(DM11) Part the Eleventh

“You’re everything I need and more / It’s written all over your face / Baby, I can feel your halo / I pray it won’t fade away”

“Halo,” Beyoncé

They were lying on Draco’s bed again, exhausted from one of their duels.

“You’re playing a dangerous game,” Lycoris noted.  “I’ve escorted Selenadora here three times in the past week, and every time the two of you choose a sofa away from everyone else and talk about goblins know what!”

“I’ve written a petition to your father,” Draco admitted, “with Father’s blessing.  I’ve already broken it off with Miss Astoria.”

“Are you mad?” Lycoris asked, coming up onto his elbows.  “Are you really this fickle?”

“I liked Astoria,” Draco admitted, “but she didn’t make my heart race or my breath catch.  Not like Selenadora.  You’ve told me how you need to be always touching the Dark Lord, like you feel like you’re dying when you’re not.  I didn’t understand what you meant until now.  Not until her.”

“By the gods,” Lycoris sighed.  “I’ll do what I can for you on my end.  I’ll even play messenger.”

“Would you?” Draco asked happily.  “I would just—she’s so wonderful—you remember when she played the piano and sang the other day.  It was simply beautiful.”  In fact, she was having a lesson at that very moment.  Music was her passion.

“You should hear her play harp,” Lycoris mused.  “As soon as she found out my lover was coming for dinner, she started practicing.  She said she wanted to show the House of Black off to its best advantage.”

They laughed quietly together. 

“He wouldn’t do anything to her, would he?” Draco asked carefully.

“No,” Lycoris returned emphatically.  “He wouldn’t upset me in such a way.  She’s a pureblood from the House of Black, anyway.  I don’t see why he’d want to do anything to her.”

“He murdered her father.”

“I don’t think she knows that, to be honest,” Lycoris mused.  “I’m certainly not going to tell her.”

“I hope she ends up in Slytherin, with me.”  Draco blushed.

“I doubt it.  She’s too honest, too open.  She’s rather industrious and hardworking.  You know that book Aunt Narcissa sent?  She took notes and cross-referenced!  Not like a Ravenclaw would, but like a Hufflepuff.  It was rather strange.”

“Gods, a Hufflepuff.  I’m sorry, by the way, that you’ll be in Ravenclaw with Astoria.  I wouldn’t want to put you in an awkward situation.”

Lycoris just batted the air away.  “I rarely see her.  I doubt she’ll want to annoy a prefect who can bring down her betting ring.”

“Too true,” Draco surmised.  “At least she’s at that boarding house.  When I broke it off with her, I told her she could still depend on me as a reference while she was still at Hogwarts.”

“That’s something.”  Lycoris sighed.  “Lesson’s almost over.  Better get to it.  Flo is teaching Selenadora today how to serve tea.”

“Is it really that much different in France?”  He shrugged.  “I’ll just get that letter,” Draco said, clamoring over Lycoris who laughed.

Sirius just stared at the letter as Lycoris waited.  “Draco Malfoy wants to court Selenadora.”

“Yes.”  Samhain had made it into the library and was sitting on the corner of the desk, licking her paws.

“They’re second cousins and have known each other for three weeks.”  He sighed and put the letter down.

“To be fair,” Lycoris began, “Grandfather and Grandmother were second cousins and they had you, which is only a good thing, and you and Mother were godsiblings, which is illegal.  So, you can’t really object to all of that.”

“No, I suppose I can’t.  Do they even court in France?”

“I have no idea,” Lycoris honestly answered.

“Well, his father’s a Death Eater.”

“He’s dark,” Lycoris pressed.  “I’m dark.  Uncle Regulus was dark, though why the Dark Lord killed him, I don’t know.  I should really ask.”

“If you find out, please pass along the answer,” Sirius said darkly.  “Selenadora deserves to know.”  He sighed again.  “I need Flo.”

