Part the Twelfth
Halcyone and Voldemort, 7 & 8 November, 1996
“You seem to be alone, Lady Halcyone,” the smooth voice of Lord Roman commented as Hallie stood in front of a robes shop in Hogsmeade.
Not even bothering to look up, she remarked, “Oh, Blaise wanted to get something that would be a ‘surprise’, for whom, I don’t know. Pansy dragged Draco to Madam Puddifoot’s, but we’re all meeting up again at The Three Broomsticks.” She smiled. “I’m avoiding my half-wit of a brother.”
“Ah, yes,” Lord Roman agreed, and she could now see his reflection in the window, “the Boy-Who-Lived.”
“We have identical scars,” she remarked. “No one knows which baby the Dark Lord attacked that night in Godric’s Hollow.” At this, she finally looked up at her best friend’s uncle. “Lord Roman. How may I help you?”
“Which of your esteemed uncles should I approach about gaining permission to send you a courting gift?” he asked casually as if he were asking for the weather. “You are sixteen now—”
“Yes,” she agreed sardonically. “I also have blonde hair. I suppose it helps that one of my uncles,” Hallie sneered the term, “happens to be one of the most powerful wizards in England.” Her hazel eyes flicked up at him. “Is that what you were thinking, Lord Roman, when you were with the woman with raven hair this summer?”
“Jealous, my dear?” he asked her carefully.
She shook her head and smiled. “No, Lord Roman. I have no reason to be jealous.” Turning to go, he nonetheless fell into step with her.
“You prefer another, Lady Halcyone.” His voice was smooth and deep, unlike the Dark Lord’s, which while masculine was decidedly high in pitch. Lord Roman’s voice flowed over her like a dark liquid that seeped into her very pores, and she hated him for it.
“I do,” she admitted carefully, “and before you ask, it is not your nephew. I don’t know how everyone comes up with that idea. Mrs. Snape even asked me once.” This last bit was a scoff. She needed to forget about this strange chemistry she had with Lord Roman. Was it possible to be attracted to two wizards for two totally different reasons? “What do you even do with these women if you can’t hold their hands for more than two minutes?” she wondered aloud. She’d always been curious since she’d learned about vined rings and how they worked.
His eyebrow quirked up. “Do you really want to know?”
Looking at him and then at the crowded main thoroughfare of the village, she nodded slowly and carefully.
Inclining his head, Lord Roman led her toward The Hog’s Head of all places. Hallie carefully stepped into it, looking at the dusty window sills and the fact that the bartender seemed to be cleaning mugs with a dirty cloth—and leaving them dirty. Strangely, he looked like Professor Dumbledore.
Lord Roman was at the counter, exchanging quiet words with the man, before he handed over a few galleons. He was given a key, and then he went around the bar and into the back. Hallie looked around one more time and then followed.
When she got to the back there was a door that was left open and Lord Roman was taking out a vial of a potion that was clear, a faint shimmer to it. He uncapped it and with a finger, coated his lips with it. “You must be sure that when your lips start warming, you stop. Only use your lips, no tongue, no other skin.” His voice was hard, clinical, and he passed her the vial to her confusion. She sniffed the potion and found that it smelled faintly of clementines. Coating her lips as if it were lipgloss (and she was certain it was ruining hers), she then capped it and gave it back. Waiting for moment for something to happen, she was almost certain this was a hoax on the part of Lord Roman until her lips suddenly felt frozen.
Hallie must have shivered because immediately he had cupped the back of her head and gently placed his lips on hers in a soft kiss. The kiss was followed by another, several gentle kisses all placed on her lips, the center, the corner, the bottom, flush. When she was no longer startled by the cold and the assault, she hesitantly kissed him back, curious at the sensation, and pressed herself against him, only to find herself in his arms. He moaned as she gasped as their bodies aligned. Roman was a good three inches taller than her so that she was tipping up on her toes. Then her lips got warmer, and with that came the realization that around her neck was the rose gold choker the Dark Lord had given her.
“No,” she whispered as she pushed away, shaking her head. Her hair was in several small curls, secured by clips, but they bounced around her head as she looked up at him in shock. “That was wicked.”
“Wicked, yes,” he agreed carefully as he reached out for her and stroked her cheek once before he let his hand fall. “But something I have been hoping for for quite some time, Lady Halcyone.”
