And so it is / The shorter story / No love, no glory / No hero in her sky“The Blower’s Daughter,” Damien Rice
Miss Rosa Vane was all for the idea. Her brother Roland was Head Boy and she wanted to follow in the family footsteps.
When everyone was swooning over Viktor Krum and Fleur Delacour, Lycoris and Draco could be found in the library with Rosa. She had the knack for solving things in new and unusual ways. She could not beat Granger for knowledge, but she could outsmart her on problems and problem-solving.
They had a real shot.
“Who looks good for Ravenclaw?” Draco asked one day when they were taking a break.
“A half-blood, Jessie Irons. Her mother’s a pureblood so she’s the right sort. Not an upstart like Granger. I think Susan Bones might make it for Hufflepuff.”
“Another half-blood,” Rosa sighed, her tight curls held back in an elaborate twist. “Still, her aunt is head of the DMLE and her great-uncle is a Lord.”
“So, politically she’s solid,” Draco put in. “Let’s hope it’s Ernie MacMillan for the boy. Any news on Gryffindor?”
“It’s going to be a Muggle-born,” Rosa said, her voice not betraying her emotions. “Dean Thomas. He’s rather clever and neither Neville Longbottom nor Ron Weasley can hold a torch to him.”
“I don’t think we want Weasley,” Draco said of his nemesis. “That would be too much to bear.”
“And you, Draco? Who do you see as your partner?”
“Daphne Greengrass, hands down. We’ll just have to hope this comes off.”
However, before any of their plans could come to fruition, the Third Task ended tragically and it was rumored the Dark Lord was back.
And he was back. Uncle Lucius had confirmed it. It made Lycoris sick to his stomach.
When he returned home for summer hols, he couldn’t eat. He couldn’t leave his room for days. His hair grew out long and a golden blond, touching the back of his legs. It hadn’t been cut in nearly ten years, after all. He lost all ability to change the color of his eyes and his scar, that horrible scar that marked him as Harry Potter, protruded from his forehead.
Samhain, his ever faithful cat, lay curled up in his arms, and he would absently pet her and bury his face in her fur, just trying to shut the world out.
Sirius had sat by his bed one night, tracing the lightning bolt and saying how sorry he was.
Kreacher was beside himself. He kept on bringing Lycoris his favorite foods but still they remained untouched.
“How long has he been like this?” Uncle Lucius asked from the side of his bed. It must be serious, then, for him to be allowed within the confines of the Order of the Phoenix. They had moved in almost immediately, much to Lycoris’s disapproval, along with the Weasley children and Granger of all people. Fortunately, he had been secluded in his room so they couldn’t see him like this.
“Nearly a week. He won’t eat anything but the broth I practically force down his throat. Lycoris has been like this since it was confirmed the Dark Lord was back.”
“Strange,” Lucius murmured, brushing back Lycoris’s hair and tracing the scar. “I wonder.—Lycoris, are you listening?”
Lycoris turned his head from Samhain’s black fur and looked back at his uncle with soulless purple eyes.
“I need you to tell me why you fear the Dark Lord. You were raised to be a dark wizard and the Blacks, apart from your father, are dark. You have nothing to fear.”
“He tried to kill me,” he whispered back. “What if he tries again?”
Sirius sighed from his place near the door. “What are we going to do?”
“It’s rather simple,” Lucius responded, stroking Lycoris’s hair one more time, like he did when he was a small child and had nightmares of the Dursleys. “Make certain there are no Order members—none at all—in the house tomorrow night. And I need to keep the secret of the location, I’ll give it back tomorrow. We’ll have this all sorted.”
Lucius began to pull his hand away but Lycoris gripped it tightly. “Uncle. Severus is here.”
He nodded once succinctly. “Thank you, Lycoris.” He stood regally and looked over at his wife’s cousin. “I mean everyone, Black. Not even that werewolf you keep around. Send them all somewhere else. Tell them you think Lycoris is contagious or something and are sending for a Healer.”
Sirius nodded once. “Anything for Coris.”
Lucius came up to him and whispered in his ear dangerously, “Take care of my son.” He then swept from the room and Lycoris was all alone with Sirius again.
“Hey, now. Let’s get some quail into you. I know you’ve missed seeing Draco, Lacerta, and Io. And what about that romance you’re having with Rosa Vane? You need to get up your strength and maybe they can come by for a visit.”
