(DM06) Part the Sixth

“Drop a heart, Break a name / We’re always sleeping in, and sleeping for the wrong team”

“Sugar, We’re Going Down,” Fall Out Boy

The village was part Muggle, part Magical.  As they walked through in robes, they garnered a few looks though not as many as they would have normally.  “Don’t look at the statue,” Sirius advised as they passed through the center of the village, and Lycoris didn’t look.

He saw the pub and the kissing gate that led to graveyard.

“May I see?” he asked.

“Of course,” Sirius answered, and they walked to the graves. 

Lycoris felt nothing.  There were freshly strewn flowers and Lycoris said, in a cold voice, “Curse them dead.”

They passed the cottage where Lycoris had spent part of his life as Harry Potter.  He didn’t remember it and he could see where part of it had collapsed.  “I almost wish they had survived so I wouldn’t have had to have gone to the Dursleys,” he whispered.  “I wonder what I would have been like.  You would have been my godfather.”

“I probably would have pranked you,” Sirius answered.  “Come, we’re just up the lane here.”  They drew closer and Sirius warned, “She’s a bit old for an unmarried witch.  I think she’s just over twenty.”

“I don’t mind,” Lycoris remarked.  “Why should I mind?  I don’t want a stepmother too close my age.  I just don’t want her trying to run my life.”

“I’m sure something can be arranged,” Sirius placated.  “Ah, here we are now.”

The house was three-stories with gabled windows and flowerbeds in the front.  The thatched roof was rather charming and there was a blue door.  Sirius cluncked the knocker three times.  A middle-aged witch, with what looked like a doily on her head, opened the door and ushered them in.

“Lord Black, how wonderful it is to see you.  Who might this be?”

“Mrs. Sweetings, this is my son, Heir Lycoris.  He wanted to meet Florence.”

The witch looked happily flustered.  “But of course.  Florence is just now writing letters to some old school friends.  I’m sure she will not mind the interruption.”  She showed them into a small room with a desk where a witch with blue eyes and silky brown hair twirled on the top of her head was sitting at a writing desk.  She looked up and smiled while clearly ending the sentence.

“Sirius,” she greeted, standing up and offering him her hand.  “I was hoping you’d come this week.  Who is your companion?  Surely he must be a Black?”

“My son, Heir Lycoris.”

She curtseyed to him.  “Heir Lycoris, it is an honor to finally meet you.  I’ve heard much about you from your father.”  She smiled sweetly at him.

Lycoris held out a box of unicorn milk chocolates.  “I hope you enjoy these.”

Taking the box, she opened it and smelled the chocolates.  “I’ve never had any before,” she admitted.  “Mother, can you get us some milk and we can all enjoy them?”

Her mother left the room and reappeared with three glasses of milk.  They each took one and Florence passed around the chocolates.

“Really, Flo,” Sirius said, “this isn’t necessary.”

“But I want to share in my good fortune.  I assure you Mother will have some later.”

Lycoris had had unicorn milk chocolate before.  It was one of Draco’s favorites so he always was sure to get it for him for his birthday and Yule, much to his cousin’s delight.  He’d rarely had it himself, but always enjoyed it when he did.

“So,” he began, “how long have you known my father?”

“Since February,” she answered.  “He looked rather cold and miserable so he fortunately suggested going to the local pub where we both got nice and warm.”  She smiled at Sirius.

“Wasn’t it rather odd that you were in a graveyard?”

“Not at all.  My father had recently passed so I was visiting his grave.  It’s usually very quiet there, with few visitors.  Your father has been one of the few exceptions.”

Lycoris nodded, trying to process all of this.

“How do you feel about dark magic?”

Sirius coughed rather harshly.  Florence looked at him with concern before turning to Lycoris.  “Officially, I believe that it is dangerous.  Unofficially, well…”  She glanced at her mother and leaned it.  “I believe magic is magic, Heir Lycoris.”

For the first time that visit, he smiled at her.