She looked at him desperately. “But how can you use that on witches? Someone would have heard about it by now—this could revolutionize—” Hallie swallowed painfully.
“It could,” he agreed. “I invented it myself my N.E.W.T. year at Hogwarts. I obliviate the witches I use it with.”
Taking a step back, Hallie asked, “Are—Are you going to obliviate me, Lord Roman?”
“No,” he answered her calmly, walking toward her and placing a hand on both of her upper arms. “Never you.”
This, at least, was a little comforting. “Why do you do it? Why don’t you just marry like most wizards or wait?”
At this he sighed before leading her to the dusty chairs that were in the room. With a quick wave of his wand, he had them cleaned and sparkling with varnish. When they sat, he turned to her carefully and took her hands in his. “Lady Halcyone, I am much younger than my brother, Lord Malfoy.—I saw him court Narcissa, his wife. He believed he was in love with her only to discover on their wedding night that she had no interest in him. I determined not to have that fate.” He ran a finger along her cheek. “Even when I met you when you were fourteen and you first piqued my interest, you were too young for me to know, and I wasn’t going to give up happiness by waiting for something as ridiculous as blonde hair.”
This, at least, was sensible. “I never understood the hair,” she admitted. “Gaunts marry each other, which I also don’t understand.” Then again, she was in a relationship with the Dark Lord—and had just cheated on him. Great. She was a cheater. She was a whore like Lily Evans.
She groaned. “I’m a whore like Lily Evans,” she repeated out loud. “I’m accepting gifts from one wizard and kissing you in the back of this horrible place!”
“Nothing happened,” he promised her, lifting her left hand so she could see her elaborate vined ring. “The proof is right here.—I could also just be acting agent for one of your uncles.”
Looking at him reproachfully, she silently agreed as she turned over her ring and regarded it. Then, just to be sure, she picked up his hand and saw the vined ring there. Smooth rectangles of interchanging gold and silver metal climbed up his finger in an elaborate pattern with no other embellishment. It was strangely militaristic and suited him, which surprised Hallie for some reason. “My half-brother’s Mudblood mate is writing a report on vined rings,” she murmured. “I now find I’m studying them whenever I come across them.”
“They’re horrible things,” he explained, looking down at their hands that were nearly holding each other. “They bind us to marriages that don’t involve love but instead dynastic concerns.”
“What are dynastic concerns if not your first words to me? ‘Oh, Draco, you brought home a blonde friend. Is she a pureblood? How old are you, child?’”
He smirked at her, a smirk she had seen often enough on Draco’s face. “You remember.”
“You cared that I was blonde,” she reminded him.
“Perhaps I cared for the sake of my nephew,” he parried back.
It was her turn to smirk at him. “Perhaps you didn’t.” At this she stood and went over to a mirror that was on the wall but was covered in dust. Holding in a sneeze, she whispered, “Evanesco!” and it was immediately clean. Hallie ran a finger over her bottom lip and saw that it was still the glistening red she had painted it early that day. It hadn’t been smudged or messed up by the kisses or the potion at all.
“You could sell that potion to preserve a woman’s lipgloss,” she stated, looking at him in the mirror.
“It lasts no longer than three minutes and the cold is an unnecessary side effect,” he told her as he came behind her, taking her shoulders in his arms and placing his head beside hers.
Where Hallie’s hair was a honey blonde, his was nearly a platinum blonde, not as light as his brother’s or nephew’s but still incredibly light. His silver eyes were shining with mischief against her hazel ones which betrayed her apprehension. Lord Roman was in deep browns and golds, a wizard coat that buttoned up to an Asian collar and brown pressed trousers—perfect for the autumn, while she was in a blue dress with a pale pink oriental jacket that fell almost to the hem with togs she hadn’t bothered to buttoned. Her enchanted black tights kept her legs warm while flowers danced across her skin, and she was wearing purple shag boots with a bow.
“Who is it?” he asked her carefully as he ran a finger down her neck.
Looking into his eyes for a long moment, she instead shook her head and turned away. “I have to meet Draco and the others for lunch. Comrade in Arms in Slytherin, and all that. I’m sure you’d agree, Lord Roman.”
“I will be true,” he promised, the first hint of desperation to enter his voice. “You can accept multiple suitors.”
