Part the Fourteenth
James and Maia, 27 October, 1979
It was the first Hogsmeade weekend of Maia’s senior year. She was Head Girl and supposedly should be keeping all the rules—except she had no intention of doing that. Dressed in robes of grass green and sky blue, she hurried down to Hogsmeade with the other three members of her little crew.
Barty was wearing a maroon waist coat which made his hair seem even paler than usual. Apricot was wearing pink—not that she was matching, never that—and Regulus was representing Slytherin in deep silver with green accents.
They had a name they were using. People were confused by it. As far as they knew, they were three Slytherins and a Ravenclaw. How wrong they were. They were three Slytherins (Regulus Black, Maia Gaunt, and Apricot Selwyn), two Ravenclaws (Lux Kingsley and Barty Crouch, Jr.), and three Gryffindors (Sirius Black, James Potter, and Sabrina Bones—not that Sabrina always counted). All purebloods. Officially, they were the Pureblood Slyth-in-claws. Slyth-erins. Gryff-in-dors. And Raven-claws. It was shortened to Slythinclaws. The poor puffs were put off.
Of course, they were meeting Sirius Black of all people at The Hogs Head. However, they had to make it look casual. Barty and Apricot broke off, her hand tucked in his arm, looking at shop windows, and Reggie went directly to the shady pub. The bride was left on her own to browse Orpheus’s Harp down a side street, which specialized in musical instruments. Not many students congregated there because the prices were so high, but she got a demonstration on a magical lute (not that she played), got a price quote written out for her ostensibly for her uncle, and then went to The Hogs Head.
“Sirius,” she greeted, hugging her fiancé’s best friend. There was the slightest of twinges from her vined ring, which had been overly sensitive since the incident with the kiss. “How are you?”
“Excited!” he effused, and Regulus rolled his eyes. Sirius, however, didn’t pay attention. Leaning in, he whispered in her ear, “I love weddings.”
“You astound me,” Regulus drawled. “I’d be a nervous wreck in case something goes wrong with the magic.”
Maia turned to him and shot him a look. He’d been going on about James’s scarred hand for over a week now. “None of that. He’s seen a Healer and we have every assurance—”
“Every assurance may not be good enough,” he hissed as he stood angrily, his butterbeer left on the table. “This is your happiness we are gambling with. I know I stood by and watched this happen all summer, but I thought you were just getting it out of your system.—He wasn’t even courting you properly!”
“I didn’t expect him to,” she argued back, looking at her friend angrily. “It was just us and we moved at our own pace, interacted the way that was best for us, Maia Gaunt and James Potter.”
Regulus scoffed. “You deserve more.”
“In a perfect world,” she agreed, “his parents would have brought him up with pureblood traditions—but they didn’t. You were the one who watched me cry when he constantly asked that Evans Mudblood to Hogsmeade. You were the one who came over to Riddle Manor the day of their wedding with Apricot when I tore up all the lilies in my garden, much to Uncle Marvolo’s dismay. I invited you and not Sarah Cromwell or Genvieve Nott when I put together our party of Slythinclaws.”
“Slythinclaws?” Sirius asked with a sly grin. “I see Slytherin and Ravenclaw. That makes two-thirds of our group…” He left his question hanging.
Regulus huffed. “Gryff-in-dor, you daft idiot.” He turned back to Maia. “It’s not too late.”
“It’s been too late for years,” she told him carefully. “I love him, despite the fact that he supports the wrong side in this war.”
Sirius coughed in his hand. “Interwar politics. Right. I always forget we met at The Wicked Stepmother.”
“You brought him there,” Maia reminded him just as Barty walked in with Apricot on his arm.
“Sabrina can’t make it,” Sirius apologized when everyone was assembled. “Or—rather—we don’t trust her enough with this. All right if Monsieur and Madam Potter come? They’ve been told that there’s a party and we might be inviting the next generation, so to be prepared.”