Florence read the letter and looked at her husband.  “Well, there are only two problems: consanguinity and the political leanings of the Malfoys.  Then there are Selenadora’s feelings to take into account.”

“We’ve already gotten past the two main problems,” Sirius said.  Florence looked at him.  “I promise to tell you later, dove.  But what do you think?  Should we propose it to Selenadora?  Do you think she’ll understand?”

“She’s a smart young lady, not like a Ravenclaw, but still intelligent.  I think we should give it a shot.  Draco Malfoy has always struck me as honorable.  He’s Lie’s best friend and brother in all but blood.  Surely that recommends him.”

“There is that,” Sirius agreed.  “Okay, let’s find Selenadora.”

She was in the conservatory, a room that had been unused for decades until she had arrived.  Selenadora blinked.  “I thought courting could only happen if you kissed?” she asked Flo.

“Perhaps in France, but here it is an unofficial contract where you promise not to have romantic affiliations with others.  There usually isn’t any kissing until an engagement.”

Bizarre,” she admitted.  “And Draco wants this with me?”

“He does,” Sirius admitted.

“He definitely fancies you,” Lycoris put in.  “His heart stops whenever you’re near, I forgot the rest because it was getting a little too freaky since you’re my cousin.”

“I can get out?” she asked uncertainly.

“Yes,” Sirius said decisively.  “I can tell Lucius Malfoy that you are allowed to end the courtship for whatever reason at whatever time.”

She nodded and then smiled.  “I should like this then.  Are you sure I can’t kiss him?”

“You really shouldn’t,” Flo explained.

Lycoris leaned close to her ear.  “You can do it when no one’s looking.”  She smiled at him and then impulsively hugged him.

“I am glad to have a cousin,” she admitted.  “You always look out for me.  You got me those books and the gowns, and you say nothing when I wear my hair down.”

Lycoris laughed.  “You’re French.  You’re allowed a little leeway.  Now, let’s let Father write his note back to the Malfoys and we can drop by early for breakfast before lessons.”

She laughed happily.

“Lady Black,” Marvolo intoned as he picked up her hand and raised it to just beneath his lips before releasing it.  “Lord Black.”  He shook Sirius’s hand and they stared each other in the eyes.

“This is Lady Selenadora, my cousin,” Lycoris introduced.  For the special occasion, she had chosen to wear white as it signaled purity and honor in France and she wore a garland of white flowers in her hair.  “She comes to us from France and is Uncle Regulus’s daughter.”

“Indeed?  I never knew he married,” Marvolo admitted, picking up her hand.

He then produced a bottle of champagne and handed it to Kreacher.  “I hope you approve, Lady Black,” he said silkily.  “Heir Lycoris told me how much he enjoyed it last summer at his celebration dinner, so I thought it appropriate to bring a bottle.”

“How thoughtful,” Flo said, pointing to his chair, which was next to Selenadora and across from Lycoris.  His black and blond hair was in a high twist and the rest cascaded down his back.  From the heated looks that Marvolo gave him, it was clear he approved.  “You must forgive me if I do not partake.  I am carrying the next Black, though that, of course, is privileged information.”

“No one will hear it from my lips,” he promised, picking up his napkin and laying it in his lap.  “Now, Lady Selenadora, tell me why your mother chose such an enchanting name.”

Selenadora blushed.

Sirius wasn’t initially happy about it, but he let Lycoris show his room to Marvolo.  “We can’t get too undressed,” Lycoris moaned into their kiss.  He thought during dinner if he couldn’t just run his hand down Marvolo’s face, he would certainly go mad.  “They’ll know.”

“Hang what they’ll know.  Lord Black is well aware that I’m your lover, and I daresay after Lady Selenadora’s impassioned performance at the piano forte about two lovers, your charming stepmother knows as well.”

Lycoris laughed as Marvolo kissed a train down his neck.  “You shouldn’t say such things.”

