“Baby, can you feel it coming / You know I can hear it, hear it in your soul”“Time for Miracles,” Adam Lambert
Lucius was standing with a smallish man in pinstriped robes. Draco went up to him and shook his hand before Lucius introduced him as the Minister of Magic.
“There’s a Minister of Magic?” Lycoris asked, confused.
“Yes, Lycoris,” Lucius said patiently. “And he wanted to give you the order of wardship himself.”
Lycoris looked at the Minister, confused.
“Yes, well, young man. This is your copy that says that Lord and Lady Malfoy are your new guardians pending either of your parents coming forward and claiming custody of you.”
“I—thank you, sir. This means I don’t have to go back—“
“To your kidnappers, no. They have no legal claim on you. Lucius said you wanted them to remain anonymous at present, which is understandable, yes, understandable, but when you want Justice, you have only to ask.”
Draco hugged him round the middle, and Lycoris was so startled that he dropped his document. Lucius picked it up for him. “I’ll put this on your desk for you, Lycoris. I’ll just see the Minister out.”
“Can you believe it?” Draco asked happily. “Actual, real, live brothers! It’s like a dream come true.”
“I’ve never had a brother.”
“Nor have I,” Draco admitted.
“Yes,” Lucius agreed with a slight smile. “I shall have to contact Severus, though, Draco. Lycoris needs to be brought up-to-date with pureblood traditions before he goes to Hogwarts.”
“Never mind that,” Draco said enthusiastically. “Have you ever ridden on a broom? No, of course you haven’t. I’ll get Mum to supervise, don’t worry, Father.” And with that he took Lycoris’s hand and dragged him from the room.
“As you can see, Minister, he is already undoubtedly a part of the family. There is one more thing I wish to petition for.”
“Yes?” The man looked eager to please.
“We know Lycoris is most likely Heir Lycoris Black. His only possible fathers are either Sirius, Lord Black, who is in Azkaban, or the deceased Lord Regulus Black, which is highly unlikely. I would like leave to visit Lord Black and get to the bottom of this. Lycoris deserves to know who his father is and deserves his proper place in society. Think of what political power may be at your disposal if Heir Lycoris were in your debt, once he came of age.”
The Minister of Magic licked his lips. “Yes. Quite. Give me a couple of days to cut through all the wizarding tape, but you have my word that you may visit Azkaban before the summer is out.”
Lucius bowed his head. “Thank you, Minister.”
The man was dressed all in black, his robe billowing about him even as he sat in a chair. His black hair fell lank to his shoulders and he had a hooked nose. His beady black eyes showed intelligence and he had a glass of whiskey in his hand.
“Sorry for keeping you waiting, Severus,” Lucius said as he entered the room. “My son and Lycoris were out flying and didn’t want to come in.” He chuckled. “Boys their age are all the same.” He poured himself a whiskey and soda and sat on the edge of his desk, showing that this was a casual meeting.
“Yes, you would not have heard,” Lucius agreed. “We haven’t put it in the papers yet until we can confirm exactly who his father is. Lycoris is my wife’s cousin: Heir Lycoris Black, we believe. He is a stolen child.”
Severus sucked in a breath. “This has been confirmed?”
“It is not in question. The Blacks have employed some questionable arts over the centuries to mark those who are stolen from them.—However, Lycoris is now a member of my household. Unfortunately, he’s been living with Muggles. He’s shown his intelligence in that he researched himself as much as possible and spent almost all his afternoons in the library growing up. I understand that his grasp of Muggle literature is extensive for one so young. However, he needs tutoring and badly.”
“You know how I feel about Sirius Black, Lucius. The man tormented me for years.” He looked into his whiskey, remembering the many occasions, and that fateful day when he had lost Lily forever.
“I understand that, Severus, but he is just a boy. A terribly bright boy who was abused by Muggles. Surely you can at least feel pity for him.”
Severus sighed. “He shows no hint of rebelliousness or disregard for pureblood protocol?”
“None whatsoever,” Lucius happily reported. “He’s a surprisingly well-adjusted child who likes books and has recently discovered the joy of flying. He’s soaked up all knowledge of the Old Ways like a bezoar. It’s astounding. It’s clear he was born to this life.”
“Well,” Severus got up and looked at a calendar. “It’s the third of August. I can teach him basic potions and transfiguration, and have him learn dueling with Draco, if you’re amenable. Charms will unfortunately have to be left ‘til Yule. Narcissa is skilled in Astronomy, is she not? She can start teaching him the basics, as well as comportment. Is this satisfactory?”
