Part the Thirteenth
Halcyone and Voldemort, 18 November, 1996
Lord Marvolo was glad that he had awakened from the deep sleep before the Dark Lord could do anything too rash to Lord Roman Malfoy. There was a certain—difficulty—with opening up each other’s mail. They had agreed on it when they were only nineteen years old—which was fifty years ago now. A raid had gone awry because, although they were communicating through their book, the Dark Lord hadn’t awakened in time because Lord Marvolo hadn’t opened up an owl meant for him. So, it was agreed. They were brothers, essentially, two sides of the same coin. Nothing would be hidden from the other.
The two Gaunts wrote about everything, from Lady Maia’s trials of growing up, to Marvolo’s affection for her and the Dark Lord’s annoyance with her. They nonetheless agreed to raise her like their own daughter despite their disparate feelings. They wrote about the Dark Lord’s desire to not be alone, to find a Dark Lady, a Gaunt other than Maia. Marvolo confessed that he thought his half life meant he could never marry and so would lead a celibate life raising the line of Morfin and Mordecai Gaunt … and the Dark Lord, if he should ever marry and have children. They wrote of their hatred of Muggles, of their joint childhood growing up in the orphanage, of fashion of all strange things. They wrote of illness that plagued their shared body, and for those ten years where they were little more than a wraith and shared a joint consciousness, they barely thought at all.
A small gentleman’s room was off in a corner of the manor house, and Lord Marvolo waited for Lord Roman there. There was blood brandy for the Dark Lord and, of course, firewhiskey for everyone else.
“Ah, Lord Roman,” Marvolo greeted when he saw his guest, as impeccably dressed as always in sky blue shirtsleeves, forest green trousers, and a deep cerulean blue robe that buttoned down the chest only to fan out down past the knees. It really did highlight his hair that came down in braids to about his shoulders. “We seem to have a problem.”
“I can’t imagine what that would be,” Roman disagreed as he accepted a firewhiskey and soda, taking a sip of it and not even pulling a face. “I wish to court your kinswoman, and she has been so kind as to—in her own words—‘neither accept nor reject’ the flowers I sent her.”
Smiling to himself, Marvolo admitted, “I like the bit where she’s not accepting the flowers. It’s the bit where she’s not rejecting them that’s the definite problem.”
“I won’t pretend,” Roman answered as he took a seat, crossing his legs and spreading his arms out, “to not know what you’re talking about. This is about the Dark Lord.”
“I convinced him,” Marvolo told him carefully as he took the opposite leather armchair, “that you were not a threat and that I could handle this—minor inconvenience.”
Roman took another sip of his firewhiskey, clearly savoring the taste. “Let me tell you something, Lord Marvolo, if I may.”
The other wizard made a motion that Roman should continue. He was curious what the man had to say for himself.
“I have known Lady Halcyone since she was a fourteen year old girl. She went with my nephew Draco as his particular guest to the Quidditch World Cup. I had planned not to attend, but when I met her, I changed my mind. I maneuvered it so that I sat on the end, with her beside me. She spoke all of the pregame with Draco but during the game I pointed out various maneuvers to her because, I learned, Lady Halcyone is not an aficionado and secretly hates the sport. She may be Draco’s dearest friend, she may be the half-sister of Gryffindor’s star Seeker, but she herself could care less. In the end, we were making fun of the Bulgarian team as they were inept. I decided then and there I was going to marry her. I’m not letting a Dark Lord who finally decided to return to Britain change that. If she had been two years older, we might have been on the brink of marriage.” At this, he held Marvolo’s eyes and took another sip of his drink. “Do we understand each other?”
Marvolo took him in carefully. “I don’t believe we do. You will be tortured and you will be hunted down—”
“For a lady’s favor,” he laughed. “A lady’s favor should be sought after and the better the chase, the more worthy the lady.—Eliminating the competition is not the way to go.”
“She is a Gaunt,” Marvolo replied carefully, “she is meant for a Gaunt. She’s been meant for a Gaunt since birth.”
“You cannot mean that,” Roman stated as he stood. “She’s your niece! You cannot want the life the Dark Lord will give her. At least give her the power to decide!”
“It is not her choice,” Marvolo stated calmly.
