“I’m not asleep, I’m up for the fight / Into the magic / And I don’t want the concrete / I am alive when it comes to the tragic”“Animal,” Kesha
Lycoris first learned of it by owl. It came the day before he went to Hogwarts, just as he was sitting down to luncheon, and he opened it. He breathed in quickly and handed it to Sirius before rushing up from his place and out of the room.
“Lie?” Flo called, but Sirius just smirked.
“He did it,” he exclaimed. “Coris received a special dispensation from the Wizengamot to marry Lord Riddle next August and all children he bears will be legitimate Blacks.” He slammed the paper down. “That boy really is a Slytherin in disguise.”
“Well, I’m happy for him,” Selenadora said carefully. “C’est trés bon. Love is to be celebrated.”
“I suppose he’s gone to write Lord Riddle now,” Flo mused. “I wonder if this will make The Prophet.”
“Probably not,” Sirius confessed. “They’ll want to keep this hushed up. They will probably announce his position as ambassador, however. It’s the only reason why I let him keep that horrible hairstyle.”
“I think it looks nice on him,” Selenadora stated. “Men in France wear it quite short, but it suits.”
“Yes,” Sirius agreed. “I suppose it does.”
“However did you manage Slytherin?” Lycoris asked as he came up to his two cousins at the Opening Feast.
“I told you she wouldn’t be in Hufflepuff,” Draco crowed. “Though I was surprised.” He leaned forward and kissed Selenadora’s temple, much to the table’s shock.
“So?” Lycoris pressed.
“It’s my hair,” she answered. “I refuse to conform and have cunningly gotten everyone to agree to let me wear it the French way.”
Draco and Lycoris shared a look before laughing.
However, the hair debate was not over. The next morning, during her free period, Selenadora was called into Professor Snape’s office.
“Miss Black,” he greeted, indicating a chair. “I would like to personally welcome you to Slytherin. I knew your father, not well, of course, but he seemed like a fine wizard.”
“Thank you, monsieur.”
He paused. “I understand you wear your hair in the French tradition.”
“Yes,” she answered carefully.
“Unfortunately, it is against Hogwarts regulation to wear coronets, garlands, and other pieces of ornamentation in one’s hair.”
They stared at each other.
“I have,” Snape continued, “found a solution to your problem.” He held out an old book. “It seems there is an old French tradition, that has mainly fallen to disuse, where maidens braid twelve strands of hair, leaving the rest loose, and create a half coronet by using the front two braids and attaching them at the back of the head. I realize this is not exactly the same, but it possesses the same symbolism.”
“Thank you, monsieur,” she said carefully, taking the book.
“There are spells in there to aid you in the creation of the braids. I will not make you change your hair today, but I hope to see it braided tomorrow.”
“Of course, professor. I thank you for finding an alternative. Not many wizards would be so solicitous.”
Snape inclined his head, his greasy black hair forming a wave around his face. “I seek to aid all of my Slytherins, when I can.—Now, another matter. Your cousins Heir Draco and Heir Lycoris.”
“I have received letters from both Lord Black and Lord Malfoy. You are courting Heir Draco, yes? Has it been explained to you the differences between Continental traditions and English ones?”
“Lady Black has been kind.”
“Good. I did not wish to have that discussion. It leads to awkwardness.” He gave her a tight lipped smile. “Would you, perhaps, when you see Heir Lycoris, tell him I wish to see him? There is no hurry, it can wait a day or so. Tell him it has to do with business.”
“The Dark Lord has many agents and many avenues of communication, as I’m sure you can appreciate, Lady Selenadora, given your own father’s history.—Might I make a suggestion?”
She looked at him warily. “Your position in Slytherin makes you suspect to Professor Dumbledore, as does your courtship with Heir Draco. However, your close relationship with Heir Lycoris gives you neutrality. You are practically siblings, if I understand the situation correctly.”
“I have never had a brother before, but I would imagine it is true.”
Snape nodded, his lank hair bobbing with his head. “Dumbledore will wish to exploit you. He has attempted to exploit me for the past fifteen years, and it is far from pleasant. You have not been versed in English politics, unlike your brother Lycoris. Let him play the game for the both of you. There is no harm in it. He will keep you safe from both factions.”
“Isn’t that the name of the Headmaster?”
“He is very active politically,” Snape told her. “He cannot use the Malfoys against Heir Lycoris. Lord Black has also made it perfectly clear that his son is not to be approached given his history as a stolen child. However, Dumbledore would seek to use you to get close to Lycoris. The Dark Lord wishes neutrality. He does not want harm to come to Heir Lycoris. He is rather fond of the boy.”