Lucius smiled. “Thank you, Severus. The House of Malfoy shall not soon forget this kindness.”
“It would do no harm to have Draco sit in on the lessons, when he’s inclined. He can encourage his cousin. I’ll send over a schedule in the morning and we begin on Monday.”
Monday was an interesting day. Lycoris was wearing the work robes that Lucius had ordered for him over the weekend, and was sitting buttering a piece of toast. Narcissa was trying to coax him into eating an egg, but he said it made him nauseous. It was difficult going, feeding Lycoris. It had been less than a week, but at least he was improving, thanks to the nutrition potions Dobby was giving him.
“This may interest you, Lycoris,” Lucius said, holding out the paper to the front page. It showed an angry Vernon Dursley being led away in chains.
Lucius and Narcissa looked at each other before Lucius began to read aloud. “It has been found today that Harry Potter has been drowned by his Muggle relatives, Vernon and Petunia Dursley of Surrey, England. They await trial in a Muggle court and then will be transferred to the Wizengamot to answer for their crime. The wizarding world will, of course, mourn its savior who was set to go to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry this fall.” He closed the paper. “Happy Birthday, Lycoris.”
He looked up. “You did this?”
“With a few of my friends,” he agreed. “We couldn’t have people asking questions about Harry Potter, now could we? And we needed the Dursleys to pay for their crimes. Fortunately, thanks to Draco, you look different enough so that no one will recognize you. What is your natural hair color anyway?”
“Blond or brown. It depends. Whatever made the Dursleys angriest—and I’ve seen a few pictures of Sirius Black,” Lycoris said hesitantly and then his cheekbones rose slightly. “Is that better?”
Narcissa smiled at him kindly. “Don’t change too much about yourself, Lycoris. We don’t want you to have to live a lie.”
He shrugged. “My hair’s much longer and I don’t care that it’s now black. Cheekbones are cheekbones and my eyes now match my father’s—or uncle’s. I don’t know. It makes me a Black. They were usually sometimes gray before anyway.”
“I think Lycoris looks handsome,” the six-year-old Iolanthe declared. “May I marry him, Father?”
“That’s a discussion for a much later date.” Lucius smiled at his daughter. “You’re far too young.” He turned to Lycoris. “Lessons begin for you, young man, in ten minutes. Off to the school room with you—and take that piece of toast.”
“Yes, Uncle Lucius,” Lycoris said as he ran from the room, Draco not far behind him. Samhain, who was always lurking, rushed after them, as well.
“Those boys are inseparable,” Narcissa noted. “Hopefully they’ll end up in Slytherin together.”
“I have my doubts,” Lucius disagreed. “I think Lycoris will make a fine Ravenclaw. I just wonder how long it will take him to find that Muggle book of his we rescued from that horrible cupboard.”
“With how battered it looked, I’m sure it was a favored possession. And, well, with Sirius Black as his father, I wouldn’t be surprised if he didn’t end up in Slytherin. Sirius was, after all, the only Black to not be in Slytherin.” Narcissa sighed. “My poor cousin. I thought he was on the wrong side of the war and then he killed all those Muggles. It’s a shame he was caught.”
“Yes, maybe then he could have raised Lycoris,” Lucius mused. “However, who knows how Lycoris would have turned out then.”
There was no floo to Azkaban and the anti-Apparition wards were extensive. Instead, Lucius had to Apparate to Inverness and from there had to take a small boat out to the small island that housed the wizarding prison.
His footsteps echoed off the stone walls as he was led to the one interrogation room that would serve as a visitor’s room on this cold August day. Lucius could feel the Dementors. They were several floors up, but their presence was still chilling.
The prisoner was brought in.
He was in rags, with long black hair and a bushy beard. There was no need for handcuffs. The Dementors saw to that.
“Lord Black,” Lucius greeted. “I’m sorry I could not see you under better circumstances.”
Sirius, Lord Black, lifted his head and looked at Lucius with cold gray eyes. “I never thought I’d see you here except in a cell,” he muttered, looking at Lucius’s finely tailored robes. “How did you manage to stay out of Azkaban? Line a few pockets?”
“If you must know,” Lucius said quickly, “I was under the Imperius Curse during the War. That’s not why I’m here, though. Narcissa, however, sends her best.”
“Narcissa sends her best? What is this? A social call? The Ministry never would have allowed you here for that.” His voice was rough and gravelly with disuse, but still Lucius could hear the sarcasm in it.
