(DM07) Part the Seventh

“Eyes burning a way through me / Overwhelm, destroying so sweetly”

“This Fire,” Franz Ferdinand

Lycoris was in the library with Draco and Lacerta.  She was never one for studying.  She kept her marks up—she was a Malfoy, after all—but she was barely in the upper ten percent.  Lycoris had tried to convince Lacerta to study with her yearmates but she was having difficulty with a Charms essay so he and Draco had allowed her to sit with them.

He remembered the essay well.  It was rather a tricky one.

A shadow fell over the table.  “Is this seat taken?” Rosa asked, her hair in a mass of curls that were pinned up neatly on her head.

Draco and Lycoris looked at each other, a silent message passing between them.

“This is a family affair,” Lycoris finally stated.  “We’re helping Lacy with an essay.”

“I won’t get in the way,” she promised.  “It’s just—you know how I don’t quite get on with my house mates.”

That was true.  She didn’t.  There was Lavender Brown, who was obsessed with divination to the point of absurdity, Parvati Patil, who loved Witch Weekly far too much, and Hermione Granger.  Enough said.

“Miss Rosa,” Draco said quietly.  “I don’t think Heir Lycoris’s boyfriend would appreciate it.”

Her eyes went wide.  “Yes.  Of course.  How silly of me.”  She looked about the tables.  Lycoris noticed that her eyes landed on a table with a single occupant, Head Boy Roger Davies.

“He’s single,” Lycoris put in.  “And he seems to be looking at you.”

She glanced over.  “He does, doesn’t he?—No time like the present.”  She gave them a parting smile and then walked over to him.

Draco smiled at Lycoris.  “Playing matchmaker, are we?”

“Just helping things along,” Lycoris admitted.  “Couldn’t hurt to get her off my tail.”

Lacerta turned the page in her book.  “Wait, if you make a jagged movement, it’s this spell we learn in chapter thirteen!” she explained happily.  She had just figured out the problem.

Hermione waited beneath the moving staircase, knowing that the Ravenclaws would be coming down it at any moment.  Her hand flitted about her hair nervously.  She knew it was stupid, but she had straightened it that morning.  She had woken up before all the other girls in the dorm just to do it.

Purebloods, for whatever reason, put it up.  She’d seen Rosa and Parvati do it every morning, but she wasn’t going to change herself.  No, she was just going to present herself in her best light.

“Black!” she called, when she saw him, and he turned.  She remembered how when he came to Hogwarts he had long hair down to his shoulders, but had since shortened it until it hung long around his chin.  His hair was different from the other boys at Hogwarts who all had it clipped around their ears, including his horrible cousin Malfoy.  She didn’t really understand it.  She’d tried asking Sirius about it once, though, and he had just laughed.  Lycoris’s hair was still as curly, though.

She liked that.

When they were studying Arithmancy together over the summer, she imagined running her hand through it.  She thought it must be soft to the touch and that her fingers must get caught on the ends.  How wonderful would that be?

“How many times must I tell you, Granger, to call me Heir Lycoris?” he sighed, holding his satchel.  His gray eyes looked at her and she looked fearlessly back.

She pushed back her fringe.  “We’re at Hogwarts, Black.  We’re equals.  I don’t care what that ring on your finger says.”  Not really.  Well, a little…

He clenched his teeth.  “Just because you may have been welcomed, for whatever unknown reason, at my father’s house over the summer, does not mean that I have to put up with this Muggleborn nonsense.”

Turning to move away, he was stopped when she grabbed his hand.  “Look, I know you wanted Vane to be prefect, and now that I am instead, you have broken up with her.”

“I was study partners with her, Granger, that was all.  Can I go to lunch now?”

“No.  Not quite.  I just—we’re intellectual equals, Black.” He reared back, but she continued.  “We’re both prefects, and let’s not kid ourselves, we’ll probably be Head Boy and Head Girl.  Maybe we can be—closer friends?”  She moved up to him.  “Go to Hogsmeade together?  Get to know each other better?”

He pushed her away.  “Granger, I have a boyfriend.”

She was about to refute the statement, it seemed so preposterous, but then she asked quietly, “You have a boyfriend?”

Breathing in through his nose, he looked at her.  “Yes, so please kindly leave me alone.  We don’t partner in class and we rarely have rounds together.  It should be easy enough to do.”

