Part the Twenty-First
Halcyone and Voldemort, 15 February, 1997
The Dark Lord had never even hinted to Lord Marvolo, but sometimes he could force himself awake from the deep sleep. He wasn’t conscious of what was happening around him while he was sleeping, but he sometimes knew dates. For example, he would know he didn’t want to miss an event, so he would awaken, or he would know that a particular date was important.
He had checked when Mabelle’s Hogsmeade weekend was when she had abandoned him, and so he forced the deep sleep upon Lord Marvolo the morning of the fifteenth of February. It was dangerous to venture into Hogsmeade alone, but he was determined to see her, and when better than Valentine’s Day? Perhaps he could demonstrate to her how she belonged to him. Somehow, Mabelle couldn’t see it or refused to see it.
As he woke, crumpled on the floor in his bedchamber, he stood and pulled the cricks out of his neck and shoulders. Then the process began.
He had somewhere to be, after all.
… … … … …
It was before breakfast on the day of their Hogsmeade Weekend and they had finally found the potion. Reportedly it was tasteless and it was clear, so Hallie could slip it into the Dark Lord’s drink. However, it took two months to brew and had to be kept at zero degrees Celsius, which would prove challenging. Copying it out, Hallie smiled at Draco. “Ready to con Ole Sluggy into giving us a room to brew this beauty?”
“He’ll give you anything,” he pointed out.
She only nodded. “I’m sorry you can’t go with—” Hallie let her words hang, unfinished.
Draco shrugged. “I knew this was the reality when I pursued this particular person. I’m fine with it. Or, rather, I accept it.—You’re meeting Uncle Roman?”
“It was Valentine’s Day yesterday,” Hallie told him with a small smile. “Right. Done. Off to Hogsmeade.”
After she dropped her bag in the dungeons, she picked up her satchel and walked into the magical village with Draco and Blaise. Pansy was off with Nott, the two having started dating after the small nudge from Hallie the month before.
The three of them purposefully (on Draco and Hallie’s part) stalked Harry and his group of friends. Hallie found it rather amusing when they were both looking at blood pops, their fingers brushing each other, even though she knew for a fact that they both hated that particular treat.
They had lunch at The Three Broomsticks, Blaise throwing chips at Draco when he decided that his friend was keeping some secret that he couldn’t divine.
“All right!” Hallie declared. “It has to do with Roman. He’s been teasing me for over a week over whether or not I’ll be getting a courting gift. He won’t say, he’s just playing games with my head, making me wonder.—That’s his great secret.” She kicked Draco under the table, silently telling him to play along.
“He loves you, he loves you not, he loves you, he loves you not.”
Hallie rolled her eyes playfully. “As I said. He’s being horrible.” She grabbed one of the chips as her meal didn’t come with any. “He’s being like Dudders.”
Draco sputtered as he knew exactly who that was.
Blaise, however, did not. “Dudders?”
“Dudley Dursley,” she elaborated. “Mrs. Dursley’s Muggle nephew who I thought was my cousin growing up. We lived in the same house and he rather fancied me near the end of it all. Bit of a bully. He would punch the Evans kid two streets down for absolutely no reason. He had a bit of a gang.” Hallie shuddered at the thought. “He would tease me about Draco fancying me when he saw him once. Did you know he called you ‘that right poncy arse’?”
“I’ll take that as a compliment,” Draco decided. “However, he was a right idiot. ‘Big D’? He was certainly large.”
Giggling, Hallie grabbed another chip. “Well, I haven’t seen ‘Big D’ since the summer before fifth year, come to think of it, and that was briefly. I haven’t really even thought of him in particular since then. I spent Yule with you, Draco, and with Pansy for a few days when Lady Malfoy kicked up a fuss that she didn’t have enough time with you.” They shared a look.
“You were spending half your time sparring with Uncle Roman verbally.” Draco paled. “Now I know why.”
“It was perfectly innocent on my side,” she told him, glancing at Blaise, her eyes asking for him to help her.
He just sat back and smirked. She’d get back at him when he fancied a witch and wanted help with his hellion of a mother. If she wasn’t mistaken, Blaise was husband number three and Madam Zabini had stopped taking their names by then and was a widow—again—by the time Blaise was born. Absently, Hallie wondered how much Blaise knew about his actual father.
