Part the Ninth
Halcyone and Voldemort, 3 September, 1996
The Dark Lord was displeased. When Barty had reported back to him, he had been informed that Lady Mabelle had been with Cedric Diggory. Auror Cedric Diggory. He understood from Marvolo’s notes that she had gone to a party with Diggory. There was some connection between them even if Lady Mabelle had sent him off when Barty had appeared and hadn’t fought with him against the Dark Lord’s Death Eaters.
It was easy enough to capture Diggory nonetheless.
He may be an auror, but he was still an idiot and had a routine. Anyone with a routine was easy to snatch. You just had to study them and learn their weaknesses. Everyone had a weakness, not that the Dark Lord liked to admit his.
He was sitting in Lady Mabelle’s room in the manor, noting the small changes she had made to it. The flowers he had sent her were still in a vase to the left of the bed. There was a photograph of the beautiful Mabelle Halcyone Gaunt and Draco Malfoy. He was sitting cross-legged on the paved stones of what seemed to be the Hogwarts courtyard and she was behind him, crouching down, her arms around his neck and her chin slotted over his shoulder. It was obvious how much they cared for one another. At least it was only platonic.
There was another photograph of the four friends—Draco Malfoy, Blaise Zabini, Pansy Parkinson, and Mabelle Halcyone herself. This was one was taken at the Three Broomsticks, the four sitting around a table, the young wizards on the outside with the witches on the inside of the booth.
Assuredly either Mademoiselle Pansy or Signor Blaise had taken the first of the two photographs. However, who took the second?
The four young wizards had butterbeers in front of them, holding them up in salute, but not high enough to obstruct their faces. They were all in casual wizarding robes. Lady Mabelle’s was a rather poor showing compared to the other three’s but he understood before she was placed in their cousin’s protection, she had little to no money for such niceties. At least they were clean and well kept up and in a modern cut if not strictly fashionable.
It pleased him that these were the only two photographs—that the Muggle relatives appeared nowhere. That the insipid auror was not showcased.
Diggory was a puffed up auror who could give her nothing but danger, long hours, and little money. Draco Malfoy could give her the title of ‘Lady Malfoy’ upon the death of his father, a vast estate in England, countless properties across Europe, and more material wealth than she could probably imagine. Signor Blaise Zabini was an unknown. However, he was foreign and his mother was known as the ’Black Widow’ because she married wealthy men who ended up dead.
The Dark Lord, in contrast, had an inordinate amount of wealth at his disposal. With his position came devotion, and many wizards left him money and properties in their will. Where once he had been a poor orphan (like Lady Mabelle), now he was one of the wealthiest wizards in Eurasia. He could give her love and fidelity, but he could only ever give her a half-life. When he went into a deep sleep, she would be without her husband, if he was ever so fortunate enough to convince her to marry him. Potentially missing birthdays and anniversaries and moments of note, he would leave the enchanting Halcyone with only her uncle for protection. The thought sickened him but there was nothing he could do.
A chime went off from his wand, telling him that the prisoner had been put in one of the interrogation rooms.
His red robes secured about his shoulders, he swept from the room, taking one last sniff of the air to breathe in the heady aroma of roses and Lady Mabelle’s personal perfume.
The interrogation rooms were, naturally, near the cells, far in the dungeons. Magic had to recognize you to allow you into each and every individual room. It was magic that kept prisoners within spaces, not bars. They were more refined here at Riddle House.
Lady Mabelle had been here for over a month and she had never even found the door that led from the kitchens to the dungeons, and she was an extremely powerful witch. Her magic practically bled from the breath she expelled from her lungs.
Auror Cedric Diggory was a handsome boy—and a boy was all he was. Despite his chiseled features, there was a certain unfinished quality to his face. His hair was dark, but not so dark as to be attractive. It was almost a nondescript color. His gray eyes were darting around, looking about the room for any possible avenue of escape.
There was none.
The Dark Lord had materialized from the wall and only his magical signature could rematerialize out of the room. The room was hung with tapestries of unicorn hunting, something that would disturb any wizard of lesser than the blackest orientation.
The auror’s hands were laid flat on the table, held there by magic. He was unable to move far from the table, although he was obviously struggling to free his hands from their magical binds. It was a wonder he hadn’t overturned his seat yet.