“So, do I have your permission to pop the question?” Sirius asked as they left the house. 

“I—is it that serious?”

“Yes.  We can be married over Yule so you can be best man and one of her sisters can be matron of honor.”

“You’re going to have to get rid of the Order, you know that, don’t you?  It won’t be right to bring her into a house run by Mrs. Weasley when she should have her own establishment.  I don’t think it’s right that you make me live under that horrible blood traitor.”

“Hey,” Sirius said, taking him by the arm and turning him.  “I will not tolerate such language.”

“They are blood traitors, though,” Lycoris argued, “the lot of them.  Ask anyone.  They neglect our traditions, dress like common Muggles.  It’s ridiculous and they’re running about our house along with Dumbledore!”

“Fine, I’ll kick them out as soon as she agrees.  I need her at Grimmauld Place to start redecorating anyway.”

“Good.”  Lycoris nodded.  “Go back and ask tomorrow.  You can go to Gringotts today and pick out a ring.”

“You’re not in a hurry to see anyone go,” Sirius added sarcastically.

“No, I’m certainly not.”

They were in the Black vault.  Lycoris had convinced Sirius to invite Draco and Aunt Narcissa (for a woman’s opinion) to pick out the ring.  They were looking at several trays of them.

“No,” Narcissa said, dismissing an entire tray.  “I take it she’s feminine and those are a little—overdone.  From what Lycoris has said, she is as strong but physically small boned.”

“Coris said that?” Sirius said in surprise.

“She interrogated me over breakfast!” Lycoris defended.  “Plus, she needs to know.  She doesn’t even know Miss Sweetings.”

Sirius deflated a bit.

“Now, brown hair and blue eyes.”  This was Draco.  “I think we want platinum or silver.”

“Yes,” Lycoris agreed.  He pointed to another tray.  “These are right out.”

“Jewel or no jewel?” Narcissa then asked.  “Cousin Sirius?”

“I have absolutely no idea.”  He looked utterly lost.

“Jewel, then,” Narcissa said.  “Women like pretty jewels that catch the light.  Let’s see, a sapphire to match her eyes.”  She looked over the rings, her hand hovering between two, before she picked up the second.  It was a rather large sapphire with the Black crest of a crow’s head in silver in the center of it.  “This should make all of her friends jealous.”

“Won’t they already be jealous if she’s marrying a Lord?” Draco asked.

“Yes,” Narcissa said.  “However, a physical reminder never hurts.”  She handed the ring to Sirius.  “Does this meet with your approval?”

He looked at it from several angles before passing it to Lycoris who nodded.  “Yes,” Sirius said.  “I think we’re in agreement.”

“May the future Lady Black wear it with honor,” Narcissa intoned and Draco smiled at Lycoris.

Everyone was packed and gone by the end of the week, as Sirius had proposed to an ecstatic Florence who absolutely adored her ring, and Grimmauld Place was eerily quiet.  Sirius had a curse breaker brought in to break the Fidelius Charm on the house, and Lycoris just watched him with veiled interest.  Florence came soon after that with a handful of patterns and started pinning them to the walls with Kreacher’s help.

“It’s brilliant!” Draco declared as they stood in the living room.  “I think this room would look wonderful in golds and yellows, just like she’s thinking.”

“It’s better than the dire state it’s in now,” Lycoris agreed.

“You don’t like it?” Draco asked perceptively.

“It’s not home,” Lycoris admitted.  “I’ll be glad to have her here, though.  I’m used to the hustle and bustle of all of Sirius’s blasted friends.”

They shared a dark look.

“The Dark Lord was asking after you the other day at tea,” Draco put in after a long silence.  “One would think he’s besotted.”

Lycoris’s head whipped round.  He hadn’t told Draco.  “Why would you say that?”

Draco smirked.  “Did you honestly think you could keep it a secret from me?  When you met the Dark Lord, you described him as ‘beautiful,’ then he asks to see you alone, there’s another meeting, and he asks specifically about you.  He never even asks after his own followers!  Are you lovers?”

