Of Power & Prestige – Part the Fifth

Part the Fifth

Haesel relaxed when they reappeared in a darkened room. It was a wide foyer with several Apparition runic circles carved into the ebony floor. The floorboards gleamed, as if they had just been waxed and polished moments ago; that was a sign of industrious house-elves, something she appreciated.

“Will you be all right now?” Henry whispered.

“Yes, thank you,” replied Haesel, allowing her brother to withdraw his magic. The freedom of her advanced senses sent a rush to her head, making her dizzy for a moment. She wasn’t going to complain about it, though, because it was well worth the sensory deprivation. She felt Henry’s magic hovering close by, ready to consume hers again if she showed the slightest sign of needing his protection.

“Can I help with anything?” Regulus asked solicitously.

Haesel shook her head. “Thank you, Uncle, but I’m well enough now.”

Thank Morgana, the distance helped. She couldn’t feel him anymore, couldn’t smell him, couldn’t taste him. The silent pleading for her attention had vanished when they did. For the moment, at least, she felt free of its beguiling ways. And now that she wasn’t in his immediate proximity, she realized precisely how intense the urge to find him again was. It almost felt like she had broken free of an Imperius Curse that her own magic had placed on her, which made absolutely no sense.

Why did she feel so drawn to a wizard she had never heard of before today, let alone met? It was as if he was a sandy beach and she the tide, both destined to crash into each other for all time.

Still, there was a nagging thought in the back of her head that said he was entirely too familiar. As if he knew her better than anyone else alive did. How could that be?

“This coming of age thing is messing with my head,” she sighed. Why else would such silly and childish thoughts be demanding her attention? She had better control of her magic than this; she knew she did. Yet, it reacted like an unruly child in Marvolo’s presence, begging him to notice her. She might as well just wave her arms and scream, “Pick me! Pick me!” at the top of her lungs.

It was almost as if her magic feared she would never find another wizard who possessed all of the personality traits she desired in her spouse. But that was ludicrous!

“Did someone hurt you with his magic?” inquired Henry, bent over so that no one else would be able to hear him.

“No. It’s not that.” She wanted to twine one of her curls around her index finger, but her hair was still up in a crown of plaits, and she certainly would not unravel them in public. “It’s—I’ll explain later. I promise. A proper explanation would take too long right now.”

“Very well,” Henry agreed, though he kept his arm about her waist.

“Are we ready, then?” Regulus asked as he stood a polite couple of steps away, allowing them their privacy to speak.

“Yes, of course. I apologize for the delay, Uncle. Dinner sounds fabulous,” Haesel said. “Now, tell me all about the restaurant that was brilliant enough to catch your illustrious attention.” So far, she could understand the appeal. It was definitely upper-class, but wasn’t overly gaudy or shiny—two things she disliked in the extreme.

“Well, it’s a newly opened place in Muggle London. Of course, it only serves purebloods.”

“Of course,” Henry agreed solemnly, lips twitching with amusement as they walked toward a massive desk at the front of the foyer.

“It’s near King’s Cross. Wouldn’t do to have it somewhere us purebloods have never heard of, now would it?” He continued speaking without allowing them a chance to answer. “It’s across from a Starbucks—coffee shop, I think; I heard their tea was wretched, though—and something called a McDonald’s. No idea who the chap is, but I heard his hair puts a Weasley’s to shame.”

That was hard to imagine. The Weasley hair was very . . . well, distinctive was a polite way of phrasing it.

“I had planned to take us to King’s Cross, and then stroll over. Let us have a spot of Muggle-watching; they are such odd, little people. However, with the rush and being late, and, well, Apparating seemed like the best idea.”

“I couldn’t agree more,” Haesel said.

