Part the Eighteenth
Halcyone and Voldemort, 2-3 January, 1997
Hallie arrived in the kitchen of Number Twelve, Grimmauld Place with a resounding crack and fell into the kitchen table. There were only three people sitting at it and one of them was Professor Lupin. Tears streaming down her cheek, she asked, “Is my brother here?”
“Yes,” he told her kindly, coming over to her and putting a hand on her back. “I think he’s here with someone or other.”
He was in the Tapestry Room, reading a book of all things (and since when did Harry read?) with Clemens playing chess with one of the Weasley twins. As soon as Harry saw her, he was on his feet and coming over to her. She dropped her satchel on the floor and embraced him, crying on his shoulder. “It was horrible!” she sighed as she snuggled into him. “I didn’t know where else to go that was safe. Where he wouldn’t look for me.”
“What was horrible?” Harry asked in confusion.
Clemens had come up, tall for his age with Professor Snape’s black eyes.
Harry tossed his head toward the door and Hallie looked over her shoulder as Clemens reluctantly left with the Weasley twin, who gave them the thumbs up. Leading her over to the couch, Harry pushed her down. She remembered taking pictures there just a few days ago with Draco.
She breathed in through her nose and looked at Harry, who looked absolutely nothing like her. “I—” she tried to explain, but found that she couldn’t. “Oh my god.” She placed her face in her hands and tried not to cry.
Rubbing circles on her back, Harry remained patiently silent.
After awhile, Hallie heard the door open and close again, and the familiar voice of Professor Snape sounded as he put up a privacy spell. A moment later she heard the swish of robes and she looked up to see her not-quite-stepfather in front of her. He crouched down and looked her in the eyes.
“What’s wrong, Halcyone?” he asked her kindly but sternly. “Is something wrong at Riddle House?”
“You could say that,” she whispered brokenly. “Cousin Marvolo left—and I don’t know when he’s coming back.”
Professor Snape sighed. “Harry, I need you to leave and not speak of this. Don’t mention this to your mother, if you will. This has to do with Slytherin House, and I hope you will respect that.”
“She’s my sister—” Harry began to protest.
“And Lily, while your mother, is not her mother. You share a father, boy. Do you understand me?” His black eyes stared at Harry with a fierceness Hallie had never before seen from Professor Snape. She swallowed, but said nothing.
There was clearly a battle of wills and then, finally, Harry muttered, “Yes, sir,” and got up and left.
Sighing, Professor Snape carefully stood and took Harry’s place on the couch. He managed to procure a clean handkerchief from up his sleeve, which was monogrammed, and gave it to her.
Hallie carefully wiped her eyes, knowing she wouldn’t smudge her magical makeup, but careful nonetheless.
“I have been at Riddle House when the Dark Lord has been present,” Professor Snape told her carefully. “I know you have been there as well when your Cousin Marvolo has been away on a mission. What makes this so different?”
She turned toward him with a hard stare, assessing him. “You must know. Everything Draco has ever said makes sense, and if he knows, Lord Malfoy knows. If Lord Malfoy knows, then you must know as well. ‘Lord Marvolo and the Dark Lord are two sides of the same coin.’ Or ‘They are like Janus, the two faced god.’ I was so stupid. My cousin left, Uncle Severus,” she stated, using her name for him from when she was a child, before she went to Hogwarts. “He left and I saw him go.” Her eyes flashed red, although she didn’t realize it and Severus nearly recoiled at the sight.
Taking a moment, Professor Snape then admitted, “To my knowledge, no one has seen either Lord Marvolo or the Dark Lord come or go. Does either one know you witnessed this?”
She nodded, looking down at the handkerchief. “The Dark Lord saw me when he—arrived.” She sobbed. “It was horrible. He shouted for me to get out. He slammed the door in my face. I couldn’t stay—not with that. Why would Cousin Marvolo leave me? He knows the Dark Lord and I fought last time he was here, which was the beginning of break.”
“No one knows why one goes and the other comes,” Professor Snape admitted. “We just know that it happens. Each has his strengths, his weaknesses. Each is our leader in different ways. Lord Marvolo has our respect, the Dark Lord our fear.—May I ask what you and the Dark Lord fought about? I know he prized Lady Maia. I remember it well from my time at Hogwarts. He was furious when he learned that she had married James Potter. It is said he murdered her in cold blood for it.”
