Part the Fifteenth
Halcyone and Voldemort, 21-23 December, 1996
Uncle Marvolo was not there to pick up Hallie from Platform Nine-and-Three-Quarters. She watched as her annoying half-brother was greeted by the Weasleys. He saw his parents every day at Hogwarts so he spent his holidays with his best friend, while his little brother Clemens Snape did… well, she frankly never cared enough to find out. Of course, Christmas Day had always been traditionally spent at the Dursleys until Fourth Year when she had been invited by the Malfoys.
And Professor Snape had valiantly fought for her to go.
Mrs. Snape hadn’t wanted her anyway.
She looked over at Blaise who was still waiting for his mother, and they exchanged a wry look. “Floo?” she checked as they regarded the thinning station.
“Mama is always here,” he told her. “She’s probably just on a date.”
She rubbed her hand up and down his arm and walked over to the large fireplace where there was a queue. As she waited, no one turned up for her until, finally, an out of breath Barty Crouch, Jr. appeared. Hallie looked up at him in confusion and lifted a brow. “What are you doing here?”
“Your admirer sent me,” he told her quite plainly. “It appears your cousin will be unable to make it.”
She grit her teeth and nodded simply, indicating her maple trunk, which he quickly shrunk for her and put in his pocket. Her lame cat Faustus was in her arms. She petted him absently with her dragonhide gloves, the black a stark contrast to his orange tiger fur. Breathing out, she followed Monsieur Barty out to an apparition point.
“I knew your mother,” Monsieur Barty told her carefully when they took up position and prepared to Apparate. “She was one of my dearest friends. I was one of the few guests at her wedding.”
“Did Dad love Mum?” she asked. “It’s only—there’s Harry Potter—”
“I know,” he whispered quietly, putting a kind hand on her shoulder. “I do think, however, that he loved her very much.”
With that they Apparated, spinning on their heels and arriving in the Apparition room in Riddle House. It was eerily quiet and she walked out into the manor proper. “Hello?” she called and a high nasally voice called back, “In here.”
She recognized those tones, and she glanced back at Monsieur Barty, who indicated that she should step forward.
Carefully, she moved to the drawing room. It was a room she had never entered before because the large mahogany doors were closed and Cousin Marvolo had asked her never to open doors that were closed for the simple sake of privacy.
Coming in, she saw that it was a gentleman’s room, with a cigar table and a side bar full of various liquors. A large fireplace dominated the room with a portrait of a witch, sickly, with dishwater hair and blue eyes blinking down at them. The Dark Lord was standing impeccably dressed in red robes, staring down at her. “I am sorry, Mabelle, that you were left at King’s Cross. I didn’t realize the date and your cousin did not inform me. A simple miscommunication that I will be having words with him about.”
“Where is Cousin Marvolo?” she asked carefully.
The portrait of the witch turned her attention to Hallie, her watery blue eyes taking her in hungrily.
“Marvolo,” the Dark Lord answered, “is away on business. I expect he will be back soon.” He turned and looked at her. “Did you have a rewarding term, Mabelle?”
Coming further into the room, she answered, “I did, thank you, Dark Lord. I’m competing with a Mudblood for the position of Head Girl next year and I hope that I have an edge on her. I am a pureblood, after all, but it’s the marks that decide it. We have the same electives and I have beaten her out in Defense Against the Dark Arts, or so the rumors suggest.”
“So you’re studying hard?” he asked, his hands placed behind his back as he approached her. When he was close enough to touch her, he reached out and took her hand, tracing her vined ring and then lifting his eyes to the matching choker around her neck. “I see you do not forget me.”
“Why would I forget you?” she asked him, a little afraid now. “You’ve been so kind to me.”
He dropped her hand harshly and turned back to the portrait, “I do not wish to be kind to you, child. I wish to win you.”
Placing her hand over the choker, she began simply, “You are my cousin and I respect you, Dark Lord—”
“I do not want your respect,” he argued, placing his hands on the mantle. “I want your devotion, your complete submission to me,” and then in no more than a whisper, “your love.”