“No, just a pleasantry.” He took off a glove and then opened a folder. He placed a picture of Lycoris Black standing with Draco in their new school robes in front of Sirius. “My son, Draco, with Heir Lycoris Black. Lycoris is a stolen child. He was probably taken in vitrus or just days after his birth. We know, from his name, that either you or Lord Regulus is his father.”
Sirius picked up the picture and stared hungrily at Lycoris. “A Black heir? What’s his full name?”
“Lycoris Rosier Black. Does that help jog your memory?”
Sirius, though, wasn’t listening. Instead he was staring at the photograph. “He has the Black eyes, and my cheekbones. His hair, though, is like—.” Sirius paused, as if about to say a name, but then stopped itself. “It’s black though.” He glanced at Lucius. “When was he born?”
“The end of July, 1980.” He never said Lycoris’s actual birthday. He didn’t want anyone to make a connection to Harry Potter.
“1980.” Sirius seemed to be thinking. “Regulus died in April 1979. He married and there were rumors of a daughter, but Lycoris couldn’t be his.”
“There’s another Black? And is that when he died? There are no official documents,” Lucius admitted. He had searched for them, of course, but had found nothing. There had never even been a body found.
“Hmm, yes. That’s when Kreacher came and told us. No, Regulus couldn’t be the father.” He seemed to think for a moment, as if puzzling something out. “In vitrus. It would look like a miscarriage to us then.”
“Yes,” Lucius agreed a little sadly. “A miscarriage.”
Sirius put the picture down. “I fully claim him.”
“You do.” Lucius was not convinced. “You have not spoken of a mother or any marriage prior to July 1980, only your brother’s death.”
“He’s mine, I claim him,” Sirius snapped. “I need an heir. Gods know, I’m stuck in this place for the rest of eternity. He’s a Black. You say he’s a stolen child. That means his name’s branded on his arm. That doesn’t lie. I will have no one question his place in this world. He’s had enough to deal with. And it was a miscarriage. Who took him?”
At Sirius’s visible lack of response, Lucius added, “Magic-hating Muggles.”
Sirius tensed. At least that got the right reaction.
“He’s safe now. Narcissa and I treat him as our own.”
At this, Sirius visibly relaxed. “Narcissa would only love a child,” he murmured. “And you’re a pureblood. You at least value children.”
“I more than value them,” Lucius corrected, taking a piece of parchment from the folder. “If you could sign this stating that he is your lawful heir by marriage, then this will be sent to Gringotts and his Heir Ring will be taken from your vault. It will also be filed with the Ministry.”
“My hands, they’re not much used to writing.”
“Your magical signature should me more than enough,” Lucius reasoned, as he pressed a quill in his wife’s cousin’s hand. Sirius grasped it inexpertly and badly signed the parchment. Still, it glowed before disappearing.
“I don’t suppose you can tell us the name of his mother?”
“She must be a Rosier.” His tone, though, clearly said that he thought that was a lie.
Lucius was disappointed, though he had expected such an answer.
“Will you tell me about him? Lycoris?”
Here, Lucius smiled. “He’s a bright lad. He went to a Muggle library and figured out what the brand probably meant. He’s also a Metamorphmagus. His eyes are actually purple, if you’d believe it.”
“Do you have a picture?” Sirius asked hungrily.
“Yes,” he said carefully, and took out a second picture. This one showed Lycoris with slightly lowered cheekbones, blonde hair that was cut to his ears, and lavender eyes.
Sirius picked up the picture and just stared. “He looks just like—“
“Yes,” Lucius agreed. “I had thought the same.” He glanced at the guard meaningfully and then took the second picture back carefully. Then, clearing his throat, Lucius said, “Lycoris likes to keep his eyes gray—like Narcissa’s and Draco’s. Like yours. I hope you don’t think it was too presumptuous, but we showed him some old photographs of you and Regulus. He usually changes his hair to black from the deep blond to match as well.”
“I wouldn’t want him to pretend he’s someone he’s not.”
“He’s merely emulating his father. It’s a young man’s prerogative.”
Sirius nodded absently. His fingers traced the smiling face of Lycoris in the first picture. “An heir,” he murmured. “She didn’t lose him. A Black heir.”
There was a knock on the door. Lucius made to rise.
“I may keep the picture?” Sirius asked, like the broken man he almost was.
“Of course. If I can get in to see you again, I’ll even have Lycoris write you a letter.” It was the least he could do, after all. Lucius had never approved of Narcissa’s erstwhile cousin, but he would not deny Lycoris a father. To do so would make him no better than a common Muggle. Of course, he now considered himself Lycoris’s father in everything but name, and he would be exactly that, what with Sirius, Lord Black being locked away in this godforsaken place.