“But the Order is here.”
“This is my house first, Coris. If need be we can move the Order somewhere else.”
Lucius came back the next day but he was not alone. A tall handsome man with chiseled features and blood red eyes with a brownish hue followed in his wake. Sirius looked angry, but he bit his lip and stood in the doorway as the man took a seat at the edge of Lycoris’s bed.
“Heir Lycoris,” he said in a deep voice, “do you know who I am?”
Lycoris looked at his features, at his long dark hair, his pianist fingers, his pale skin and breathed in deeply. “Are you the Dark Lord?”
The Dark Lord gave a thin-lipped smile and reached out hesitantly to Lycoris’s scar. “I would never cause the Heir to the House of Black such pain and suffering,” he murmured, “even if his father were a blood traitor. I would not cause such harm to you now, Heir Lycoris, unless we met on opposite sides of the battlefield.”
Lycoris shook his head vehemently and sat up. “I don’t—I’m not—“
“Hush, child, I know. Your uncle has informed me that your loyalties lie with your adoptive family.”
“I couldn’t find myself on either side of the war. I couldn’t hurt my father like that. Not when he recognized me.”
“I understand,” The Dark Lord breathed, “and I respect that decision. However, that does not mean that we cannot be associates.” His hand traced down Lycoris’s face. “Now, I hear that you are a metamorphmagus. Amaze me with your transformation now that your fears have been put to rest.”
Carefully the scar melted into smooth skin. Then the purple eyes turned to gray and the hair began to darken and shorten until it was once again chin length.
“Father,” Lycoris asked. “May I wear it as long as yours?”
“You’re not yet Lord Black, whelp,” he responded with a laugh. “You’re lucky I let you keep it so long.”
“It drove the Dursleys mad,” Lycoris informed the room as natural curls, far tighter than the Black’s, developed and the cheekbones were raised slightly higher.
“It suits,” the Dark Lord agreed. He ran his hand down Lycoris’s hair. “You truly look like a pureblood heir.”
Sirius cleared his throat. “Yes, well, if we’re done here.”
The Dark Lord held Lycoris’s gaze. “Yes. Heir Lycoris is back to rights. Keep him safe from this war that’s brewing, Lord Black. I know none of us wants anything to happen to him. Lord Malfoy,” he tilted his head, and then left the room.
Lycoris could only watch him go, feeling that something momentous—and not just involving the war—had happened.
He dreamt about the Dark Lord, so much so that it scared him. The brown-red eyes would follow him in his dreams, and the chiseled features would just be visible in the lamplight.
He was, therefore, surprised when he saw him again one day after his Potions lesson. “Heir Lycoris,” he said as he came into the classroom, looking at Snape, who quickly left. “I have a proposition for you.”
“A proposition?” Lycoris asked. “I—what?” He cursed his inability to speak clearly in front of this man. He wanted to get closer to him, maybe touch his hair. He shook himself from his thoughts. He really shouldn’t be thinking such things.
“I understand that you have a friendship with Miss Rosa Vane,” the Dark Lord began. “I wish you to exploit it.”
“Exploit it? Exploit it how?”
“Although it’s only a Middle House, the House of Vane is nonetheless important. I would hate for it to fall into the hands of that half-blood excuse of a wizard, Mr. Roland. Therefore, I would like you to go to Mr. Vane and say that if there is any chance of you one day marrying Rosa, you want the title completely invested in her, even if she should marry. Can you do this for me, Heir Lycoris?”
“I don’t want to marry her,” he admitted.
Red eyes looked into his gray ones.
“Just pretend you do. Take her to Hogsmeade weekends for a year or so and then pretend to lose interest. She’ll gain social capital for having been seen with you and you’ll save an ancient house from ruining its good name.” He held out a document, parchment crisp and new. “Please, Heir Lycoris. I depend on you in this.”
Carefully, Lycoris took the parchment. “I’ll try my best.”
Rosa was less than pleased. “Roland is now Master Roland Vane,” she seethed one day at Grimmauld Place. “I don’t know what changed Father’s mind, but all of a sudden he was the heir.”
Lycoris knew exactly what happened. His attempt at blackmail had backfired. He knew he should have brought Uncle Lucius with him. He cursed himself for wanting to do this on his own.