She was quite grateful that Uncle Regulus had brought them straight to the restaurant. She had been in Muggle London more than once, and it was almost unbearably crowded. People brushed up against each other in the street all the time! One man had rubbed his side against hers in an obscene manner, and she had never returned to Muggle London since. At least people in wizardom, wizards especially, knew better than to casually touch a woman on the street—particularly when they weren’t even related! She had needed to take three baths before she felt clean again. Dealing with something like that tonight would have pushed her over the edge.

Her magic likely would have violently thrown the Muggles away from her. After the way Marvolo’s magic had felt against her own (firm and trustworthy), their blankness—lack of magic—would have felt downright filthy.

“We appreciate the thought, but that wouldn’t have been the best idea tonight,” Henry said. He pulled her a little closer to his side as they finally reached the immense desk. It was as tall as Haesel herself, but the man standing behind it was even taller. He had to be at least seven feet tall, and was painfully thin.

“Good evening Lady Haesel, Master Black, Master Potter. Your table is ready.” As if they had any doubt on that matter. “If you will follow me, please.” He stepped out from behind the desk, satin black robes swirling around him, and Haesel wondered if he might possibly be a vampire. If so, he was ancient. Humans rarely grew that tall these days. Then again, he could also be part High Elf or Fae. Not that it mattered, of course.

There was a threshold, and then the wood flooring became stone of some kind. She wasn’t sure if it was onyx, obsidian, or another type that had been charmed to look like either of those. She wasn’t a great lover of gems, and thus hadn’t spent as much time memorizing each individual type in existence, as most pureblood women did. She knew the most common ones, but hadn’t bothered to learn the esoteric jewels, stones, and such.

She and Henry had constantly snuck away from their tutors to play Quidditch, visit the kitchens for a snack, or craft a grand prank to play on their cousins. To her father’s great joy, and Uncle Sirius’s immense annoyance, she and Henry were still leading on the prank scoreboard over all their cousins.

They entered a cavernous room that gave the illusion of being intimate. She was sure the ingenious use of lighting and shadows were the cause. Crystal sculptures levitated in the air, one over each table. The insides were a misty pewter, as if someone had failed to properly summon a Corporeal Patronus. The glowing, silver fog illuminated the room in patches. They were being led to a table in the exact center of the room. No surprise there. The sculpture over it was a gryphon rampant, much to her private amusement. Perhaps the majority were based on pureblood crests?

An eerie, haunting flute melody resounded through the room, echoing off the ceiling and making itself sound even darker. She shook her head when she realized she was focusing on it too closely. She had already allowed Marvolo to mesmerize her today, she would not grant this magical flute music the same power over her. Losing control again would be unacceptable.

“Princess,” Henry said teasingly as he pulled out her chair.

“Thank you, kind sir,” she said as she sat and let him scoot her closer to the table. The silver was set for twelve courses; she could only pray Uncle Regulus didn’t want to stay for that many. She had sought an adventure that morning, and she had gotten more than she planned for.

Now all she wanted was to lie on her bed and try to sort out the feelings Marvolo roused within her.

“You’re welcome.”

Once they were all seated, the maître d’ indicated tunnel-like holes in the side of the round table. “All you need to do is insert your wand and request whatever you desire. It will be served instantaneously.” He bowed to them. “Please enjoy your meal, my lady, masters.”

Haesel flicked her wand—holly and phoenix feather—into her hand, and then slid it inside the hole closest to her. She knew her brother and uncle would wait until she had ordered, so that they were not all defenseless at the same time. “Mermaid tears soup,” she stated clearly. She returned her wand to its holster just as a bowl appeared before her. After retrieving the correct spoon, she tried it; it was scrumptious. “Uncle Regulus,” Haesel declared after swallowing, “I daresay you can count this outing as a success.”

Regulus chuckled. “When have I ever taken you somewhere that served bad food?”

“Does that time you decided to try your hand at cooking count?” she teased mercilessly as Henry ordered grilled truffles. He was bloody well addicted to the things. Haesel couldn’t stand them.

Regulus huffed, affronted. “And how long do you plan to hold that over my head, Haesel?”