“Then you would have her marry a warlord who hides his face nine days out of ten,” he stated in derision. “Better to let her die an old maid than live in fear of the ministry with not even a husband to protect her. I don’t carry the Dark Mark so no one can accuse me of anything. I’m an upstanding citizen who runs messages for the Dark Lord, so both sides believe I am loyal. I’m from an ancient family. I may not be in direct line to become Lord Malfoy, but I have always preferred it that way. I think your niece prefers it that way, as well, otherwise she would have attached herself to my nephew long before now.”
Marvolo opened up his mouth to speak, but Roman continued:
“Do you love Lady Halcyone?”
“I beg your pardon?”
“Do you love her?” When no answer was forthcoming, he continued: “If you love her, you will give her a choice. If you try to stop me, even under threat of torture and death, do you honestly think I will stop?”
“You’re as stubborn as James Potter, and he kissed Lady Maia and caused her vined ring to punish her!” Marvolo snapped angrily.
A roguish grin crossed Roman’s face, which surprised Marvolo. “Never that, sir. I would never cause harm to Lady Halcyone. You have my word.” He lifted his left hand to show off his silver and gold chained ring just to make a point. “I believe you understand we have both made a commitment to our future spouse.”
“She called you a flirt.”
“No harm, no foul,” he returned easily. “I have sent Lady Halcyone flowers and now I am completely faithful to her. I will not so much as even look at another woman—Muggle or witch.—I won’t even snipe at Narcissa if that makes you feel any better.”
“Snipe all you want,” Marvolo stated. “I care not for how you treat your brother’s wife, though it makes me wonder how you would treat your own.”
“The woman is a harpy who could hardly call herself a mother,” he rejoined. “However, I am not here to speak about her, but to speak about my own future wife. Allow me to court Lady Halcyone. I honestly believe that I can make her happy. I can give her so much.”
Marvolo didn’t look impressed.
“A family,” Roman told him. “Freedom from suspicion. Freedom to walk in the sunlight. Love.”
“You can give my Halcyone love?”
“I am confident of it, sir.” Roman’s eyes flashed pewter showing his seriousness and in that moment Marvolo saw not a petty rival to Halcyone’s hand to easily be swept under the rug, but a strong and powerful wizard who would not be gainsaid.
Marvolo paused and took a deep breath. “If she writes to me and accepts your next courting gift—not just a failure to reject it,” he amended, “but accepts, you will be invited here for a meal with your nephew. Or without, I haven’t decided. The Dark Lord will not be present.—You will also tell Lord Malfoy of this courtship, though it will go no further. Am I rightly understood?”
“Perfectly, Lord Marvolo,” Roman agreed with a bow of his head. “Thank you for the opportunity.”
“Don’t prove me an old fool, boy, I shan’t like that.” His tone was serious and sure. “Now, I have a letter to write to my ‘niece’, as you call her.”
Roman stood, bowed formally, and then left the room. This would be the death of him, Marvolo thought as he went to a writing desk and took up a quill. He was now caught between two lovers—but what was important was Halcyone and what she wanted. And he wouldn’t let the Dark Lord stand in the way of that, just like he had last time.
Hallie walked down the hall when she saw—yes, Harry had just gone into a cupboard with someone other than the Weasel’s sister. She glanced over at Blaise Zabini with confusion in her eye. Who was that girl? She had messy black curls, a strong chin, and handstitched robes.
Walking over, she stood to the side of the door and knocked on it three times. “Harry,” she called. “It seems like your love life is just as complicated as mine is.”
There was the sound of shuffling and then a pristine looking witch walked out with a superior look on her face. “You must be Harry’s sister,” she greeted, ignoring Blaise completely, which it seemed he rather liked.
“Half-sister,” she corrected. “Halcyone Gaunt.” Hallie didn’t bother to offer her hand.
“Charmed,” the girl suggested before walking away.
Harry came out with a rather dreamy expression on his face. Hallie immediately snapped her fingers in front of his gaze, and he came to himself. “Who was that?”
He cleared his throat. “Romilda—Vane. Isn’t she great?”
“Right,” she stated, neither agreeing nor disagreeing. “I found you in a closet just last October with that other girl.”
He shrugged. “We’re over. Milly and I are an item.”