“Perhaps your father will remarry again and have an heir of Vane blood,” he offered in conciliation.
“He won’t do that. He loves his precious Roland too much. I thought—being his own daughter—but, no.” She sighed. “Tell me of better things.”
“Granger’s only talked to me four times today. She’s staying here, unfortunately, and it’s driving me to distraction.”
“Yes, I wonder when we’ll find out about being prefect or not,” she mused. “My marks did significantly increase with your and Heir Draco’s help.”
“We do try,” was the answer she was given.
With a jut of his wand, Lycoris pushed Draco to the ground, ending the Dark Arts duel. His protective shield felt constricting and he immediately took off the helmet, which was made of black dragonhide.
“Good fight,” he told his cousin.
Draco laughed from the ground. “Yeah. Good fight.”
The sound of clapping from behind Lycoris filled the room and both boys turned to look. There, standing in black robes and with his handsome features, was the Dark Lord.
Lycoris had only met him the two times, and he still took his breath away. He rather wondered at the sensation, why he should react so strongly to the Dark Lord. He supposed it was what all his followers felt and that’s why they followed him. Still, there seemed to be something more…
“Well done, young men,” the Dark Lord said. “I look forward to seeing you mature in your magical prowess. Heir Draco, I can only hope that you will follow in your father’s footsteps and join my ranks.”
“Y-yes, my lord. Thank you, my lord.” Draco quickly picked himself off the ground and took off his own helmet, his hair in disarray.
The Dark Lord looked over him carefully. “Yes, you will make a fine duelist. Your Dark Arts tutor has taught you well.”
Lycoris looked on in a bit of amusement. He wondered why the Dark Lord was here at Malfoy Manor, why he was watching two boys not even in their fifth year fight each other.
“You may go,” the Dark Lord dismissed.
Turning to leave and looking forward to a cooling shower, Lycoris felt spindly fingers on his shoulder.
“Stay,” the Dark Lord whispered. “I have much to discuss with you.”
Lycoris looked back over his shoulder and let Draco leave the room, his metamorphically changed gray eyes piercing into red-brown.
“Out of curiosity, explain to me why Mr. Roland is now Master Roland Vane. I thought I gave you papers to ensure that Miss Rosa became the undoubted heiress to the estate.”
“I gave them to Mr. Vane,” he answered crisply. “I told him if there was any hope that I would court his daughter and one day make her Lady Black, that he would sign the papers. He called my bluff.”
“And now one of the pureblood houses will have a half-blood as its master,” The Dark Lord responded archly. “Well, child, you tried your best. If the lure of his daughter being the preeminent Lady in all of wizarding Britain was not enough, then I doubt anything short of torture would be.” His fingers, which had been resting on Lycoris’s shoulder, now skated up his cheek. “What are your intentions toward Miss Rosa?”
“Is it any of your concern? You know my father is a member of the Order of the Phoenix.”
“Yet he called me when you were despondent for fear that I might kill you because your kidnappers had been James and Lily Potter. He knew I was the only one who could reassure you and that I meant you no ill will, Lycoris, and I don’t. I will allow you to remain neutral in this conflict for the simple reason of your status and the crimes the Light has committed against you.”
Lycoris closed his eyes. “I’ve only ever felt friendship for her. It is others who saw different possibilities.”
The fingers drifted down to his neck and pulled his head upward until soft lips met his. The kiss was gentle, tender, hesitant, and when the Dark Lord pulled away Lycoris’s eyes fluttered open.
“What was that?”
“I—I don’t understand. I’m not allowed to kiss a maiden unless an offer of courtship is in place and not even then, and you—I—no one’s ever told me.—”
“I’ll let your Uncle Lucius explain,” The Dark Lord said softly. “I don’t want to overwhelm you. I will, however, tell you, that I am a generous and loyal companion. I never bed my followers and, in fact, I have never been with another wizard—“
“Only male Muggles.”
Lycoris swallowed. He hated Muggles.
“I was faithful to them until such a time when I could not overlook what they were any longer.”
“What was your longest relationship?” Lycoris asked hesitantly.
Silence enveloped them.
The Dark Lord leaned his head up against Lycoris’s. “I will answer any and all questions you may have. You have only to send an owl to ‘Tom Marvolo Riddle.’”
Lycoris breathed out a laugh. “I always wondered what your name was.”