Lycoris would now have everything that Pureblood society had to offer him. Yes, he had a shamed father, but that was not so unusual for his generation. The point was that he was now recognized by the Lord of his House, and would have his Heir ring delivered to him from Gringotts. This was proof enough.
Lycoris was in lessons when the ring arrived. He was rather startled that he almost cut his finger. He was learning how to dice potions ingredients. “It’s like cooking,” he told Severus. “I did all the cooking—before.”
He opened the box and almost dropped it. Inside was a platinum signet ring with a shield with a crow’s head emblazoned on it. “I—It’s real.” He sat down.
Severus sat down next to him. “You put it on your pointer finger of your right hand. It will resize itself to you.”
Hesitantly, Lycoris took the ring out of its box and placed it on his hand like Severus said. The ring resized and he could feel the weight of it. He held his hand out and looked at it. “I’ve seen Draco’s but I never really thought that I’d have one myself,” he admitted. “This is all so new. So strange.”
“It must have been difficult, being stolen,” Severus said, his voice trying to be sympathetic.
“They were all liars. I knew they were all liars. They said my name was one thing when clearly it was another. They also said that magic wasn’t real and yet—“
“You could perform magic,” Severus supplied. “The ignorant often fear what they cannot explain. But, come, your lessons. You must learn to cut and dice with the added weight of your ring.”
Then on another day, when Draco was playing about with a potion to make hair pink, the conversation took a different turn. “I’m not certain, but you could end up in either Ravenclaw or Slytherin,” Snape announced on August 31. “You have the mind of a Ravenclaw, but I would be lying if I didn’t see some Slytherin cunning in you.”
“Slytherin cunning? I thought I was rather an open book?”
“You pretend to be, but nothing could be further from the truth, stolen-one.”
Lycoris started back and nodded. He did hide who he used to be. He liked to pretend that everything before his birthday frankly didn’t happen to him. It happened to someone else—to Harry Potter.
“You were friends with Regulus Black, weren’t you? Do you know if he ever married?”
“No, I don’t know. He never confided in me that much. Nor did Sirius Black, if you were wondering. We were rivals.”
“Yes. Uncle Lucius told me.” He sighed. ‘We’re never going to get anywhere on this. Sirius says he’s my father but can’t name my mother. One of them must have married a Rosier in the Old Ways, leaving behind no paper trail, and Mr. and Mrs. Rosier only agreed to meet me this Yule.”
“It is a hard cross to bear, not knowing who your parents are,” Snape agreed. “At least you know you’re a pureblood and legitimate and wanted by relatives. Not many can say that.”
“No. Not many can say that.”
There was a loud, rowdy family on the platform just before the train was set to leave. They were all ginger-topped and it seemed like all of the boys were getting on the train at once. Lycoris and Draco were sharing a compartment and were looking out at their family—Narcissa, Lucius, and the girls. Io had broken down crying in Lycoris’s arms and he had been able to do nothing but hold her and promise he’d be back for Yule. She also wouldn’t let go of Samhain and Aunt Narcissa had to take the cat from her arms.
“Weasleys,” Draco muttered darkly. “All of them. They have more children than they can afford and send them off to Hogwarts in rags.”
“I was in rags when you met me.”
“You also had a money purse and were buying yourself robes. Plus, it wasn’t as if the Muggles couldn’t afford you. They just chose not to. Swine.”
The ride went relatively peacefully until their cabin was invaded by a rather snotty witch with bushy brown hair and buckteeth. “Has anyone seen a toad? It’s only, Neville’s lost one.”
“Are you referring to Master Neville Longbottom?” Draco asked imperiously. “You should not address him so informally.”
The witch colored.
“I think Samhain eats toads,” Draco drawled. “Lycoris, has she caught any recently?” There was a cruel streak to Draco that Lycoris didn’t really understand, but he put up with it as it wasn’t directed at him. Draco also had a sardonic humor about him that Lycoris found funny.
“She’s been sleeping,” he stated. “I promise to tell you if she catches any, —?”
“Granger,” the girl put in, offering her hand. It was a name that Lycoris didn’t recognize. Also a lady never offered her hand to a wizard for a handshake. “Hermione Granger.”
He ignored the hand. “Well, Granger, we’ll keep a lookout, but we can’t promise anything.”
She took the hand back. “And you are?”
“Heir Lycoris Black,” he answered coolly. “This is my cousin, Heir Draco Malfoy.”
