Part the Eighth
James and Maia, 24 July, 1979
Maia was wearing pretty robes of a light blue with accents of gold. She thought it almost went with her hair, which although a honey color, could almost be called blonde.
The Dark Lord sat on her bed, dressed impeccably in red, the cufflinks she had given him on his last birthday a shock of color against his white shirtsleeves. They were his initials: TMR. Maia didn’t know what they stood for, though Uncle Marvolo had told her (in confidence) that the “M” was for their mutual grandfather, Marvolo Gaunt I.
That only made sense. Uncle Marvolo and the Dark Lord were like two sides of the same coin. When one face was shown, the other was hidden. When one voice spoke, the other was silent. It only made sense that the coin would share the similar trait of “Marvolo.”
“Are you certain your uncle told you that you could go? I know you were injured,” the Dark Lord drawled as he flipped through a book of poetry.
The two, frankly, didn’t care for each other but they were always polite. They were family after all.
“I’m meeting Slytherins and the lone Ravenclaw,” she told him precisely. “Two lone Ravenclaws. One is Heir Lucius Malfoy’s niece? Lady Lux.”
“A fine family,” he decided, snapping the book shut. “Anyone else?”
“Well,” she began carefully, looking at him through the mirror. “There are some persons of interest. Heir Regulus Black—he must surely be within your sights.”
His blue slits of eyes flashed at her, “Never you mind, girl. Who else?”
“Barty Crouch, Jr. from Ravenclaw, but he’s a good sort,” she assured him. “High marks. He’s a shoo-in for Head Boy next year. He despises that sycophant of a father who is putting all your Death Eaters on trial.” Really, she thought that they deserved it. A bit of Muggle baiting never hurt anyone, but outright torture and murder? The idea appalled her.
The Dark Lord wasn’t quite paying attention to her, his eyes focused on the book in his hands. “Who else, Maia?”
“Apricot Selwyn,” she answered a little tartly as she picked up her earrings. They were a gold with red roses dangling off them—a gift from James that he had secreted to her. He knew how much she adored flowers and they were Gryffindor colors, she noticed absently. Trust men to want to claim their women somehow. “You know the Selwyns, Dark Lord. Dark family. Proper. Apricot is a bit of a love who seems obsessed with her male relatives’ perspective marriages instead of her own.”
“She has brothers?” the Dark Lord noted absently.
“Manuel, a twin,” she told him. “They both just graduated Hogwarts. A year above me. Then there was Seximus Leopold. Everyone called him ‘Leopold.’ He was technically his father’s sixth son, but he’s the only one who survived to Hogwarts age. He’s several years ahead.”
Silence overwhelmed them for a moment before the Dark Lord murmured, “Yes, I know Leopold.” Oh, well. It seems he was a Death Eater, then, or at least on the Dark Lord’s radar.
Thinking that nattering on and not leaving the Dark Lord with his brooding thoughts was a good idea, she mentioned, “We’re all against the Ministry in some form or another. Take exception with it. Pureblood rights are important as we are—all—purebloods and none of us are blood traitors.” She spit this last term out. James was a blood traitor. He’d married a Mudblood! However, he was seeing the error of his ways. “We’re all seventh years or just graduated. You know. The old crowd.”
“Did my kinsman give you those peculiar baubles in your ears?” The Dark Lord suddenly asked, not turning away from the book in his hands. “They’re like nothing else you seem to favor.”
Turning to where he was leaning against her armoire, Maia gave her relation a tight smile. “No. A girl at school—for Yule. She knows how much I like roses.”
“You have enough in your garden,” he drawled, pushing off from the armoire and going to the window to look out at the sprawling flowers. “I notice you tore up all the lilies.” His long fingers fluttered with the curtains. “I’m surprised your Uncle Marvolo let you. Merope Gaunt loved lilies. It’s one of the few things we know about her, your uncle and I.”