Draco just looked at her in shock. “It doesn’t seem to have been innocent on his! A year later he was courting you.”
“A great deal happens in a year,” she remarked casually. “I changed, he probably changed somehow that I haven’t detected because I didn’t know him well enough. Plus, remember he was dating that witch with the raven hair.” Frankly, the thought now twisted her stomach.
“There was no witch,” Draco replied casually, a smirk forming on his face. “He told me to tell you that and then told Pater that for good form. Uncle Roman went off to play the piano like he usually does.”
This, certainly, got Hallie’s attention. “You mean there was no—how many of these witches were fabricated? And what do you mean piano?” She gripped Draco by the sleeve to show she was serious. “Talk if you value all your secrets.”
“Ah, so there are secrets,” Blaise quipped. He threw another chip, which Draco just picked up and put it on Hallie’s plate. At least he knew the meaning of loyalty.
“I don’t know how many witches were fabricated. I know that one was. Over the years he would invent witches to vex Mater, I know. One or two might have actually existed, but certainly not the amount he claimed. His one love was always the piano. His bedchamber at the manor is a Steinway and a small bed shoved up against the wall. He will sometimes just play for hours. The music filters throughout the manor. It got to the point that Mater threatened to take a Muggle axe to the instrument, she couldn’t stand the sound, and that’s when Uncle Roman made himself scarce.” He shrugged.
“Let me get this straight,” Hallie breathed. “There have not been other witches, not really, it’s been me the whole time—”
“Seems like it,” Blaise put in helpfully.
“And his passion is playing the piano?”
Draco offered a one shoulder shrug and leaned over and stole a chip for himself this time. “He’s on the wireless. I used to listen to him with Pater when I was a child. Uses the name—”
“Romulus,” she supplied. “I’ve never really listened to classical music so I have no idea…” Looking down at their plates, she saw that while they were mainly finished eating, the three of them still had a significant portion of their butterbeers left. “Do you think, Draco, we can go to that phonograph shop and perhaps find a record—”
“And convince the little old lady who runs it to let us play it if we agree to buy it if we like it?” Blaise supplied, laughing openly. “I’m all for it. You’re meeting Lord Roman for tea? I think we have enough time to finish up here.”
Making a face, Draco admitted, “He has over a dozen. I own each and every one of them, even the Jazz album.”
“Ooh,” Hallie sounded, leaning forward and looking between her two friends. “I think I’d like a jazz album. I could sneak some sherry from Cousin Marvolo, sit back and listen to it, and pretend to be sophisticated.”
“I think,” Draco offered, “you have to drink firewhiskey or a cocktail. I thought you said you weren’t going back to Riddle House.”
The truth suddenly sobered her. The Dark Lord could be at Riddle House and she wasn’t risking it. No one had given her any warning that Cousin Marvolo was leaving on business, and so she thought perhaps he hadn’t known. It was horrible.
Swallowing, she nodded. “Right. Sirius must have had firewhiskey and, well, if not, I’ll be old enough to buy some soon.”
“You’ll need to buy a phonograph,” Blaise pointed out. “This witch is going to get a helluva sale.—Where are you going to put it all?”
“Details, details,” she stated, picking up her butterbeer. “A toast!” Hallie proclaimed. “To love lost, love found, and love not yet realized!”
“I’ll drink to that,” Blaise declared with a smile, and they clinked glasses.
Hallie noticed how Draco’s eyes wandered to a certain Trio of Gryffindors on the opposite side of the pub and how her brother’s eyes were looking right back.
Within the half hour, the three Slytherins were off on the streets of Hogsmeade, heading to Sirens and Song. The store was bright with a record of Celestina Warbeck playing and Blaise grimaced at the choice. It was Draco who immediately started browsing the sections, finding ‘Classical’, and moving through the selection. He was making a humming noise, and Hallie decided to leave him to it.
Grabbing Blaise’s wrist, she led him to the small selection of phonographs. “Let’s get one with the wizarding wireless in it,” she suggested. “Two-in-one.”
“It’s your money,” he told her.