“Yes—not yet.  We’re waiting.”

His cousin whistled.  “You’re making the Dark Lord wait.  You’re a brave one.”

“Would you like to have sex at this age?  My hormones haven’t had time to catch up to the situation.”

“No,” Draco said honestly.  “I suppose I wouldn’t.  We are rather young for our year at Hogwarts.”  Draco had been born in June and Lycoris, supposedly, at the end of July.  The Malfoys had changed his official birthday to July fourteenth, to keep people from guessing his former identity.  As one they turned to the tapestry to look at the mysterious child of Regulus Black, whose birthday was listed as 1979.  “Still,” Draco said, clearing his throat, “I would contact him.  Any day when Uncle Sirius will be out?”

“He’s having a private dinner with Flo in London next week.”

“Perfect.  Send the owl.  I’m sure he’ll appreciate it.”

Marvolo had agreed to come within a few hours of receiving the owl.  Lycoris was in a dither what to wear.  “Purple,” he decided, rummaging in his closet.  Samhain had strangely decided to hide there for the evening.

Lycoris had Kreacher preparing a dinner of Cornish Game Hen.  He shuddered his eyes to the appropriate color and then waited in the basement for Marvolo to arrive by floo.

When he swirled in the flames, he unfolded himself from the fire.  He was wearing his typical black robes, his brown-red eyes shining.  He instantly came up to Lycoris and kissed him sweetly.  “Coris,” he breathed.

“Marvolo,” he answered.  “Would—would you like to see what Flo is doing with the place?” he asked nervously.  “She’s really putting her stamp down as the future Lady Black.”

“If it pleases you,” Marvolo answered.

“This table will be replaced with something more in vogue,” Lycoris told him.  “She hasn’t decided what though.  She thinks, however, that it’s much too masculine.  Oh, and Grandmother Walburga approves of her.  I’ve made Father promise not to remove the picture of Mother from his desk, though.  Sentimental of me, I know, but I can’t help it.  She was my mother.  I think.”  He was rambling now.  This was not a good sign.

“Breathe, darling,” Marvolo said, taking him by the arms.

Lycoris sucked in a breath through his nose and tried to calm down.

“Perhaps we should sit,” Marvolo suggested.  “You can show me the house later, if we have time.”

“Yes.  Sitting.  Good.”  He sat and wrung his hands together.

Marvolo placed his own over them.  “Why are you so nervous?”

“We’re lovers.  I don’t want to mess this up,” he answered honestly, his purple eyes seeking out Marvolo’s.  “I’m sure you have dozens of offers.”

“But I don’t want any of them,” Marvolo assured him.  “I want you.”  He reached out and brushed Lycoris’s hair out of his face.  “You are my equal in every way.  You survived my curse.  It takes a great wizard, even in infancy, to defy such magic.”

“Accidental magic, nothing more,” Lycoris whispered.

“Perhaps,” Marvolo agreed, “but powerful and effective nonetheless.  Narcissa said you wanted to be a Magical Medical Researcher.”

“I changed my mind,” Lycoris admitted.  “It’s even less glamorous.”

“Then enlighten me.  I want to aid you in your hopes and dreams for the future.”  He looked honest and Lycoris felt himself sucking in another breath.

“I haven’t even told Father yet.  I’m afraid of what he might say.”

“Then practice on me,” Marvolo suggested.  “Come,” he said, trying to meet Lycoris’s gaze.  “I will not laugh at you.”

Lycoris mumbled something.

“I did not hear you,” Marvolo admitted.

Lycoris took in a deep breath.  “I want to be a corpsier.”

“You want to find the cause of death in dead cadavers?” Marvolo asked in surprise.  “That’s a profession you rarely hear talked about.  What draws you to it, if I may ask?”

Lycoris concentrated and his scar appeared.