Rotating his finger in the air, the Dark Lord made the candles flare to life so he could see the boy better. Oh, yes. He was wearing auror robes. How quaint. It was a wonder his niece Lady Maia had ever found them attractive in that Potter fellow.
“Do you know who I am?” he asked.
The boy paused and looked up, his gray eyes startled as if he hadn’t realized he wasn’t alone. Licking his lips, he murmured, “You’re You-Know-Who.”
“No,” he disagreed. “I don’t know who. Who am I?”
“He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named,” Diggory stated, trying again, his gray eyes flashing, his voice a little stronger. “You’re He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named.”
Well, that was answer enough, the Dark Lord supposed. “Good,” he decided. “Do you know why you are here, little auror?” He hoped that angered Diggory—and it seemed to work.
Gritting his teeth in obvious frustration, Diggory didn’t answer.
Triggering his finger, the Dark Lord delighted in the sound of a whip that resounded in the room and the hiss that escaped Diggory’s lips. There would be a nice lash mark across his back, if the Dark Lord cared to check later on. He was certain, however, that there would be others.
It was a light torture that he favored as it reminded him of a certain Muggle two thousand years ago, but the subtlety was often lost on wizards.
“Do you know why you are here?” the Dark Lord asked again carefully, his voice low and annunciated. The candles burned brightly before dimming again and Diggory looked around wildly. Clearly he was impressed with parlor tricks. What a shame. The standards of auror recruitment had clearly gone down.
“I’m an auror—” Diggory began and the Dark Lord motioned that he should continue. “You’re You-Know-Who.”
All right, the Dark Lord could see the logic in that, but he wanted a bit more. “Elaborate, Auror Diggory. I am—hanging—off of your every—single—word.” The mocking words fell off of his tongue, playing with this child, but he was enjoying it.
Once again, it was lost on Diggory. He seemed to take what the Dark Lord was saying seriously. At least he had respect for the Dark Lord’s position, if nothing else. “I have a tendency to capture and sometimes kill your supporters,” he grit out angrily, trying to stand from the chair, but his hands remained pressed to the desk and he fell down and hit his chin.
That had to hurt. Not that the Dark Lord cared.
Moving about the room and not even bothering to look at the young man, he stated, “No, there are many aurors. I wouldn’t even say you’re a particularly good one. You didn’t come to my attention until that party in Ottery-St.-Catchpole where, I may add, you didn’t manage to do more than cause one Death Eater to need a healing potion.” The Dark Lord tsked, looking at the boy now. “I was quite unimpressed.” That was a drawl of boredom. He wanted to see if Diggory picked that up.
No such luck.
A look of sheer horror fell over Diggory’s face. He seemed to realize it then. “Potter.”
“Lady Mabelle,” he corrected in the deathly quiet that followed. “Lady Mabelle Halcyone, if you like.”
This seemed to catch Diggory’s attention. “Yes, I’ve heard all this nonsense about her being a Gaunt. She says she’s living with a cousin now. That Gaunts take their mother’s names to keep the blood pure. It’s ridiculous.” His hands, however, were quivering. No, that wasn’t quite accurate. His wrists were quivering. His fingers and palm were stuck to the table and completely unmoving.
The Dark Lord walked around the table Diggory was crouched over.
The chair was pushed over too far for Diggory to even reach it with his legs if he managed to pull off that particular maneuver.
Letting his long, thin, pale fingers trail over the top of the wood, the nails glinting in the candlelight, the ruffled cuff falling over his hand, a starched white, the Dark Lord looked at Diggory. He noticed that the sight had caught the boy’s attention, perhaps it was the only movement in the room. “You called Lady Mabelle your ‘girlfriend’ in front of certain wizards with Ministry connections a few weeks later,” he sighed, not exactly a question.
“And how do you know that?” Diggory asked, his voice a little uncertain. His gray eyes looked up in fear. “There weren’t any Death Eaters there.”
Of course, the Dark Lord didn’t correct his misbelief. “What is important is that I know. You called Lady Mabelle your girlfriend—which she refuted—but you still had that mistaken assumption.”
Grinding his teeth, Diggory tried to lift his hands and only got Marvolo flicking his finger toward his neck. A thin, bleeding line as if he had been hit with a cane appeared on Diggory’s skin, and the boy gasped in pain. Unable to put a hand up to the bleeding skin, he crumpled into himself, trying to hide his neck into his shoulder. It really was pathetic.