“Shouldn’t I?  I only speak the truth.”

They fused their mouths together, Marvolo’s hand caressing down Lycoris’s face as Lycoris’s hands were in Marvolo’s hair.  Then Marvolo picked him up and carried him to the bed, where they lay, side by side, staring at the ceiling.

“You chose the stars,” Marvolo said as he looked up at the constellations painted on the ceiling. 

“Yes, there,” Lycoris pointed, “is Sirius, the dog star.  And there is the constellation Draco.”

“You must love your cousin very much.”

“I think I love him most in my entire family.  Is that wrong of me?”

“Hardly,” Marvolo argued.  “He’s your best friend and confidante.  He was the boy you found in a robe shop who took you home.  How can you not love him?”

Lycoris became quiet again.  “Do you mind terribly that I proposed marriage to you in such a way, in front of everyone?”  He squirmed a bit until he was lying on his side with his head pillowed against Marvolo’s chest.  His arm came around Lycoris, who hummed at the contact.  Samhain was curled up on the bottom of the bed.

“Hardly.  I gave you my ring, if you remember.  That was a proposal, as far as I am concerned.  Do you know if they’ve met your demands?”

“There’s a special hearing in September.  I’d brief you on it, but I’ve refused any official duties until my demands have been met.”

“How very Slytherin of you,” Marvolo complimented.  “I’ll write to Scrimgeour and ask him about the delay.  I’ll let him sweat a bit for having to explain the reason.  It may help push it through a little bit faster.”

“Uncle Lucius and even Father are seeing to it.  You should hear Father on the subject.  He’s angry that it’s you, but he says that I’m a Black, and when a heart as black as ours decides, there’s no returning.”

“What an interesting choice of phrase.”  Marvolo turned to the side and picked up the picture of Sirius and Lux.  “You do look like your mother.  It’s nice to see that your parents were happy together.”

“I wish yours had been,” Lycoris soothed.  “If I ever found your father, I’d throw every dark curse I had at him.”

“I murdered him when I was going into my sixth year,” Marvolo admitted, “along with his filthy Muggle parents.  I framed my uncle who had abused my mother her entire life.  He went to Azkaban for it and, in the Muggle world, the gardener was initially blamed.  He was let out, though.  I saw to that.”

“I’d like to see their graves,” Lycoris murmured.  “I saw James and Lily’s.  I wish there were some curse I could put on the stones so that they would crumble, even if it were replaced.”

“I can take you,” Marvolo promised, “and I’ll research curses like that.  We’ll find something horrible to do, I promise.”

Lycoris kissed directly over Marvolo’s heart.  “What did I ever do to deserve you?” he murmured.

Running his hand through Lycoris’s long hair, Marvolo whispered, “I think it’s the other way round.”

“Where’s Lycoris?” Selenadora asked as she walked into the library.  She rarely went in, but it seemed like Aunt Florence had set up coffee and Uncle Sirius was also there.

“He’s with the Malfoys,” Sirius carefully explained.  “Little Io is rather attached, and Lucius Malfoy promised her she could get her familiar today so she asked Lycoris along.  I hope you don’t mind.”

“No, of course not,” she answered carefully.  “I know I’m rather new to them.”

“I’ve been working on the tapestry,” Sirius explained.  “It has some rather odd magic put on it.  It hasn’t been recognizing you or your mother because she has creature blood about eight generations back.  However, it would be nice to know your full name so we can also put that on there.”

D’accord.  Selenadora Astra Black.  Does that help?”

Florence smiled at her.  “What a beautiful name for a Black.  Your parents chose well.—We did, however, need to discuss your father.”

Papa?  Why?”

“Have you heard of the Dark Lord, Selenadora?” Sirius asked carefully, taking a sip of his coffee. 

“Yes.  Maman explained about how Papa was a Death Eater and was killed in the war.”

“He wasn’t just killed,” Sirius explained carefully.  “We don’t know why, but You-Know-Who murdered him.”