“Now you know.—Go. Find your uncle.”
Nodding, Lycoris pulled away and headed for the door. He did not look back.
Uncle Lucius was in his study, pouring over some parchments, but he looked up with a smile when he saw Lycoris. “Is Lord Black letting you stay longer? For dinner perhaps?”
Lycoris shook his head. “No. I just. I need to ask you something—and I can’t ask Father. It’s all too new.”
“Yes, a year is a short time, especially when you spend most of it at Hogwarts. Come, what’s on your mind?”
He couldn’t meet his uncle’s eyes. “He kissed me.”
“Draco?” Lucius sounded genuinely surprised.
“No,” Lycoris said, shaking his head. “Not Draco. That would be weird.”
“Thank the gods. That would have been a mess. You’re both the Heirs to One of the Four Lords.”
Lycoris looked at him askance. “So you’re not surprised that I’ve been kissed by a wizard?”
“You’re a beautiful, wealthy, intelligent, powerful wizard, Lycoris. Of course, I’m not surprised. Did he just kiss you or was there anything more?”
“He—he wants to be my lover. He assured me he’s a kind and generous lover, but I don’t understand. He’s male. What’s more, he’s dark. My father’s in the Order of the Phoenix.”
“You have lessons in the Dark Arts that your father allows so that you will be ‘well-rounded’ and ‘prepared for life.’ Narcissa and I brought you up to be a dark wizard. The fact that he’s male simply means that you cannot marry him. You will need to marry to produce an heir. However long this liaison lasts is up to you and this wizard, but it is not unheard of. Is he of good standing?”
Lucius looked pensive. “And you won’t tell me who it is.”
“I’m not sure if I should.”
“It would be easier for me to guide you in this matter if I knew his name. You say he’s of the best of standing, but apart from you, Draco, the Bones, the Princes, the Selwyns, and the Crouches, I can think of no one. There is Heir Chase Selwyn, of course, but he’s about Io’s age. Octavian Prince is probably not who you refer to either. It’s not Draco, and Barty Crouch, Jr. is supposed to be in Azkaban.”
Lycoris shook his head. “It’s—“ He took a seat. “It’s the Dark Lord.”
Lucius’ eyebrows rose involuntarily. “The Dark Lord approached you.”
“Well, your father certainly won’t be happy if he finds out.” He seemed pensive but Lycoris couldn’t meet his eyes. “You sleep on it. You seem befuddled by the entire situation. The most I can do at this point is assure you that there is nothing wrong in this situation. It is not uncommon. You are old enough, or will be in a matter of days. These friendships are recognized.”
“Do you have a lover?”
“I would never be unfaithful to your aunt,” he replied perhaps a little harshly. “But if I did, it would be a matter between her, my lover, and myself. You must understand that it would be a travesty for a wizard to take a witch as a lover as illegitimate children might be produced.”
“I can produce children.”
Lycoris met Lucius’ eyes then, head on and unforgiving. Lucius, to give him credit, looked calmly back. “The metamorphmagus gene, I presume.”
“You must tell the Dark Lord if you enter a relationship with him. This could change the dynamic.”
“Was he at all insistent that you accept? Did he pressure you?”
Lycoris shook his head, his long hair falling into his eyes. “No. He told me I could ask him any question I wanted and to ask you about the situation.”
Lucius breathed out through his nose. “He really is kind and generous in these matters.—Go, before your father misses you. I’m sure those horrible Weasleys are about to annoy you.”
And they were along with Hermione Granger. How he hated that witch!
“Something’s wrong,” she immediately pointed out over dinner. His hair was wet about his face from his shower. He didn’t believe in drying charms. If it were necessary to dry it, he would just change it with his metamorphmagus skills. Mrs. Weasley had cooked again, although Kreacher had made him oysters. The matronly witch had huffed at the house elf but didn’t say anything. “I can tell.”
“You don’t know me well enough to tell, Granger,” he reminded her.
He looked around the table at faces he didn’t particularly like.
“Lessons go well, Heir Lycoris?” Lupin asked from his spot beside Sirius. Now that Lycoris thought about it, the two were a little close.
“Yes. I love dueling with Draco.”
“Tell me you beat the whelp,” Sirius put in, and Lycoris smiled.
“I usually do.”