At this, Hallie snapped her head up. “The Dark Lord murdered Mum and no one bothered to tell me?”
“Only the Dark Lord knows for certain if he murdered Lady Maia,” Professor Snape answered carefully, not looking at her, instead staring into the distance. “You would have been no more than a month old, maybe two or three. I’m not certain. No one even knew that Lady Maia was pregnant even though that would have been her last year at Hogwarts. Somehow she kept it secret.” He licked his lips, which must have been dry from nerves. “Halcyone, you are the closest thing I have to a daughter. Please tell me what you fought about.”
However, she said nothing.
Carefully, Professor Snape asked, “Does it have to do with the fact that both the Dark Lord and Lord Marvolo intend for you to become the Dark Lady?”
Hallie’s head snapped up toward him. “You know?”
“Both Lily and I know, but we’ve told no one,” he confessed. “Lord Marvolo told us himself when he first learned of your existence and came looking for information.” He had turned toward her by now. “What was it?”
And then it all came out. “Everything was fine. I found his magic intoxicating. I believed him strangely alluring. However, do you know Lord Roman Malfoy?”
“Of course,” he replied. “You know I am acquainted with Lord Malfoy. We are actually good friends. Roman was actually at Hogwarts with me, albeit he was a first year my seventh. What of him?”
“I’ve known him since the World Cup? He showed an interest in me—I didn’t know it was anything other than I was a friend of Draco’s. But we bantered together, and it grew. I started noticing him, and it seemed he noticed me. When he began to court me, I found him refreshingly human.” She took a deep breath. “Not that the Dark Lord isn’t human. It’s just—he’s the Dark Lord and that’s terrifying. I don’t want to be the Dark Lady. I don’t want to marry another Gaunt.—When he learned of Lord Roman, he threatened me or Lord Roman. I’m not sure. The threat was vague, which is odd for him. You remember the note. Then when I saw him at the beginning of break, he told me he wanted me to be devoted to him. He wanted me to submit to him.” She scoffed. “As if.”
Professor Snape considered for a long moment. “The Dark Lord is used to submission from his servants,” he finally decided on. “He probably does not know to not expect it from a wife.”
“I don’t care. I will not submit. I will not be threatened. I will not go through a farce of a courtship when he goes through the dance, but doesn’t seem to mean it. Draco convinced me at the beginning that the Dark Lord wanted me for more than just my name, but I honestly don’t believe that anymore.” And she realized she didn’t. He wanted her because she was a Gaunt and probably because she was beautiful as well as young and he had an inclination at this point in his life to produce an heir. “But it was horrible,” she admitted, “just watching it happen. I love Cousin Marvolo. He’s the father I never had. To see him stripped away like that. Why would he leave me?” Hallie had begun to cry again.
Taking the handkerchief in his hand, Professor Snape began to dry her eyes himself. “I don’t know, Halcyone. I don’t know why he would leave you.”
“I hate the Dark Lord,” she confessed. “I thought I hated before” (her mind turned to Mrs. Snape) “but I’ve never hated like I hate now. He took my cousin from me. He wants to take Roman from me. Roman.” She sighed. “If only Roman were here.” Pulling her legs up onto the couch despite the fact that she was wearing her favorite purple booties, she tucked her feet under her.
In a deep voice, Professor Snape confessed, “My situation with Lily was a complicated and a singular one, but I have found from observing my Slytherins that young witches are often emotionally attached to the wizards who are courting them.” He hesitated. “It’s difficult with you being here. This place is compromised, especially with Draco Malfoy coming and going—but would you like Roman to come if I can get him here? I know from Lucius that he is rarely at the Manor.”
She sighed. “I wouldn’t know what to say. I wouldn’t want to seem like a silly girl.”
“I don’t think you’re being silly. You’ve been through a trauma.—Now,” he handed her back the handkerchief. “Have you brought your things or do you just have the satchel? Would you like to stay here? We’re full up but the house elf, Kreacher, has kept Regulus Black’s room as a shrine to him. I think I can talk him into preparing it for you.”
Hallie looked at him. “I was expecting to stay.” Her voice was firm. “This is my house—along with Harry.”