“You invite a Lady of high standing to a party, and during a Death Eater raid she disappears and you don’t contact even a relative for a week—and you assume she is your girlfriend.” The Dark Lord pressed his thin lips together. “I would say the error is entirely on your side. The question is—what are you prepared to do about it?”
“Nothing,” Diggory begged. “She sent me packing when she received those strange red roses. She’s clearly been playing the field.”
The Dark Lord flicked his finger again and there was another snap in the cold air. The accompanying hiss was a balm to his soul.
“Before,” the Dark Lord began, “before Lady Mabelle got her vined ring this summer, did you ever kiss her?” He lifted his finger, ready to bestow the same punishment of the phantom whip.
“No,” Diggory gasped and the Dark Lord looked at him casually, wondering what he was objecting to—the punishment, or a kiss. “I’ve been wearing one since—well—since I was sixteen.—Potter was thirteen—” There was a whip to his cheek and Diggory gasped. “Lady Halcyone,” he amended. “Lady Mabelle Halcyone was thirteen.”
“I see,” the Dark Lord murmured, turning toward the wall and taking in a deep breath. “Are you in love with Lady Mabelle? Tell me truthfully, Auror Diggory.” Then again, the boy really didn’t have a chance. He hadn’t been slipped with Veritaserum that would have been too obvious, but a diluted version of it, which would make him feel compelled to tell the truth. It was untraceable. Diggory would want to tell him, and wouldn’t even know that he wanted to. He would just—tell him out of the supposed goodness of his soul.
Diggory looked down at his hands and they flicked back and forth wildly. “I can’t get enough of her—even when she’s so infuriating. Watching her cheer for Malfoy at Quidditch was like taking a bezoar to the gut.” (What an odd expression, the Dark Lord thought.) “I was just waiting for her to grow up. She was always such a beautiful witch. She’s only grown more beautiful. I didn’t even care in the end that she was a half-blood. I was willing to fight for her. Sometimes it’s difficult to believe she’s remotely related to Mrs. Snape, the two look nothing like each other.” His voice petered out into nothing.
“That’s because, you stupid boy,” the Dark Lord told him, lifting his chin up with one of his death pale fingers, “she’s the daughter of my niece, Lady Maia Gaunt.”
A small gasp escaped Diggory’s lips and the Dark Lord shoved him away, knowing how painful it would be given his hands.
“I know she would have told you.”
“Orphans say anything—” he breathed.
“This orphan,” the Dark Lord stated casually, “was telling the complete truth.” The lace cuffs dangled over his knuckles, creating a teasing sensation, but he did not let his expression alter in the least. “You understand that it is over. She says it is over. I, her nearest relative along with Lord Marvolo, say it is over. Do you understand, boy?”
“Yes,” Diggory whispered.
“It has been over since it began.”
Flinching, Diggory stared solemnly down at his hands and murmured, “Yes.”
“There will be no more personal invitations. If you feel the need to have her present at a gathering—find some witch to invite her. Am—I—understood?” The Dark Lord’s magic snapped around him, causing Diggory to groan from his place at the table as lash marks appeared on both of his cheeks, blood tearing from them.
“Yes, I understand.” His voice was little more than a rasp now.
“You will not write her. You will not contact her. She is a Gaunt and far above you and her hand is now spoken for in marriage—am I rightly understood?”
At this Diggory’s eyes blazed up, despite the blood sliding down his cheeks and neck. “Why is it you interrogating me?” he asked, his voice a little shaky despite its firmness. “Why not Lord Marvolo?”
He laughed a little too himself, at the blindness of this boy. The Dark Lord continued to walk about the room, only pausing to look at the black onyx vined ring on his middle finger, the ring he was wearing for Mabelle, the ring that only she would be allowed past once they had said their vows.
“I desired the pleasure,” was all he answered, heading to the wall that served as a door, Diggory looking after him. “Remember my words, Auror. Remember exactly who Lady Mabelle is.”
Just as he was about to step through the tapestry, Diggory’s voice spat out: “Her father was an Auror.”
