Part the Twenty-Third
Halcyone and Voldemort, June-July, 1997
Granger might have been found on the train with her tie used as a gag and another tie from some random Hufflepuff securing her hands behind her back. Then there was the bit of string tying her feet together. Hallie swore when she gave her statements to the Aurors, she had finished her rounds and gone and sat with her half-twin Harry Potter as they were both going back to the house they had inherited jointly from their godfather upon his death at the Department of Mysteries.
It was clear Granger had been attacked. That was obvious.
It was also clear that Granger had been hit was a strong obliviation spell. Rumor had it she was now at St. Mungo’s with her Muggle parents and Muggle sister, Elissa. Hallie had no idea she even had a sister. Neither, apparently, did Harry.
“I can’t believe what we did,” he whispered desperately after he snuck into her room past midnight later that evening. She had been sitting in bed, reading, because frankly she couldn’t sleep.
She shut her book and put it over to the side. Patting her bed, she waited for him to come over. It turned out Harry was next door in Sirius’s childhood room. The master bedroom, by agreement, was left untouched. Mr. and Mrs. Weasley had wanted and had used it briefly after Sirius had died, but Hallie had put her foot down. This was a Potter house now, and they frankly had no right to the Master Bedroom.
“She was going to tell Dumbledore. She was going to tell your mother and you know what she’s like about Slytherins despite being married to Professor Snape.” She bit her lip. “Do you want this getting into The Daily Prophet?”
“God, no,” he admitted, running his hand down his face. “They don’t allow gay marriage in the wizarding world.”
Hallie looked at him. “They don’t allow it in the Muggle world, either, if you remember, or don’t you remember Uncle Vernon’s rants about puffs and queers?”
“Not all Muggles are like that,” he sighed. “I’m sure of it.”
“Maybe not all wizards are like that,” she murmured. “My vined ring won’t let me hold Roman’s hand for longer than a minute or so, and yet you can snog Draco. That must mean it’s accepted on some level or—well—expected, even. You’ll have to ask Draco, I don’t know. I can ask Roman, but we’re still not sure when we’re marrying and I don’t want to have an awkward conversation about gay sex, when I still haven’t admitted I know what he does for a living—er, hobby. I don’t think he needs the money.”
Harry perked up a little. “What does he do?”
Looking at her half-twin carefully, Hallie got out of bed and went to where she had set up her phonograph. She only had the two records, but that would definitely be changing. She held them up so he could see them over the shoulder. “He signs all his letters ‘Romulus’. I always wondered why, well, this is why. Draco says he plays for hours on end and drives Lady Malfoy mad.”
“Pity we can’t put up a silencing spell so we can have a listen,” Harry sighed. “I need to get my mind off it.”
“There’s a player in the Tapestry Room,” Hallie carefully suggested. “No one should be able to hear if we put it on low enough.”
The siblings looked at each other and gave each other mischievous grins that would have made their marauding father proud, and Hallie hurriedly put on her robe and found her shag slippers. They tiptoed down the hall and down to the second floor, opening the door where they found Kreacher clearing a portion of wall for some reason.
“Er,” Harry said, coming in. “Do you want us to leave?”
Hallie found that odd. He was a servant. Kreacher was the one who should leave.
“Not at all, Master Half-Blood,” he replied. “A surprise for Mistress.”
According to Harry, Kreacher had been downright unpleasant before she had arrived the previous January, insulting everyone under his breath and only taking orders from the portrait of Walburga Black. Now, he took orders from Hallie exclusively, called her ‘Mistress’, and even called Harry ‘Master Half-Blood’, sometimes being nice to him. He ignored everyone else.
The little elf then got up and sauntered out of the room, if that were at all possible for one who was so bent over.
Not thinking anything more of it, Hallie went over to the phonograph and took out the Beethoven. “The composer was deaf when he wrote all of this. It’s bloody brilliant. And I can’t believe my fiancé performed this.—And it’s a secret, Harry. Like your secret. No one can know that we know the identity of Romulus.”