“Of course,” he responded. “Your things,” Professor Snape responded.
“I brought my trunk.”
He nodded and stood. “I should have this sorted within half an hour. You may stay here or perhaps get some food. Speak to Harry or the other students, if that pleases you.” Then without looking back he swept from the room in a swirl of his black robes. She watched him go.
She ended up lying on the couch, covering her eyes with her arm, and falling asleep. When she awoke, it was to a house elf staring at her.
“Mistress,” the ugly creature greeted with a bow. “I be Kreacher.” Oh, so it was named after what it was. How pleasant.
Sitting up she nodded to it. “Am I staying in Regulus Black’s room?”
“That is being so,” he answered in a crotchety voice, which seemed to be his modus operandi. “Kreacher be happy to serve a Gaunt Lady. Most proud. Mistress misses dinner but Kreacher saved a plate.”
“Thank you,” she responded, standing. Taking out her wand, she summoned her satchel and followed the house elf up the stairs to the third floor and a room that had blue walls and was impeccably clean. The double bed had clean white sheets and the desk was bare. “This will do nicely. I don’t know what the house rules are, but I don’t wish to see anyone. Can you bring me my dinner?”
Dinner turned out to be spaghetti bolognaise, which was adequate but not what she liked. She’d have to talk to Kreacher about higher end cuisine. Still, she finished it and drank her pumpkin juice. Resizing her trunk and taking out her nightgown, she crawled into bed and was asleep within moments, despite her earlier nap.
She awoke to a gray sky and she stretched. There was a clock on the wall beside the bed and she saw that it was seven thirty. She got up and put on a robe before looking for the bathroom. There was only one on the hall and a bit of a wait, but she wasn’t going to complain. She had somewhere to rest her head. From what she could tell from the comings and goings of others, some people were sharing rooms. Hopefully, they weren’t sharing beds.
Descending the stairs in fresh robes in pale aquamarine, decorated in pink branches and birds that flew about from blossom to blossom, she asked the Weasley girl, “How many people are actually here?”
“Me, three of my brothers” (Hallie wondered how many there actually were) “Mum and Dad, Hermione” (was that Granger?) “Harry, of course, Professor Lupin to supervise us, and the rest come and go.”
It turned out the woman who seemed to be Mrs. Weasley cooked at least breakfast. It was a bit of a rigamaroll with eggs being tossed onto plates whenever they came out of the pan, bacon and pancakes piled in the middle of the table, and pitchers of orange juice placed here and there. It seemed there was also no assigned seating. Hallie was slammed between one of the twins and the woman with insane hair.
“I’ve seen you before,” Hallie said to the woman who was pouring syrup all over her scrambled eggs and bacon, much to Hallie’s consternation.
“Tonks,” she stated. “I’m an auror.”
“And you were a friend of my godfather’s? Harry said everyone here was a friend of Sirius’s.”
“You were Sirius’s goddaughter?” Tonks was clearly surprised.
“Yes,” she answered. “He was my dad’s best mate.”
Tonks looked at her crosseyed. Her eyes shifted from a green to a yellow, which just looked peculiar on her. “Who are you?”
“Lady Halcyone Gaunt,” she replied. “Auror Potter was my father. I’m Harry’s half-twin. Don’t ask how that’s possible. No one’s really sure. Same father. Different mothers. Same birthdate.”
“I’m Sirius’s cousin,” Tonks said. “Or rather, my mum is. Andromeda Black Tonks.”
“Oh,” Hallie responded, not sure what to say. “I only know Lady Malfoy and Heir Draco in the Black family.”
“Aunt Narcissa, yes,” Tonks responded. “I’m meeting them later this month. Not Draco, obviously, he’ll be in school.”
Then it clicked in Hallie’s head. “You’re the one whose mother is getting the divorce and is being welcomed back into the family. Draco’s my best mate. I saw your mum at The Wicked Stepmother with Lady Malfoy. Your aunt came over to my table as I was with Lord Roman Malfoy.” She picked up her fork and finally began to eat her egg. It was a bit runny for her taste, but she wasn’t going to complain about food. She was used to Aunt Petunia’s cooking, after all, though it had been years since she had eaten it. Petunia Dursley had a habit of burning food, which gave Hallie an appreciation for anything that was cooked without being burnt.