“Why should I trust you?”
“You have no express reason, except that I helped you.” He pointed to the book. “I offer aid and a warning. You are new to this country. I do not wish for you to be exploited.”
Selenadora looked down at the book again. “I wonder if Draco will like it.”
“That I cannot say,” Snape commented truthfully. “You will have to ascertain that for yourself, Lady Selenadora.”
They smiled at each other. They had reached an understanding.
Lycoris walked through the halls, watching the passing students. He had so few friends, he realized. He was friendly with some of the wizards on the Quidditch team, they hadn’t lost a single game since he’d joined his first year, and he had Draco and the girls. There was now Selenadora, but she was always with Draco. Marvolo wasn’t here and Rosa… he didn’t know what to do about Rosa.
They were to have rounds together, for some strange reason. Usually he was paired with Draco but Rosa had detention her usual time so there had been a switch.
“Heir Lycoris,” she greeted, and he nodded his head.
“How is your new stepmother?”
“With child,” she answered. “It’s all rather quick, I know, but I am hoping for a boy.”
“That is indeed wonderful news. Now the title can pass to him.”
“It’s strange though,” she confessed. “I’m practically old enough to be his mother.”
“True, you’ll be almost seventeen when he is born,” Lycoris mused. “Still, I’m sure he’ll be a welcome addition to the House of Vane. How does your sister Romilda take the new addition?”
“Oh, she was off with Roland all summer,” Rosa said petulantly. “To be honest, I have no idea where they went, or how he got the time off. He’s an Unspeakable, you know.”
“No, I didn’t,” Lycoris admitted. “I visited several graves over the summer.”
“Really?” she asked in obvious interest. “Whose?”
“My kidnappers. I cursed their stones so they would always crumble. I thought it was a fitting revenge. Then I saw my fiancé’s family’s graves. The grass had rather taken over those, to be honest, but we left them as they were. Finally, I saw Mother’s for the first time. She was buried away from her birth family in a small village under her maiden name. I left her roses.”
“How beautiful. But did you say ‘fiancée’?”
“Yes. I’m getting married in August,” he confided. “Mum’s the word.”
“Of course,” she murmured. “Anyone I know?”
Lycoris shook his head. “I’d be rather surprised if you did.” Of course, they had met that time she had followed him up the stairs at the Three Broomsticks.
“Well, I’m not getting married anytime soon,” she confided. “The night Mr. Davies’ father died, he came to see me and we had a terrible row. I haven’t heard from him since. Then again, I accused him of acting improperly.”
“Like a common Muggle, though I didn’t say that out loud.” She grimaced.
“That must have been frightening. I hope you were able to stop him, Miss Rosa.”
She nodded, tears in her eyes. “I hit my head when I was trying to get away and it stopped everything before he could do much of anything. He healed me, of course, but I then just walked away. I think he was acting out of grief, if I’m entirely honest. He’s not one for ungentlemanly behavior.”
Lycoris only hummed. He didn’t know Roger Davies well enough to say either way.
“But you have a cousin from France. She’s creating quite a stir with her hair. So are you, if I’m honest. However did you make it blond?”
Lycoris ignored the last comment. “Yes, she’s taken to braiding it. Something about purity just like the coronets and garlands. I really don’t keep up with French fashion trends. Still, I think it suits her. Draco seems to like it.”
“It must be freeing to have one’s hair down,” Rosa mused. “I love to brush my hair every night when the other girls have gone to sleep. Silly of me, but I do love it.”
“It’s not silly at all,” Lycoris bumped her shoulder. “Friends again?”
“Friends,” she agreed.
“Hermione Jean Granger!” Hermia turned in shock and found herself slapped hard. Her hand immediately cradled her cheek and she found herself looking into the irate eyes of her mother.
“Mum!” she gasped. “What are you doing in New Zealand?”
“Elissa needed a change after everything you’ve done to her. How dare you show your face in public.”
Hermia and Sydney were in the city to speak to the Bishop about their upcoming marriage later that autumn, and he was now staring at the two women in shock.
“You know I’ve been exiled,” she said quietly. “They took my name, my wand, my records—“
“And they denied us a trial!” Jean Granger screeched. “They won’t even treat Elissa anymore because she’s a Muggle. Did you know that?”