“I can see that,” Blaise agreed, his eyes never having left the retreating form of Romilda Vane. There was clearly something about her that he seemed to like. “Does she have a sister?”
“Vane,” Hallie responded, “Gryffindor. Our year?”
“Oh, yes,” he agreed. “I should possibly go see if she’s available for Sluggy’s Yule Party.” He then scampered off, leaving the half-siblings together.
Hallie had to contain a laugh. She turned to her half-brother and offered him a half-smile. “You have my problem then—sort of.”
“Yes, your two wizard problem,” he agreed as he leaned against the wall. “Who are they then?”
“One’s a sort of cousin of mine,” she explained carefully, thinking of the Dark Lord. “On Mum’s side. He’s rather—on the down low from the government.”
Grimacing, Harry asked, “The other?”
At the face Harry gave her, she told him precisely, “He’s not even thirty, from what I can tell! He’s much younger than Lord Malfoy! Not young enough to be his son, per se, but young enough. He’s been around Hogwarts over the years. Perhaps you’ve seen him?” She looked at him expectantly, but Harry just shrugged.
“I wouldn’t know what to look for.”
“No,” she agreed, “I suppose not.”
She turned to go down the hall and Harry fell into step beside her. “Look,” he told her, “they’re all just a distraction.”
Hallie stared at her half-brother in confusion.
“I can’t be with the person I want to be—not in a million years—and so I just—pass the time.”
Lifting her hand and resting it on his shoulder, she murmured, “I don’t want that for you. I honestly thought that you—” She tilted her head to the side, not saying it. “There’s no shame in it. I mean, I don’t know how Mrs. Snape views these things.”
He laughed desperately and changed the subject. “I always wondered why, as children, Dudley was allowed to call Mum ‘Aunt Lily’ but you, our dad’s daughter, had to call her ‘Mrs. Snape.’”
Letting the moment slip away, Hallie smirked at Harry and asked, quite seriously, “You’re just wondering that now, Harry James Potter?”
“I’ve also begun to wonder, if your mother is—er—who is she again?”
“Lady Maia Gaunt,” she told him plainly.
“Lady Maia Gaunt, and mine is Mrs. Snape—how we share the same exact birthday is a total mystery. It’s baffling if it’s anything.”
“Magic is strange,” she admitted as they turned the corner toward the Great Hall. “I wondered, as soon as I learned that Dad was married to Mum and that my mother was someone other than Mrs. Snape—why Dad cheated on Mum at all.”
“Which makes you wonder why Mum cheated on Severus,” Harry whispered as they stood in front of the open doors, looking in where students were milling about, chatting, doing homework, and just generally socializing.
Hallie’s eyes focused in on Professor Snape who was leaning over Clemens, his son, pointing something out on an essay he was working on. “I think some magic was afoot,” she whispered to her twin and held out her hand to him in an offer of reconciliation.
He took it and squeezed it.
“’Red roses’ is jealous of ‘dogwood’,” she finally rushed, much to Harry’s confusion. When he looked at her oddly, she admitted, “My first suitor, who gave me red roses, is jealous of Roman, who sent me dogwood. That’s what we’re calling them down in the dungeons: ‘red roses’ and ‘dogwood’. I got this note from ‘red roses’ this morning, and I don’t know what to do with it.”
Giving her a quizzical look, Harry just waited. She went into her Illyria hand stitched bag and took out a red card with white ink.
One of us will not survive. LV.
Harry looked at her in utter fear. “Who’s the ‘us’?”
“I don’t know,” she admitted, taking back the card. “Is it him and Roman? Is he threatening my other suitor? Is he talking of me and him? Our love affair is too destructive with how it’s going? How am I supposed to know?”
“Right.” Harry snatched it back and walked purposefully over to Professor Snape while Hallie hurried after him.
“Harry, no,” she begged, but it was too late.
“Hallie received a threat. Only, we can’t make it out.”
“It’s nothing,” Hallie begged desperately, having seen Professor Snape not only at the Weasley Engagement Party but at Headquarters as well. “Absolutely nothing.”