Her face suddenly stricken, she decided to play it off. “There was a rather scandalous marriage last year—between the House of Potter and a Mudblood. Her name was Lily. When the marriage remained unconsummated and he cast her from the Potter stronghold”—wherever that was; it certainly wasn’t the cottage in Godric’s Hollow—“then a few of us ladies decided to show our support that the House of Potter was remaining pure.”
“It will never be pure,” the Dark Lord intoned. “They’re not Sacred Twenty-Eight. They’re not Gaunts.” This last bit was said with an emphasis that frightened her.
Turning to look at him, a black ribbon tied around her neck in the latest fashion, Maia stated, quite clearly, “Surely even you, Dark Lord, can appreciate a pureblood, even if he’s not Sacred Twenty-Eight, tossing a Mudblood from their marriage bed. It’s to be applauded. Whatever love potion,” (and didn’t she secretly hope this was the case?) “she’d placed him under clearly failed. Or maybe she forgot to feed it to him that morning.” Maia shrugged. She honestly didn’t believe it was a love potion. It was just a fairy story she liked to tell herself.
The Dark Lord shifted uncomfortably from his place at the window, and Maia wondered at it.
“So, this little club,” he murmured as he turned from the window to look at her startling blue eyes. “You get together and celebrate being purebloods?”
“And being of a like mind, yes,” she agreed, standing elegantly. “Surely you had your own group of friends and followers at Hogwarts, Dark Lord.”
“I did,” he confessed. “They’re now known as the Death Eaters.”
She hummed to herself and crossed to stand next to him, looking out at the flowers. “Are you planning a raid in Somerset today? I only ask in case we have to defend ourselves and we’re going to be in the West Country.”
“Cornwall,” he drawled, clearly uninterested. “Some villages there, the Muggle ports. You need not worry, little cousin.”
He only ever called her that when he was viewing her as a recalcitrant child, not that she minded. The Dark Lord was her cousin. They were bound together by blood and a magic so strong and terrible, Maia didn’t even completely understand it.
Feeling a little sentimental, she asked, “Would you let Uncle Marvolo come to my wedding when it occurs? I know he’s officially the Head of the House of Gaunt, but you do like to make your presence known.”
“Marrying Leopold Selwyn, are we?” he teased her, only the slightest of bites in his tone. “No, your Uncle Marvolo will walk you toward your husband. You need not worry about that—and no one from our side will disrupt the proceedings. Anything for our little girl.”
Our little girl.
It was a rather horrible turn of phrase. However, she was more Marvolo’s daughter than niece, and the Dark Lord was the side of him that few rarely saw. Still, thinking of the Dark Lord as a father-figure was rather disturbing. He was a man to be feared and reviled, and yet he always sent her pretty presents on her birthday and on her return to Hogwarts. The Dark Lord even sent her the occasional letter, although when she responded she didn’t know whether to expect his jagged penmanship or her own uncle’s elegant cursive.
A thought then seemed to occur to the Dark Lord. “Doesn’t the Kingsley girl spend an inordinate amount of time around her godsibling, who had the nerve to get disinherited for being against the Takeover and pureblood rights?”
Opening her mouth to speak, she quickly closed it. Then, remembering, she stated, “She’s rather close to Heir Regulus. They’re like brother and sister. Not as close as godsiblings, perhaps, but close enough. She was also raised at Malfoy Manor. The witch, dare I declare it, is dark, Dark Lord.”
A thoughtful look passed over his face. “If I gave you a note for Lady Lux—”
“Send it through Heir Lucius,” she begged. “They’re practically brother and sister, and she knows him much better than I. She’s invited through Reggie. I’m an unknown entity to her.”
The Dark Lord bowed his head to her. “As you say, Cousin.” His fingers pulled back the curtain once more as he looked down in the garden. “You really must do something to fix that.” It was a command and with that he strode from the room. Hopefully, he wouldn’t tell Uncle Marvolo when he woke from his restless sleep. If he did, well, then, she’d think of something.