Harry crossed his heart, made a locking motion over his lips and then tossed an invisible key over his shoulder.
This made Hallie smile as it reminded her of the fonder parts of her childhood.
The half-twins settled in two separate chairs and just let the piano music wash over them. Hallie didn’t even realize she was asleep until Harry was shaking her awake several hours later. Strange, she didn’t think anyone could fall asleep to the crashing sounds of Beethoven. “Best we put these away,” he suggested.
“Agreed,” she murmured, as she took the vinyl from the player and put it back in the sleeve.
They slipped off to bed as if nothing had happened, a smile on each of their faces. Hallie had dreams of floating in the air with music all around her, knowing somehow that she was loved.
… … … … …
By agreement, she met Roman at a Muggle Café near Royal Albert Hall, where she suspected he had a concert soon. “I suppose we’re deciding,” she murmured. “I have to return to Riddle House for a week or so in August—”
“Halcyone,” he warned, knowing how dangerous this was.
“Draco and I have a plan to rid the world of—” She lowered her voice “you know, so he can’t hurt anyone else.”
Roman sat back and regarded her. “I thought you were for the Takeover.”
“And Cousin Marvolo is more than capable,” she told him. “Now, the wedding. I’ll be terribly stressed and busy this year, and I don’t want to be like Mum and pregnant while trying to take my N.E.W.T.s.”
“Then we’ll wait,” he promised her, but she wasn’t finished.
Hallie continued as if he hadn’t even spoken. “I could always be a woman of leisure, but we can’t all be concert pianists—”
Stilling, Roman looked at her.
She smiled at him. “I have two of your records. I bought a phonograph and I love listening to you play. The mask is a nice twist.” Reaching out for his hand, he gave it. “The question is, if you want to keep it so secret, why do you sign your letters ‘Romulus’?”
“The letters came before the career,” he told her, playing with her fingers before their rings began to sting them. “I thought it was clever when I was a first year and when I began to play, my father thought it was shameful, so I needed another name.” He shrugged elegantly. “Romulus seemed the perfect choice.”
“Then, we’re engaged,” she stated firmly, “and we’ll marry perhaps on my eighteenth birthday, a month after I graduate from Hogwarts. We’ll announce as soon as everything is settled within the Gaunt family.”
He lifted up her hand to beneath his lips, never touching as their rings would punish them, and his silver eyes sparkled. “I find myself a very lucky man.”
“I discussed this with your brother, but I want to be ‘Lady Roman’ if that’s agreeable.”
“More than,” he agreed. “I always expected my wife would be ‘Lady Roman.’ I’ve always liked the sound of it.—However, I owe you a courting gift before we can become formally engaged.” He went into a satchel he brought with him and took out a large packet of papers that were clearly typed on a typewriter and then scribbled all over. “I had Draco sneak into your trunk, and you were reading—as you told me you loved—Muggle crime fiction. Specifically, you had Gaudy Night by Dorothy L. Sayers, a love story.” He presented the papers to her, which she saw were contained by two rubber bands. “I give you the original.”
She took it and breathed out a shuddering breath. “Roman, how did you possibly—? This must be worth a fortune!”
“I thought I needed to give you a tome of great worth,” he laughed, his face looking younger, “and there is a little thing called that ole black magic.”
At this she grinned.
Stroking the pages for a long minute, she then carefully put the manuscript into her large purse where it fortunately fit. Then she reached in it and took out a little box. “I missed your birthday,” she apologized. “I was trying to figure out what was terribly masculine and yet elegant.” Handing over the box from The Pumpkin Carriage. “I also had to wait until summer to go to Knockturn Alley.”
He grinned at her charmingly, and untied the brown ribbon to reveal two cufflinks that were white with gold crosses on them, surrounded by a circle.
“Men might not always wear necklaces,” she explained.
Lord Roman stared at them for a long moment, so long that Hallie thought something might be wrong.
“Roman?” she asked, her voice concerned.
He looked up and she saw tears in his eyes. “I will treasure these and wear them to our wedding.”
