Part the Sixteenth
Halcyone and Voldemort, 24 December, 1996-5 January, 1997
“Are you certain I can’t pick up whatever you need in Diagon Alley?” Hallie asked over lunch at Riddle House. She frankly didn’t want Cousin Marvolo anywhere near the magical shopping district in case he saw Lord Roman. He seemed to have forgotten the date they were meeting, or had pushed it from his mind—which was fine by her.
He looked up at her with kind blue eyes. “I won’t bother you, I promise. I just need one of those large blank tomes.”
“Whatever for?” she asked.
Cousin Marvolo paused. “The Dark Lord and I write notes about the running of Riddle House in it. We’ve been doing it for years, since we were young men. Your mother’s life is chronicled in those tomes, actually. Your life is now, too.” He smiled at her. “You’re my little girl.”
“Yes, and he wants to marry me,” she answered a little darkly. “I think there’s a bit of a conflict of interest when you discuss me on the page.” Finally voicing her secret fear, she admitted, “What if I don’t want to be the Dark Lady? What if I decide it is all too much? I’m not saying that I’ve chosen Lord Roman—but what if when the time comes I decide I don’t want to declare myself so absolutely—”
Taking a deep breath, her cousin looked at her. “I want to tell you that I’ll support you, but you may not have a choice.”
Their gazes held each other, bright blue and deep hazel, and she carefully nodded, showing she understood.
And in that moment she made her decision.
Hallie no longer had the need to rewear dresses. However, she had felt pretty in the wizard dress she had worn on her sixteenth birthday—and Lord Roman had not been there to see it. The white folds fell into the black lace and she paired it with black wizard tights that shimmered with fairy dust. They cost more than all of the pretty dresses the Dursleys had ever purchased for her combined. Although they didn’t necessarily match, she wore her purple booties with shag over them and bows. She managed to charm a white sweater to a similar blue-purple. It wasn’t lace but it was a pretty crochet pattern and tied the outfit together.
She did not wear the choker the Dark Lord had given her. Ever since she had thrown it in the desk, she had exclusively worn the wizard cross Draco had given her for her birthday. The friendship bracelet hung from her wrist.
A large black and white diamond headband was placed on her head, her honey blonde hair put in a high ponytail that fell to the small of her back before it was wrapped around the base of the band that secured it, swirling around and around until it was secured with pins, creating an elaborate bun.
Cosmetics were not allowed at Hogwarts even on weekends, except for Hogsmeade weekends. However, Cousin Marvolo put no such strictures on her when she was at Riddle House. Wanting to look pretty but not arouse suspicion, she put light purple eyeshadow on her eyelids, a hint of mascara, and bubblegum pink lipgloss that glistened. Hallie, of course, knew that she wouldn’t be kissing Lord Roman. They would be in public the entire time, but she wanted him to think about kissing her. Red would be more alluring, but she didn’t want her cousin to wonder why she was putting on heavy makeup that was more suitable for a date than meeting up with friends.
Her membership card read “Mabelle Halcyone Gaunt Potter” in pale blue script with “The Wicked Stepmother” in white directly beneath it, upside down. It was a strange silver color that was almost a dark blue, deeper than royal but lighter than navy. She slipped it into a clutch that had vertical stripes in the pink hues, moving from white to a deep magenta, Hallie checked the time before seeing that she and her cousin were leaving soon, and she wanted to have her coat on before he saw what she was wearing.
Just managing to slip her rabbit fur coat on and grabbing her muff, Marvolo walked into the floo room in black winter robes, dragonhide gloves on his hand.
“Are your legs going to be warm enough?” he asked solicitously.
“They will,” she answered sweetly, “if you cast a warming charm on them along with my boots. They’re lined, but I was in London yesterday and there was an inch and a half of snow when I left.”—She was guessing. That’s what it looked like through the window when she and Draco had flooed out of Grimmauld Place after Draco had taken pictures of Harry, sometimes alone, sometimes with Granger and the Weasel, in various places at Grimmauld Place. They’d actually had a bit of fun with it.
And Harry and Draco had exchanged several glances that weren’t all about the shots and positioning.