Marvolo sucked in a breath.  “You want to find the meaning behind that scar.  Research, then.”  He reached out tentatively and traced the horrible scar.  Then, hesitantly, he moved forward and kissed it.  “I rue the day I gave you that, darling.  I was fed false information.”

“Will you tell me about it?”

“I was told that a child would be born that would have the power to kill me.  It was given in the form of a prophecy.  However, you were not conceived of entirely Light origins.  You are not that child.”

Lycoris reached out and tugged Marvolo’s hands.  “Have you found the child?”

“The only possible child is Neville Longbottom and from the reports I hear he is not much of a wizard.”

“No.  His potions work is abysmal,” Lycoris agreed.  “Perhaps because you chose wrong, the prophecy is void?  Have you researched the subject?”

“No,” he admitted.  “Perhaps it will be a worthwhile summer project for young Draco.  He has shown himself eager to prove himself.  I will not mark him until he has graduated Hogwarts, but he can certainly make himself useful.”

“He knows about us,” Lycoris confessed.  “He guessed, and I saw no reason for denying it.  He is my brother, after all.  I did not wish to hide such a large part of my life from him.”  He looked pleadingly at Marvolo, begging him to understand, and sucked in a breath when he was reminded just how beautiful the other man was.

“I will not say that I am not displeased,” Marvolo stated calmly, his hand back in Lycoris’s hair.  “However, I can understand the bond.  It must be strong.  You had nothing before you came to the Malfoys.”

“No, I didn’t.”

“And now a father and a place in society.  A new mother, too.  You are most fortunate.”

“Are you teasing me?”

“Perhaps just a little.”  And Marvolo leaned in to kiss him and Lycoris climbed into his arms, feeling the hard chest against his own, pulling Marvolo’s face closer with his hair. 

Only the arrival of dinner broke them apart.

“Something’s different about you,” Sirius remarked the day before Lycoris was set to go back to Hogwarts.  “I’ve been noticing it all summer.  You’ve come into yourself.”

“Is that a bad thing?”  Lycoris was a little afraid his father would be too perceptive.  He had asked about lovers earlier in the summer, after all.

“No.  You’re just so young.  You should be enjoying life, courting girls.  Maybe date a half-blood.”

“You have to be joking.”

“Far from it,” Sirius stretched.  They were sitting at the kitchen table and Lycoris just looked at him incredulously. 

“I wouldn’t touch a half-blood with a ten-foot pole.  Their blood is dirty.—And don’t tell me that deep down you don’t feel the same way.  You went after Flo.  She’s a pureblood.”

“Flo was a happy coincidence,” Sirius argued.

“I will not have this house be made a laughing stock in pureblood society,” Lycoris declared darkly.  “All of my children will be purebloods.”

“If that’s how you feel,” Sirius began warily.  “You know, I won’t bring up any future children with these ideals.”

Lycoris looked at him.  Hard.  “Yes, you will.  You love your House.  Don’t deny it.  You hate your mother, you hate your family, but you love the Black name.  Why else would you have taken me in when I clearly am a bastard?”

Sirius stood from the table, his hands on the uneven wood.  “Never say that about yourself, Lycoris.  Never!  You’re my son.  You’re loved.  You’re wanted.  I don’t give a rat’s ass if you’re mine or Regulus’s, that’s true, but you are my son in every way that matters.  The tapestry even says it!  And I will not have this type of talk in front of Flo.  She’s sweet natured and gentle, but if so much of a whisper of your suspicion got out, she could challenge your right to the inheritance, and I will not have it, Lycoris, I will not have it!”  He slammed his fist on the table for emphasis.

“Why do you care?” Lycoris asked in a small voice.  “You’re starting your own family now.”

Sirius sighed and sat back down.  “When I was in Azkaban, Lucius came to see me.  He brought me a picture of you and Draco, and in you I saw hope for the future.  I saw a smiling boy who could be mine.  I was not a saint before the war.  Far from it.  But that name on your arm.  Lycoris Rosier Black proves you’re a pureblood, not some fling with some half-blood, Muggle, or Muggleborn.  I must have been married.  It’s the only explanation.  And I remember that name.  Regulus was long dead by the time of your conception.  The only other Blacks are women.”