“Forever, of course,” she replied cheekily. “That’s why they call it Black-mail.”

Groaning, Regulus hung his head. “Someone has been spending too much time with my brother.”

“Aww, don’t worry. You’re still my favorite uncle in this restaurant,” Haesel assured him with a wide smile. She adored teasing Uncle Regulus and Uncle Sirius. The two men were constantly competing to determine which of them was the best uncle ever. She wasn’t ashamed to admit that she and Henry had taken shameless advantage of that on occasion. However, the countless gifts and outings had nothing to do with her love for each man. If they had been poor and never taken her on holiday, she still would have cherished them.

“I’m your only uncle in the restaurant,” Regulus sighed before promptly ordering some French dish that looked entirely too fussy in her opinion.

There were several minutes of silence as they focused on eating instead of talking. The croissants were delicious, the braised lamb delectable, and the Treacle Tarts were divine. She ate more of them than she should have, but she refused to feel guilty about it. A few tarts were not going to ruin the fit of her disgustingly expensive dress robes. Besides, standing still for hours as the designer redid them would not have been worth it. She wasn’t going to suffer through that again for anything!

“So,” Regulus started once they had cups of tea, “how are you handling the pressure?”

Before this afternoon, she would have told him it wasn’t a problem. Now, though . . . “Not too badly.” That was a safe answer. Safe was good right now. Too much was changing all at once, and she didn’t like it.

“Cousin Dorea and your mum just want the best for you. I know that doesn’t excuse all the fighting, but it’s the truth. Dorea never had a daughter, so this is the first time she’s been able to plan a coming of age gala; try to cut her a little slack, please.”

Haesel almost winced at the reminder that her father should have had two older sisters and an older brother. During the past few months, with all the mayhem, she had never once thought that might be why Grandmother Dorea kept pushing and proffering ideas. It made complete sense. What pureblood witch didn’t dream of the perfect debut for her own daughter? Morgana knew Haesel had done so more than once. And with Haesel being who she was, the pressure on her mother and grandmother must be horrific; her coming of age gala was to be the most prestigious event of the season—perhaps the century. It wouldn’t do for the Noble and Most Ancient House of Potter to fail at such a task.

“I know,” she whispered, pangs in her chest. “I just don’t like seeing them at odds with each other. I hate it when the family fights.”

“If it lasts much longer, I reckon Charlus or James will set it to rights. They can’t enjoy the bickering between their wives either. Discord in a usually harmonious household jangles the nerves. It might even start wreaking havoc with the family magics.” He spoke the last words as if from experience. Which, knowing several members of the Black family as she did, was a definite possibility.

“That would be brilliant,” Henry interjected, before sipping his tea. His gaze had rarely left Haesel the whole time they had been eating dinner. He was still watchful, and she truly appreciated it. She had managed to push most thoughts of Marvolo from her mind during dinner, but they were steadily resurfacing now that her stomach was satisfied.

Then, like reliving déjà vu, she felt the barest hint of magic. Impossibly, it felt identical to the warmest, safest feeling she could remember—a magical hug, of sorts, that came to her when she was fifteen.

The previous year (at fourteen) she had been, much to her mortification and annoyance, Mr. Cedric Diggory’s hostage in the Second Task of the Triwizard Tournament. Cedric had attempted to hug her after removing her from the Black Lake to ‘warm her up’. Even at that age, she had known not to let men hold her closely. Something about that particular request had been painfully jarring. She had been repulsed by his offer, and then her magic had reached for something that she could never quite touch or understand. Something just out of reach, as if it were part of a dream.

Cedric had relentlessly pursued her following that cold February morning, seeming to think his status as winner of the Triwizard Tournament meant he was worthy of her, and that she should accept his very premature offer of courtship. He had sent several gifts, and was seen threatening more than one wizard to stay away from her.