“Lucky I thought to bring my cheque book on the off chance,” she laughed as she looked at a particularly handsome model made of a deep chestnut. She ran her fingers along it. Yes, this was the one.
The little old lady, a Madam Hopp, came up to her. “Lovely model,” she stated in a wispy voice. “We can deliver to Hogwarts for you by the end of the day—directly to your dormitory, if you fill out a proper card with your signature. We realize that our students don’t want to carry these around and it’s best not to shrink them unless they’re in wizarding space, such as a trunk.
“Oh,” she stated, looking at it again. “My friend’s looking for an album. We were wondering if we could listen to it to make sure if it’s the right one. We’re dying for one by the artist—Romulus. Have you heard of him?”
Madam Hopp tutted. “Have I heard of Romulus? He’s only the most famous pianist in Europe and perhaps even America. He’s internationally renowned, young lady.”
Hallie blushed at the thought she was courting the man.
Leaning in, the shop proprietor whispered, “He wears a mask whenever he performs, and some even say a wig, so he won’t be recognized. Every once in a while The Prophet speculates as to his identity, but I daresay it adds to his mystique.”
“I daresay,” Hallie agreed in a whisper, glancing at Blaise.
At this point, Draco came over. “I brought my favorite classical, Beethoven, Muggle unfortunately but a genius, and the jazz. Which do you want to hear, Halcyone?”
“Oh the jazz,” she stated, having already decided.
It was absolutely wonderful. She stood enraptured as she listened to Roman’s fingers skate across the keys as he played music she had never heard before. It was a triple record, which meant she could listen for about an hour, which made her smile. Hallie, on impulse, decided to buy the Beethoven as well although she hadn’t listened to it.
Filling out the little card, she purchased the phonograph and the two vinyls, leaving them with Madam Hopp to have them delivered later that evening.
After an hour of wandering the shops, Hallie said goodbye to her friends and headed to Madam Puddifoot’s where she was going to meet Lord Roman.
She never made it.
All she was aware of was a sharp sting on the side of her head and being pulled somewhere before losing consciousness. She awoke in a bed in a dingy room, a cloth being pressed to where her head pounded. Her eyes fluttered and she took in the unwelcome sight of the Dark Lord. She groaned and turned over, realizing she was no longer wearing her rabbit fur coat and her hands weren’t in her serpent scale gloves. “What are you doing here? What am I doing here?”
“I wanted to see you, Mabelle,” he stated in his high nasally voice, which she suddenly found irritating.
To be contrary, she informed him, “My name is ‘Halcyone.’ I’m called ‘Halcyone.’”
“Your excellent mother called you ‘Mabelle.’ I remember I found an unfinished letter from her when you were a little over a year old, and she referred to you as ‘Belle.’ You were never supposed to be ‘Hallie Gaunt’.”
“Well,” she stated. “She’s dead. And, funny thing is, I heard a rumor that you’re to blame.”
No emotion passed over his unearthly face, his slitted blue eyes hidden from her. “Mabelle, we’re not here to talk about your mother.”
Struggling to sit up, she let him help her but only because her head hurt so much. Why couldn’t he have just hit her with a stunner? Or put her to sleep like he had the day they had first met? Did he really have to—well, he seemed to have hit her with a rock, if she was any judge.
“What’s your name?” she asked calmly, even though she was feeling a little hysterical. Hallie was leaning against the headboard and pulled the cloth away from the side of her head and saw that it was stained with her blood. How was she supposed to see Roman now if she even managed to get back to Hogsmeade in time?
He tilted her head. “I’m the Dark Lord, Mabelle.” He stated it like it was obvious. Then again, it was kind of obvious.
However, Hallie picked up his wrist to show him his cufflinks. Little did she know, her mother, Lady Maia Gaunt, had given those exact cufflinks to him for his birthday over twenty years early. “T. M. R.” she told him carefully. “What does it stand for?”
The Dark Lord sighed and turned away from her. He was sitting on the edge of the bed, and he was now facing completely away from her. “I’m going to tell you a story because I respect you, Mabelle, because you are kin, and because I expect you to become my future wife without complaint.” His voice was stern and brooked no argument.
She snorted (elegantly) anyway as that was never going to happen.
