“I was so afraid / of going under / But now / the weight of the world / Feels like nothing, no, nothing”“On the Way Down,” Ryan Cabrera
“What,” Dumbledore demanded at the next Order meeting, “is your son about?”
Sirius hesitated. “What do you mean?”
“He dresses his hair in the most outrageous fashion for a boy his age, he won’t say anything about Voldemort or his plans, he won’t even give away his location!”
“You forget, Dumbledore,” Remus said, “he’s an ambassador. It’s not his place to be a spy.”
Sirius sat down at the table. “Anyway, I have an announcement to make. I’m pulling out of the Order.”
There was a dead silence.
“But, Sirius,” Tonks said, “don’t you want to see You-Know-Who destroyed?”
“It’s not about that anymore,” Sirius said. “I have a son, a niece, and will soon have more children on the way. I will not leave them orphans or my wife a widow so soon after our marriage. I have less than a year left with Coris, now that he’s decided to get married in August. I should have had his entire childhood, but I didn’t. I want to see my grandchildren.”
“In a world Voldemort controls?” Dumbledore asked darkly.
“That’s a world where Lycoris is favored, just as you should favor him. He’s doing you a great favor, and yet as far as I can tell you treat him like dirt. I wouldn’t be surprised if he gave it all up and left you to the mercies of He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named without any warning or diplomacy at all.” He stood up and leaned against his hands. “No, it is done. The House of Black now remains neutral in this conflict.”
He stood and patted Remus’s shoulder. “Give them hell for me,” he whispered.
Then, passing by Severus, he murmured, “Make sure the Dark Lord treats him well.”
Severus inclined his head. It was not an admission, per se, but a recognition that there was some sort of relationship between Lycoris and the Dark Lord.
Sirius then swept from the room.
She’d received a note. Rosa was quite surprised by it, but she read it anyway. It seemed Mr. Davies wanted to meet her. She honestly wondered if she should. It was true that she had no beau at present, though that was hardly her fault (Master Neville Longbottom was hanging about, but even she had standards), and she did still care for Roger, but what he’d done to her…
In the end she met him at the Leaky Cauldron. He’d brought chocolate and had two butterbeers waiting for them, just like their first date, and a small smile played on her lips. “Mr. Davies,” she greeted, and the light in his blue eyes dimmed a little.
“I thought I asked you to call me ‘Roger’.”
“That was before you attempted—what you attempted.” She sighed and took a sip of her butterbeer. “Thank you for this.”
“Would you like a chocolate frog? I know how much you like them, Rosa.”
She sighed. “I came because I was curious and this is a public place,” she stated. “What do you want, Mr. Davies? I can’t make you out.”
He made to reach for her hand and then seemed to think better of it. “I—wanted to apologize. I was not myself, Rosa. Please, understand that. I was kissing you, and it was more than I ever could have dreamed, so I pushed for more. I wasn’t thinking how it could ruin your honor. It was thoughtless and careless of me. I realize that. I also would never want to make you uncomfortable. It’s no excuse, but losing Father was such a shock, I just wanted to be with the woman I love in every way possible.”
She paused. “You’re saying?”
“Yes, Rosa. I’m in love with you.—I was hoping to ask for your hand at Christmas, if that suits. I just imagine you in a gown of red with a Yule Tree.”
“And you’ll wear dark blue for the season,” she planned. “Truly, Roger?”
He took her hand and actually kissed it, a sign of true devotion among purebloods. “I swear I will love you and never dishonor you again, Rosa Vane,” he whispered quietly.
She smiled at him and then murmured, “I think I’ll take that chocolate frog.” Then, like their first date, they did nothing but eat chocolate and drink butterbeer, a disgusting combination that had them laughing.
Lycoris was wearing a nightshirt. Marvolo strangely favored them and Lycoris wasn’t going to gainsay the man. It meant they could walk about Riddle House together in between their amorous activities without having to get dressed.
He looked down at the plans. “I don’t know why you’re showing me these.”
“I don’t want you to be surprised,” Marvolo told him, coming up from behind and hugging him around the waist. “Your Aunt Bellatrix might be at tea in less than a month and you and Selenadora should be prepared.”
“I honestly don’t know how I can prepare Selene,” Lycoris said, using his nickname for her. “She’d tell Flo, who would tell Father, and then I don’t know where the information would go.”
“Could you perhaps have Draco prepare her with the information?” Marvolo questioned. “How does their courtship come along?”
“Well, although it seems Selene can’t convince Draco to kiss her. She won’t stop complaining about it.” He made a face. “Frankly, I’d rather not have the mental image.” He sighed. “What do you want me to tell the other side?”
“The day after the attack, there should be a report in The Daily Prophet. I want you to give a message to Scrimgeour—not to Dumbledore.”
“I can do that.” He sighed. “I don’t want to be branded a traitor, though, for withholding information.”
“You’re not withholding,” Marvolo argued. “You’re simply waiting for your cue to deliver it. It won’t make sense otherwise.”
“Very well.” He turned in Marvolo’s arms and kissed him softly. “How much longer until the war is won?”