It had all come to a head shortly after her fifteenth birthday. She had been shopping with her family in Diagon Alley when a rough hand suddenly grabbed hold of her and dragged her into Knockturn Alley, another hand quickly closing over her mouth. “Marry me,” Cedric had purred in her ear, as if he were doing her a favor by suggesting it.

Her magic had blasted him backward into the front window of a shop, shards of glass piercing his flesh. She had stumbled back wildly, colliding with her father, and then breathed a sigh of relief when he hastily returned her to Potter Manor so she would be within the safety of the family wards—where the family magics were strongest.

But that night, as she huddled beneath her bedding, the tiniest hint of magic had met her own. She had felt comforted, protected, cared for, safe, and whatever nightmares might have been in her future for the evening were banished. She had not slept that well since entering Hogwarts, and had never had so peaceful a night since.

The memory niggled at her, but she wasn’t quite sure why. Why now? Why that memory?

The answer came rapidly. That hint of magic she had been blessed by years ago, it was coming toward her again—in massive quantities. This time it wouldn’t be a raindrop; it was a tidal wave. Whatever the change was, likely distance, she felt it most keenly. It felt warm and safe and loyal and it tasted of—Haesel swallowed roughly and leapt to her feet, sending her chair skidding backward. Impossible!

Footsteps sounded unnaturally loud in the silence that followed the sound of her chair crashing against the stone flooring.

“Haesel, what’s wrong?” Henry demanded. He shoved his chair away from the table with alacrity and rushed to her side, Uncle Regulus right behind him.

How had she not realized it earlier?

Slowly, torturously slowly, she turned to face the entrance to the dining room. Lord Nott—irrelevant. Lord Avery—immaterial. Lord Yaxley—inconsequential.

And Marvolo.



His dark eyes snapped to her face the second he passed the threshold. They flared with acknowledgement, as if he had just read her mind and agreed with the conclusion it had reached. The improbable, impossible conclusion.

“Haesel, tell me what’s wrong this instant!” Henry demanded, his wand in one hand and his eyes darting around the room. “What upset you?”

“We have to leave,” she gasped. “Now. Right now, Henry.” She felt faint. Why must she realize this now, in public? For once, why couldn’t she make such a personal connection in private, where she would be free to freak out without anyone the wiser?

He was . . . he was . . .

“Okay. Okay. Let’s go.” Henry forwent propriety once again and slung an arm around her waist, using his magic to cover hers as well as he could with how far hers was spread out. “Thank you for dinner, Uncle Regulus. Sorry to run.”

“Go,” Regulus insisted, face taut with worry as he watched Haesel. “Now.”

Then she and Henry were practically sprinting through the room. Her plaits almost came loose, her tunic fluttered a little higher than she was comfortable with, but nothing could have gotten her to stop and smooth it back down. Her body rejoiced with each step she took toward Marvolo, and she knew that if she didn’t escape his reach within the next minute, she wouldn’t want to. She would desire nothing more than to wallow in his hemlock-scented magic.

The Lords he was accompanying (he must be some diplomat) hastily stepped aside so she and Henry would have unfettered access to the exit. Their visages were masks of concern as they observed her and her brother. She could only imagine how pale and frightened she must look. Surely Sir Nicholas de Mimsy-Porpington—the Gryffindor ghost—currently had more color than she did.

Right when she pulled level with Marvolo, their eyes met, and time seemed to halt completely, as if it moved at a different rate than time outside their magical bubble did. For an irrational moment she thought she would rise on her tiptoes and press her lips against his, gifting him with her maiden’s kiss. It would seal her fate as his betrothed. It would destroy all need for a coming of age gala. It would break her mother and grandmother’s heart, and enrage her father at this point. Two weeks before the much-advertised event was not an appropriate time to find someone worthy.

And yet . . . and yet . . . somehow, someway, Haesel thought she just might have.

Marvolo’s lips curled in a devious and delighted smile. They caressed a single word, but she wasn’t able to catch what it was because—the breath whooshed from her lungs as Henry hauled her into the foyer of the restaurant.