“How was I supposed to know? They kept me in a cage and said I’d get twenty years if it went to trial or I could get out and come to New Zealand. What would you have done?”
“I would have stood up like a woman and admitted my faults. I would have told the court why I had tortured my sister for years!”
“But I didn’t!” Hermia exclaimed. “It was a set up! It was Lycoris Black and, I think, You-Know-Who! They’re lovers!”
“Lycoris Black is nothing but a sweet boy and I doubt You-Know-Who, from what you’ve told me, would ever take a lover, let alone a sixteen-year-old boy, even if his father is Lord whatever.”
Hermia crossed her arms. “I—didn’t—do—it,” she said resolutely. “I know you don’t believe me, but I swear on my maj—“ she glanced at Sydney “—honor that I didn’t do it.”
“Then why does Elissa say you did?”
“I don’t know,” Hermia admitted. “Maybe they changed her memories. You can do that.”
“You’re grasping at straws.”
“Have I ever lied to you? Have I ever hurt a single creature? I won’t even let you kill spiders!”
Jean Granger breathed in through her nose. “Who is that?” she asked, pointing to Sydney.
“Why? Do you want to yell at him too for simply existing?”
“Is he—like you?”
“No,” Hermia answered quietly. “I haven’t seen anyone since I accepted the deal.—From Professor Snape of all people.”
“Then who is he?”
Sydney came up and offered his hand. “Reverend Sydney Chambers,” he offered. “Your daughter’s fiancé.”
“Watch out,” Jean said. “She’ll poison you, too.”
But Jean Granger just walked away.
Hermia didn’t even realize she was crying until she found herself in Sydney’s arms, breathing in deeply, her hand clutching his clerical robes. “I swear I didn’t do it,” she whispered. “You have to believe me.”
“Is there even a motive?” he asked.
“No, none. I love Elissa dearly. She’s my other half—and that’s gone now.”
“No,” he reasoned. “It’s not. We’re going to be married. I’ll be your other half, Hermione.”
She laughed-cried. “Hermia. I’m officially ‘Hermia’ now. Hermione died when she left Britain.”
“Hermia then,” he agreed. “Now let’s dry your eyes and not keep the Bishop waiting.
They smiled at each other.
Sirius had taken to using the study. He’d gone into politics once he was freed from Azkaban. Since he’d married Flo he’d been less involved with the Order of the Phoenix and more interested in his seat on the Wizengamot. Dumbledore wasn’t happy about it. There was something about the whole Hermione Granger episode that just bothered Sirius. If Dumbledore couldn’t see something so heinous under his own nose, how could Sirius possibly trust him?
Before he’d had a single picture on his desk. It was, of course, of Isabelle Rosier. He’d never put up one of Flo because Lycoris didn’t want his mother’s memory dishonored. Then, when Lycoris had discovered his mother was in fact Lux Kingsley, all of the pictures of Isabelle had been put away in a drawer to only be taken out for the occasional Rosier visit. Now, Sirius had the picture that had once belonged to Lucius Malfoy.
He had others, of course. They were in a warded escetoire in his room. Florence fortunately left well enough alone. If it wasn’t her possession, she didn’t pry. If she needed something, she’d ask Kreacher.
This picture, though, he remembered when it was taken. It was on the day that Lux graduated and Sirius had just finished his sixth year at Hogwarts. Lux had been in Ravenclaw and so was wearing blue robes, her golden locks toppled on her head elegantly, her violet eyes shining. He was in gray robes and he was holding her around the waist, her head on his shoulder. Lux was looking up at him, smiling and laughing, and he was smirking down at her.
It was so obvious they were in love. Only a fool couldn’t see it.
“Who is she?” Flo’s soft voice asked, and he turned to see her standing just behind him.
“That’s Lux,” he responded. “She died just after the war.”
“She looks like Lord Malfoy,” she noticed.
“She was his niece,” he admitted, “and my godsister. Lycoris has decided he doesn’t want to see any pictures of Isabelle so I thought I’d get one out of me and Lux.”
“Yes, I remember you mentioning that he didn’t want her to be spoken of at all. Something about her being a Death Eater spy.”
“They’re only rumors,” Sirius said quickly, “but Coris takes that sort of thing seriously. He doesn’t like the idea that he might be the product of someone spying on the Order.”
“And he still takes this position of ambassador?”
“I think it’s intellectual curiosity more than anything,” he admitted. “Hence his idea of being a Corpsier.” He sighed. “Coris also does know people on both sides as well. This way he can talk to them openly and honestly without fear of consequences.”