Hallie and Cousin Marvolo flooed into The Leaky Cauldron, Hallie stepping out after almost colliding with a hag who seemed to be going up for a refill of whatever she was drinking.
“So,” Hallie asked, “Where are you getting this Chronicler’s Tome, Cousin?”
“Potions suppliers usually have them. Perhaps Flourish and Blotts. I will check a few locations before making my final selection. I bought the last one before your mother was married.”
“Goodness,” Hallie replied, “that was a long time ago.”
“It was,” Cousin Marvolo agreed. “You are meeting your friends at Florean’s perhaps?”
Hesitating a moment, she replied: “No. Knockturn. I should be home for dinner.” She tried to give him a convincing smile. “Good luck.”
“Don’t eat too many sweets,” he joked as they came up to where Knockturn Alley broke off from Diagon. “I know there’s no fat or calories, but they still have sugar.”
“Ever the guardian,” she teased as she kissed his cheek before turning down the road. Aware that he was watching her, Hallie slowed her pace until she knew that her Cousin Marvolo had gone on his way, and then went directly to The Wicked Stepmother.
The sign was still as dilapidated as it had been the last time she had been there with Pansy and Draco that summer. It hung in the wind, snow almost completely obscuring the words that were carved into it. She looked at it a moment and felt a presence behind her. She turned and saw the distinct figure of Lady Malfoy in silks of all things, and she quickly went into the door.
Entering the foyer, she went up to the maître d’ and smiled. “Good afternoon,” she greeted as she took one of her hands out of her muff. “I believe I have a reservation.” Taking her membership card out of her clutch, she handed it over and the little wizard bowed over it as he took it and checked it against his large book of reservations.
“Lady Halcyone,” he greeted, handing it back. He then nodded to someone behind her, and Halcyone turned to see that Lady Malfoy had entered, her hair in a simple chignon. She looked like something unpleasant was under her nose. Suited her perfectly, actually.
Hallie nodded in greeting and then accepted her card back. She really hoped they’d be put in different parts of the club.
After her coat and muff were taken, Hallie was shown into the back and a table with a sprig of snapdragons was in a small vase in the table, obviously meant as a gift for her as The Wicked Stepmother never decorated its tables in such a way. Lord Roman was sitting, waiting, and he stood fluidly and he took her hand and lifted it to just a breath away from his lips, a tease instead of an insult, before releasing it.
“Your husband’s wife is here,” she warned as he helped her into her seat.
Roman looked at her in alarm. “I’ve avoided that woman successfully for eight months.—I suppose it can’t be helped as I don’t have her social calendar.” However, he offered her a sly smile. “I am glad to see you and was glad to get your owl.”
“Good,” she told him. “I hope you don’t mind the location. I must admit, I had to shake my cousin at the last minute. When he heard I was going out today, he suddenly had errands.” Hallie smiled at him softly. “I am, however, a Slytherin. I’ve never asked, but were you, Lord Roman? I know that your brother was.”
He smirked, which made her just want to kiss him again. She was like an addict. Once she had a taste, she just wanted more. His lips were lush in comparison to the Dark Lord’s which were almost nonexistent, barely a cushion around his mouth. When she had first met him, it was certainly attractive, it leant to his otherworldliness, but now that she had tasted Lord Roman’s lips, albeit through the cold, their lushness was undeniably addicting. She wasn’t sure she could go back.
It might have been different if Lord Roman had never kissed her—but he had—and she had kissed him back. She had always found him attractive, having a bit of a crush on him at the Quidditch World Cup, but now it was more than that.
Her attention was drawn back to Lord Roman when his lips opened to speak and she saw a hint of his tongue. Slytherin. Right. That was what she had asked. “I was,” he told her. “Slughorn was Potions Master and Head of Slytherin in my day. He had an exclusive club for O.W.L. students and above for all of the more promising and—socially prominent students.”
“Oh dear,” she murmured. “I suppose with my connections I would certainly be included.”
Leaning forward, he drawled, “Undoubtedly,” which sent her heart racing. His silver eyes were focused directly on her and she held her breath as they continued to stare at each other until they flicked up and he sat back. “Tally ho, Narcissa.”