Henry’s hands cupped her cheeks, grip rough as he tried to get her to focus on him. “Haesel, Apparate us back to Potter Manor immediately.”

Obeying him was a gruesome prospect, but she did as he asked of her. Her mind cried its denial as she spun on her heel and yanked them through space. They landed in the manor, not far from the informal dining room.

The clinking of glasses ceased, and then her father was standing in the doorway. “Haesel, darling, you’re back! They’ve finally reached an agreement. Your first waltz . . .” James’s voice fell silent, and she couldn’t imagine what she must look like for her father to get that sharpened edge to his jaw.

“Just give it to Uncle Valerius!” Haesel cried, wincing at the hysterical edge to her voice. She ripped herself away from her brother and raced down the hallway and up the stairs, ignoring all the voices that called after her. She couldn’t breathe. She couldn’t—this couldn’t be real!

She opened her bedroom door and then slammed it behind her, activating the wards that would keep everyone—even the Lord of the House himself—from intruding on her privacy. Pausing only to kick off her boots, Haesel threw herself on her bed and then promptly burst into tears.

It was his fault. All these years, it was Marvolo’s fault.

He had given her one sliver of magic on that day, and she had known that nothing could harm her. Since she had woken up the next day, she had never felt truly safe again—until today. All those months of hidden, unspoken terror swamped her all at once. By making her feel utterly safe, he had destroyed her illusion of true safety.

Oh, the hemlock undoubtedly suited him.

Haesel punched her mattress and wept bitterly. “Why, Marvolo? Why?

She didn’t receive an answer before she cried herself to sleep.

* * *

At first, Marvolo was uncertain why he had awakened in the night.  The moon’s light shone through the open window, the hot summer air flowing around him with the subtle hint of jasmine and baby’s breath.

“Darling,” he whispered, the word that had somehow, strangely, unknowingly appeared on his lips as Lady Haesel had run past him, her brother directly behind her, pushing her away, away, away from him. But not for long.  Marvolo had seen the pure lust in her eyes.  The knowing flavor of her magic that recognized him not just because of instinct, but because Lady Haesel herself had realized . . .

The endearment felt odd as his lips shaped it, as he had never spoken it before. “Darling.”  The word was soft, a prayer, and Marvolo could not care how pathetic he might sound in the night.  Her magic drifted toward him, hesitant, though with a purpose.  Calling, begging as it had done for years.  She felt weak, frightened, so unlike herself.

With a deep breath, he released his own magic. After the incident two evenings before he had kept it wrapped around himself like a cloak, for fear of further distressing her.  He had been startled when her magic had first called to him, a wizard in his seventies.  She was a maiden that had not yet reached majority.  He knew, compared to all the wizards around his future bride, his magic would be surprising, wonderful, protective, and overpowering.

He could not blame her for wishing to be alone, to process.  If he had known she would be there—no, he still would have gone.  The desire pulsing in his veins would allow nothing less.  He had to be near her, had to smell her, had to taste her lips.

She had been so close, so close to him as she ran from him.  For a moment, Marvolo had foolishly thought that she would grant him her maiden’s kiss, that this charade would be over.  He adored games and yet . . . and yet . . . he simply wanted to hold her in his arms, feel her magic welcoming him knowingly as her body did the same. He wanted to proclaim her as his wife and never leave her side, so that he could simply remain within her intoxicating scent.

Marvolo, the jasmine scent whispered, and it was almost as if fingers hesitantly ran down his cheek.  I have not felt safe since your magic last visited me. It was a simple statement; yet, he understood the question, the vulnerability behind the message that she was sending to him. As his magic tangled with hers, he could almost hear a sigh of contentment. Please.  I wish to sleep.

And Marvolo found that he could not deny his darling Haesel anything she deemed to request of him.