“An oversight,” the Dark Lord confessed, “on the part of her mother, the inestimable dark witch, Lady Maia Gaunt. If you’re trying to say that her mother loved an auror and so my niece may as well, I’m afraid you’re mistaken. She’s as good as stated her intentions to Lord Marvolo. There is, of course, the option of changing her mind,” (he didn’t like this idea in the least) “but Lady Mabelle knows devotion and a good match when she sees one.—And it is not you.”
“Is this her line drawn in the sand?” Diggory asked, finally sounding defeated.
The Dark Lord paused and looked over his shoulder. “Why, yes. I do believe this might be.” Then he swept from the cell to allow his followers to properly bash him up and then dump him outside the ministry just before the morning rush.
… … … … …
Hermione Granger was the oddest creature, Hallie thought. She never associated with her, however, she was compiling a descriptive list of all the vined rings in their year. Perhaps it was because she never had one.
She managed to get permission from Dumbledore, of all people. She had a signed note and was coming around individual house tables during dessert. The little Mudblood—and, yes, Hallie had always hated Muggleborns since she had first believed she was one and sorted into Slytherin of all places before she learned the ‘partial’ truth of Lily Snape and James Potter, as told to her by Professor Snape her first night there, with everyone there to listen—had a list of names and was going through them alphabetically. She was in the F’s and Hallie was hoping that Granger wouldn’t get to the G’s until tomorrow.
The Slytherins and Gryffindors hadn’t shared any classes yet. Hallie was just waiting for her half-brother to be all over her about her name change. He hadn’t picked up at it at the party.
No such luck with the alphabet, though, it seemed.
In her bossy look, her bushy hair all around her face, Hermione Granger called out, “Mabelle Gaunt.”
Raising her hand in mock deference, Hallie called, “Present, Professor Granger!”
The Gryffindor looked around, clearly searching for her, and then landed on her. “Potter?”
“It’s Gaunt,” she refuted. “Lady Mabelle Halcyone Gaunt.” Her voice was firm but polite and she turned to Draco with a smile on her face, which he returned with a self-satisfied grin.
“What’s wrong, Granger?” he asked her, his turn not having come up yet. “Do you honestly think that the Malfoys would associate with anyone but purebloods? Gaunt is Sacred Twenty-Eight! We’ve known for years!”
She smirked, just for effect. “You want to see my vined ring as proof?” She extended her left hand to show an elaborate rose gold ring that cost more than perhaps the past three rings combined. It began with a single rose gold band with several white diamonds pressed into the band—she hadn’t counted—then another band was stacked on it that curled upward to press to the top of a large flower-shaped diamond. The band thickened just around the diamond to form two leaves on either side. Another leaf-shaped design was on the back side of the ring, which supported another band which followed similar double pattern, a single band around the finger, a band stacked on top of it that curled upward with the leaf pattern to showcase a diamond. At this point the rose gold bands, still pressed with diamonds, left the knuckle free, only to continue the pattern with two smaller diamonds at the top half of the finger, ending with a rose gold band just beneath the nail. “Seven hundred and nineteen galleons,” she told Granger as the girl just stared in wonder. “It was designed specifically for me.”
Hallie felt a protective arm come around her waist and realized that Draco was right there beside her. “You see,” she continued, “Alcyone—a variant of Halcyone—is a Pleides, a star. The Pumpkin Carriage wanted to honor that, especially since my mother was Lady Maia Gaunt, another Pleides.”
Granger was now hastily writing this down and was calling another Mudblood over with sandy blond hair. He was in Gryffindor, Hallie thought, and he unfortunately had a camera.
Pausing, Granger asked, “Why did The Pumpkin Carriage design you one specifically—especially one so elaborate, Gaunt?”
Hallie pursed her lips, but it was only to be expected. This was Hogwarts. Here she was “Gaunt” and “Miss Gaunt”. Some people were still calling her “Potter” even though before each class she was going in front of the class and reintroducing herself.
Fortunately, it was Draco who answered. “I would imagine it is who her Cousin is.”
Which one? Hallie wondered. At the time she didn’t question it.
“Is he one of the four Lords?” Granger asked eagerly.
“He’s one better,” Draco answered smugly. “He’s the Dark Lord.”
A hush fell over the Slytherin table and Granger looked absolutely gobsmacked. Then, all of a sudden, people were taking out money pouches; galleons and the occasional sickle were exchanging hands all along the row.