Hallie turned around and saw Narcissa, Lady Malfoy standing imperiously behind her chair, her gray eyes, so like Sirius’s, flashing dangerously. “Roman. We haven’t seen you in nearly a year. Draco, I’m sure, misses you.”
Not answering the query, Roman instead asked, “Is Lucius here with you?”
She folded her hands and looked down. “You’ll be surprised to hear that my sister Andromeda is leaving her Mudblood husband and has offered the olive branch. It seems family does count for something, at least among the Blacks.” Lady Malfoy tilted her head to the side in silent judgment. “Whatever are you doing here with a school girl of all people?”
Lord Roman ignored the unspoken insult. Instead he very clearly stated so that the other tables around them could hear them, “I’m here to present my second courting gift, per the traditions of the House of Gaunt. You’re always telling me I should marry, are you not, sister-in-law?”
At this Lady Malfoy clearly looked surprised. She turned her attention to Hallie. “Neither my son nor your uncle told me, child. Your blood is unparalled.—I must say I am pleasantly surprised, Roman.” She had transferred her attention back to her brother-in-law.
“I’m not doing it for you, Narcissa,” he answered casually. “Would you kindly excuse us, now?”
She nodded her head before taking Hallie’s hand. Instead of shaking them in the Muggle fashion, they both lifted their hands in between them, their arms falling downward, before dropping the connection. “Lady Halcyone.”
“Lady Malfoy,” she said in farewell before the witch walked to a table a few over and sat with a witch who was simply dressed with brooding good looks and the wild black curls Sirius had had.
Roman cleared his throat when Hallie continued to look at the two sisters, wondering why they looked so little like each other. When she turned to him, she blushed. “I think your uncles are going to know where you were and who you were meeting before the day is out,” he apologized. “Would you care to choose a tea?”
Determined to put her relatives from her mind, she took the list of teas available and let her eyes wander down it. “It’s cold,” she mused. “Would you care for mulled cider instead of tea or would you prefer a nice Earl Grey?”
He looked at her for a long moment, taking her in. She merely gazed back at him.
“I could sneak off with you right now,” he told her, “and get even colder.” He was, of course, referencing the potion.
The left side of her mouth curled into a smile. “Mulled cider to get warm it is,” she decided, putting down the list. He placed his wand on the galleon that was smoothly woven into the table and repeated their order along with a request for ginger cookies and two minutes later it appeared before them.
The cup cradled in her hand, Hallie asked, “What is it you do with your time, Lord Roman? I’ve pretty much guessed you’re a man of leisure, but do you have any hobbies, any activities that you like? What do you do when you don’t read sonnets to pretty women?”
Regarding her for a long moment, he took a sip of his cider. “I must admit, Lady Halcyone, most women are content to know that I’m independently wealthy.”
She just continued to look at him over her cup. When he continued not to answer her, she gently demanded, “Well? Do you laze about and read Muggle crime fiction?”
At this he laughed, brightening up his face, his eyes sparkling. “By the gods, no.”
“Then tell me,” she begged. When he still wasn’t forthcoming, she put down her cup with a clink and folded her arms over the table in a gesture that would identify her as a Hogwarts student. “I read Muggle crime fiction in my free time. I don’t like Quidditch, as you well know. Although I’m female and should never admit it, Harry (my half-brother) got me into the Silent Sirens.”
“The heavy metal band?” Lord Roman chuckled.
“I agree,” she stated sardonically. “Hardly ladylike. I’ve been trying to figure out how to ask Cousin Marvolo if I can go to a concert without having him come along as chaperone and scare everyone away.”
“Draco likes them,” Roman offered.
“I know,” she whispered. “We listen to them on the wizarding wireless together.” Hallie lifted a finger up to her lips in jest. “I’m interested in blood politics. Lily Snape knew I was a witch and never told me. Then I thought I was a half-blood until I discovered I wasn’t. In a sudden turn of events about a year ago, I discovered I was Sacred Twenty-Eight—and then I am now related to one of the most feared wizards in Europe. I’ve transformed so many times I don’t even know who I am. I both love and despise my half-brother, who is a half-blood. I both respect and loathe my father, because he gave me life and begat this same half-brother. It’s so terribly complicated, Lord Roman. If I am a blood purist like most if not all of Slytherin, I am rejecting my own brother. If I accept him, then I tear out the only piece of my mother I have left.” She looked at him with honest hazel eyes and he reached out and placed a hand over hers, the metal links of his vined ring showing in the light of the tea room.