“Sleep,” he spoke aloud, knowing that his magic would carry the message to her.  “Know that I will keep you safe and content.  I will never allow another to harm you.”  The vow was barely a whisper, and yet he could feel it settle into his bones.  Perhaps, Marvolo mused, if he had been fully awake he would not act so foolishly, and yet—Haesel had asked it of him.  She had sought his comfort, and he would not and could not refuse her.

As he drifted off to sleep, the scent of jasmine all around him, he felt a hesitant kiss upon his brow, and found that he wished that it were real.

The following evening he sat on the terrace, a glass of champagne in his hand.  A bowl of strawberries remained untouched beside him.

The sun had set almost an hour previously, and Marvolo could not stop his mind from wandering to Lady Haesel.  He wondered what she was doing, if she was looking out at the same stars that he was.  It was less than a fortnight before her coming of age gala and, as he knew it would, an invitation had arrived the day before, beautifully embossed and of the highest quality.

A brief note had accompanied it from his old school fellow.  He had not quite expected it, but it was certainly proper form considering Marvolo’s position in society and his expressed interest in the lady. 

Dear Lord Slytherin,

My granddaughter dances her maiden dance with Master Valerius Vaisey, her uncle, upon her request.  If I receive your proposal for courtship before the evening concludes, my son and daughter-in-law would be honored to grant you her first marriage date. 


Charlus, Lord Potter.

Marvolo, naturally, already had the request written out and his first of many gifts to Lady Haesel lay on his bedside table.  He found (ever since the previous evening) he could not bear to have it shut in a drawer, needing some reminder of her at all times.

He felt like a lovesick fool.  Sentiment again.

When he finally went indoors, he looked at the clock and saw that it was nearing midnight.  Without a second thought, he sent his magic outward, knowing that it would seek and find her. He hoped that it would wrap around her as she slept, for he could not yet hold her in his arms. Even with the inevitable distance, he wanted to remind her that he was here, and he wasn’t going anywhere.

No one would take her from him. He wouldn’t give them a chance. He hadn’t waited decades in the Lone Islands, just for a hint of her life, to lose her to a snobby schoolboy who could never appreciate a woman like her. Not when he already loved—not when he yearned for her.

“Pleasant dreams,” he murmured, his hands going out to stroke the box that lay beside his bed.  “Know that I will dream of you as I have since your magic first came to me.”

Carefully, he opened the box to see the hand crafted stylus within.  It was an unusual courtship gift, he knew, but one eminently suitable.  It was made from the bone of a unicorn that had given its life to protect a child, and it was engraved with entwining jasmine and hemlock blossoms, symbolizing their union.  He imagined her sitting down at a writing desk and responding to her correspondence, the stylus between her elegant fingers, her head turned so that he could place a kiss on her bare neck before she went about her work.

He dreamt of her that night. She was covered in a hazy pink mist of flowery perfume, beckoning him forward, and always just too far away for him to grasp.

He woke up gasping and reaching for someone beside him who wasn’t there.  His bed was as empty as it had been for the past seven tides. He vowed then and there that he would awake to her sleepy gaze, swollen lips, and mussed hair within one year’s time. Solitude, it seemed, had lost its appeal.  Haesel was the only cure he desired.

For some reason Marvolo felt drawn away from his home, and, inexplicably, toward Malfoy Manor. He visited again in the afternoon.  He presented his card to the house-elf, but then, instead of trailing after the creature to the study as originally instructed, followed the scent of flowers and raindrops out to the stables.

Off under the trees, Marvolo could see the Potter boy—Master Henry Potter, he reminded himself—playing swords with a young girl. She was just barely of Hogwarts age, and had Lady Malfoy’s golden hair and the typical blue Malfoy eyes.

Another young witch, closer in age to Lady Haesel, sat under a tree, reading a book. She was looking at the Potter boy with envy and ill-concealed longing, while pretending an outward calm she clearly did not feel.