Professor Snape looked between the two half-siblings and then looked down at the red card that it was clear, from his widening pupils, he recognized. He flipped it over after he had read it and then turned it back over to the front again. “Miss Gaunt,” he stated carefully as he walked away from his son Clemens and pulled the two half-twins with him, away from everyone. “Are you aware who this is from?”
“Perfectly,” she told him.
“Then would you care to explain this to me, then. I trust your brother does not know.”
“He sent her red roses, whoever he is—he’s courting her,” Harry explained in a rush. “The only problem is Malfoy’s uncle sent her dogwood.”
“Which means he’s courting her, too.” Professor Snape’s voice was a thoughtful drawl. “I take it you informed Lord Roman about the roses?”
“You’re not my stepfather,” she reminded him.
“Perhaps not,” he agreed. “However, a day or so after your Uncle Marvolo met you when you were dining with young Heir Draco, he came to me and my wife and sought out information about you. I professed to him then, as I do now, that I have always seen myself as your stepfather. I have done my best for you within the constraints that were placed upon me.—Let me help you. I doubt Lord Marvolo Gaunt can given who the sender of this card is.”
Ducking her head in, she whispered, “You won’t tell Mrs. Snape?”
“Never,” he promised and then he turned his black gaze on Harry. “Neither will your half-brother, or he will face my wrath.” His voice dripped with disdain and Harry swallowed convulsively. It was nice to know that Harry was in someone’s pocket. He liked to fly like a loose bludger sometimes. The Department of Mystery was a case in point.
“I told Roman it was a bad idea—a very bad idea. I told him to walk away—then he had the flowers delivered.” She bit her lip and looked at Professor Snape. “I asked Cousin Marvolo to intercede for me—not that I’ve made a choice—just that I didn’t want to have to—and then I get this.”
“So you have seen the value of having two suitors at such a young age,” Professor Snape murmured, looking into her hazel eyes. “I am pleased. If you will forgive me for speaking ill of your parents, it was James Potter’s single minded pursuit to the exclusion of all others that perhaps set everyone on the path that led to the convoluted mess that my generation found itself in.”
“Dad loved my mum—” Hallie argued under her breath and Professor Snape put a quelling hand on her upper arm. She grit her teeth. “Cousin Marvolo has been telling me of their relationship—stories I had never heard before.”
“Stories that I am certain are true,” Professor Snape agreed, although it looked like it pained him to admit it. “However, if he and my wife hadn’t tried to marry so young, then perhaps events wouldn’t have been set in effect where Harry would have been the Boy-Who-Lived, they wouldn’t have gashes on their hands that even magic cannot heal, and perhaps James Potter and Lady Maia would not have left you an orphan.”
No, she had to silently agree. Perhaps not.
“What am I going to do?”
“I,” Professor Snape stressed, “am going to write your uncle a note about how worried you are and I’m going to warn Lord Roman. Know however that young Cedric Diggory was found tortured with traces of Veritaserum in his system just days after you returned to Hogwarts. He had no memory of what happened, but given this letter, I think we can all guess that there was a forceful interrogation.”
“Who would do that to Ced?” Harry asked in shock.
“Who indeed?” Professor Snape intoned, as Hallie’s eyes moved back and forth quickly as she looked down at her hands.
“But Diggory was never a threat.”
“Wasn’t he?” Professor Snape asked her casually. “Think, stepdaughter. Think carefully and maybe you’ll find that he was.” He returned the card to her, which she put into her bag. “What does Heir Draco say?”
“He doesn’t know what to say,” she admitted. “He’s caught in between it all. He finds the idea of Lord Roman actually taking a genuine interest in me—peculiar.”
Of course, when she next saw Draco he was looking rather rough. He was sitting on his bed, the curtains partially drawn as if he had made an effort, but hadn’t really bothered.
She sighed and came and sat down next to him, closing and securing the curtains with magic. A half empty bottle of firewhiskey he kept for emergencies was lying unopened between them. “You broke up with Pansy,” she guessed. “This level of emotional pain can’t be about me and your Uncle Roman or it would have happened last month.”
“No, it’s not Uncle Roman,” he admitted, turning to her. He reached out and pushed some honey blonde hair behind her ear. “I think you’d be marvelous together.”
Lifting her eyebrows in shock, she looked at him. “You don’t want me to be Dark Lady?”