“I wish Mother were here,” Lycoris said softly.  “I like Flo, I really do, but I’ve always wanted a mother.”

“I know, Coris, but hopefully Flo can be a confidante, an older sister if you will.  She’s fond of you.  In fact, over dinner, she wouldn’t stop talking about what a gentleman you were and what a credit you were to our House.”

“She doesn’t mind being a second wife?”

“I think she knows with a man my age, it’s a distinct possibility,” Sirius stated.  “I made no secret of it, even from the beginning.  She knew what she was getting herself into.”

Lycoris nodded.  “I think I’d like a lover,” he said after a pause.

“I’ll flay him alive without magic if he hurts you,” Sirius said darkly.  “It is your right.  Just be careful, all right?  Choose wisely.”

“Don’t worry.  He’ll be from an upstanding house.”

“That’s not what I meant, and you know it,” Sirius growled.

Lycoris grinned back cheekily at his father.

Draco was pleased to see him on the platform and Lucius had even given him a hug, despite his formal demeanor.  “This is for you,” he stated, handing him a package.  “It’s from our mutual friend.”

Lycoris took it gently and smiled.  “He could have sent it by owl.”

“He thought it a little fragile,” Lucius explained.  “He’s sorry he could not see you off himself.”

“I hadn’t expected him to,” Lycoris responded.  “That would have been—well—imprudent.”

“Yes, very imprudent.”  Lucius smiled down at him and ran a hand through his hair.  The two looked barely anything alike, and yet still Lycoris knew Lucius saw him as a second son.

Of course, Hermione Granger noticed the package when he entered the Prefect Compartment.  “What’s that?”

“A gift,” he responded.

“Well, let’s see it then.”

“Hardly,” he responded coldly.  “I think I’ll wait.”

She looked like she was about to object but fortunately the Head Boy and Head Girl walked in.

Lycoris and Draco requested rounds together, and as they were cousins and heirs to two powerful houses, their request was granted.  When they walked along, package in hand, Harry ducked into a compartment, Draco not far behind him.  Samhain was at his feet.

“I’m dying to see what he got you,” Draco admitted.  “This is the first courtship gift.”

“We’re not courting.  We’re lovers,” Lycoris refuted.

“That doesn’t mean that he won’t woo you,” Draco objected.  “He’s a powerful wizard, possibly the most powerful wizard in Britain.  It would be only right that he would wish to win your heart.”

“Win my heart?  We’ve never spoken about hearts.”

“The Dark Lord always plays the long game,” Draco informed.  “He’s playing for your heart.  Now, open the package.”

It was long and thin and wrapped up in unassuming brown paper.  Lycoris opened it up to find a box, a card inside fluttering to the floor.

Draco picked it up.  “For your future endeavors.—M.  Is that what his name begins with?  M?”

“Hmm,” Lycoris agreed, unwrapping the tissue paper.  His breath caught in his throat when he saw what lay inside. 

“Are those?”

“Yes,” Lycoris breathed.  Perfectly preserved was a magical stethoscope that could be used on a dead body to detect magical residue.  It was made completely of wizard glass, pliant and yet unbreakable.

“How many of those actually exist?”

“Half a dozen?” Lycoris guessed.  “I—I should write him.  May I borrow your owl tonight?”

“Of course.  I’ll send Proserpine to Ravenclaw Tower after the feast,” Draco promised.  “Come, we must put these safely in your trunk.  We’ll ward it so Granger doesn’t snoop.”

“Granger,” Lycoris sighed.  “How I hate that Mudblood.”

“You have just cause.  Come, we need to get back to our rounds.”  Draco put a hand lightly on his arm, and Lycoris looked up, knowing this was the truth of it.