Maia took a deep breath. “I rather not. I’m not ready to tell Uncle Marvolo yet and it’s just—I don’t want it getting out—”
Sirius deflated. “I’ll let Jamesie talk to you.”
They went over to the floo. It seemed that Sirius had already arranged it with the barkeep and they flooed to ‘Potter’s Cottage.’ Maia went after Sirius and was caught by a smiling James Potter who was wearing new robes of a dusty brown that brought out his eyes.
“Hey, you,” he greeted, as he pulled her away from the floo, just in time for Apricot to come through.
“Hello,” she returned, pressing herself against him for the barest of moments, tearing herself away when the bone in her hand started aching. Maia really hoped that stopped when she became Lady Maia Potter.
“My parents,” he broached.
“I can’t tell Uncle Marvolo until it’s a fait accomplit,” she argued, “and not even then. Not until I’m out of Hogwarts.”
He nodded. “But wouldn’t it be good to have family who knows? Someone to support us? Family dinners? When you sneak away for part of Christmas—”
(“Yule,” she murmured quietly, causing him to quirk a smile at her stubborn pureblood ways.)
“—Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to go to Potter Abbey and have a full feast? Go there tonight for our wedding night?”
“Did you—” She licked her lips carefully. “Did you go there with—”
“No,” he promised. “Muggle hotel. No, I want to do something magical with you. I snuck orders to the house elves to ready my childhood rooms with champagne and strawberries if I came home tonight.—Please, darling.”
It was the first time, he’d called her that, and she frankly wanted to kiss him, but Maia had to wait another hour or so. Reaching up, she cupped his cheek. “Will they like me?”
“They’ll love you,” he promised.
She deflated. “Fine.” Calling out to her friends, she announced, “We’re being joined by Euphemia and Fleamont Potter. No politics at all, Slythinclaws. I have no idea what they believe even though they’re purebloods.”
Apricot sighed but by this time James had gone to the floo and disappeared.
Sirius had come up to Maia with notes written out by a healer, which were instructions on how to properly seal a marriage bond with James given that he had already suffered a broken one. There were diagrams on how to hold the athame and how to properly cut his hand to mingle his blood. They weren’t making the usual cut. Usually it was on the right hand from the index finger, down diagonal across the palm, to the left point of the heel. They would be doing the opposite. Still the right palm but from the pinky down across the palm diagonally to the right of the heel. Hers would match so their blood could mingle, showing she was a second wife in the unconventional sense.
If she were a second wife in the traditional sense—re: James’s first wife had died—their cuts would be made on their left hands. It became difficult when a third spouse was involved. The wrists and arms became involved. Healers and experts had to be sought. She wondered about Blazenka Zabini who was windowed twice and was rumored to be looking for a third husband.
Not three minutes later, when she had finally finished the notes and had handed them back to Sirius (Apricot had been reading over her shoulder), James reappeared with his parents.
They were elegantly dressed in grey.
Fleamont Potter was a tall wizard with messy hair like his son’s, but it was gray and long, falling to his chin. His hazel eyes were sharp and intelligent. His frame was thin but he had a bit of a belly, which looked peculiar in his gray robes and pale blue and green waistcoat. He was holding a pipe and smoking it, but the smell, which reached Maia even from across the room, was pleasant.
Euphemia Potter had James’s black hair though in ringlets atop her head, streaked with white. Her lips were full, her face chiseled, reminding Maia further of her betrothed. She had broad shoulders, a naturally thick waist, but she looked like she would be good on a broom. The gray of her robes was slightly darker than her husband’s, but they looked like they clearly complimented each other.
James was clearly introducing them to everyone near the floo. Barty was making a show of being the son of the Head of Magical Law Enforcement—lovable prat—bowing over Madam Potter’s hand, not kissing it, but it was a near thing as he was clearly getting carried away. It was clear that Monsieur Fleamont recognized Regulus and was surprised to see him. Then again, Sirius’s break from the family was famous in Slytherin, so she imagined it was equally well-known among his own friends.