“I would like that,” she promised. “I hope you will forgive me if I wear my mother’s pearls. I found them last winter before I packed off and fled Riddle House.”
“I could never fault you for that,” he agreed, running a finger over her lips, a twinge spasming through both their hands. Still, he looked at her adoringly. “You were such a little wisp of a thing when I first saw you, Mabelle Gaunt. I liked you then. I genuinely liked you. Then when I saw you again your fifth year, I fancied you, but I knew you were too young, so I determined to stay away and let Draco have whatever romance with you he wanted. Then, Lucius mentioned in a letter Narcissa’s anguish over his romance with the Parkinson girl, and I hurried home, thinking I would find you still at Malfoy Manor, but Lord Marvolo had claimed kinship.
“I waited for you and then begged the letter off Lucius—and I thought you delightful as we sparred words. I wanted to see more of you, but it was not until I kissed you that I knew that I was right when I first supposed you could be the witch I could spend the rest of my life with.” His eyes roamed over her complicated chignon. “I can’t wait to see your hair down even though it will be over a year.”
A little out of breath from his confession, she tried to be cool and collected. She set her elbow on the table and placed her chin in her hand. “What is it with wizards and our hair? I’ve heard teenagers talk about it like it was some,” (she signaled with her hand that she didn’t quite know what she meant) “mythical prize to be won.”
“But it is, darling,” he purred, his silver eyes looking directly into hers. “We’re forbidden from running our fingers in it, and yet we want to grab it and pull the witch of our dreams close to us by it. We wish to smell the heady aroma of it. There is also something incredibly sensual about a woman’s hair. It is always so contained, so perfected, we want to see her vulnerable and let free for us, just us, and no one else.”
“A year and three weeks,” she promised him.
“Too long. A day is too long.”
“Too long,” she agreed.
The day before her seventeenth birthday, she got a letter from Monsieur Barty. The Dark Lord was awake and he didn’t know how long he would stay that way. She petted her cat Faustus, kissing his orange head, and shouted to Harry.
“I have to go,” she told him carefully. “I have the—opportunity—to kill the Dark Lord.”
“I’m coming with you,” he stated immediately as if it were obvious.
“It’s a sneak attack,” she told him plainly. “Draco and I have been planning this since Valentine’s Day.”
A hurt expression came over Harry’s face.
“Don’t,” she demanded. “He was my best friend long before he was your—promised person.”
“Partner,” he supplied.
“Partner,” she agreed, finding the term odd but willing to go with it because it was Harry and it was Draco, and they were two of the four people who matter most to her (the other two being, of course, Lord Roman and Cousin Marvolo). “It’s a sneak attack. I have to make the Dark Lord think that I’m forgiving him or that I’m willing to talk, and slip something in his drink.”
“I’m coming,” Harry demanded, coming close to her and taking her hands in his. “I may not have been the perfect brother growing up, and I may be a bit overly defensive of Mum when I intellectually know that she never told you about magic, she bound my tongue when I was younger so I couldn’t tell you. I knew it was wrong, but I could do nothing. I thought, you just had to wait. Then it would be even more magical when you found out. And I’m sorry. I know she did wrong. I didn’t understand. I—” He swallowed. “I know that Dad married your mum—and something else happened with my mum. We’re in a horrible situation, and I’ve tried to show that our parents shouldn’t rule us. We’re both Potters.”
“Both Potters,” she agreed. “Okay, there’s nowhere for you to hide, really, so we’re going to have to play this delicately. Can you Apparate?”
“We’ll Side-Apparate,” she decided. “I’ll leave my phonograph here and you pack a satchel and I’ll put it in my trunk. Pajamas, change in underwear and socks. The basics. Leave Hedwig here and I’ll instruct Kreacher to feed her and Faustus.” She bit her lip and went over the closet. “I need to send the Dark Lord a letter telling him I’m coming and to expect me.”
They were ready in half an hour, leaving Kreacher with a letter that he was to deliver later that day. He was instructed to tell Molly Weasley that they’d gone out, brother and sister, for dinner.