Florence hesitated. “Do you think—now that Lie is angry with Isabelle—that he might allow—“
“A photograph?” Sirius guessed. He really didn’t think it would fly. “I can always ask. It’s a complicated relationship he has with his mother, you must understand that. It’s a complicated relationship that he has with me. He truly views Lucius Malfoy as his father, and yet here I am.”
“I am sorry,” she whispered, kissing his head. “I know how hard it must be.”
“He was stolen,” Sirius admitted. “By people I trusted. All because—“ he sighed. Florence looked at him, expecting more, but Sirius couldn’t say it. “I don’t know their exact reasoning,” he lied. “But they stole him, and then they died and he was left with magic hating muggles who neglected and abused him. The Malfoys were a godsend. They truly were. They brought my son back to magic, and eventually they brought my son back to me.” He looked into Flo’s blue eyes. “I hope this one’s a girl.”
“Do you now? I would think you’d like another boy to teach how to fly.”
“No,” he decided. “A girl as beautiful as her mother, who will make me play unicorns with her.”
“That will be a sight,” she laughed. “She’ll probably do the same with Lie.”
“Probably. She’ll have the Black men wrapped around her little finger.”
“A Slytherin then,” Flo decided. “However, Lycoris won’t be here for most of her childhood. He’ll be living with Lord Riddle once he’s graduated from Hogwarts, I imagine.”
“Yes, I must speak to Lord Riddle. I imagine he lives somewhere, and I’d rather like a tour of the place. Malfoy’s probably already let Lycoris over there unsupervised. He’s probably of the belief that a young man can take a lover without any supervision.”
“Lie is perfectly capable of looking after himself, and Lord Riddle is clearly in love with Lycoris. He may have spoken a great deal to everyone to get to know us, but he would steal looks at Lie that spoke volumes.”
“Yes, I noticed that, too,” Sirius admitted. “It’s all any parent can hope for. Funny that he’s a half-blood, though.”
“Not a word,” Florence warned. “You know how Lycoris is about blood purity. You know how I am, for that matter.”
“Yes, I’m beginning to revise my opinions, given everything that happened to Lycoris.” Sirius sighed and looked at the picture of him and Lux. She was so beautiful, always so beautiful. What he wouldn’t give to hold her in his arms as they watched their son read one of his books. Being married to Flo just didn’t compare. She was a wonderful woman, she was a good wife and would make an excellent mother, but she wasn’t Lux. No one would ever take Lux’s place.
“I’m not simple,” Florence said softly. Sirius looked at her. “She’s some relation of Lycoris. You can see it in her face.”
“It’s her grandmother,” Sirius lied. “She was a Rosier.”
“Interesting.” She cocked her head. “I came in to tell you I was out to tea with my elder sister. I’ll see you before dinner.”
He took her hand and kissed it. “Enjoy yourself, my dear, and don’t take anything from her. I know you were married much later, but you caught a Lord—don’t think I don’t know what you’ve been thinking since we first met.”
She laughed softly and then was swishing out of his office.
No, Sirius decided. Florence certainly could never replace Lux.
Lycoris sat in the chair, not taking the scrolled parchment Dumbledore was offering him. His long black and blond hair was in a twist down his back and his eyes were their usual gray. “I’m sorry, Headmaster, but I don’t believe you understand. I’m currently in the middle of a Herbology lecture.”
“Yes, but I have a message for Lord Voldemort.”
He closed his eyes. Such blatant disrespect truly bothered him. “I am a student. I may be your ambassador but I am a student. My studies come first. I think you’ll find the Dark Lord agrees with me. He is most anxious I make Head Boy, and I can’t do that if you pull me out of my classes to play errand boy. Now, I suggest you keep that until Friday night, by which time I should have a portkey to the Dark Lord’s headquarters and then I can take it to him.”
“Surely, m’boy, you can use the floo.”
“Floos can be tracked,” he stated. “Personally made portkeys cannot.” He sighed.
“I’m afraid Voldemort really must get it today.”
“Then I will do everything in my power to collect it after class,” he stated, standing. “Do you expect a reply?”
“Within the next week, m’boy.”
Lycoris breathed out. “Headmaster, at this moment, I am not your student. I am either ‘Heir Lycoris Black,’ as befits my station in life, or I am ‘Ambassador Black.’ Do not try to denigrate what I am doing for you and your friends by emphasizing our age difference.”
“Frankly, Ambassador Black, you were not my choice.”