“I care nothing for blood politics,” he admitted. “I will marry a pureblood because it is expected of me, and I will encourage my children to associate with purebloods because it is our way of life and it must be protected, but not out of a sense of superiority.”
“Why was it you who gave me that note then?” she asked in shock.
“My brother Lucius was given the task as he is a school governor,” he told her with a wry smile, “and I wanted to see you.”
She sat back and took Roman in. “He knows. Lord Malfoy knows you’ve been sweet on me, doesn’t he?”
“We may disagree on our opinion of a certain individual,” (his eyes slid over to the Black sisters) “but we tell each other many aspects of our lives. Not all, of course, there is too much of an age difference for that, but many. Who do you think I took into my confidence so I could sit next to you at the World Cup?”
Giving him that half-smile again, she complimented, “You sly thing. I had no idea.”
“You’re unlike most pureblood witches,” he told her simply, picking up his cup and taking a drink. “I daresay if I asked most witches if they were truly blonde and if they were a pureblood, they would know I was asking them because I was interested in marriage even if they were only fourteen.” He smirked at her over the rim of her cup. “Then again, the witch might think I was asking on behalf of my dear nephew. He is more eligible than I will ever be. I wonder that you don’t chase after him.”
Hallie scoffed. “Never! It would be like chasing after my own half-brother!” She shuddered at the thought. “Now I’m going to have that horrible thought in my head.”
“Then let me take it out,” he offered as he withdrew a strange teal box from his coat pocket with a white ribbon.
Not recognizing the jeweler, Hallie nonetheless took it and undid the ribbon. She opened the box and immediately smiled. It was a double stranded silver necklace with the word “kiss” written out in large cursive diamonds. “This is Muggle,” she stated, not criticizing. “I’ve seen a few girls with their names in this style.”
“It is Muggle,” he answered with a sigh. “It was the only way I could give you a ‘kiss’, I’m afraid, that would last longer than two minutes.”
Glancing between him and the box, she asked sweetly, “Well, are you going to put it on me, Lord Roman?”
The familiar smirk graced his face and he got up, coming up behind her. He carefully undid her wizard cross and handed it over to her. She took it in her hands, letting her fingers flutter over it, before putting it safely in her clutch. Next, he took the jewelry box and removed the ‘kiss’. It was cold, at first, against her skin, but once it was secured, Roman let his fingers rest on the back of her neck until her vined ring started stinging and he quickly backed away.
As he took his seat, she asked with a smile, “How do I look, Lord Roman?”
He looked at her pensively. “I honestly can’t decide. You look like the perfect pureblood witch except for the necklace, which clashes wonderfully.” He took in a steadying breath and seemed to settle into himself. “I like that I’ve marked you.”
“Wizards,” she sighed happily. “Is that all you ever think about?”
“We think about other things,” he refuted.
“Such as?” she teased.
At this, they started laughing together.
When she finally made it home, she had forgotten to change the necklace back out. Cousin Marvolo looked at her neck and touched the necklace. “That is inappropriate,” he finally decided.
“I don’t think so,” she argued. “They’re all the rage in the Muggle world, and I asked for a kiss—I didn’t think Lord Roman could actually do it.” Not without the potion, anyway. “I have two suitors, I’m allowed two necklaces. Lady Malfoy saw us together, by the way. She’s positively thrilled.”
“I allow you Lord Roman so that you can have a more relaxing courtship and not have the pressures of being the Dark Lady always upon you. I know what the Dark Lord is like. I am not blind. However, it is ill advised to spread gossip about a courtship that will never come to fruition.”
And the fact that it was forbidden made Hallie want it all the more. “Lord Roman is cultured, wealthy, a pureblood, Sacred Twenty-Eight—”
“A younger son,” Cousin Marvolo sneered, which was unlike him and made Hallie curl into herself. Sighing, he reached out for her and pulled her toward her. “I’m sorry, Halcyone. I didn’t mean to frighten you.”