“Charmed,” she sniffed, “I’m sure.” Then she looked at Lycoris hard. “I know you. I read about you in The Prophet. I got a subscription over the summer. You’re the stolen child and the heir to convict Sirius Black!” She sat down next to Lycoris, making Samhain jump out of the way, and looked at him eagerly. “What’s it like having a Death Eater for a father?”
“Out!” Draco demanded, taking out his wand, “or I’ll hex you.”
“He knows how,” Lycoris added, remembering how he had lost their most recent duel.
“Fine,” she stated. “I’ll just talk to LIH-cor-iss later.”
She then left the compartment. “Mudblood,” Draco sneered.
“Dirty blood. A Muggleborn who doesn’t have any sense.”
“Well, hopefully, she’ll end up in Gryffindor or Hufflepuff and we won’t have to see her.”
“We can only hope.”
Hogwarts was, in a word, fantastic. Lycoris was spellbound the entire time when he first arrived until the hat was put on his head. “Hmm. Harry Potter.” Lycoris flinched. The hat, it seemed could read his mind. “A trying childhood, one spent in seclusion and constant study, always hiding in plain sight. You could be either a Ravenclaw or a Slytherin, but I think the scholar in you wins out if not just a bit. Better be—RAVENCLAW!”
“Ravenclaw and first in his class,” Narcissa declared to Mrs. Rosier, who was sitting primly in maroon robes. Her hair was flaming red like Lily’s had been and her eyes were a stern brown. “He does us proud.”
“Yes,” she agreed tightly. “Come here, young man.”
Lycoris quickly set aside his tea and came to Mrs. Rosier.
“Mr. Rosier will be here in any minute,” Mrs. Rosier said by way of apology as she took Lycoris’s chin and moved it from side to side. “When did you say his birthday was?”
“July 14th, 1980.”
“Late October, early November,” she mused. “Isabelle didn’t die ‘til 1982.” She turned to Narcissa. “Magical pneumonia.—And you say he could have been stolen while still in the womb?”
“Yes,” Narcissa agreed. “Isabelle may not even have known she was pregnant.”
“Hmm, the Black Heir,” she mused to herself. “Mr. Rosier”—it seemed he had slipped in—“can’t you see a hint of Isabelle in him? And to think, she was Heiress Sirius Black. What a place of position in society!”
“If you see it, my dear, then I shall trust your judgment. I told you that you would ultimately decide if he’s related to us.”
“Yes, our grand-nephew.” She turned back to Narcissa. “Isabelle was a favored niece, you must understand. Like our own daughter. It’s a wonder that she never said.—Go to your grand-uncle, young man. We’re all family, after all.”
Lycoris quickly moved away from her and turned to the more affable Mr. Rosier, who was looking at him with interest in his eyes. “I was in Ravenclaw, Heir Lycoris,” he said once Lycoris had bowed. “I’m glad to see you’re following in my footsteps. Isabelle, well, she was a Slytherin in a time when it was dangerous to be a Slytherin. That’s perhaps why your parents kept their marriage a secret.”
Lycoris tried to smile.
“Are you sure that wasn’t all contrived?” Lycoris asked once the Rosiers had floo’ed away.
“It might have been,” Narcissa agreed. “But what’s important is that you now have a mother. They may gain a title by association, but you gain something far more valuable, the knowledge that someone loved and cared for you before you were taken.”
“But she didn’t even know me!”
“I know the Rosiers,” Narcissa disagreed. “It’s true that Mrs. Rosier is a bit—stern—but she loved Isabelle Rosier dearly. I remember that much. She never had a daughter of her own, so she spoiled Isabelle dreadfully. She was about your father’s age, so they easily could have known one another.”
“All right,” Lycoris agreed. “But I still don’t like them.”
“I don’t like some of my kin. It’s only natural. I have a sister I don’t speak to at all. You’ll simply write them the odd letter every month or so to let them know how you’re doing and they’ll send you a gift in a few days for Yule.”
They did send him a gift, a beautiful Nimbus 2000. Lycoris had made it onto the Ravenclaw Quidditch team—he was the youngest Seeker in a Century—but he was flying an old Comet 360. This, though, was wondrous. Draco was green with envy. Lacerta looked down her nose at it and Iolanthe didn’t seem to care except about the new Gisela doll her mother had gotten for her.
Lycoris couldn’t help but wonder what his own father would have given him if he were free. He knew it was wishful thinking, but still, the fact that his father was locked up in prison made his stomach knot.