At this point, Mrs. Snape came in with Clemens and she openly started when she saw Hallie sitting at the table.
Hallie only glanced at her before going back to her egg.
Glancing back at Tonks, she saw her hands as she cut her bacon with both a knife and fork, though she wasn’t holding them properly. “You’re not wearing a vined ring,” she noticed. “Don’t you believe in them?”
Tonks took a bite of her bacon, clearly thinking as she looked over at Hallie. “Actually,” she admitted once she swallowed, “I’m a half-blood. I’m not eligible.” She shrugged. “Never really thought about them before. Mum has one.”
“Is that why—” Hallie trailed off.
“Yes,” Tonks replied sarcastically. “It’s a great sin in the Black family, like in most of the Sacred Twenty-Eight, to marry anything but another pureblood.”
“Mum wasn’t allowed to marry dad,” Hallie stated, refusing to look at Lily Snape as she said this. “It might have been because he had a failed marriage or because he was an Auror.” She picked up a slice of her second egg. This one was at least less runny. “Probably both.”
Tonks raised an eyebrow and her hair shivered green. Hallie doubted she was going to get used to it and it was weirding her out given what she had seen at Riddle House. “What’s wrong with being an Auror?”
Hallie just stared at her. “Gaunt.” That’s all she said.
Then comprehension entered Tonks’ now baby blue eyes. “You’re related to—”
“Exactly.” She went back to her food.
“And you’re here?”
What an odd question. “Harry and I jointly own this house. We were the two godchildren of Sirius Black. He left it to us. I have more of a right to be here than you do.” She would have snorted if it were at all ladylike. Picking up her orange juice, she took a long sip. Surprisingly, she couldn’t find the tea even though several people seemed to have cups, including Tonks. “Why are you all here anyway?”
At this, the twin on her other side turned to her. “We’re the Order of the Phoenix. We’re fighting your illustrious cousin in this war.”
Understanding dawned on her and she looked around. Hallie looked down the table and called down the table—“Harry Potter, why on earth are you hosting a vigilante group?”
“All’s fair in love and war!” he shouted back.
“Don’t bring my love life into this!” she called back. “Roman is completely neutral!”
“No, the other one!” He wiggled his eyebrows.
“I broke up with the other one! Why do you think I’m here?”
He picked up his tea (bastard for having it) and saluted her.
Hallie glared at him. What was he on about? She could court whomever she pleased—and she didn’t not want to court the Dark Lord because he was dark but because he was a war lord of all things—and now he seemed to have a split personality!
When breakfast was finally over, and she still didn’t have tea, she retreated to the tapestry room with Busman’s Holiday. She was so terribly disappointed that Lord Peter Wimsey was married to Harriet Vane. Naturally, she saw it coming, and Lord Peter was a Muggle and a fictional character, but it was just depressing. She’d been half in love with him since she was fifteen and read all of his novels voraciously. Now, with this being the last one in the series, she’d have to find another series.
She wondered if Dorothy L. Sayers had written anything else. Hallie would have to sneak into a Muggle bookstore and find out. Maybe she could convince Lord Roman to go with her. It could be a fun date. Sort of. Maybe. At least for her.
Breathing deeply, she turned the page and heard someone clear her throat, because it was definitely a woman. She looked up and saw Mrs. Snape.
“What can I do for you, Mrs. Snape?” She had always called the woman ‘Mrs. Snape.’ She had insisted on it. Her sister had been ‘Aunt Petunia.’ Her husband had been ‘Uncle Vernon.’ Mrs. Snape’s husband had been ‘Uncle Severus.’ However, Mrs. Snape was always ‘Mrs. Snape.’ Never ‘Aunt Lily.’ Never just ‘Lily.’ Never ‘Stepmother Lily.’ No, ‘Mrs. Snape.’ Bitch.
“I think we need to have a talk?”
Not wanting to talk with this woman at all, she asked, “Pray tell?”
Summoning a chair so she could sit (Hallie was lying down on a couch, one hand propped behind her head in pureblood decadence), Lily Snape sat down. “Courtship.”
Hallie determined not to show interest in the conversation, though she was honestly wondering what her stepmother could possibly say on the subject. “Oh?”