However, she didn’t hear the third of his wishes. “You will never have my submission, Dark Lord,” she practically spat. “What do you take me for? A common half-blood?” Angrily, she turned to leave, and no one left the Dark Lord’s presence without being dismissed.
Still, he simply watched her go.
Hallie passed Monsieur Barty in the hall and grimaced at him. Still, she hurried forward, going up the back stairway to her room where she found that red roses were on every available surface. An anger boiled through her and she smashed the first of the ornamental vases with her bare hands as she wasn’t allowed to use magic outside Hogwarts, watching it fall to pieces and the roses scatter across the floor. She looked at her destruction, breathing heavily, and noticed that there were at least half a dozen more vases and she couldn’t destroy them all and still walk around her room. Picking them each up, she shoved them into the far corner of her room and covered them with a shawl so she wouldn’t have to look at them. With the heel of her boot, she scraped the remains of the broken vase over to the corner and, though it wasn’t perfect, it was certainly better.
Her trunk was under one of her windows, where it always sat. Hallie opened it up and then realized she had monogrammed stationary at her desk. Taking out a small notecard, she simply wrote, Where are you? The Wicked Stepmother, Muggle Christmas Eve, 3pm. I will make reservations. MHG
Taking out a second notecard, she picked up her quill and realized she didn’t know how to make a request.
Tea for Two.
3 pm on 24 December.
Reservation: Lady Mabelle Halcyone Gaunt.
Please Reply to Riddle House, Yorkshire.
There, that seemed to be the right of it. She addressed it to the maître d’ of The Wicked Stepmother, Knockturn Alley, London. That should get there.
Before heading to the owlery, she took off the choker and tossed it into the desk, not bothering to put it away. Going into her trunk, she took out the wizard’s cross Draco had given her for her sixteenth birthday. Hallie doubted she would be wearing the choker anytime soon.
She took dinner in her room, refusing to see the Dark Lord and waiting for both replies and for her Cousin Marvolo to return. At some point during the night while she slept, the roses were taken away from her room and the shards of the porcelain vase were picked out of her carpet. Hallie supposed they had house elves although she had never seen one.
Hallie rose late the next morning and decided to dare the breakfast room. She found that only Monsieur Barty was there and she gave him a small smile as she made up her plate. “Is Cousin Marvolo home yet?”
“No,” he answered carefully. “The Dark Lord asked me to look after you and is keeping himself to parts of the Manor he thinks you won’t venture into. He understands that you’re angry.”
“I am angry,” she answered simply as she sat with her Canadian bacon and an egg, sunny side up. “I realize he is a powerful wizard, but I am not one of his Death Eaters.”
“He knows that. He knows you are family. He knows that you are more than that. He is just—” Monsieur Barty paused. “Forgive me, Lady Halcyone. He knows about Lord Roman.”
She glared at him. “I know he knows about Lord Roman. He threatened me via letter about the situation. I thought it was all taken care of—and he didn’t even bring it up yesterday! However, I am surprised you are within his confidence as this is clearly a Gaunt matter.” Hallie turned back to her breakfast and Barty Crouch, Jr. fortunately didn’t say another word.
She was walking the snow covered ground of the gardens, wearing a rabbit fur coat and hat in the Russian style, her hands in a muff, when a regal owl appeared grasping a single sunflower and a letter. She immediately accepted the offering and smiled at the floral gift, glancing up at the sun that was obstructed by clouds. She breathed in deeply and turned to the letter that was on expensive parchment of Egyptian papyrus.
It was Lord Roman’s hand, from what she could tell. It was one sentence: As my lady commands. No word on where he was, which meant probably that he didn’t want Draco to know. He was close enough for an owl to get to him and back to her within a day. That would mean the British Isles, then, perhaps one of the lesser Malfoy properties. Maybe just across the channel, if he felt like venturing a little further afield. She knew how much he disliked Narcissa, Lady Malfoy.
She heard the crunch of snow behind her and turned to see the welcome sight of Cousin Marvolo.
“There you are!” she cried as she threw herself in his arms. “I was worried about you.”
He held her close and whispered, “No need to worry about me, Halcyone. I would never leave you alone for long. I’m sorry I wasn’t there to pick you up at the train station, although perhaps that is best as I’m rather recognizable as a supporter of the Takeover.”