It took exactly forty-five seconds for a Ravenclaw to rush over and ask Hallie hurriedly. “Is it the bet on your cousin?”
“Yes,” Draco sneered. “Lord Marvolo Gaunt and the Dark Lord. It’s just been confirmed.”
The boy, with gold eyes almost like a werewolf’s and silver hair, squeaked and rushed over to the Ravenclaw table and soon whispers were spreading down it and money was exchanging hands there.
Hallie looked on in absolute shock. “People were taking bets on that?”
“Gaunt is Sacred Twenty-Eight and the Dark Lord’s identity, while somewhat shrouded in mystery, is not completely a secret. Your mother’s connection to him was well-known,” Draco explained. He smirked at her. “Think of it, you might become more infamous than your own half-brother!”
“By association,” she groused. Hallie was just about to turn back to Granger, who was still staring at her in shock, when Dumbledore stood:
“Enough!” she roared, staring out at the students. Casting a Sonorus on himself, he stated clearly, “I do not know what has caused this bizarre display of gambling, but I will not tolerate it. You will cease and desist this instant—and all discussion of the subject is now over. Back to your Common Rooms!” He paused and everyone stood from their benches, a clear scraping sound on the floor, “Miss Granger, I request you to come with me.”
The little snitch ran up to him and whispered something and then he roared, “Gaunt! Malfoy!”
The band of three walked up to Dumbledore’s office, Draco glaring at a self-righteous Hermione Granger. Halie was quiet, her arms crossed, thankful that Draco’s arm had never left her. She wondered what the Dark Lord would say if he knew she was about to have this conversation, if he knew that Draco was escorting her in such a protective way. Frankly, she didn’t care—about the last bit. Draco was like a brother to her.
She had never been in the Headmaster’s office before and she frankly was amazed by the number of portraits of sleeping wizards and the dozens of delicate instruments that were whizzing or puffing out smoke.
“Explain,” Dumbledore stated.
Granger, of course, spoke in a rush. “It was Gaunt. It’s her ring.”
“There’s nothing wrong with it,” she stated imperiously. “You asked why I was given the privilege of given a custom ring—and we answered. It’s because, most likely, I’m related to the Dark Lord. Some wizards respect him and his power.” That was probably why she got the five hundred galleon discount on it, as well, she thought with a sigh.
“Have you met Voldemort, Miss Gaunt?” Dumbledore asked, his bright blue eyes hard behind his half-moon spectacles.
She felt a tug on her mind, and she immediately broke their eye contact and glanced at Draco, begging him with her eyes to realize something was wrong.
He tilted his eyes and pulled her closer.
Glancing over Dumbledore’s shoulder, she admitted, “All of England knows. He rescued me from a Death Eater raid. I didn’t know we were related at the time, though I’m sure he realized as soon as I told him my name when I was surrendering.”
“The Pumpkin Carriage,” Draco stated, “is a liberal jeweler”—that was one way to put it—“that respects all walks of magic. They respect the Ministry and all their employees, they respect those who fight the Dark Lord in vigilante groups, they respect the Dark Lord and his Death Eaters. It’s not Halcyone’s fault she’s related to him or gains special privileges. When we went, she was offered a custom ring and since she didn’t like any of the ones available, she accepted.”
Dumbledore suddenly looked tired. “What was the passing of money about?”
“It had to do with the fact that I confirmed I was related to the Dark Lord,” she told him. “We’re both Gaunts.”
“I see, Miss Gaunt,” he admitted. Although it looked like it pained him to say it, he admitted, “You may go, Miss Gaunt, Mr. Malfoy. Miss Granger, if you would stay.”
Hallie was never so glad to get out of a place in her life.
When they were finally back in the dungeons, free from portraits, Hallie admitted, “I think he was using Legilimency on me, Draco. I must write Uncle Marvolo—you should write Lord Malfoy. He’s a Governor here.”
Draco grimaced. “We’ll send the owls tonight. I’m sure Blaise will let you use his as I have to use Diana.—Unfortunately, I couldn’t put a bet on the Dark Lord being related to you as I already knew. I could have won a pretty galleon.”
At this, Hallie laughed outright. She needed a little levity. Now, she just had to wonder when she would next see the Dark Lord.
719 galleons = $3,458.21 = 2,166.67 pounds sterling
1219 galleons = $5,858.28 = 3,670.78 pounds sterling