Still, he continued. “I never told the Lady Maia.” The Dark Lord took a long breath and exhaled slowly. “There was a boy at Hogwarts—Tom Marvolo Riddle, Tom Riddle, Jr., if you will.”
“TMR,” she whispered.
“Just so,” he agreed, turning his head slightly so she could see his noseless profile. “He was a bright boy, the brightest since Dumbledore walked the halls of Hogwarts, but he wanted more. He wanted to be immortal. Thus, in his quest which lasted for many years, he performed one of two separate rituals. The first I will not mention, but it ensured immortality. The second ensured purity.”
This caught her attention. Why would Cousin Marvolo or the Dark Lord need purity? They were Gaunts, and so inbred to ensure purity it as almost disgusting. Still, she listened without saying a word.
“However, purity came at a price. Tom Marvolo Riddle disappeared. His mother was a Gaunt, Merope, and from him emerged the person he always wanted to be: Marvolo Gaunt. You know him as your cousin. At this time, Tom Riddle, Jr. was also attempting to become the most fearsome dark lord since Grindelwald, more fearsome even. He was in the early stages, but the Dark Lord—more powerful than anyone could imagine—emerged from the shadows. Two separate entities, both Gaunts, both pure, both immortal from the other ritual, but both sharing time. They must walk separately and cannot meet. You saw your cousin enter his deep sleep and me awake from mine. You should never have seen that, Mabelle. I will not apologize. It is not in my nature, but you should not have seen it.”
Hallie internalized all of this. She didn’t understand the bit about purity, but she frankly didn’t care. Wanting her Cousin Marvolo back, she knew there was only one way that Dark Lord could redeem himself.
“Did you kill my mother? Don’t lie to me.”
“You expect honesty,” he laughed coldly.
“She was my mother. She was your niece if you are still the child of Merope Gaunt!”
He turned to look at her, his eyes just slits of blue that she would never able to read. “My mother is Merope, and you will show her the proper respect.”
Merely lifting an eyebrow, Hallie waited.
“I killed your mother. She betrayed the family. She betrayed the Gaunt Family. She betrayed Marvolo and, more importantly, she betrayed me by marrying an Auror, one who sought the downfall of me and my followers.” His voice seethed with repressed rage, but at least she had her answer.
Hallie nodded, her final decision reaffirmed. “Thank you.” Her soul felt cold and dead. She had lost her mother all over again. If only she had lived, she would have always been a Gaunt, she would have been a Potter. Hallie would have always have known magic, something which she now knew both Lily Snape and the Dark Lord had stolen from her.
Mistaking her acceptance for perhaps forgiveness, the Dark Lord reached for a jewelry box on the bedside table. Glancing at it, Hallie recognized it from The Pumpkin Carriage, but she turned away. “I don’t want it,” she stated.
“Mabelle,” he demanded darkly.
“I don’t want it. It was a mistake to ever accept your flowers to begin with. I wanted to return them to Monsieur Barty within the hour.”
He let his hand fall from where it was hovering and he took her in. “You loved me once,” the Dark Lord murmured. It was a statement of fact, nothing more.
“I was fascinated by you, nothing more,” she responded. “You think too highly of yourself, Dark Lord.”
There was a moment of utter silence and then it happened, shocking Hallie completely. The Dark Lord backhanded her and she nearly fell off the bed. Hallie had not been expecting it and as she brought her hand up to her right cheek, which was stinging in two places (the Dark lord was wearing both a vined ring and some sort of signet ring), and she felt blood on her fingers from where they had broken the skin of her cheek. “If this is what married life to you is like, I’d rather be like Lily Snape and sabotage our wedding night, disgracing myself, if you force me to the bondler.”
“I would lay the world at your feet,” he shouted in her face, squeezing her shoulder.
She stared into his eyes in horror, terribly aware that there were cuts across her face and her hair was falling down around her shoulders. “I don’t want the world!” she shouted right back at him, knowing there would be consequences. “I want the sunlight and all you can give me is death and shadows and horror!”
Breathing heavily, he lifted his hand to hit her again. Closing her eyes, Hallie braced herself, but the blow never came. Carefully opening an eye, she saw that the Dark Lord had withdrawn and was regarding her as if she were a rare specimen.