Hallie looked at him wryly. “So is half of Slytherin.”
He tweaked her nose. “I am a little more than others.—Now, I heard you quarreled with my brother.”
“Brother?” she asked in shock. “The Dark Lord is your brother?”
Looking slightly uncomfortable, Cousin Marvolo admitted, “We share a mother: Merope Gaunt. Think no more of it, however, dear.” He ran his fingers down the side of her cheek. “But you quarreled.”
“He wants me to submit to him,” she stated angrily. “I have never submitted to anyone in my life. Not to the Dursleys, not to Lily Snape, not to the Slytherins who at first thought I was nothing but a filthy half-blood. I do not submit to Draco Malfoy no matter what anyone says. He’s my dearest friend and my guide. I will certainly not start submitting now.”
“Of course not,” Cousin Marvolo sighed, taking her in his arms and running a hand up and down her back. She was careful not to crush her flower as she curled her arms around him, the muff in one hand, the sunflower and letter in the other. “I will be having words with him. He’s never courted a young lady. He doesn’t know what it means to be equal in the true Slytherin sense. His mother, from what we can tell, submitted to his father in all things and she was the worse for it. He hates what his father did to Merope Gaunt—we hate what both our fathers did. She was weak and insecure—so unlike you—but he’s never seen anything else. And, remember, he’s from a different generation than you. He’s the same generation as your grandfather. It was a different time then.”
“Of course,” she sighed into his chest. “It’s just difficult.”
“Now,” he stated, cheer entering his voice. “I know the Dark Lord would not have sent you a sunflower. It never would occur to him.”
“No,” she agreed. “This is from Lord Roman.” She pulled back and displayed it before bringing it to her nose, pollen coming off of it and yellowing her skin.
Cousin Marvolo laughed. “What does the young man have to say for himself?”
“Young?” she squawked. “He’s older than I am!”
“The boy is not yet thirty,” Cousin Marvolo stated as he leaned down the few inches between them, kissing her forehead. “You forget that I am several decades older than that.”
“True,” she sighed. “We’re meeting Christmas Eve for tea at The Wicked Stepmother.”
“The next courting gift?” Cousin Marvolo asked as he took her arm and they began to walk along the sleeping flower beds.
She shrugged. “Perhaps. I asked him—so perhaps not.”
Cousin Marvolo turned to her. “That is certainly daring of you. It is unusual for a witch to arrange such rendez-vous.”
“I was angry at the Dark Lord,” she explained. “I came into my bedchamber and it was covered with red roses after he wanted me to be ‘devoted’ and ‘submit’. I couldn’t take it. Lord Roman and I speak around each other. He teases me. He flatters me a little. It’s far more preferable. Plus, I want to slip a letter to Draco without Lady Malfoy getting in the way.”
“You don’t like that witch, do you?” Lord Marvolo asked.
“No,” she agreed. “I certainly don’t.”
The cousins just continued to walk until eventually they decided to go into the village. “Your mother,” Cousin Marvolo confessed as they settled into the pub, “came here the day before her Seventh Year with her dearest friends—the Slythinclaws.”
“Slythinclaws?” she asked in confusion.
“They were Slytherins with the lone Ravenclaw,” he told her. Sitting back, he clearly thought. “There was Maia, Regulus Black, Barty Crouch, Jr. in Ravenclaw, and of course his wife, whose name I can never remember. She was a Selwyn, though, and also in Slytherin.”
“It’s strange to think that history is repeating itself. The four of them—the four of us.” She held out her bracelet for him to see. “I think they’re in alphabetical order. Blaise got them for us. Draco Malfoy, Halcyone Gaunt, Pansy Parkinson, and Blaise Zabini.”
“What a thoughtful gift,” Cousin Marvolo stated, fingering the letters individually.
“So Mum and the Slythinclaws,” Hallie pressed as she withdrew her wrist.
“Bit of Muggle baiting,” he admitted, “here in this very pub. The Dark Lord had been sighted in the graveyard near here so the Aurors were on alert for any—unusual—activity. Well, they were nearly caught. They had to disillusion themselves and snuck back to the manor. It was a near thing.” He laughed. “That’s when I started the rule about no Muggle baiting. It’s amazing James Potter wasn’t involved—he was an Auror by then, if I recall.”