It was said so perfunctorily, that Hallie was nearly surprised. Still, she kept her face impassive. “I believe, according to Spungen’s, that is the age when courtships can begin for pureblood witches and wizards.” Didn’t Mrs. Snape know this? It was basic knowledge for purebloods and from what she knew of Mrs. Snape, she was a voracious reader.
Crossing her legs, Mrs. Snape responded, “I am aware. However, my sister raised you as a Muggle.”
“And I thank you daily for that,” Hallie sneered. “However, I have lived as a pureblood now for over five years. I live with my pureblood cousin. How is it any different than sneaking into closets with boys and snogging? There’s more commitment and I get pretty gifts.”
Mrs. Snape looked off to the side. “Sneaking into closets and snogging,” she intoned, “is with wizards your own age. It’s natural. Courtships with grown wizards such as Roman Malfoy are not. While he is not quite old enough to be your father, he’s over ten years older than you, Hallie! I would expect more sense from you.”
“Expect less then,” she responded flippantly. “I stopped trying to please you many—many—many years ago.” She turned the page as she had been reading this entire time. Hallie had the ability to talk and either read or write at the same time. It was a talent that many people in Slytherin House coveted.
Mrs. Snape was quiet for several long minutes. Hallie almost forgot about her except she was a vexing presence beside her. Still, she kept on reading. They had just found a dead body in the basement. How thrilling. Why did Lord Peter have to be married? If only he had been named ‘Roman’ she could get a better mental picture—
“It does not bother you then that you will be the aunt to your own yearmate?” Of course she had to bring that up.
“Can’t be helped,” Hallie decided on. “Anything else?”
At this point, the Weasel came up. “Sorry, Mrs. Snape,” he apologized, “but I’ve never tried Potter in chess.”
“Gaunt,” she replied, turning the page, which got stuck. “My name is ‘Gaunt’.”
She only agreed to get away from her current conversation. At least Mrs. Snape left after a moment, returning the chair from wherever it had come from. Hallie was decent at chess but she was soon walloped. Still, there was a rematch.
Halfway through the second game, there was a tap on the window and a familiar owl appeared. It belonged to Cousin Marvolo. She rushed to the window, and grabbed the letter and saw the unfortunate red card. She cast an incendio on it without even reading it, putting it in an ashtray that was lying around.
That was not the only owl she received.
Two hours later, when she returned to her book, a second owl appeared, which she also recognized. It had a branch from a lilac bush in its beak with two blooms, and a letter in its claws. She saw the familiar Malfoy crest and she unsealed the parchment. The message was simple: Darling, I will be there after lunch. Romulus.
It seemed like Professor Snape was true to his word.
Lunch was a more raucous affair than breakfast had been. They were all served beans on toast, of all the meals they could have had. Hallie hated beans on toast, so she skipped it and just drank milk, which was an odd pairing for the meal.
She tried to stay in the kitchen because the floo was there after lunch but she was kicked out. All of the ‘children’ congregated on the landing and put stringy puddy in their ears, trying to listen in. It was ridiculous.
At three o’clock there was a knock on the door, and Hallie rushed to it, flinging it open. There, dressed pristinely in black trousers, black shoes, a black turtleneck and a black tie under a black trench coat that was open to show his outfit was Lord Roman Malfoy. He smirked at her and she leaned against the doorframe.
“You came,” she greeted simply.
“You called,” he responded, leaning forward and kissing her scar. There was a twinge from her vined ring, but she frankly didn’t care. “What’s wrong, darling?”
“My other suitor,” she responded, knowing that the Weasleys and the rest of them (including her half-brother and Clemens) were listening with their stupid stringy puddy. “I saw—oh you’ll never believe me. He has two faces. And I saw.”
“Well,” he stated, stepping in as she moved aside and shut the door behind him. “His horrible secret’s out. He lives the shadow of a life, and he wanted to drag you into it.”
She swallowed and looked up at him, his silver eyes filled with worry.
“Why would he do that? Why would Cousin Marvolo let it happen?”
“Because,” he answered, running a finger down her cheek, “I suspect your cousin is as afraid of him as the rest of wizarding Britain.”
And just that thought sent a wave of horror through Hallie.
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