Taking one last look at herself in the mirror, she turned on her heel and appeared at the monument in Godric’s Hollow. The cenotaph was really quite ordinary, and Maia frankly didn’t like it. She looked around and saw St. Jerome’s church and then, up the lane, came James Potter.
One thing she liked is he didn’t try with her. He was wearing jeans and a long sleeve tee shirt, black and white striped, with a Lorcan d’Eath band shirt over it. Although the boy was only fifteen, he was making waves in the musical world.
He came up to her, took her hands in both of his and holding them out, swung them in a circle.
“You seem happy,” she noted, and he carefully took her right hand in hers and inspected the back of it, seeing the star shaped scar. “Don’t worry,” she begged. “It—it adds character.”
James grimaced once but then—in a break with all pureblood tradition—lifted the back of her hand up to his lips and kissed the scar. She felt a twinge in her finger and flexed it, James obviously feeling the motion, as he pressed her hand between both of his. “I’m never sure what I can and cannot do.”
“Well,” she responded carefully. “I’ve never had my hand kissed. Wizards tend not—”
“Of course they don’t,” he responded with a half-smile. “It’s because they can’t.” He went to push his glasses closer to his face, but once again he wasn’t wearing any. “Lunch?”
“Lunch,” she agreed and he led her to the local pub.
Maia had been to the pub in Little Hangleton, but there she was ‘Miss Maia’, to be appreciated and respected. Here she was looked at a little strangely because of her robes, but she merely smiled at James as he led her to a round table and asked her what she’d like to drink.
“Oh,” she murmured, leaning forward. “A pint of something. Or a half-pint. I don’t much care. It’s only, I’m not allowed beer…” Maia let her voice hang off, and James’s hazel eyes sparkled at her.
“A shandy for the lady,” he decided, and she honestly didn’t know what that meant.
He returned with a full pint of bitters for himself and a half pint of some amber looking liquid for her.
“It’s a pale ale,” he told her, “made here in Somerset, mixed with lemonade. Women tend to like it. If you want another half-pint, then I’ll go get you one. Just in case you didn’t like it though—” He motioned to her smaller glass “—I decided to air on the safe side.”
“Well then, Monsieur James,” she decided, lifting her glass in an obvious cheer. “To us.”
He looked at her steadily for a moment, as if fully considering something, and then clinked glasses with her. “To the Lady Maia and Monsieur,” his voice became a bit pompous, “James Potter.”
Taking a sip of her drink, she found it rather light and wonderful. She smiled at James and nodded her head in acceptance of the drink.
“Let us not have you end in the hospital again,” James tried to joke, his hand still holding onto his pint, but the joke fell rather flat.
“Don’t try to kiss me again,” she suggested sweetly. “No, I realize it must be different with purebloods than with—others,” she stated politely, not mentioning ‘Mudbloods’, however she might wish to. “We’re a complicated sort—but we’re your sort, James Potter.”
He shrugged. “I never really considered blood politics in Hogwarts. In Gryffindor, it doesn’t really matter.”
Astonished at this, Maia took another sip of her drink so she wouldn’t comment and say something untoward. “Blood politics mean a great deal in Slytherin,” she murmured, looking up at him with her bright blue eyes. “However, I’m sure you’re aware of this.”
He carefully reached out for her and their fingers interlinked, just the tips, their palms pressed to the tables, not enough to earn a twinge form her overly sensitive vined ring. “You know I’m an Auror.”
“And you know I take a very different opinion on the war,” she told him carefully, “though I would never wish you harm.” She sat up and then looked at him pointedly, “I can tell you that nothing is happening in Somersetshire this afternoon. I checked.”
He looked at her carefully. “You’re able to check.” There was doubt in his voice, but she honestly didn’t blame him.
“I wouldn’t want to get caught in the crossfire,” she told him plainly. “Would you?”