The half-twins snuck out of Number Twelve, Grimmauld Place and walked to the nearest Apparition point. “There’s something I have to explain. The Dark Lord was once a boy called Tom Riddle, Jr.”
“Yes,” Harry agreed, “I know.”
“Then you know he’s two men at once who share one body that transforms with the two differing personalities. Tom Riddle no longer exists. My Cousin Marvolo who is my guardian and a good man exists and so does his so-called brother, ‘The Dark Lord.’ I have a potion that will kill the Dark Lord and give Cousin Marvolo the body.”
Harry’s eyes widened. “What is this? Some messed up magical version of multiple personalities?”
“Kind of,” she admitted. “Cousin Marvolo is like the father I never had. He’s kind, firm, but kind. He’s done nothing but love me and care for me. He’s given me everything I need and more. There’s only been one rule: no Muggle baiting in the village.” She laughed at this. “As if I ever would.”
“Er—Draco wants to take me. He said it would change my life.”
Remembering her old joke that she would only bait if Harry joined, she looked at her half-twin. “I—” She swallowed. “Unless this is some romantic thing, I’ll join. I think if you’re taking this step into the abyss, I want to be there beside you. I trust Draco with my life.”
“So do I,” Harry admitted quietly. “I’ve loved him since third year. I’ve been trying to distract myself with Cho Chang—then Ginny Weasley—then Romilda Vane, of all people.”
“I think you’ll find the feeling is entirely mutual.” She bumped shoulders with him.
“Remember when he hurt his arm with the whole Buckbeak fiasco? I thought it was a farce to get my attention? Well, he admitted it. It was a farce to get my attention, and that’s when I first noticed him, his eyes specifically.” He sighed as he remembered it. “And then I noticed how clever they were and how he was no longer gelling back his hair so his fringe would fall into them. God, I love that cheeky bastard.”
“I think you’ll find his parents are married, much to Roman’s chagrin. He and Lady Malfoy don’t get on. I’m marrying into the weirdest family.”
They dashed into an alley and Hallie embraced Harry so that it would be easier before Apparating into the Honeymoon Cottage. It was fresh and airy and light, and she immediately resized the trunk and set it against the wall, not bothering to hang up her dresses. They did put Harry’s satchel in the large walk-in closet which was perfect for hiding. Hoping that the cottage was still on the Riddle Estate, she put a silencer on the closet as well as a smell dampner and a few other handy spells she could think of.
“Right,” she told him. “I asked him to come after dinner. Kreacher packed some sandwiches. I’m down to the pub to buy some wine, and you really can’t leave here. I—Sorry, Harry, but you have to stay in the closet just in case anyone comes by.”
He looked at her and kissed her forehead. “It’s your game plan. I’m merely backup.”
Hallie walked into the village and bought a nice bottle of champagne from the pub and managed to convince the owner, with the help of a little magic, that he should loan her two champagne flutes. After glancing in some shop windows to make her presence known in case someone came asking, she made her way back to the cottage. She opened the door and immediately set down the two flutes and the champagne on the vanity. Pouring the potion into the glass farther from the door, she then popped the cork and poured two glasses, a handy stasis spell in use. She didn’t have long to wait.
She felt the Dark Lord before he entered. Of course, he didn’t even bother to knock.
“I thought,” he greeted, “I was a rapist.”
Scoffing, she replied, “We both know both our rings wouldn’t allow it. And I never claimed it.”
“I am not a defiler of virgins, Mabelle,” he stated in his high, clear voice. “I torture, yes. I maim, certainly. I most definitely kill, but I do not defile.”
She sighed. “What would you have liked me to say? You left me in quite a state, Dark Lord.—I didn’t come here to argue, and you came which means you either want to listen or talk. Hopefully it wasn’t to yell at me because I don’t think your brother would approve.”
“My brother,” the Dark Lord sneered, “has been whining that because of me you won’t return to Riddle House. I guess he was wrong.”
Turning away, she pretended to wipe tears from her eyes.