“But, Lycoris, I—“

Heir Lycoris, and I, what?” he asked harshly.  “Do you want me to just come out and say it?”

She looked at him blankly.  In a nervous gesture, she brushed her straight hair behind one of her ears, but it was so fine, it quickly fell back again.

“I hate Muggles and everything that they’ve touched including Muggle-borns and some half-bloods.  I don’t think you’re fit to breathe the air Mother Magic gave you.  Now—get away from me and stay away.”

“But Sirius Black—“

“Unfortunately, he lost me and Muggles got me instead,” he responded icily.  “Lying, cheating Muggles who would rather starve a child to death than allow it to believe in magic.”

Hermione looked at him hopefully.  “Not all Muggles are like that, Black.”

“Really?” he asked skeptically.  “I find that hard to believe.”

He turned to leave, but she followed him, dogging his steps.  “You’ve seen me.  You’ve seen my parents.  They love me, Lycoris.  All of me.  They love my magic.  And they don’t love Elissa any less just because she’s a Muggle—she’s special in her own way.”

“Well, la dee da,” he spit back.  “Don’t you have just a perfect little life?  Go after some other pureblood to validate you—because that’s what this is, isn’t it?”

She stopped dead, biting her lip.  It was true, after all, on a deep level.  The purebloods made her feel small and insignificant, no matter how well she did at school.  And even that didn’t matter.  Lycoris was always better at it than she was.

“I thought so,” he whispered.  “Be happy with what you’ve got.  Don’t force yourself onto others, Granger; it’s unseemly.”

“Unseemly?  What’s unseemly is how you hate me just because I’m not like you.”

“I would think that would be reason enough to stay away from me,” he muttered.  “I’m willing to work with you as prefect.  If we do make Head Boy and Head Girl, then of course we’ll make a success of it.  Nothing else will do.  But that is where the association ends.  Hopefully I won’t have to put up with you as a study partner next year now that I’ll have a new stepmother.”

He made to move forward, but Hermione followed after him again.  “Tell me about her.  Sirius barely said a word.”

“She’s wonderful.  A pureblood.  She’s not trying to replace my mother.”

He walked away from her, and she just stood there with her hands balled into fists, trying not to cry.  That had not gone to plan, at all.

Lycoris fumed.  Trust Granger to corner him like that.  He made his way up to the Governors’ Offices and to his Uncle Lucius’s in particular.  Fortunately, Uncle Lucius had had a dark smith in Knockturn Alley make copies of his supposedly singular key for both him and Draco last year so that they could always get in.  There was a floo there and he’d be able to reach Malfoy Manor.

“Lycoris,” Lucius greeted as he stood in the room.  “Don’t you have rounds?”

“Not for an hour,” he admitted.  “It’s just—the Mudblood.  I can’t have her made Head Girl.”

“None of us want that,” Lucius admitted.  “However, how can we stop her?  She’s a prefect.  She’s second only to you in her studies.  If she gets the marks, she gets the marks.”

“Can’t there be—a scandal?”

Lucius looked at him hard.  “Wait a moment.”  He went out the floo and then Marvolo appeared in all his glory. 

“Your eyes,” he reminded, and Lycoris smiled despite himself.  He slicked them lavender and Marvolo grinned, coming over to kiss him gently.  Oh, how he made Lycoris’s heart sing.  “You want a scandal?”

“Yes,” he admitted.  “Something the Mudblood Granger can’t recover from.”

Marvolo and Lucius exchanged looks.  “What’s in her file?”

Lucius went to a magical filing cabinet and opened up a folder.  “One younger sister, born in August of 1980, attending Harrow on scholarship.”  He opened his mouth to say more, but Marvolo interrupted him.

“That’s the ‘in’,” Marvolo declared.  “It wouldn’t be difficult for a resourceful young witch to come across a dark athame.  She could have been cutting her sister with dark magic for years without her parents’ knowledge.”

“We could send a letter from Harrow, in this sister’s handwriting, that is easy enough to fake, to the Ministry.”

“They will send Aurors to investigate and her memories will already be altered enough to show that Miss Granger was the one all along who did it.”

“The Mudblood will be expelled,” Lucius concluded.  “Are you sure this is what you want, Lycoris?  The only type of scandal to stick would be a full on onslaught like this.  She’ll go to prison.”