And then there were the stables, where three glorious Abraxans were saddled; the Malfoy boy and a girl Marvolo took to be his cousin Lady Rana (the same witch from the hallway in The Golden Fleece) were already seated.  Lady Haesel, though, was missing from the scene. However, he could sense her nearby, teasing, teasing, always teasing him and making him want more.

“Haesel, really!” Rana called, arching behind her to look into the stables.  “It’s high time—”

“Rana,” Draco hissed, “let her find her riding crop.”

Rana huffed at him.  “She’s taking far too long.  You may be smitten with her, Cousin, but really, enough is enough.”

“You should show more loyalty to your friends,” Draco warned.  Neither of his sisters or Master Potter seemed to hear him, but Marvolo, with his heightened senses, caught every word he uttered.

Rana flicked her long, smooth, black hair.  “I am a Slytherin.  As are you, Cousin.”

“Then show some cunning,” Draco responded.

Marvolo was still a fair bit away, but he unfurled his magic, searching out the presence of Lady Haesel, asking her to come forth, to reveal herself, to not leave him standing alone in the copse of trees where he could view and hear everything with such ease.

A rustle of hay and a bang signified that something had occurred within the stables, and one of the Abraxans pawed at the ground impatiently.

“I’m coming, I’m coming!” Lady Haesel called. She emerged, her hair swept up into an elegant chignon, her body encased in dark blue, fashionable riding attire that couldn’t help but highlight the beautiful icy color of her eyes.  “I’m sorry to keep you waiting, Rana, Heir Draco.”

“Not at all, Haesel,” Rana answered, a false smile upon her face.  “Did you find it?”

“Nearly,” she responded, her eyes trained on the copse of trees, a clear command in them.

Marvolo was never one to answer such commands, but for her—for Lady Haesel—he found himself doing almost anything she desired.

He strode through the trees, purposefully stepping on twigs to make his presence known.  Heir Malfoy and Lady Rana immediately turned toward him; at the widening in the Malfoy boy’s eyes, it was clear that he recognized Marvolo by description—most likely from his mother.

“M-my lord,” he greeted, immediately sliding off his horse to execute a low bow.  Marvolo did not give him permission to rise, but instead ignored him.  His eyes were focused solely on Lady Haesel.

“Diplomat,” she greeted, “to what do we owe the pleasure of your company?”  Her tone was light, airy, nearly uncaring, and yet he could feel her magic, the happiness and slight wariness in it, the longing, the desperation to be closer.  She needed him, and yet something—propriety, of course—was keeping her from addressing him more intimately, or coming closer to him.  The struggle his physical presence presented, however, could easily be read in the tilt of her eyebrow and the slight shallowness in her breath.

“My lord,” Draco began again, looking up at Lady Haesel in a somewhat scandalized manner, “please forgive—”

“I do not require formality from my lady,” he said coldly, cutting off the whelp.  “She has permission to address me however she desires—even by my given name.”

An intake of breath from Lady Rana showed that she understood the situation, even though her reaction had not been so great as her cousin’s. However, that was possibly because she was sitting sidesaddle and could not remove herself from her mount without assistance.

“I also do not require you to speak, Heir Malfoy,” Marvolo added, just for the small smile that appeared on Lady Haesel’s beautiful face.

“You did not answer my question,” she stated. She peered briefly at Draco who was rising slowly from his bow, his lips pressed in a firm line.

“You called,” Marvolo answered, mocking the first words she had ever spoken to him.

“Did I?  How remiss of me. As you can see, I am engaged this afternoon with friends.”  Her tone was light, pleasing, and her eyes sparkled.  He wanted to kiss her.  She swallowed.

“Yes, well, it was several years ago, Lady Haesel. Just after you were pulled from a body of water, I believe.”

Her eyes flashed in momentary confusion and memory.   She turned toward where her brother was still playing swords with the young Lady Iolanthe, Marvolo supposed; both of them were quite engrossed in their game and just in shouting range.  Lady Lacerta, the older of the two, was looking at him with wide eyes over the brim of her book.