She smiled at the memory of her mother. “I’ve never baited myself,” she admitted as she was mistakenly served a glass of white wine. She didn’t think she looked eighteen, but she wasn’t going to complain. Hallie was within six months of being of age in the magical world. Close enough, in her opinion.
“I don’t particularly indulge myself,” Cousin Marvolo admitted. “That’s more your suitor’s line of entertainment.”
“I’ll go if Draco can ever convince Harry,” Hallie mused to herself, taking a sip of her wine.
“What does the Malfoy heir have to do with your half-brother?” Cousin Marvolo asked.
“Absolutely no idea,” she lied, thinking of the way they were always sparring with each other and there was a thin line between love and hate. She had to get them together somehow. “Any idea how I have a half-brother anyway? Harry has no idea because the Snapes were ‘married’ by then. My parents were married. Didn’t Dad wear a vined ring?”
“No,” Marvolo admitted carefully. “He didn’t believe in the things.—I don’t know what happened, but I know Maia didn’t leave him over it and if he had so much as looked at Lily Snape after their marriage, she would have put him under a Cruciatus.”
Nodding, Hallie took in all the information, trying to puzzle out the past. It was all so terribly confusing.
The sunflower was placed in a clear vase next to her bed and the doors to the gentleman’s room was once again closed.
On the twenty-third, her second full day home, Draco flooed over and had a mischievous look on his face. No need for a letter, then. “I want to annoy Mater,” he told her plainly.
“How would you do that?” she asked him simply as she sat in the living room, the portrait of Maia Gaunt looking between the two friends.
“Well, Uncle Roman has debunked somewhere, this time talking about a blonde,” he looked at her hair pointedly. “She was complaining about how Aunt Bellatrix had inherited Leigh Place where she grew up and Sirius Black had Grimmauld Place. I thought—who inherited from Cousin Sirius?”
“Harry and I jointly,” she informed him. “I’ve never been. Harry has. I told my half-twin that I wanted nothing to do with the place until I graduate, at which point I intended to move in.” She looked about her. “I might not need to anymore.”
“Who owns the Potter residences?” Draco asked in confusion.
“Oh,” she answered as he took a seat. “The cottage is destroyed and the Abbey went to the nearest legitimate male relative. Although Harry can carry the name ‘Potter’, he’s legitimate and yet not-quite-there.” Hallie stated this carefully as she looked at Draco for any sign that he might fancy her half-brother. “So, it went to some distant cousin.”
“Hmm,” he stated, clearly thinking. “Let’s go see Grimmauld Place and take pictures of you sitting on the furniture just to bother her.”
Hallie rolled her eyes. “You’re so childish sometimes.” Still, she got up and smoothed out her robes.
There was the odd Death Eater or supporter about, but she soon found her Cousin Marvolo, informed him that she was “out with Heir Draco”, and they took to the floo room. However, they couldn’t get through to Grimmauld Place. Either of them.
“Oh, dear,” she stated. “This is going to take interesting magic.”
She looked at him. “Are there any points near there?”
They had to go back into the manor proper and find a guide to Apparition Points in London, and then found an alleyway about a quarter of a mile away. Taking it with them so they had a clear map, they already had a camera that Hallie had told Draco looked like it was from the 1940s. Still, it was magical.
They twirled on the heels of their feet, and appeared in an alley.
“We don’t look like Muggles,” Hallie realized as she took them in. They were dressed in pureblood black, but she was once again wearing a shirt that was sheer black lace over beige silk that went to her wrists, making her look naked, and dragonhide trousers under her rabbit fur coat and hat. Draco wasn’t much better.
“They’ll be too cold to notice,” he reasoned from his leather coat that went down to four inches above his ankles, a wizard cross on an armband around his upper arm. It looked rather like a military uniform.
She inclined her head and they began to trudge through the cold. “At least we have warming charms and there’s little snow.”
It took them less than ten minutes to reach Grimmauld Place, but they couldn’t find Number Twelve.
“Great,” Draco realized. “Your half-wit of a brother put it under the Fidelius Charm.”