Lycoris sat down in one of the armchairs and thought.  Marvolo was across from him.  He took his hand and played with Lycoris’s fingers, the touch warming the skin.  “You still are neutral,” he assured.  “I do this for Lycoris, my lover, not for a potential follower or the son of a Dark Family.”

He smiled slightly.  “Thank you for that, Marvolo.  And yes,” he stated firmly.  “I want this done.”

Marvolo smiled at him.  It was full of sinister promise and unbridled joy.  “Expect it done by the end of the week.”

Lycoris did not get a copy of The Daily Prophet.  Draco, however, did.  On Friday, the humming began and Draco ran over from Slytherin table and plopped the paper down in Lycoris’s eggs.  There, in large frame, was a photograph of Hermione and her family, Elissa sitting in front with a tentative smile on her face. 

Lycoris scanned the article quickly.  The abuse had been happening since Granger’s first summer home from Hogwarts, according to the article.

“Can you believe it?” Draco asked.  “You’ve been to her house!  Did you see any signs?”

“The girl was quiet,” Lycoris answered.  “She didn’t even say ‘hello’.  I thought she was just being a Muggle, but perhaps—“

The two cousins looked at each other knowingly.  Lycoris had confided everything to Draco, who had approved of the situation wholeheartedly.  Lacerta hadn’t been told as she was a little too young and Io hadn’t even entered Hogwarts.  They were to take the scandal at face value.

A scream went up from the Gryffindor table.  “I didn’t!  I didn’t!  I swear I didn’t!”  Granger was standing with tears streaming down her face, her bushy hair a halo around her ravaged visage, and Draco and Lycoris looked on with the rest of the Great Hall. 

Dumbledore, at this point, looking up from his Daily Prophet, stood and slammed his hands on the table a shouted, “Silence!”

The hall fell quiet, everyone turning their attention from the sobbing Granger to the Headmaster, who was now speaking to Professor McGonagall in low tones.  She nodded a few times before patting her mouth with a napkin and going to Miss Granger and leading her out of the hall.

Dumbledore, however, had a few words to say.  “I would like you to remember that these are accusations and accusations only.  Until the Department of Magical Law Enforcement substantiates them and Miss Granger receives a fair trial, we know nothing but speculation.”

Draco slammed his hand against the Ravenclaw table.  “And where was my cousin, Lord Black’s trial fourteen years ago?” he demanded.  “Where was justice then?”

“I cannot answer you, Mr. Malfoy,” Dumbledore said tiredly.  “I believe such matters have been brought up to the Head of the DMLE already.”  He sat back down heavily and stared at his porridge morosely.

“Thank you, Draco,” Lycoris whispered and clasped his hand in thanks. 

“Anything for my brother,” Draco admitted.  “It’s not every day you find one in a robes shop, now, is it?”

Lycoris laughed.  “No, not every day.  I keep on going in and expect to find another Malfoy.”

“Now, that would be interesting.  Our merry band of four would just keep on growing!”

“Well, there is that Lady of the House of Black on the tapestry,” Lycoris reminded him.  “Uncle Regulus’s daughter.”  They smiled at each other.  It was their own little mystery.

“What on earth are you two on about?” Terry Boot asked, tearing his eyes away from the paper.

“Oh, nothing,” Lycoris admitted.  “You know I’m a stolen child.  We found each other by accident in Madam Malkin’s.  Now, I rarely say this, but poor—“ he made a show of looking at the paper—“Elissa Granger.  No one deserves a dark athame.  They have all sorts of curses on them that no one can trace.  She’s probably infected for the rest of her life.”

“Oh no,” Draco said in actual worry.  “Lacerta’s crying.  I better go.”  He rushed off without his paper. 

Lycoris picked it up.  This was wonderful handiwork indeed.

Hermione sat huddled in a corner, utterly baffled and confused.  She had been stunned to see her picture in the paper.  It had been taken just last year.  Her parents were fond of taking family portraits every year or so.  They said that in their old age they wanted to remember how she and Elissa had grown up.

They were around the living room in order.  On the far left of the mantle was the first.  She was barely one year old and Elissa was just a baby.  Hermione had been born in September and Elissa the following August, making them the same school year.  It had been hard growing up, being the older sister and yet not.