“What is it?” the Dark Lord snarled, his slits of eyes widening in curiosity, their blueness shining in the Honeymoon Cottage.
“He left me.”
“Who left you?”
She glanced toward him. “Who do you think? Lord Roman! He couldn’t take the sight of what you had done to me and so he left! Why couldn’t you let me just have a simple courtship? It could have come to nothing. I’m not ready to be the Dark Lady. I’m just a school girl.”
“Oh, my dear,” the Dark Lord murmured. “You’re stronger than you think. You just have to learn restraint.”
Hallie just looked at him incredulously. He was the one who needed to learn restraint.
He stepped up to her and let his hand trail down her cheek that he had slapped. “I didn’t want to hurt you. I never want to hurt my Dark Lady. No one has that privilege.”
She raised an eyebrow.
The Dark Lord looked over at the two champagne glasses. “What are we celebrating?”
“I hoped there was something to celebrate. Perhaps me coming home. Perhaps an understanding that we would walk away from each other. Perhaps something—” She let her voice lift hopefully “—else.”
He leaned his forehead against hers. “I knew you loved me that night here in this cottage when I slept by your side. Tell me I wasn’t imagining it.”
Summoning all the love she had for Roman, for her best friend, for her brother, for the parents she never knew, for her Cousin Marvolo, Hallie whispered, “You weren’t imagining it, Dark Lord.”
“It’s why you chose this place.”
“That and privacy,” she admitted carefully, letting her eyes slide shut so she wouldn’t have to look at the face that had become an emblem of everything that she hated. “I didn’t want your ridiculous Death Eaters interrupting us when there was so much to perhaps say.”
“Darling girl,” he whispered. “I will give you your time at Hogwarts, I will even give you a few more years until you are—twenty? Does that seem fair?”
She paused and moved away a little. “I’ll have to ask Cousin Marvolo.”
“He’ll agree to anything I say,” the Dark Lord dismissed as if it were already decided.
“Well,” she stated, picking up the glass nearest to the door and offering it to him. “If he’ll agree to anything you say, I suppose I’m in your hands.”
The Dark Lord smirked at her and picked up the other glass, the one with the potion in it.
“Slainté!” she saluted, lifting her glass up.
Glass met glass, and he repeated the Irish salute, and they held each other’s gazes as they drank.
Hallie only took a sip. The Dark Lord, for whatever reason, drank the entire glass before setting it down. She supposed she expected something to happen right away, but the Dark Lord merely moved behind her, whispering in her ear, “It’s time you joined the cause, like your cousin. Not as a Death Eater, but as my future queen.”
She looked into her glass and took another sip. “How would you have me do that?”
“Some Muggle baiting,” he suggested, coming around her, “to begin with. Then we’ll move up to the Unforgivables. We must have you ready, Mabelle.”
Finishing her glass, she put it down with a resounding clank and poured herself another. To be polite since he still seemed to be alive, she asked, “Which did you use on my mother the day she died?”
“Oh,” he stated as if it were nothing at all, “the cruciatus and then the obvious.”
She took a large gulp of the bubbly liquid. “I suppose that means the Killing Curse.”
“Precisely, my dea—”
Then, with a choking sound, he fell to the floor. Immediately, she was crouching down next to him as he grasped his throat and his eyes changed colors wildly and his skin rippled. “Look into my face, Dark Lord,” she intoned, “and know it wasn’t Harry Potter who killed you.” He gagged and stared at her as hair grew onto his head, disheveled but the familiar brown with an auburn sheen. The eyes became rounded and a slightly darker blue, the nose growing back grotesquely, first bone then flesh seeping out of it like some Muggle horror movie.
Hallie heard the closet door open, and glanced up to see Harry stare in absolute shock. “You weren’t lying,” he stated.
“No,” she told him as Lord Marvolo Gaunt opened his eyes for the first time not haunted by the shadow of his brother. “Welcome back, Cousin. You’re free. The Dark Lord is dead.” And she smiled at the man who was still gasping for breath.