Lady Haesel cleared her throat and shifted, as if the topic made her uncomfortable.  “You must be referring to the Triwizard Tournament.”

Ah, yes, Marvolo had read something about it in the months since he returned to England. “You were a hostage then, my lady?” He knew she had been, but he was hoping for the particulars. Who, exactly, was the idiotic blond who had pulled her from the lake, and later frightened her so badly? He would love to pay the whelp a personal visit and explain, in painful detail, why it wasn’t wise to touch his future bride.

Lady Haesel allowed the slightly intimate form of address to pass yet again and simply nodded her head.  “To the Hogwarts Champion, Mr. Cedric Diggory.”  She shivered with discontent and her magic felt repulsed.  She had not been a willing hostage and, given the clippings he saw from that year, she had also not been Diggory’s date to the Yule Ball.

Mr. Cedric Diggory was a pureblood, then, but one not in direct line for any seat of power.  A nobody, and certainly not a rival. That didn’t mean Marvolo couldn’t maim him, of course, but those were thoughts for later.

“I’m sorry you went through such trials,” he murmured, stepping closer to her.

She lowered her eyes, before meeting his gaze again fearlessly.  “Your magic came—”

“You had been calling to me—”

“But how?”

“Like recognizes like even when thousands of miles stand in between,” he murmured, now close enough so that he could stroke the neck of her mount.

“I was fourteen!” she protested, loud enough so that Lady Rana heard and looked over at them.  She was forbidden to speak to Marvolo, as they had not been introduced, and Draco had been forbidden to speak.

“Eleven,” he countered, a smile on his lips at the memory of the first tide, “or just twelve when you first called.”

She breathed in, shocked, and yet her ice-blue eyes never left his dark gaze.  Lady Haesel appeared to be searching for truth in his visage and he unfurled his magic even further so that she could read him better.

“I would never wish to make you uncomfortable,” he murmured, “like I did the day we met. That has never been my intention.”

“No,” she replied breathlessly, turning her back to him and laying a hand on the flank of the Abraxan before her.  “Of course not.  I—realize that now.”  She paused.  “Your hair, Diplomat, is not black like I had originally thought.”

Their eyes met at the intimate tone the conversation had taken.  However, the sound of a throat clearing nearby made Lady Haesel glance at her two riding companions.

“Your assistance, Diplomat, would be much appreciated,” she said in a louder tone, and he couldn’t help but smile at her ruse to end the conversation, which brought them closer.  He stepped toward her and rejoiced as her magic washed over him, enjoying their proximity.  She had only ever been this close to him in his dreams and fantasies.  Now they would have more fodder.

“Your hair is as dark as any Potter’s,” he remarked, his lips nearly brushing her ebony curls.

Marvolo gently placed his hands around her waist and lifted her into her seat before she could reply. Someday his hands would be on her waist, with nothing blocking him from tracing her velvety skin. It was too far away. He could feel her hold in her breath, and then heard her slowly release it again as she settled herself, her riding crop in one hand and her reins held confidently in the other.

“Until next time, my lady,” he said as he backed away, a smirk of satisfaction painted across his lips. She had liked his hands on her as much as he had.

“Yes,” she said simply, turning to him as his magic gently stroked a lock of hair that fell behind her ear. “Let’s go!”

Then the three riders were off, taking to the sky, and Marvolo was left on the ground, watching as Lady Haesel flew away from him. Why did she always seem to be leaving him? He hated it. Even she must know that she belonged at his side as much as he belonged at hers.  He had come to her after all, from the Lone Islands and from the trees surrounding the stables.

Her magic drifted down from the heavens, as if a gift from an angel. On it, he could hear her words to her companions: “Not a word.”

Marvolo couldn’t help but laugh at her command.

Published by excentrykemuse

Fanfiction artist and self critic.

2 thoughts on “Of Power & Prestige – Part the Fifth

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