standing, Severus helped her up. “Lily,” he told her carefully. “Lady Halcyone is not only his cousin—but I would warrant there’s a plot to crown her the future Dark Lady.”
A sense of dread washed over Lily as he set a hand on her shoulder. She looked up at him in horror and shook her head. “No,” she begged. “She’s not mine, and I hate her for being Potter’s daughter, but he can’t—she’s just a girl—”
“It’s already decided,” he apologized, wrapping her in his arms.
“But he—and she—her mother is his—”
Resting his chin atop her head, he held her close. “They say the Dark Lord’s mother ran off with a Muggle.” At the non sequitur, she stilled, and listened. “They also say that Lord Marvolo’s father was a Gaunt who took his sister to his bed, who slipped away in the night and ran off with a Muggle to preserve her reputation.”
“What happened to the Muggle?” she asked, her voice dead.
“Killed, most likely, by the Gaunt who was his father,” Severus intoned darkly. “It is the way of the Gaunts. Gaunts rarely marry anyone but other Gaunts, and when they do, it’s other Sacred Twenty-Eight. The idea that Lady Maia married someone outside the Sacred Twenty-Eight is astonishing—” He began to rock Lily back and forth and she didn’t even realize she was crying.
… … … … …
The dress was darker than a black it was so blue and Hallie let the thin material run through her fingers. Hallie carefully put it on, loved how it just brushed her knees although here in the wizarding world she had to wear tights for the sake of magic’s modesty. The fabric fell just past her shoulders and there was an outer dress, like a waistcoat, that she put on over the dress, a dusty pink that she tied like a corset over her chest and the let fall down to her knees.
Her honey blonde hair fell past her waist and she brushed it out before braiding it and twirling it into another severe bun. Putting on her lipstick and the scent that Pansy gave her for her birthday, she decided she was ready.
She hopped out of her room to find Draco leaning against the opposite wall. “Out to dinner?”
“Cousin Marvolo thought he’d show me off somewhere,” she told him, remembering the letter she had received at breakfast along with the box that held the dress. “Isn’t it lovely?”
“Stunning,” Draco agreed as he took her in. “Uncle Roman won’t know what to do with himself when he gets back from Cornwall.”
“And what’s in Cornwall?” she joked as she took his arm and he led her down the stairs. “Blonde hair?”
“Raven hair,” he breathed into her ear. “Don’t tell Father.”
At this she laughed and they came into the front hall where both his parents were waiting with Cousin Marvolo who was dressed in black robes. Glancing at Draco for permission (of a sort), she then walked up to her cousin and kissed his cheeks three times before pulling away and smiling at him. Honestly, she had no idea what to say.
“Darling, you look beautiful,” he complimented as he looked her over. “I have a present for you.”
“Another one?” she asked, clearly a little confused.
He looked at her with his startling blue eyes and snapped his fingers and, as if by some unspoken magical signal, an orange cat came racing out from the shadows.
Smiling, Hallie immediately bent down and picked up the bundle of fur and looked at his little face before noticing his paw was lame.
“Muggles were torturing him,” Cousin Marvolo was explaining carefully as he came up to her and began to pet the fur. “As far as I could tell, they were breaking his paws and not letting them set and then repeating the process.”
“How horrible!” she exclaimed, kissing the cat. “We can’t have that, now can we?”
Draco came up and, carefully, she transferred the cat.
Scratching his ears one more time, she promised, “I’ll think of a name for you later.”
Taking her hand, Cousin Marvolo led her to the floo and she barely had time to breathe before she was twirling in his arms on the dance floor. She was uncertain where she was, only that she could feel his hand around her waist, and her other hand was in his.
She laughed when he twirled her into two lines, which moved into the more traditional wizard dances, and finally realized that everyone was speaking various other languages around them.
“Where are we?” she whispered when he finally led her off of the dance floor toward a small table for two with a small sign on it with their name written in elegant strokes.
He smiled to himself simply and held out her chair. “You wouldn’t believe me if I told you, but I thought I would take you somewhere your friends haven’t probably gone for your birthday.—Somewhere private. Somewhere where you could enjoy yourself.”
“Somewhere out of England, you mean,” she decided for him, looking around at all the different fashions.
They didn’t even order. Small plates of one or two bites were brought to them, and Hallie tried each and every one with sips of champagne in between. Occasionally, the food would stop and the music would start, only for them to go back onto the dancefloor. At one point, a wizard with floppy hair and a rather sweet face, a good ten or so years older than Hallie, approached. He bowed to them and asked, politely, for Hallie’s hand in the dance.
“I heard you’re making Muggle films, Hugh,” Cousin Marvolo stated casually. “Whatever possessed you to do such a thing?”
“Well,” he stated, glancing at Hallie. “It’s easier than breaking into their vaults as they’re all—computerized—now.”
At this, Hallie laughed into her champagne and just couldn’t stop giggling. “You’re a thief, Monsieur Hugh?”
“Oh, decidedly,” he teased. “No, in Slytherin I realized I had a talent for lying. And I enjoy lying to Muggles. This way I get paid for it.” Smiling self-deprecatingly, he looked between them. “If I may have the honor of the next dance, Lord Marvolo, with your worthy companion?”
“Halcyone,” Cousin Marvolo asked, his voice laced with some unknown emotion. “I’ll let you decide.”
“This is a family dinner,” she began to demur, before grinning, “but one dance can’t hurt. As I have your permission, Cousin Marvolo.”
He waved his hand in agreement, and she gave Monsieur Hugh a smile. “Come and claim me when the dancing starts.”
When he was gone, Cousin Marvolo looked at her. “You are a born politician, Halcyone.”
“I will give every pureblood a dance who asks for one,” she told him plainly, “unless he has personally insulted me. I try to make it seem like a favor, but I know I came from nothing. I need all the friends I can get.”
And with a smile, it was clear that they perfectly understood each other.
… … … … …
That night a large book lay opened to a page. A quill rested beside it. The hand of Lord Marvolo picked up the quill carefully, dipping it in ink, and wrote down Halcyone’s full name. With a snap of his fingers, a photograph of her standing in the dance, a small smile on her face, appeared, and he placed it in the crease of the book.
Next he wrote out a complicated family tree.
He already knew that the child would be ideal. With her childhood upbringing among Muggles and her dark politics, she was ideally suited as the beloved of the Dark Lord. However, it was for others to decide, others to feel the heat of passion, others to fall in love.
Marvolo Gaunt was merely relaying the information. No, the next time the Dark Lord awoke from his deep sleep, he would see the innocent and beautiful face of Halcyone—he would need to know of her anyway. She would be wandering the Manor soon, she would have to know how closely tied she was to him by blood. Those haunted eyes would spark his interest. Lord Marvolo knew it as certainly as he drew breath.
With one last flourish he put down the quill and looked at the two pages he had filled out.
No, it was not time for him to sleep yet, for the Dark Lord to rise. He could, however, feel it coming upon him. A few hours perhaps. Yes, he had a few hours to prepare.
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