“Then perhaps you should not have agreed to me, then,” he stated firmly. “However, you obviously did.”
“Why did Voldemort propose your name?”
Lycoris looked into his eyes. “Don’t try legilimancy on me, old man. I was taught well by my masters. I would remind you that I am an Ambassador and what you just attempted could be viewed as an act of war.”
“We are at war.”
“Not with me,” Lycoris reminded him. “As I hope you would protect my honor if the Dark Lord attacked me, he would protect mine if you did the same. I would also remind you, Headmaster, that my father is a member of your Order of the Phoenix. So were my kidnappers.”
“Your kidnappers,” Dumbledore said quietly. “Sirius never did tell me about them.”
“They were the vilest of creatures,” Lycoris supplied. “I do not believe in the muggle idea of Hell, but for them I hope that they are burning in a fiendfyre that will never be extinguished.” He stood. “My next lesson begins in ten minutes. Until this evening, professor.”
He then swept from the room.
Marvolo slammed Lycoris against a wall, his lips mere inches from Lycoris’s. “Is it true?”
“That we’re officially engaged according to the Wizengamot?” Lycoris teased.
Eyes flashed brown-red and Lycoris moved in to claim the lips. Marvolo moaned and Lycoris felt the hands around his wrist weaken. He surged forward and grasped the sides of Marvolo’s face, kissing him again and again and again.
“I want children,” Marvolo admitted. “I never did until you told me we could have children together.”
Lycoris laughed, kissing him again, his back pressed against the wall and Marvolo crowding him so they were pressed closely together.
“Give me a few years out of Hogwarts,” he begged. “And then we can decide if we want boys or girls and in what order. Being a metamorphmagus has its perks.”
“A boy first for your name,” Marvolo whispered against the shell of his ear. “We’ll name him after your mother. Lucian perhaps.”
“That’s not a very Black name.”
“I don’t give a damn,” Marvolo murmured, kissing the skin at Lycoris’s jaw. “We can give him the middle name of Sirius if you want.”
Lycoris tipped his head back and laughed. “We can’t use Lucian. It’s too like Uncle Lucius’s name. I don’t want to create supposed tensions between my two fathers.”
“We’ll be blatant then,” Marvolo decided. “Lux Sirius.”
“We need an ‘M’ like the Gaunts,” Lycoris argued.
“Lux Monocerus. It’s the unicorn,” Marvolo suggested. “We’ll have the ‘M’, the stars, and your mother. It will be perfect.”
“If you say so. Just kiss me.”
“Only if I can take this dreadful Hogwarts uniform off of you.”
They were lying in bed and Marvolo was reading the document Lycoris had brought. Severus had been able to get Lycoris a portkey to and from the Manor and he could use the floo from there, if he needed to.
“This is utter rubbish.”
“Hmm,” Lycoris hummed. “If you say so.”
Marvolo kissed the top of his head. Lycoris’s long hair fanned out around him, covering him down to past his elbow in thick strands that curled. He was still rather fond of it. He knew he had Dumbledore and Scrimgeour guessing as to why he had lengthened it and colored it so strangely.
“I’ll write something up before the morning so they won’t pull you out of lessons. I’ll also write a scathing commentary on such behavior. I’ll remind them how rewarding being Head Boy is.”
Silence enveloped them.
“Do Death Eaters come here?” Lycoris asked.
“No. Only a few people know of Riddle House. I want to make it our home once we’re married.”
“As long as I don’t have to kiss you with a snake face.”
“Agreed,” Marvolo said, kissing him. “I thank the old gods for the day Lucius came and found me and told me his nephew was ill for fear that I might kill him.”
“You would have had me marry Rosa Vane,” Lycoris argued.
“At first,” he agreed, “but you know I soon couldn’t give you up.”
“Well, thanks to the Wizengamot, you’ll never have to.”
Marvolo smiled and kissed Lycoris. “When I rule Britain, I will put a coronet on your brow.”
Lycoris looked at him intently, before he reached up and traced Marvolo’s lips. “Sometimes I think this is all a dream, that I’ll wake up in my cupboard and find myself Harry Potter once again.” A tear escaped his purple eye and Marvolo caught it with his thumb.
“That was a nightmare,” Marvolo whispered. “The love and acceptance you have found is something that a scared little boy in a cupboard couldn’t comprehend enough to dream.”
“I was once a scared boy in an orphanage,” Marvolo murmured, kissing Lycoris again. “I would know.”