“Good boy. Make your mother proud.” Lycoris wondered if he were talking about Isabelle Rosier. He always seemed to wonder that.
There was a sadness to Lycoris’s answering smile, but he quickly picked up an oyster. He missed dinners at Malfoy Manor, where they would all sit and pray together to the old gods, and there was a real sense of family. With Sirius, in this short month with the house bustling with Order members, he hadn’t really felt a connection.
“May I talk to you?” he asked Sirius as they were leaving the kitchen. Samhain was at his heels.
“Of course,” he said in mock happiness. “Why don’t we just go up to the library and we’ll kick Hermione out if we have to.”
When the library door was closed, Lycoris wrestled with himself. He picked up his familiar and stroked her just for comfort before he asked, “Is Lupin your lover?”
“What?” Sirius gasped.
“I think I have a right to know,” he continued. “I thought you were being faithful to Mother’s memory, and he’s a werewolf.” He scoffed. “He’s not fit to associate with the House of Black.”
“That is the Malfoys talking, not you, Lycoris,” Sirius answered darkly. “And we both know we don’t know who your mother really was.” It was like a slap in the face.
“Yes,” he ground out. “The Dementors. I know. But Isabelle Rosier was my mother as far as I’m concerned,” he sighed and took a seat. Samhain hopped out of his lap. “Is he your lover? I’m getting old enough to tell and I think I should know if someone suddenly gets a say in my life.”
“I am your father,” Sirius stated sternly, any sign of cheer gone from his face. “I know I let you go over to the Malfoys and have your accursed ‘lessons’ and Lucius will always be more your father than I will, but I decide. I may not have liked lessons in politics and languages and dark arts dueling over the summer when I was your age, but you were brought up in that culture. I’m not going to rip it away from you. I even let you see that accursed mind healer! I would never ask you to be anyone other than exactly who you are. And I would never let a lover say otherwise.”
“But is he? Your lover?”
“I—no. He’s not. We’re just close friends, Lycoris. Now how did you even hear about any of it?”
“I’m nearly fifteen. It was explained to me. I might be approached at Hogwarts.”
Sirius seemed to deflate. “Yes, you very well might be. You’re handsome and powerful. But what of Rosa Vane?”
Lycoris scoffed. “I told Mr. Vane that if he wanted me to consider Rosa as the future Lady Black that she must officially become Mistress Vane and eventually Madam Vane even after her marriage. The title must be firmly vested in her. He then made Master Roland his heir. I won’t go back on my word.”
Sirius leaned against the edge of a table. “I’m sorry, Lycoris. I know what a good friend she is to you. But whatever possessed you to ask for such a thing? You don’t need the title.”
“The Dark Lord didn’t want a half-blood Vane the head of the house. He asked it, as a favor.”
“I knew I never should have had him come here. He now has a hold over the House of Black, however weak. Be sure he’ll exploit it to the last.”
“No, I don’t think he will,” Lycoris began cautiously. “He’s too interested in a dark Lord Black to alienate you before I’m fully an adult.”
“You may be right.”
“Does Dumbledore know? That he was here?” Lycoris fidgeted with the end of his sleeve.
“No, and he never will. This is a private family matter. The Order will never get involved concerning you.”
“I wish you would tell them all to leave.”
“I know, Coris. But I need to aid in this war somehow. I got framed and sent to Azkaban for twelve years. Those were twelve long years you were without a father.”
“Do you really think you are my father? Truly?” A hint of vulnerability flashed in his gray eyes and Sirius reached out to run his hand soothingly through Lycoris’s hair.
“As certain as I draw breath. But I couldn’t be prouder, Lycoris. Whether you’re my son or my nephew, you will always be my heir, above any other children I may have. I swore an oath in Azkaban that you were my son and I will hold by that, Lycoris. What was done to you was criminal, and no Black child should ever have to suffer through it.”
Lycoris nodded. “Thank you, Father.”
Sirius grabbed him in a bear hug. “Now, why don’t you write to your Aunt Narcissa and see if you can go over for breakfast before lessons? That way you won’t have to see the admiring Miss Granger.”
Laughing, Lycoris nodded.
“And I’ll try not to seem so overly-friendly with Remus—as long as you don’t say anything about him being a werewolf. I know you cling to pureblood identity because your very identity was stripped from you, Lycoris, but please. Try to show more compassion.”