Selenadora was suddenly very still.  “Does he—does he want to murder me?”

“No!” Sirius quickly put in.  “He favors the House of Black.  He’s very fond of your cousin Lycoris.”

“He is?”

“Florence, it’s complicated,” Sirius tried to explain.  “He came and visited Coris when he was ill just after the rumors started first surfacing abut his return.”

Flo didn’t seem at all mollified.

Sirius took a deep breath.  “My point is that while I fight against him, the Blacks are favored by the Dark Lord.  You have nothing to worry about from either side.”

Selenadora was confused.  “I think—I think I left a book—“ She put down her coffee and left the room.

Florence looked at Sirius.  “He’s been in this house?”

“My child was ill, Flo,” Sirius said a little testily.  “He was convinced he was going to be murdered.  I sought Malfoy for help and he brought You-Know-Who, which was the right thing to do.  He assured Coris that he had no wish to harm him and he would never harm a Black heir.”

“You’re in the Order of the Phoenix!  He killed your own brother!”

“Yes!” Sirius agreed.  “But he’s fond of Lycoris!  He’s even named him ambassador in the war.  The only reason Coris isn’t going between the Order and wherever the Death Eaters keep camp is because he’s demanded that he be allowed to marry another man—Lord Riddle—and sire heirs as a metamorphmagus.  And Malfoy, the Dark Lord, and I are going to push this through the Wizengamot because we all hold Coris in high regard and it could mean the destruction of the House of Black otherwise.”

“I could have other sons,” Florence interjected.  “It wouldn’t mean—“

“Do you honestly think that You-Know-Who wouldn’t destroy everyone if Coris didn’t get his way?  The man is obsessed!  I say ‘fond’ because it’s the nicer way of putting it, when really he has wrapped all of his hopes and interests in Coris that I doubt he’d let the House continue if Coris didn’t get exactly what he wanted.”

“How can you be so sure?”

“Because,” Sirius said, deflating.  “I’ve looked him exactly in the eyes and that’s what I’ve seen.  Lycoris will get his husband and his heirs, and will possibly end up head of the Wizengamot or Minister of Magic one day.”

Florence sighed.  “You try to keep those under your charge safe, but in the end, it seems that you can’t.”

“No, you can’t,” Sirius agreed, taking her hand and kissing it.  “Do you mind having an extra step-child, as it were?”

“I don’t mind having Selenadora around in the least,” she commented.  “It’s nice to have more joy and laughter in this house.  I’m just sorry we had to tell her about Regulus.”

“She had to know.  Before Hogwarts.”

“Yes,” Florence agreed.  “She did have to know.”

She received an owl at about quarter to seven.  Rosa immediately recognized the handwriting.  She smiled to herself and opened up the envelope.  What she saw surprised her.

It was easy to sneak out of the house and, surprisingly, no one seemed to notice when she went into the church alone.  Rosa was only surprised that it was still open.  “Master Roger?” she called as she walked down the pews, looking about in the gloom.  “Are you here?”

“Mr. Davies,” a haunted voice to her left said, and she turned to see a hunched form at the end of one of the pews.

Rosa immediately ran to him.  “What happened?” she cried, as she cradled his face in her hands.  It was tear-streaked and she brushed away the tear tracks.  “How can you be?  But your father is in good health!”

“Pegasus riding accident earlier today,” Roger admitted.  “I just, Miss Rosa.”  He surged upward, taking her by the waist and kissed her hard.

Rosa breathed in deeply, but she kissed him back, stroking where his hair met his neck, and let him kiss her again and again and again, because she knew that was what he needed right now.

“It’s okay,” she whispered into his ear, when he pulled away and began to kiss down the side of her face.  “I’m here.  You’re not alone.”

But then his hands were pulling up her robes and hiking up her legs around his waist, and she began to squirm away.