She turned from where her hand was on the door handle. “Don’t you dark wizards understand—you’ll all kill each other over any perceived slight to honor—and this will be a perceived slight to honor!”
“This is not a perceived slight,” he demanded. “Even one of the four Lords would accept a pureblood of lower birth as a suitor to a worthy lady—” He must have caught the look in her eyes because he stopped. “It’s the Dark Lord, isn’t it?—He didn’t want to see you because you were his kinswoman, but because he’s courting you!” He looked at her wildly and then took two and a half long strides toward her, cupping her face gently. “You don’t deserve the coldness of the Dark Lord, the harshness he brings into the lives of all his followers.”
“He’s not like that,” she promised. “Really, he’s not—he’s—”
“Halcyone,” he interrupted carefully, leaning down and pressing his forehead against hers. “He killed your mother. It’s rumored that he killed your father. And, of all the people he left alive, he let Lily Snape escape—a Mudblood, a seductress, a whore—”
She choked back a sob at the accusation, but then nodded. It was not an acceptance that what he said was true, only an acknowledgement that it had been said. Hallie turned once again toward the door and walked out into the main pub, breathing deeply the entire time.
By the time she got to her friends, she had a smile on her face and was accepting from Blaise a friendship bracelet he had ordered for the four of them that summer, which they could wear in the evenings. DHPB. Hallie put hers on happily and then showed it off to Pansy who was sitting right beside her.
When, half an hour later, a delivery witch from a flower shop there in Hogsmeade appeared with a bouquet of dogwood for Hallie, she was both horrified and delighted.
“Who are they from?”
“Yes,” Draco drawled. “Who’s repeating earlier courtship steps that don’t need to be repeated?” His silver eyes gleamed.
Not sure what to say at first, she took the card, which was signed Romulus, the name of the Founder of the Roman Empire, and she answered, “They’re from your uncle, Draco. It seems he wants me to be your aunt, after all.”
His jaw dropped at the pronouncement in absolute shock. “Uncle Roman actually wants to settle down?”
“He seemed quite adamant earlier this afternoon,” she responded calmly as if it didn’t make a difference to her. “Then again, I did try to dissuade him.” After she had offered him encouragement. But she did warn him about the Dark Lord.
“Don’t be silly, Draco,” Pansy stated as she bent down over the dogwood and breathed in. “A witch can accept two courtships.—Why aren’t you courting me?”
“You’re not Sacred Twenty-Eight,” Blaise drawled as if it should be obvious—and, really, it should be. “The Parkinsons don’t have courting traditions as laid out by Spungen’s. At all.” Spungen’s Guide to Pureblood Dynasties, c.1500-present included more than just the Sacred Twenty-Eight, but it did not include the Parkinsons.
Hallie hadn’t really thought about it, but she wondered what Draco was doing with Pansy if she was so obviously unsuitable. No wonder, if Lord Roman hadn’t been speaking for himself when they first met, he had wondered if she was a pureblood. She would have been perfect for Draco. She still would be—not that there was any chance.
“Halcyone,” Draco stated carefully, leaning across Pansy and placing his hand over the flowers gently so as not to harm them. “Are you certain it’s Uncle Roman?”
She took the card and showed him.
Draco looked at it for a moment and then just groaned. “I thought he was teasing me all these years when he would ask about you and whether you were a natural blonde.”
Rolling her eyes, she snatched the card back. “Well, I certainly won’t be considering him because of the color of his hair.” She sniffed. Such a thing was preposterous. “I need to talk to you, though, later, Draco. This is a mess.”
“You think?” he asked her. As if with a sixth sense, he turned. “Something Wicked this Way Comes.”
Sure enough, it was Harry Potter and his two little sidekicks.
“Hallie,” her brother greeted, looking over the four Slytherins with barely veiled curiosity. “Why is someone sending you flowers?”
“I’m beautiful,” she responded with a smile. “I have admirers unfortunately. It’s rather a bore, at times, but we can’t all hide out in closets with Weasel’s sister.”
At this, the Weasel turned a bright red, and Harry did have the decency to blush. Hallie, Mother Magic help her, couldn’t help but be a little bit pleased with herself.
“Are you going to apologize for slapping me? The hand mark just went away last week,” she asked sweetly now that Harry was visibly squirming.