“He’s real. He’s here. The Dark Lord is somehow not here. It’s like he’s gone most of the time and I can’t explain it.”
Stroking the top of her head, Cousin Marvolo looked at the ceiling in desperation, but said nothing. The two cousins just stood there, the third Gaunt blatantly missing.
The Fidelius Charm had been taken off of Number Twelve, Grimmauld Place. Hallie flooed into it with Draco. They decided not to include Lord Roman because it would make Lady Malfoy far too happy. Once again in pureblood black with the ‘kiss’ necklace around her neck, Hallie was ready for her photograph to be taken. However, she was surprised to see over a dozen individuals sitting around the wooden kitchen table, Dumbledore at the head of it.
“You can’t all live here,” she stated in confusion, looking around. “Professor Snape?”
He was sitting there in his black robes, his hair lank around his face. He didn’t look at all happy to see her or Draco. Neither did Mrs. Snape and she was sitting directly next to him.
Clearing her throat and looking over at Draco, she asked, “Er—is Harry here? We’re taking some photographs.”
“Not of Grimmauld Place, I’m afraid, Miss Gaunt,” Dumbledore stated kindly, his robes as blinding as ever.
“I’m afraid, Professor,” she stated quite clearly. “That this is my house. I co-own it with my half-brother. You may be guests of Harry, but I can do whatever I like. Now, is he in?” When everyone was looking at each other, she gave up and just walked toward the stairs into the main house.
“Hallie!” Professor Snape called after her. “Heir Draco!”
Merely waving her hand at him, she continued her trek up the stairs only to find all the Hogwarts students that had been there earlier that month on the landing. “Harry!” she greeted. “Professor Dumbledore is downstairs. Do you have any idea why?”
“Er—” he stated, scratching the back of his head. He looked between the two friends, but Draco merely grabbed him and they went into the Tapestry Room where they were going to take the first round of pictures. If Draco’s hand seemed to linger a little long on Harry’s wrist, no one commented.
The deep sleep was sometimes difficult to wake from, especially when it was unexpected. The Dark Lord shook off the tiredness from his limbs and found himself wearing black robes that felt utterly uncomfortable. He thought he heard a door open, but he didn’t pay attention. Sitting up, he looked at his hands and felt that they were wrong. The fingers elongated, the nails growing, turning sharp and hard. Next his arms became thinner, more muscled, the skin on his body much paler.
Not bothering to go to the mirror, he let his hair wash away from his body, leaving only his bald head behind. His blue eyes shone out of his eyes which turned downward into slits, the lids smoothing out until they were gone. Finally the nose flattened until it was completely gone.
The door creaked and there was a gasp, and he turned quickly to see Mabelle standing in the door, looking at him in utter shock. “Coz-Cousin Marvo-volo?” she whispered in shock. She had gone unusually pale, but she was still unerringly beautiful.
However, she shouldn’t be here. She shouldn’t know. No one should know, the secret too safely guarded despite the rumors, the mirage carefully in place for decades—all to be witnessed by nothing more than a common school girl.
Blood boiling, the Dark Lord glared at her with all the hatred he felt cursing through his veins. “Get out!” he screamed in his high-pitched voice, knowing that she had to leave, that she had to unsee.
However, Mabelle just stood there, her hazel eyes staring at him.
Leaping from the bed, he took the door in his hands, his blue slits of eyes staring into hers, which were wide with fright. “I said,” he intoned dangerously, “get out.” And she was gone.
The Dark Lord slammed the door behind her.
He thought that she was moping in her room, but he learned from the house elves the next day that her trunk was gone. After activating the log of the floo, he discovered nothing. On the thirtieth of December, three days before it seemed the train would leave for Hogwarts, he finally broke down and sent her an owl. She never responded.
Before he fell into a deep sleep on the fifth of January, he wrote in the fresh tome that Marvolo Gaunt had purchased about what happened. He filled nearly three pages with the plans he had made with the Death Eaters, with the raids he had carried out, and then he put in two lines:
Mabelle saw the change and disappeared into the night. I can’t find her.
Why didn’t we tell her?
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