She stood resolute in her spot, Lux Kingsley coming up to her and squeezing her hand. “The in laws are always the worst,” she whispered.
“How do you know?” Maia whispered back.
“You’re not the only one to be secretly married,” she murmured back, completely surprising Maia.
The two witches shared a look.
“Later?” Maia asked.
“Of course. I expect we’ll be seeing more of each other.” Lux’s purple eyes shone with tears, of joy or fear or some other emotion, Maia really didn’t know, but then James was in front of her and Lux had moved away.
“This is Lady Maia,” James introduced simply, not mentioning her surname. “She’s Head Girl at Hogwarts this year and she was prefect under me.”
Taking a fortifying breath, she took a step forward and boldly kissed Euphemia Potter’s cheek three times, much to the witch’s surprise and then, after hesitating a moment, approached Fleamont and did the same, nearly colliding with his pipe. “That smells so wonderful,” she complimented. “Is it a potion you invented, Monsieur Potter?”
“It-it is, Lady Maia,” he stated in his confusion. “It’s not on the market.”
“No,” she agreed. “I would have certainly smelled it at my uncle’s manor if it were. I doubt wizards could keep away from it, even though smoking is only allowed in, well, the smoking room.” She offered a small smile. Maia looked over to James, who seemed to have not explained to his parents why they were there this afternoon. “I read the Healer’s notes,” she explained carefully. “I fully understand what needs to happen.”
James nodded and took a fortifying breath. Turning to his parents, he explained, “Mum, Dad, this isn’t a party.”
They looked a little confused.
“I mean,” he qualified, “it is a party. It isn’t just a party, though.” He seemed a little confused and Maia put a hand on his arm.
“What Monsieur James is saying is on the last day of summer he asked me to marry him on my first Hogsmeade weekend, and I accepted. We’re keeping it a secret from my family, though, as my uncle doesn’t approve of James, unfortunately.” She offered James a loving smile as he visibly relaxed and then turned to his parents. “I’m sorry we didn’t tell you before now, but all of us,” she indicated the room, “have been meeting all summer to rather disguise our intentions.”
Euphemia clapped her hands. “How romantic. And a proper pureblood bride, too,” she sighed, “not that I hold with blood politics.”
James rolled his eyes. “Of course not, Mum,” he agreed as she took his face in her hands and kissed his forehead. She was a little shorter than him so he had to bend down, but he didn’t seem to mind.
Fleamont took a puff from his pipe. “That other one keeps on sending letters begging for money,” he stated gruffly. “I refuse her, of course. Disgrace of a witch—enough to make me a blood purist—but I trusted your judgment once, son. I hope I can trust it again. Then again, she is friends with Crouch’s son, which says something.” He looked over to Barty who was explaining something to Apricot and Sirius with his hands. “Yes. Favorable connection that.”
“Yes, Barty is a dear friend,” she agreed. “He and Heir Regulus are my closest friends.—And you need not worry, Monsieur Fleamont. I have my own money independent of my family. No matter how angry my uncle gets at me, he can’t touch it. The worst he can do is throw me from the house, which is mine by right when he dies.”
“I’m glad to hear it, gal,” he stated, looking her up and down. “You’re nearly a pretty little thing.”
James whispered, “Dad,” angrily, putting a hand behind her back to soothe her.
Feeling gutted for a moment, Maia lifted her chin. “I get prettier by the day, I assure you.” She knew she was pretty in only a common way, but she was assured that James truly wanted her. He was infuriated by her more often than not, but they said there was a thin line between love and hate, and he never truly hated her anyway.
“Are we having the wedding feast here, darling?” Euphemia Potter stated worriedly, as she looked around the small cottage, which barely contained the nine of them. “I don’t even see a table.”