Then there was the next picture when they were about three—then five—then onward until just before she went off to Hogwarts.  She was in her school uniform as was Elissa in hers for Harrow.  That was Hermione’s favorite.

They were originally both supposed to go to Harrow.  They were top of their class in primer and had gotten scholarships there, but Hermione had decided to go to Hogwarts instead.

Now she was facing gaol time.  It was only too horrible.

Professor McGonagall came over with a cup of tea.  “I put some calming draught in it, dearie,” she confessed.  “That should help a bit.”

“I didn’t do it,” she reiterated.  “I would never hurt Elissa.  She’s my sister.”

“Of course, dear.  The DMLE will be here soon and it will be all sorted out.”

Hermione squeaked.  “I’ve never been in trouble with the law.”

“And you’re not,” Professor McGonagall reiterated.  “At least not yet.”  Her stern face seemed even sterner, but she had taken off her witch’s hat.  She seemed oddly smaller without it, her hair in a severe bun drawing back her forehead so that there were no wrinkles readily apparent, unlike the rest of her face.

The floo activated not half an hour later and Tonks tripped out of the fire.

“Wotcher.  Sorry it took so long.  I had a quarrel with Amelia.  Convinced her to send me with Kingsley, he’s coming along, since we know Hermione.   Wotcher, Hermione.”

“Right.  Of course,” McGonagall said.  “Very sensible.”

The flames roared again.  Kingsley stepped out of them.  His bald head contrasted with Tonks’s bubblegum blue hair.

“We’re sorry this made it to the press before we could handle it,” he apologized.  “We were planning on dealing with this quietly this morning and letting the evening edition have it, but someone leaked it to The Prophet.  We still have no idea who.”

At this, Hermione seemed to gain back her strength.  “But what happened?  I never did any of this!  Elissa would never say…”  She broke down and started crying again.  The teacup lay shattered on the floor.

“I would normally,” Professor McGonagall began, “suggest we take this to Professor Dumbledore’s office, but perhaps it would be best if we brought him down here.  Nymphadora, if you could call him for us.”

“Yes, of course,” she said quietly, grabbing some floo powder.

Hermione didn’t even notice when he unfolded himself from the fireplace.

“Well,” he said softly.  “What is the evidence?”

It was Kingsley who spoke.  “There are clear athame cuts dating back for years.  They’re tinged gray, the sort of tinsel gray only seen with dark magic.  They’re on the upper arms and back.  They’re clearly not self-inflicted.”

“I see.  What else?”

“On searching Miss Granger’s premises, we found the athame.  It had been wiped clean of marks, but it was in her closet, in a false floorboard with other childhood treasures.”

“No,” Hermione moaned.  “No, no, no, no, no!  No one knows of that place!  How could they have put it there?”

Everyone ignored her.

It was McGonagall who spoke next.  “How did you learn of the situation?”

“A letter in the post.”  It was Tonks now.  “It was addressed to the Prime Minister of Magic.  It was sent from Harrow and in Miss Elissa Granger’s handwriting.  She begged him to make it all stop.  We first went to see her and checked her memories.  The evidence is all there.  They were not forged as far as our experts could tell.”

Hermione pushed her way from the chair and stumbled toward them.  She grasped Tonks’ robes and looked directly into her dark eyes.  “I.  Didn’t.  Do.  It.  Blame the Dark Lord!  Blame Lycoris Black!  He hates me!  He’s wanted to get rid of me as prefect for over a year and has hated me longer!”

“Miss Granger,” Dumbledore said, “a simple schoolboy, no matter how clever, could never pull this off.  Even with the help of his uncle, Lord Malfoy, it’s highly unlikely.”

“Highly unlikely?” she demanded.  “This is my life!”

“Yes, this is your life, and I’m afraid you have to go with these aurors and into DMLE custody.  I’m certain they will let you see your parents at some point.”

“They,” Tonks said carefully, “don’t want to see her.  Not after everything.”

“What if I’m found innocent?”

“Then I’m sure that’s an entirely different matter,” Kingsley placated.  “Come, Miss Granger.”

“No!  I won’t go!  You can’t make me!”