“Mr. Davies!” she cried to shock, but he only kissed her again.

“Roger,” he begged, but she pulled away harder.

“Roger, this is not—you cannot—you’re not thinking straight!”

For a moment he lost his grip on her and she fell back against a pew, hitting her head.  “Rosa!” he cried, lifting her up and cradling her in his arms.  “By the gods, Rosa!”

She moaned and he took out his wand and whispered a spell.  Her eyes fluttered open and she looked up into the gloom to see his concerned face.  “I—I should go.”  She shakily stood and smoothed down her robes, which had become mussed.

“But, Rosa, please—“

“So you can molest me again?” she asked angrily.  “You’re the Head of your House, Roger.  Treat me like a lady of mine.”  She stormed out and breathed in the warm summer air when she hit the streets.

When she entered the house, Milly was, of course, hanging about.  “Where have you been?”

“Nowhere,” she responded.  “I just needed some fresh air.”

“But the Muggles!”

“Aren’t they just dreadful?” she agreed.  “I really have a letter to write, Milly.  Perhaps Stepmother is about and you can sew with her.”  Rosa didn’t wait for a response.  Instead, she went to her room and slammed the door behind her, trying to keep the tears from streaming down her face.

Lycoris walked through Riddle House as if he were in a dream.  He had the afternoon off and, after leaving a note for Flo saying he’d gone to visit a friend, he’d floo’ed here.  He only hoped that Marvolo was about.

The second floor was quiet.  Lycoris couldn’t even hear any house elves.  He thought about calling for one, but he didn’t want to be accused of intruding.  Finally, when he reached the third floor, he found a study with the door partially open.  He knocked.

“Coris?” Marvolo asked in surprise as he stuck his head in.  “Whatever are you doing here?”

“I have a question—for Selenadora.  She thinks because I am ambassador I can find out any information, and it would set her mind at ease.”  He came over and kissed Marvolo’s lips lightly.

“Whatever is it?” he asked, stroking Lycoris’s cheek. 

“It’s just—she’s afraid—you killed her father.”

“I did,” Marvolo agreed.  “Or rather, an elaborate trap I had set killed him.  I didn’t do it personally.”

“And this trap?”

“It was set against intruders,” Marvolo told him.  “I really can’t be more specific.  It was nothing personal.  I wish her no ill will.  She’s a Black, after all.  I think I’ve explained how fond I am of that family and, if I’m not mistaken, she’s courting that cousin of yours, which pleases me greatly.”

“It does?”

“Blacks and Malfoys are two of my strongest supporters.  I also like to see the Malfoys getting what they want, and the Blacks are an excellent choice.  I thought so when Lucius married Narcissa, and I think so now in this current case.”

Lycoris nodded.  “I’ll tell her about Regulus.  I’ll make it sound like an accident, so she really isn’t afraid.”

“If you like.”  Marvolo stood and reached out to pull Lycoris close to him.  “I have a gift for you.  I didn’t have a chance to give it to you at the dinner.”

“You really do spoil me,” Lycoris noted.

However, Marvolo was already pulling open a drawer.  He brought out a leather bound book that tied in the front with parchment for pages.  “I had this specially made,” he said.  “You’ll notice your name printed on the upper right hand corner.”  He showed it to Lycoris.

“A diary?”  He took it and felt the roughness of the leather.

“A two-way diary,” Marvolo said, taking out a similar diary that was in darker leather, his own name emblazoned on it.  “If you ever need to talk and can’t get to me through the floo, I’m always here for you, Coris.”

Tears formed in Lycoris’s eyes and he flung himself in Marvolo’s arms.  “You know me too well,” he murmured.

“I’m your lover,” Marvolo answered.  “Shouldn’t I know you better than anyone in wizerdom?”  He kissed him softly.  “Now, I notice you like to wear robes that are laced up in the front.”

“What of it?” he responded cheekily.