Clearing his throat, James admitted, “I told Minxie a week ago to prepare a feast for us at Potter Abbey and to prepare my suite.—I know I should have told you, Mum, but I asked Maia minutes before I got you if you could come. It was something I didn’t want to put in a letter.”
“Of course, you must have the Abbey,” Fleamont coughed. “Nothing else would do. This wedding may be a secret one, but we are not ashamed of Lady Maia.”
Sirius came up to them, and stated, “It’s half ten. I think we should get started.”
Maia took a deep breath and nodded. James took he hand and led her to the table set up at the far end of the room. It had two chalices, a pomegranate, and an athame.
“What are the chalices for?”
“To toast our good health,” he told her. “It’s a rarely used variant. The sources I’ve read have stated that it’s a pagan though Muggle tradition, but I need all the luck I can get to heal this gash on my hand.”
She peered into her chalice and saw that it was filled with what seemed to be champagne. Looking up at him, she nodded, and they waited while Sirius got everyone to stand around them.
The ceremony was silent. James picked up the athame and cut across his injured palm, forming the “x”. He then handed it to her and she did the same. She felt the magic hum under her skin as blood welled to the surface. Quickly though carefully, she put the athame down and they joined hands and she gasped as she felt magic flow from him, into her, and from her, into him.
It was a heady sensation, as if her very blood were gushing back and forth, giving her life, slowly killing her at the same time, and she stared into his hazel eyes, not willing to break the contact. Maia was uncertain how long they stood there, but she finally felt the effects slow until they stopped. Their fingers had slotted in between one another and she let go, and looked down at her hand. There, across her hand, from the pink diagonal across the palm, was a red slash. The congealed blood glistened in an open wound, but it didn’t bleed. She tilted her palm back and forth in wonder, just staring at it.
“Maia,” James murmured, and she looked up to see that he was holding up a piece of pomegranate to her.
Laughing a little, she put her hands behind her back as was tradition and opened her mouth as he fed her the pomegranate. She caught it between her teeth, dipping her head down when she almost dropped it, and sucked in the tart fruit over her tongue.
Once she had swallowed, she took the athame from him, and cut a small piece of pomegranate and watched as he put his hands behind his back. She darted her hand forward and when he opened his mouth, she teasingly withdrew her hand. He pouted, and everyone laughed, but then she fed him dutifully, her fingers getting caught between his lips.
Her ring hummed pleasurably. The bone in her hand didn’t ache, and a small smile crossed her lips.
Everyone would expect a kiss next, but, taking a breath, they each picked up their chalices.
“Slainte!” he toasted.
“Slainte!” she repeated, uncertain what that meant.
They clinked glasses and she drank heavily of the champagne while all their guests waited with baited breath. Maia knew exactly what they were waiting for.
As she put down her chalice, she put both her hands behind her back to symbolize that she was accepting her husband’s kiss of her own free will.
“Second time’s the charm,” she whispered to him as her lips whispered near hers.
“The Muggles say ‘third’,” he told her.
“Do you see any Muggles here?” she quipped.
And then he kissed her to great applause. Someone had stupidly brought rice and threw it over them, but Maia just kissed her husband again and again, reveling in the fact that she was able to do so. She wanted to cling to him, but her hands stayed behind her back. As her lips met his again and again, gently, a silent promise, she knew this was the beginning of her new life. When their friends started cheering, “Slythinclaw, Slythinclaw,” James broke away in confusion and asked, “What?”
Maia only laughed.
Potter Manor was surprisingly made almost completely out of wood. It was all shining with varnish, smoothed with age, and utterly gorgeous. It was a sprawling manor all on one floor with exposed beams and rich carpets and wall hangings. The master dining hall barely fit them all with James and Maia sitting in the center of the table with their chalices of champagne (now free of rice) in front of them.
There was duck and roast lamb and venison, but Maia wasn’t very hungry. Still, the party lasted well into the afternoon until the Hogwarts contingent of the Slythinclaws had to return to Hogsmeade.