“You know,” she stated casually, looking both ways and then taking her out her wand and cutting the pad of her left thumb. “He has black hair like Pansy. Similar green eyes. His lips are a bit fuller, but still, the resemblance is there.”
“Shut. Up,” Draco begged, and she just laughed.
She carefully placed her thumb on her forehead and drew a cross inside a circle and did the same for Draco. “That should get through the Fidelius since I own the place.”
Draco waited beside her impatiently—“How long does it tae—”
Then a dilapidated door appeared and a townhouse of gray stone pushed its way from between numbers eleven and thirteen.
“Oh, this place just looks like it needs a lot of work.”
“Hey,” she stated, slapping the back of her hand against his chest. “You’re half a Black. I have no Black blood in me. I just inherited the place.”
She trotted up the steps and opened up the front door, going in. It seemed there was a troll’s foot that was serving as an umbrella holder. The place was rather dank and dark and a portrait started wailing about Mudbloods and blood traitors.
“My kind of woman,” Draco murmured.
They began to approach the portrait but a witch with bubblegum pink hair came rushing up from the stairs to the right, and yanked the curtains closed. She looked disdainfully at the now silent curtains and then turned back toward the stairway. “I’ll take a look around,” she shouted.
“No need to look,” Hallie told her quite plainly. “What are you doing in my house? Did my half-brother invite you?”
The witch sputtered and her nose changed shape. Hallie and Draco just stared.
“Is Harry even here?” Hallie asked calmly as if the woman’s hair didn’t just become a neon blue. “Or are you squatting under a Fidelius Charm I never gave my permission for?” Taking an ominous step forward, Hallie let her eyes flick over the witch from top to bottom. “Who are you?”
The witch, however, didn’t answer. “Harry!” she called instead.
There was a long pause and someone appeared on the landing upstairs. Well, several someones. Most of them had ginger hair.
“Hallie!” Harry greeted in shock. “You’re here? With Malfoy?”
“We decided to play a prank on an unsuspecting Black by taking pictures of me in this house,” she told him with a smile. “I thought you’d appreciate the irony. However, I find there are people here and there is a Fidelius Charm on our house—as in yours and mine. Sirius Black was my father’s best mate.”
“You forget that your father was my father.”
“Through chance,” she answered, approaching the staircase. “He was married to my mother at the time.”
“Allegedly,” he argued back, but it was good natured. Harry was coming down the stairs now and when he reached the bottom he hugged her. “Sirius’s friends rather hang out here.”
“Ah,” she stated. “You could have told me.”
“Well,” he stated, scratching the back of his head. “They were here before he died, and they just rather stayed on. I didn’t mind, and you said you didn’t want the house until the end of Seventh Year—plus you’re living with that cousin of yours now.” He snuck a glance at Draco, Hallie was pleased to see.
“Harry, I want the Fidelius down. I want to be able to come to my house without having to resort to blood magic.”
Swallowing, her brother glanced at her forehead and then over at Draco. “Right. I see the problem.”
“As it is,” she continued. “I can’t wipe the blood off my forehead without being ejected, and I can’t take the photographs I wanted with blood all over me!” Making a signal toward her forehead, she stated. “Harry!”
Draco came up with his camera. “We could take pictures of Potter,” he suggested carefully, “then come back later in the holiday and take ones with both you and Uncle Roman? That would make Mater particularly angry. I can leave it as a present for her to find when we go back to Hogwarts, or owl it once we’re safely back.”
Hallie turned to him. “You really want to get a Howler?”
“Not particularly. But it will be worth it.” He grinned at the two siblings. “What do you say, Potter? Feel like annoying Lady Malfoy?”
“Will it annoy your dad?” he asked after a long moment.
“Well, Mater will screech a lot,” Draco posited. “It will certainly give him a headache.”
Harry smiled devilishly. “Then I’m all in.”
“And you’ll lift the Fidelius and owl me as soon as I can come back—otherwise I will take whoever put it up to court, because I know it wasn’t you, brother.”
Rolling his eyes, Harry offered his pinky finger in the sign among Muggle children that an agreement was being reached. And, without hesitating, Hallie accepted.