“No,” he answered carefully, “but I’d rather help people and be where I’m needed than ignore them.”
The familiar taste of an argument coated her tongue, and Maia quickly took a sip of her drink. It did nothing to wash the taste away, however, only making it more cloying. “I’m not ignoring anyone. I just know that nothing is happening here.” To emphasize her point, she placed her pointer finger perpendicular to the table. Of course, it wasn’t quite the truth, but she wasn’t going to tell an auror that, even if he might be her boyfriend.
A waitress came by to take their orders, and Maia frankly hadn’t even looked at the menu. James seemed relieved at the interruption, and they quickly decided on each getting fish and chips as Somerset was on the coast so the fish was bound to be decent.
“Darling,” he murmured once the waitress had gone, “let’s not quarrel.”
“Yes,” she agreed. “Being at war is a horrible time. Lines are drawn in the sand.”
“And yet you’re on one side and I’m on the other,” he noted sadly. “Your eyes show absolutely no malice though.”
“What would I have to be malicious about?” she asked in confusion. “I harm no one” (except for the occasional Muggle) “I hate no one” (except for Lily Snape—that was a story).
Lily Evans, briefly Lily Potter, had gone and shacked up with half-blood Severus Snape—whom Maia knew by sight. He was sometimes at the Manor, speaking with her Uncle Marvolo or with other Death Eaters. Lily had taken his name, as if they were married. There were even rumors of a Muggle marriage ceremony, which would never hold up to magical laws. She might legally, according to the Greater of the two Britains, become Mrs. Snape—but everyone in wizerdom would know the truth. She was nothing but a whore.
“I do my part for wizarding society,” she concluded. “I just believe our world would be better without Muggle influences.”
He looked at her, askance.
“Wouldn’t the world be better without Lily Snape?” she questioned him sincerely. “Wouldn’t it have been better if you had never met her at Hogwarts—if you had never ‘dated’ her—if you had never taken her to wife? What is she but one large Muggle influence with her hair flowing down her back like a—” She bit her lip before she was indiscreet. “We purebloods tend to avoid baiting half-bloods and perhaps Muggleborns, but she had no right to stop you in a pureblood rite like that when you strung up Severus Snape for being a half-blood!” All this was said quietly, in a perfectly even tone, and James looked absolutely shell shocked.
Finally, looking into his pint, he admitted, “I wish she had never come to Hogwarts.”
“Exactly,” she told him.
“My friend Peter’s a Muggle-born,” James stated carefully, “I know you’ve never met him, and I’ve chosen to keep you apart to respect your beliefs—” His voice trailed off. “I would never wish him gone.”
“Peter?” she questioned, and he looked at her.
At this, she outright laughed and was laughing so hard that she almost upset her drink. “James,” she stated carefully when she got control of herself, “he’s a low-level Death Eater. I’ve seen him about. He bows to me in the most outrageous fashion. I wouldn’t be surprised—” And she pursed her lips in thought. “James, how do you feel like going to a raid without actually doing anything to stop it?”
He looked at her in shock. “No, Maia,” James stated clearly. “No.”
“It’s the only way I can prove to you that Peter Pettigrew is a dark wizard despite being a Muggle-born, though that explains so much.” She sucked in a breath between her teeth. “I’d never be friends with such a nasty little rat, even if he were a pureblood.”
James’s eyes went wide. “How did you know?”
“Know what?” she asked, utterly confused, and the two just looked at one another, neither willing to speak.
Then their food came and Maia realized she’d already consumed half her shandy. Perhaps going on a date with Potter had been a bad idea and she should have given him an ultimatum to read Spungen’s Guide to Pureblood Dynasties, c. 1500-present.
Still, when she arrived back in the manor in a swirl of robes, her hand was still tingling from where James Potter had kissed the scar that had been inflicted. Maia was playing a dangerous game, and yet she couldn’t seem to stop.