Harry grit his teeth. “I thought sending you chocolates was apology.” And he had sent her chocolates. Or someone had. Without a note. It had been quite a mystery as they clearly hadn’t come from the Dark Lord.
“Those were from you?” she asked, surprised. “Oh, thank you, Harry. I wondered how the sender knew my favorites.” To be honest, she thought she was being stalked as she so rarely ate chocolates, the only time really being Christmas. Someone would have to know her very well to know what she liked. Then she glanced between Draco and Harry, wondering if she should talk to both of them. “Harry, what would you do if two girls fancied you?”
His eyes widened. “Two wizards fancy you?” He pushed in next to Blaise and leaned his chin against his hand. “Well, the way it works in Gryffindor is you date the one you fancy back.”
“Oh,” she responded, looking down at the flowers. “I don’t know which one I like best.”
Draco groaned into his hands. She thought she heard him mutter, ‘Uncle Roman,’ but it was a little difficult to tell. “Right,” he decided. “Halcyone. I’m the only one who knows who you’re talking about—and Potter’s going to start talking about love next—”
“What’s wrong with ‘love’?” Granger asked, her arms crossed. “My parents—”
“Are Muggles,” Blaise drawled. “Case in point.”
“Do Professor and Mrs. Snape actually ‘love’ each other?” Pansy wondered aloud, and everyone became quiet and suddenly stared at her. Meepishly, she added, “I’ve always wondered.”
Then Hallie saw it—a flash of blonde from across the pub. The girl was petite with emerging curves, a button nose, deep brown eyes, and golden hair. She looked surprisingly like Daphne Greengrass, who was slightly taller, more developed, but with ash brown hair.
“Excuse me,” she apologized, scooting under the table and crawling out from under it. Hallie absolutely had to talk to that girl!
“Hi!” she greeted as she came up to the girl and took one of the butterbeers from her hand. “I don’t think we’ve met. You look just like this girl in my year from Slytherin—and I was thinking—did I miss a Slytherin from a younger year? I’m so sorry. I like to know all of you as I’m Prefect. Halcyone Gaunt.”
The girl had cute little glasses on her nose and she pushed them up. “I-I know who you are, Lady Halcyone,” she greeted. “I’m a fourth year Ravenclaw. My sister Daphne is a Slytherin sixth year.”
“Of course,” Hallie agreed, stepping beside the girl. “And you are, Miss Greengrass?”
“Mademoiselle Astoria.” She then, surprisingly, curtseyed and almost upset her butterbeer, which Hallie quickly grabbed.
Nodding, Hallie smiled. “What a pleasure to meet you.” When they arrived at a table with another younger girl, Hallie set down the glasses. “I’ll leave you to your afternoon. Don’t be a stranger, Mademoiselle.” Then she turned around and left.
Later that evening when Hallie and Draco were sitting in a secluded corner, her flowers having been put in a vase beside her bed, Draco asked, “What was that about with that girl earlier? You positively fled the table to get to her.”
“The girl,” Hallie informed him, “is Daphne’s younger sister—and she’s blonde and a fourth year. I would say that she appears in Spungen’s.” Her hazel eyes twinkled. “Mademoiselle Astoria.”
Draco laughed. “Pansy and I do well together.”
“Well is not forever. But perhaps you are not concerned with forever at the moment. I, however, am concerned with my forever, which means I’m concerned with your forever as you’re my dearest friend.”
“And Potter?” he drawled.
“I could care less about his forever,” she joked. “Anyway, we have ‘my kinsman’ as we’ll call him just in case people are somehow eavesdropping—and your uncle.”
“I’ve seen you flirt with Uncle Roman,” Draco admitted. “You two are horrible together. Even Mother has commented on it. Almost didn’t let me invite you this summer because she wants Uncle Roman to be unhappy.” He paused. “At least that’s what Father thought.”
“Thank you, Lady Malfoy,” Hallie sneered. She’d never liked he woman.
Draco looked at her sympathetically. “Alright. We’ll go with ‘red roses.’ What do you like about him?”
“Well, he’s very gallant. He saved me from a raid. He stayed with me all night. He claims to have never cared or wanted another witch, including my mother who was ideal for his purposes. He gives me elaborate gifts. His magic is terribly arousing and powerful. He opens doors.”