Rosa Vane was in their compartment when they showed up.  Her face brightened when she saw Lycoris.  “On your rounds?” she asked.  “I thought I’d keep your trunks company in case there were any unwanted visitors.”  Granger—was the unspoken ‘visitor.’

“Mighty civil of you, Vane,” Draco said as Lycoris opened up his trunk.  “Don’t let Granger in if she comes by.”

She snorted elegantly.  “As if I would.  She got my spot as Prefect after all.”  She sniffed.  “Heir Lycoris, I need to speak with you later, once you’re free.  It’s about that conversation you had with my father.”

Lycoris sighed.  He knew this was coming.

It turned out that Rosa was less than pleased.  “What were you thinking?” she asked coolly from her seat.  “You should have shown your hand when actual marriage negotiations were taking place.”

“It’s a moot point now,” he stated.  “I told Mr. Vane that if he didn’t make you Mistress Vane, then I would never consider you for my future Lady Black.  He made the decision; I did not.”  Lycoris knew his voice was hard, but it was the truth.  He honestly didn’t know if he could ever marry Rosa, but the possibility was impossible now.

“But why would you say such a thing?  I don’t understand!”

Lycoris breathed through his nose.  “Honestly, my boyfriend asked me to—before he was my boyfriend.  He’s concerned with the purity of houses.”

She looked like she’d been slapped.  “So that’s it, then?  We’re over?”

“We’d never begun.  We were study partners.”

“But I thought—“  She shook her head.  “Never mind what I thought.  It doesn’t signify.  This is all just one royal mess.”  She choked back a sob.  “Do you realize I’ve lost everything?”

“You’re still Miss Rosa,” he argued.

“But I’ve lost you,” she whispered.  “All I wanted was you.”

“It would have been an empty relationship,” he insisted.  “You’re wonderful and bright—“

“But you just don’t lean that way,” she concluded.  “Tell me, what’s he like?  This boyfriend of yours?”

“Tall,” Lycoris answered honestly.  “He’s a Slytherin, but graduated.  He treats me well.”

“And that’s what you need after those Muggles.  You deserve to be treasured,” she concluded.  “Does Lord Black know?”

“No.  It would kill him.  He knows I want a lover, but that’s all.”

She nodded and stood.  “Well, I have October until there’s a Hogsmeade weekend.  Perhaps I can find someone to take me by then.”  With a swish of robes, she was gone.

Draco slid into the compartment.  “How did it go?”

“As well as expected.  She was upset.”

“She was bound to be.  She just lost Heir Lycoris Black!”  He paused.  “Are you sure you won’t pursue her, in the future?  For an heir?”

“I’m certain,” Lycoris refuted.  “I think I’m sentimental.  When I have children, it will be out of love.  I don’t think I could ever love Rosa—she doesn’t challenge me.”

“Not like the Dark Lord.”

“No, not like he does.”  He sighed wistfully.  “Sometimes I wonder what I’ve gotten myself into.  It’s early days yet, but still, so much has happened.  I shouldn’t know what it’s like to be kissed until I’m betrothed, and now I find myself in the Dark Lord’s arms.  I must keep the relationship a secret from my own father—“

“Father knows,” Draco murmured.  “I know Lord Black was always an ideal for you, growing up, but my father was your father for three long years.  Surely that counts for something?”

“It does,” Lycoris agreed, sitting down across from Draco.  Samhain came up into his lap and he petted her absent-mindedly.  “Uncle Lucius understands me far better than Father.  Still, I don’t like to keep secrets from him.”

“No, I suppose not, Draco agreed.  “I can’t imagine having a lover.”

“That’s because you fancy a witch,” Lycoris responded.  “It’s different when you fancy a wizard.  The rules are suddenly gone.  Etiquette and decorum go out the window.  There’s just you—and him—and the feeling between you.  I don’t even know what I feel.  I just want him to want me.  It’s ridiculous.  Isn’t that ridiculous?”

“No,” Draco argued.  “That’s not ridiculous at all.”

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