“We’ll cover for you,” Barty promised her just before he disappeared through the floo. “Anything for you, Lady Maia Potter.” He pronounced her name like it was a great edict.
“You forget, Barty dear,” she replied. “In my family, the ladies always keep their father’s name to uphold the purity of their house. My children will keep my name, as well.”
“Tell Potter that,” he smirked. Then he disappeared into green flames.
James came up behind her. “I’ve never heard that before,” he admitted carefully. “Do you not want to be Maia Potter?”
“I want to be your wife, which I nearly am,” she responded. “However, I was born Maia Gaunt and I wish to die Maia Gaunt. I want my daughter to be a Gaunt. I want my son to be a Gaunt. It’s rumored that my uncle other than Uncle Marvolo is a Gaunt through his mother, and yet he carries the name. It’s how it’s done.”
Looking exasperated, James stated, “Let’s not quarrel. You have to remain a Gaunt for Hogwarts and we don’t have children. I’d like to carry my wife over the threshold.” At this, he picked her up in his arms, and walked out of the room. They walked through several halls and Maia supposed she should be thankful her husband was both a Quidditch player and had Auror honed muscles and could carry her across the manor.
After a good seven minutes, they reached a double door with glass panes, though it fortunately had curtains. Fleamont and Euphemia were standing on either side of it, waiting for them. They each took a handle and opened the door inward so that James could carry her inside and closed the doors behind them.
Maia breathed out in wonder as she was put down. She wasn’t sure what she was expecting. Quidditch posters perhaps? Instead there were wall hangings in blues and yellows depicting Muggle battles of what seemed to be the crusades. The four poster bed, which dominated the room, was similarly made up with dusty gold sheets with royal blue hangings. In fact, the room was the bed. They entered through the doors and directly to the left was the bed against the wall, the headboard parallel to the doors, with a trunk at the base. There was just room on the other side for a bedside table and to walk around the side and the bottom of the bed. When she turned to her right there seemed to be a large closet instead of a wall hanging.
Candles were floating in the air, beautiful in their simplicity, and on the two bedside tables was each bucket of champagne with their two chalices and then a large bowl of fresh winter strawberries.
Turning to James who was watching her, she took his face between her hands and kissed him. “This is magical,” she whispered against his lips before kissing him again, a little clumsy as she wasn’t quite certain what to do.
His hands came around her waist and he pulled her flush against him.
A heat thrummed through her, her ring a pleasant warmth against her third finger, and he gently guided her to the bed.
She didn’t know what to expect. No one had prepared her. But as he stripped out his robes and left them on the floor, she carefully took off hers and laid them at the end of the bed, her shoes placed neatly on the floor. “My silly little bride,” he teased as he kissed her searingly again, his tongue sweeping out and into her mouth.
Although Maia had never made love before, she could safely say that James was a skilled lover. This would have saddened her, at the thought that there were women who came before her, but as he worshipped her body, bringing her to completion again and again, first with his fingers, then with his mouth, and again with his body, so much that she was screaming his name and prayed that the Potters were somewhere far away in the Abbey so they wouldn’t hear her—she found she couldn’t care.
When he finally joined with her, she gasped at the sting of it, and clung to her husband, whispering his name again and again like a prayer. He groaned into her shoulder. When they finally completed the bond, he whispered, “I love you,” into her hair, and the gash in her hand tingled, forming a solid gold line that would glisten even in indirect moonlight.
It was only in the small hours of the morning that Maia realized, despite the fact that James had made love to her two more times, that he had never said her name.
Severus was away from home that night—all night—although he had promised to be home for dinner. This was happening more and more. Still, Lily had dutifully spread the potion over the “x” on her hand. Around three in the morning there was a searing pain in the original scar, the one made with James Potter, and it glowed pink in the moonlight.
Lily Snape didn’t realize it, but she was pregnant.