“Within the year, I should think. Perhaps a little longer.”
“And then we can duel in public without hiding our lessons, and have Dark Arts taught at Hogwarts.” He sighed. “Whatever will you do with the Muggleborns?”
“I will begin a campaign which will end with their wands being snapped and with them either being imprisoned or sent back into the Muggle world.”
Lycoris paused. “Interesting. Could you perhaps do something for me?” His blond and black hair suddenly shimmered gold and Marvolo ran his fingers through it. “Could you name my father’s marriage to Mother legal?”
“That would cause a great disturbance in society, Coris,” Marvolo explained carefully.
“Just, then, make it a special act of the Wizengamot. Mal, I’m the product of incest at the moment. If anyone finds out—I don’t know what they’d do to me—It’s too horrible to think about—I could lose my name, my title—“
“Shh,” Marvolo soothed, as he brought Lycoris closer. “We will not let that happen. As long as the Rosiers claim you, you’re safe.”
“They only want Isabelle Rosier to be Heiress Sirius.”
“That may be. But their greed can shield you.”
“I’m tired of hiding. I want to show my real face. Is that silly of me? I used to glory in making my eyes gray and my hair black. But now I just want to lower my cheekbones and let my eyes shine violet and my hair gold.”
“Change your cheekbones,” Marvolo suggested carefully. “Your hair does honor to both of your parents. And your eyes—just think of them belonging to your lover. They’re private, not a secret, but something too wonderful to share with the world.”
“I just want Mother back. Is that wrong?”
“That can never be wrong,” Marvolo insisted. “Never, Coris. And I know she loved you. She could not bear to be within this world without you and Lord Black. It was too harsh for her. So she decided to be with you, Coris. She left this world so she could hold you in her arms like she never could in life. Of this I am certain.”
“We won’t leave our children,” Lycoris swore as he pulled away and looked Marvolo in the eyes.
“No,” Marvolo agreed, brushing away his tears. “No, we won’t.”
Draco waited patiently for Selenadora, uncertain how he was going to begin. She came into the common room, her hair long and done in braids, and he smiled at her. It was a crime for her to be so lovely, he thought. A true crime.
“I have something to tell you,” he murmured as she came to sit beside him, “but you can’t tell anyone.”
“Does Lie know?”
“Yes, but we decided it might be better coming from me.”
“You know how Winter hols are coming up?”
“In a month, yes.”
“We might have a guest at Malfoy Manor—your cousin and my aunt. However, it has to be a secret.” She looked at him blankly and he sighed. “Perhaps Lycoris should explain.”
“Perhaps he should not,” she decided. “It is something to do with this Dark Lord, yes? I have decidé that your father is a supporter.”
“We don’t talk about such things.”
“You tell Theodore Nott that you want to marry me—don’t think that I haven’t heard. Pansy was crying over it. And you won’t tell me this?”
“It is just—Dora—“
She stood. “I’ll have Lie explain,” she stated, moving away from him.
Lycoris was sitting in the library when Selenadora found him. “Draco tried to explain something to me, but I got angry. I accused his father of being a—Death Eater, is it?”
“Yes, they’re called Death Eaters.”
She sighed, running a hand down her brown hair. “Lie, may I ask? Why is your hair black and blond? I do not understand. It is clearly not the style. Boys also wear their hair short except for men.”
Lycoris looked at her. “I wear it black and blond to honor both my parents. You know that I can change my appearance at will?”
“Aunt Flo explained it,” she told him. “And the length.”
“I’m an ambassador. I figured I wouldn’t play by the rules any longer.” He shrugged. “Marvolo likes it.”
They smiled conspiratorially at each other.
“Well,” she stated primly after a minute. “That’s all that matters in the end, is it not? Then again, we should not change ourselves for others. It is wrong.”
“I’m not sure many would agree with you. But, here’s the thing, Aunt Bellatrix is in Azkaban.”
“She might be getting a secret parole.”
Selenadora blinked at him. “There is more than what you are saying.”
“What I know is from the Dark Lord,” he admitted, “and he agreed to let me warn you. However, I cannot give specifics. I’m not even supposed to know. If the other side finds out I’m withholding information as an ambassador…”
“Je comprends.” She sighed again. “So Aunt Bellatrix is who?”
“Aunt Narcissa’s eldest sister. She was a Death Eater like Uncle Regulus. She might be at Malfoy Manor when we go over Yule hols.”
“Ah. Is Draco’s father a Death Eater?”
“Of course, it is just that the Dark Lord killed my father. What if he kills my husband’s father or my husband?”
“Your father’s death was an accident,” Lycoris reminded her. “And, if they were Death Eaters, I am sure they would be favored. I’ve spoken to the Dark Lord about your courtship to Draco. He’s quite pleased with it.”
Selenadora laughed. “How strange, that he should think of such things.”
“He’s quite fond of me and Lord Riddle,” Lycoris admitted. “Of me, especially. He wants to see the match brought off.”
“Is Lord Riddle a supporter?”
“I don’t know,” Lycoris lied. Then, telling the truth, he added, “We never talk politics.”