When he saw he had her attention, the Dark Lord acted as if nothing had happened, “We could rule the world.”
“And yet not live within it,” she sighed.
“We’re Gaunts. This is destined.”
“You’re half a man,” she argued. “You’re almost my Cousin Marvolo and yet not. He’s—sleeping—inside of you. Every time you touch me, I’ll think that he’s looking at me through your eyes and I’ll be horrified because he’s practically my father. And I don’t want your violent kisses or your hard words. I will not be your—creature—Dark Lord.” Hallie was sitting up by now, breathing heavily. She could feel the blood trickling down her cheek and she swiped it with her hand, undoubtedly smudging it across her face.
“We are two different men.”
“So you claim,” she answered. “And yet I saw him transform into you. It was the most horrifying thing I have ever seen, Dark Lord, and I hope I never have to witness it again. Just—let me go.”
But he slammed her against the headboard and fused his mouth to hers. She remained still for a long moment but then felt a fire erupt at the tips of her fingers and, in fear, she pushed him away. Lifting her left hand, she looked at the blood stained skin and saw that the tips of all five of her fingers down to the knuckles were scorched black as if she had put them in a fire and were still sizzling.
The Dark Lord’s hand was almost completely charred. It seemed he had the harsher punishment because he instigated the kiss.
“What have you done?” she screamed. “Do you have any idea the consequences if you had—” She looked down at her hand in shock, disbelieving. “Is this permanent?”
“Of course not,” he sneered. “It will only last a few months to shame us.”
She blinked and then slapped him with her right hand, which wasn’t her dominant hand, and heard the resounding smack of skin on skin. Before he could move, she scurried off the bed, but he lunged for her. The air was knocked out of her lungs as his strong arm caught her around the waist and he tried to kiss her again, but she shoved her injured hand in his face and kicked him between the legs.
Well, that seemed to be universal and she ran out the door out into The Hog’s Head. She could feel the blood trickling down her face, her hair falling all around her shoulders, but she had to get to safety. Thinking that Roman would hold her and know what to do, she hurried to Madam Puddifoot’s, her stockinged feet (because he had removed her favorite booties, bastard) sliding in the snow, shivering in the cold. She opened the door, hearing the small bell ring. When she reached Madam Puddifoot herself she begged, “Is Lord Roman here? Please?”
“Dearie, what happened?” the stout witch asked, reaching out to Hallie and not quite touching her.
However, Hallie didn’t answer. She couldn’t—the words were stuck in her throat. Shivering, she just stood there in her pretty robes that were now stained with dirt and blood. Her charred fingers were still painfully warm from her punishment and she was beginning to hate her vined ring, though she was pleased the Dark Lord’s hand was almost completely charred.
“Please,” Hallie begged. “Lord Roman is courting me. Please.”
Madam Puddifoot clucked and then guided her to a chair and disappeared for a moment, Lord Roman appearing with her.
He hurried toward her, worry in his eyes, and touched her hair carefully, “What happened, Halcyone?” he whispered, his silver eyes searching hers. “Madam Puddifoot says you were attacked.”
“He took my coat and my shoes—and he hit me and he kissed me and he wanted to marry me even though I refused and—” She sobbed into her hands. “I want to go home but I can’t go home anymore.”
A dark look passed over Lord Roman’s face. He ran his hand over her hair again and disappeared. For a moment she thought he was gone, but he reappeared with his coat and wrapped her in it. Picking her up in his arms, he nodded to Madam Puddifoot and climbed the trail toward Hogwarts, the couple garnering looks from the students.
Hallie was aware of being brought to the medical wing where she was fussed over and pictures were taken of her when Aurors were called.
“Who did this to you?” a particularly gruff Auror asked, his face so dark it was like a moonless sky, and Hallie briefly wondered if he had known her father. He seemed the right age. Cedric Diggory was standing right next to him. Strangely, he had lashes on his neck and cheek that seemed to be old, unhealed scars. Magical in origin, perhaps. He had been silent the entire time, although he had been directing the photographs.
Taking a deep breath, she glanced at Lord Roman who hadn’t left her side. Leaning forward, Hallie whispered into the Auror’s ear, “The Dark Lord.”
It was done. She had drawn a line in the sand and she was standing on the wrong side of it.