“It’s just you know how I love to undo them and then restring them when it’s time for us to part.”

“Well, why don’t we do that then, fiancé mine?” Lycoris teased.

Marvolo kissed him hungrily and then swept him up in his arms.

“Soon I’ll be too tall for you to do that.  I’m already nearly six feet.”

“Let me enjoy it while I can,” Marvolo whispered before stealing another kiss and walking out of the room.  “And I get to take that thong I gave you out of your hair.”

“You like it,” Lycoris insisted.

“Of course I do.  It means you’re mine.”  They kissed languidly again.

“You forget the ring.”

They were now approaching the room.  “How could I?  I placed it on your hand so the world could see that I would find a way to marry you and you, my clever Ravenclaw, found the way without me.”  Then he threw Lycoris onto the bed, who was laughing happily.

Hermia was reading her maths reader, walking through the grass toward her favorite tree.  She heard voices nearby but she didn’t think anything of it. 

The grass swished around her ankles and she just enjoyed the summer day.  She’d had her hair cut the day before into a short pixie cut, and she couldn’t wait to show it to Sydney—Reverend Chambers, that is.  Hermia wouldn’t see him until the next day, but she was hoping he would like it.  She thought it made her look prettier and less of a mess.  If only she had such a haircut at Hogwarts, then maybe—but no.  Heir Lycoris always hated ‘Mudbloods’ and she had Sydney now.

The voices got closer and she looked up just as she came to the tree.  She was startled.  There, at the base of the tree, was Sydney with the lady who came down from the city with the raven hair.  They were both dressed informally, their shoes and socks off, sitting on a blanket and enjoying a picnic.

“Oh, hello,” the woman said.  “We didn’t realize you were here.”

Sydney looked up and visibly startled.

“Yes,” Hermia said carefully.  “I usually study under this tree, but I can see that it’s occupied.  It’s my mistake.  Ma’am.  Reverend Chambers.”  She turned to go, but then strong hands came around her arms and she was turned around to see the earnest look of Sydney.  “I should go,” she murmured.  “I didn’t mean—I mean I thought that we—but that clearly doesn’t matter—“

“Amanda,” he called.  “I want you to meet Hermia Grange.”

This Amanda came up and looked at Hermia.  “Hello,” she said, offering her hand.  “Amanda Greensborough.  Syd and I grew up together.  I just came down because he’s performing my wedding and I have so many last requests.”

“Oh,” Hermia startled.  “Do you have a ring?” she asked stupidly.

A hand was thrust under her eyes and she admired the large stone appropriately.

“Why don’t you join us?” Amanda said kindly.  “You are the Hermia, aren’t you?  The one who’s stealing our Sydney away?”

“I don’t know about that.”

“She is,” Sydney said proudly.  He led her to the blanket where he sat her down.  “Take off your shoes.  It’s nice to feel the grass.”

“All right,” she said hesitantly before doing just that.

“It’s a Muggle village,” Sirius explained as they walked through the streets in their best approximation of Muggle clothing.  “We were trying to hide, you see, and Lux so enjoyed Haye-on-Wye.”

“It is beautiful,” Lycoris admitted.  “And I usually hate everything Muggle.”

They padded down a lane to a graveyard.  “I found her here after I got out and you were at Hogwarts.  I scoured the Malfoy and Kingsley cemeteries but she was nowhere.  But here she is.”

The stone was simple.  It simply read, “Lux Kingsley.”

“That can’t be right,” Lycoris muttered before whispering a charm.  It was one of the ones Marvolo had found in his search to destroy the Potter graves.  Now, the grave read, “Lux Black: devoted wife and mother.”

“I think she would have liked that,” Sirius admitted.

“I do, too,” Lycoris said with a smile.  Laying down the bouquet of roses he had brought, Lycoris traced the gravestone.  “I love you, Mother,” he whispered and then, with only a quick look back, he and Sirius left the graveyard in case they were seen.

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