Kingsley sighed and pointed his wand at her.  Before she could react, he whispered, “Petrificus Totalus!—Headmaster, Professor.”  They picked her up and carried her through the floo.

It was horrifying, going through the falling motion, ashes batting against her eyelids without being able to shield herself.  She fell with a thud in a marble hall and saw the saddened face of a woman looking back at her.

“Hermione Granger, I am the head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement.  You are hereby charged with the use of Dark Magic and torture of one Muggle, Elissa Granger.  You have the right to remain silent, as everything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law…”

She closed her eyes.  Tears could not even escape them.

Rosa could not believe the news.  It was all too strange.  She hated Hermione Granger, of course.  She wasn’t as much of a blood purist as Lycoris; it was true.  She loved her brother Roland, and he was a half-blood, even though she wanted the title for herself. 

There were rumors, though, that her father was getting remarried again, this time to a Miss Silvia Jarvis.  She was just out of Hogwarts, Rosa knew her by sight, and she was rather unassuming, but if she could give Rosa a pureblood biological brother to inherit the title—well, wouldn’t that be something?  She wouldn’t be passed over.  She loved Roland, she really did, but sometimes she felt like she played second fiddle to him, even though she was her father’s biological child and he was not.

She sat on her bed—it was free period—and read the article again.  Rosa had never believed that Granger had been capable of such cruelty.  Lycoris, perhaps and only the right circumstances.  Malfoy, definitely.  Granger?  No. 

A knock came on the door.  She looked up to see a timid first year.  “Professor McGonagall wants to see you.”

“Are you sure?” she asked.

“Class just ended and she asked me to find you,” the girl lisped.

“Well,” Rosa said, getting up.  “We mustn’t keep her waiting then.”  She wondered what it was all about, to be honest.  Surely—?  No, it was too soon to be made prefect.

Still, she swished her skirt on the way to McGonagall’s office in case anyone should see and then knocked on the door politely.

“Ah, yes, Vane.”

There it was, the coveted Prefect’s badge, waiting for her on the desk. 

“I won’t mince words.  I should be congratulating you, but this is a nasty day.  The Head Boy and Head Girl have been informed and will be contacting you.”  She picked up the prefect badge, looked at it long and hard, and handed it over.  “Work to deserve it, young lady.  Evidently, its last bearer did not.”

“Of course, Professor,” she stated solemnly.  “I will do my utmost.”

“Yes, well, now you and Black and Malfoy will be in cahoots again, I dare say.  If you add a Hufflepuff to your crowd it will be the perfect case of interhouse cooperation.”

“We’ll keep that in mind,” she promised, exiting the room.  She turned the corner and immediately pressed her back against the wall breathing heavily.  She looked down at the badge and a small smile flitted across her face.

“My, my,” a deep voice sounded, “the perfect Rosa Vane showing a moment of humanity when no one is looking.”

Rosa instantly shot up and saw Master Roger Davies resting against the corner. 

“I thought it would be you, but wanted to make sure.  I had a free period and I thought I’d wait in case McGonagall called you in.”

“Yes, well,” Rosa was at a loss for words.  “It seems all my hard work paid off in a roundabout way.  I would have liked to have been made prefect outright, but beggars can’t be choosers.”

“No,” he said, coming up to her.  “I suppose they can’t.”

He was impossibly tall and she looked into his shockingly blue eyes.  She cleared her suddenly dry throat.

“Do I have rounds tonight?”

“Morven and I thought we’d be nice and give you a few days to settle in.  It’s typical for prefects of the same house to have rounds together, so you’ll be with Dean Thomas.  Do you know him well?”

“In passing,” she admitted.  “I believe he likes to sketch.”  She rather liked his drawings, whenever she saw them.

Roger hummed.  “Anyway, if you’re free tonight, I can give you a crash course.  Nothing too serious.  It’s all pretty self-explanatory.  It should only take an hour.”

“Yes,” she tried not to mumble.  “Of course.  I have nothing pressing.”

“Eight o’clock.  Sharp.  In the library.  I’ll find a table far enough away from Madam Pince so we can talk a bit.”  He took her hand and she lost her breath.  He lifted it to beneath his lips, letting it hover an inch beneath them, and then let it go.  “Miss Rosa.”

“Master Roger,” he whispered back.

Then he was gone.  She slumped against the wall again with a silly smile on her face.

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