“No,” he told her decidedly. “The Dark Lord can’t give you what you need. You need to be loved—and—”
“How can you say he can’t love? He’s devoted—he stayed with me—” she explained, looking down at her knees that were pulled up against her chest.
“And then he left,” Draco explained carefully. “He will always leave when you most need him—because he is the Dark Lord and that is what he does. It’s not like he wants to leave—I think,” he amended as he picked up the firewhiskey and regarded it thoughtfully. “It’s just, he’s there for those key moments, for those battles, for those insightful moments of planning, but when you’re in gaol afterwards and need to be broken out it’s always Lord Marvolo who’s the mastermind who cleans up the mess. You can’t be married to two men, now, can you?—and I don’t think there’s any chance you’re going to fall in love with both of your Gaunt Cousins.”
Hallie just stared at him in absolute and complete shock.
“It’s not like he even has a house, from what we all know. He just borrows Lord Marvolo’s. He keeps his clothes there from what we can tell!” He laughed dispassionately and began to unscrew the cap of the bottle and then took a swig. Swiping his mouth with the back of his hand, he gasped at the burning taste. He passed over the bottle and she took it, taking a swig herself and panting out flames.
“We’re not talking about me,” she stated carefully.
“No,” he agreed, looking at her desperately with silver eyes. “I tried. I’ve tried for green eyes. I thought it would be easy because I couldn’t touch her, couldn’t kiss her. It wouldn’t be expected. Do you understand?”
“No,” she moaned, shaking her head in confusion. “What are you talking about?”
Grabbing her face between his hands, Draco pressed their foreheads together, her angry scar the only thing between them.
“She has the right color hair, the right color eyes—but she’s all wrong. I can’t produce heirs, Halcyone. I mean, I probably can if it came to it, but I have no desire to lie with a woman. I want to—”
“With a man,” she realized, her mind flashing to the only other person she knew had similar inclinations. “You don’t want to carry on the line, which means Lord Roman is next in line—”
“Which means he needs a wife and children,” he whispered desperately, letting her go and picking up the bottle again, turning it in his hands. “And he’s wanted you since the moment he saw you the day before the Quidditch World Cup.” He took another sip and blew smoke circles from his lips. “Did you know, that night after you went to bed, he grilled me on you for a good three hours. Who were you? Who were your people? What were your politics? Your favorite foods? Your favorite colors?—The man is hopelessly gone on you. He’s been sending letter after letter since the last Hogsmeade weekend asking what sort of necklace I think you’d like since you have two wizard crosses already.”
Smirking, she took the bottle, “I want a kiss,” she told Draco plainly. “Tell him those are my exact words.”
“He can’t give you that,” Draco sighed as he took a shot, or the approximate amount before hissing.
“Are you quite so sure?” she quipped as she pushed Draco’s honey-blonde blonde hair away from his face. “You never know.”
“No,” he agreed. “I dream of being kissed.”
“By…?” she asked. He was like Pansy, Draco had said, who had black hair and green eyes—but—“Draco!” she shrieked, sitting up. “Not—he’s my horrible brother!”
“And you will always be first in my heart,” he promised her as he pulled her back down onto the bed and she snuggled down onto the pillow. “You’re my dearest friend—and possibly my future aunt.”
“He’s gay, you know,” Hallie shared for a moment. “He hasn’t actually said, but all those witches in closets are distractions.”
Draco’s silver eyes brightened, which made Hallie smile.
Lord Marvolo held the letter from Professor Severus Snape in his hand as he prepared for the deep sleep. The large book was lying open before him with two pages of notes he had prepared over the past three weeks and one day. Putting the letter into the crease, he took up the quill and wrote quite plainly: If you make Halcyone choose now, you will lose her. Even if you kill Lord Roman, her heart will never be yours. When I forbade Maia James Potter, her love only grew stronger, she only grew more secretive. The only way to fight this is out in the open. It may not be very Slytherin, but I know how Halcyone’s heart will work in this matter. Trust me. She will be won by quietness and truthfulness and honesty and fidelity and, yes, grand acts of passion. MG.
He set his quill down and went to lie down on the bed, knowing when he opened up his eyes, he would no longer be Lord Marvolo Gaunt.