“That’s because he’s related to you. He’ll always open doors.” Draco took a deep breath. “Dogwood.”
“Well,” she teased, “I’d get to be related to you.”
He spat green and gold sparks from the tips of his fingers at her, and she laughed. “What else?”
“I know his name. Sort of. Roman Malfoy?”
“Oh, Lord,” Draco sighed, tilting his head back, thinking. “Roman Amabilis Malfoy. He signs everything personal ‘Romulus’ to show that it’s him and not some copycat.”
“All right,” she agreed. “I know his name. He’s devilishly good looking. He makes me think. He makes me think I have to win him, which is absolutely infuriating and yet wonderfully exciting at the same time. Though now he’s chasing me. Not sure what to do with that. I don’t have to be afraid if I choose him. I won’t be Lady Red Roses, which means I won’t be so exalted, but I won’t be used against Red Roses. My life won’t be potentially forfeit. I’ll be safe. I’ll still have position. He promised to be faithful. I think he’s a man of his word.”
Draco looked at her softly. “I don’t know. He’s never home long enough. He and Mater hate each other.”
“Where does he live?” she asked.
“I don’t know,” Draco admitted. “No one’s ever said, as far as I can tell. Why don’t you write him and ask him? Call him ‘Romulus’. He might like that.—I’ll lend you my owl.”
All right. Snapping her fingers, her stationary set appeared on her lap and she took her peacock feather quill, white, a gift from Draco at one point, and dipped it in black ink before letting it hover over monogrammed Acromantula Silk paper.
Romulus, she began, I neither accept nor reject your flowers. What I am curious about is, if you do not reside at the manor with my dearest friend, your nephew, where do you live? I cannot possibly fail to reject any more tokens of affection if I don’t know where I may one day live.—Mabelle Halcyone Gaunt
She blew on the ink, preferring to let her magic float through her breath, and then sealed the missive with the Gaunt Seal in deep blue. It was a shield with a stag’s head over it, the antlers standing proud and tall.
Diana was called for the missive and went out immediately. A second one was written, which was sent out the next morning.
… … … … …
The Dark Lord awoke from his deep sleep and found that he was in a simple pair of striped pajamas. At least they were red. It could have been so much worse. He went up to the mirror and saw the face of Lord Marvolo Gaunt looking back at him, the face—he must admit—of the Muggle Tom Riddle, Sr. He let the nose melt into the skin, two slits remaining for nostrils. The hair smoothed out and fell like porcupine quills to the ground, making soft clinking sounds. The holes in his head washed away to reveal unblemished skin. Next his blue eyes became sharper, the eyes becoming so slanted they were no more than slits.
Now he was truly who he was always meant to be.
It was when the Dark Lord was going to the closet to fetch his robes that he heard the tapping of an owl at the window. He hadn’t even gone to the book, but he went and found the owl. It was in Mabelle’s hand, he realized, and addressed to her Uncle Marvolo.
He was in his deep sleep, however, and was unavailable. Feeding the owl a treat, he opened the letter and saw the curl of her script.
My dearest uncle, she wrote, causing a smile to come to the Dark Lord’s face. Please keep this information to yourself—do not tell our kinsman—but I have received courting flowers, and I cannot find myself to completely regret it. I believe you will remember Lord Roman…
Without even thinking of it, hot tears fell from the Dark Lord’s eyes and the expensive parchment was crushed in his thin pianist fingers, the nails hard, pointed, and long. Trying to control himself, he smoothed out the parchment and looked down at it again, picking up where he left off.
I believe you will remember Lord Roman Malfoy, Draco’s uncle, Mabelle wrote. He is an undeniable flirt and I haven’t exactly discouraged him over the years. He is not so grand as the Dark Lord, but he is also not wanted by the government. He is real to the touch and not a phantom in the minds of wizards across the nation. I could walk by his side in the street instead of hiding in the shadows of Riddle House. Somehow, I believe he truly cares for me. Even he is above trifling with his nephew’s friends.
Please write and tell me what you think. Feel free to threaten him or demand his intentions if you can figure out where he resides, because it is certainly nowhere near Lady Malfoy.
Yours Affectionately, Halcyone Gaunt
The words stared up at the Dark Lord, taunting him. They were all unfortunately true, but the battle was not lost, the war was not forfeit. He would rise again—and he would be visiting Lord Roman.