“I think husband and wife should be of one mind in such things.”
Lycoris thought of Sirius and Lux and how Sirius was a member of the Order and Lux was from a dark family. “Not necessarily,” he disagreed. “I think love can transcend politics.”
“But is marriage always about love?” she asked a little sadly.
“For a Black, it is,” Lycoris reminded her. He didn’t mention how he doubted Sirius was truly in love with Flo. He loved her, of course, he just wasn’t in love with her.
Scrimgeour and Dumbledore stood near the desk while Lycoris had his hands behind his back. He was in his school uniform and kept on reminding himself that he outranked the two men socially—put together.
“When did you get this?” Dumbledore asked carefully.
“Yesterday. I was instructed to give it to you today once you had read The Daily Prophet.” Of course, this was a lie. He’d gotten it last week, but he wasn’t going to tell them that.
“And why did you give it to us now?” Scrimgeour all but boomed.
“Because,” Lycoris said simply. “I am an ambassador to both sides. If you were planning an attack and didn’t want a parchment given to the Dark Lord until after, I would respect your wishes. Of course, I didn’t know he was planning an attack, but that is beside the point.”
“You are treading on seriously thin ground, Ambassador,” Scrimgeour muttered.
“Then appoint someone else. I deliver communiqué as bidden, Minister. If need be, I negotiate. The Dark Lord wished this to arrive now. Here you have it. I am also missing class, which you know the Dark Lord is hardly tolerant of.”
The man turned an unpleasant shade of red.
“I don’t doubt Mr. Malfoy will give you his notes,” Dumbledore stated.
“It’s not the same,” Lycoris offered. “There you have his demands.” He picked up the parchment. “He will give you forewarning of his next four attacks if you recognize a marriage previously viewed as illegal as lawful in the eyes of magic.”
“Out!” Scrimgeour declared and Lycoris bowed. “And fix that hair of yours.”
“Hardly,” Lycoris announced as he left. “I’m quite fond of it.”
Dumbledore turned to Scrimgeour. “You shouldn’t have let the boy leave. We need to know exactly what forewarning means. Does it mean an hour, a day? What exactly?”
“I’ll write a communiqué and give it to that brat when he doesn’t have classes.”
“Friday night then. You know what this means, Scrimgeour. I wonder who the couple is, that they are so important that Voldemort would take an interest in the legality of their marriage.”
“It’s a small price to pay,” Scrimgeour disagreed. “It’s just one couple who are probably first cousins.”
“But how far will he go with this?” Dumbledore wondered aloud. “It could set a dangerous precedent. We already have Lycoris marrying a man and producing children, and now another couple. It’s strange.”
“As long as no one’s hurt,” Scrimgeour muttered, writing out the pardon. The names would be filled in by Voldemort and would be signed by both Scrimgeour and Dumbledore. Everything would work out in the end.
Hermia woke up and quickly looked about for her nightgown. She felt so bare, even under the covers and—yes—there it was. Over the chair. Looking about, she dashed toward it and quickly put it on. There was a sound at the bedroom door and Hermia turned toward it.
“Oh,” Sydney said. “I wanted to wake you with breakfast in bed.”
She smiled. “I can get back in,” she stated, going back to the bed and drawing back the sheets. “Better?”
He set down the tray and leaned down to kiss her. “Good morning, Mrs. Chambers.”
“Hello, Reverend Chambers,” she responded, smiling.
Of course, he’d burnt the toast and the orange juice was from concentrate, but Hermia would soon set that to rights. She had a home now, to run on her own. It was a whole new adventure.
It was the last weekend before holidays, and Lycoris appeared in the kitchen. “Coris, what are you doing here?” Sirius asked him, clapping him on the back.
“I asked the Dark Lord to make a specific demand,” he colored. “About Mother.” His eyes shuddered purple to show that he was speaking about Lux and Sirius nodded. “I have it right here: the act of legitimation. All you have to do is fill it out, Father. Please. I know it’s during dinner, and I’m sorry, Flo, but could you do it now. It’s just—I just got it—and Mother—she’s my Mother—she doesn’t deserve to be rotting in a Muggle cemetery even if I did change her stone! Isabelle Rosier shouldn’t hold the position of Heiress Sirius Black when you probably spoke maybe half a dozen times to each other.”
“Coris,” Sirius warned, placing his hand on Lycoris, but he just shook him off.
“Full Pardon, signed by Albus Dumbledore, Head of the Wizengamot, and Rufus Scrimgeour, Minister of Magic. It’s sealed by Mother Magic, Father. Please, now. The tapestry will recognize it.”
Sirius glanced over at Flo who was clearly showing her pregnancy, and she looked a little confused.
“Think! I had Kreacher look and he found a portrait of her in the attic! I don’t know how old she was when it was painted, but we could hang it. I could put up her pictures at school! You can tell everyone why I was stolen and who stole me! And it’s legal! We made it legal!”
Sirius put out his hand and Lycoris handed over the parchment. He quickly read over it before calling for a quill and then putting in the names: “Sirius Black III,” “Lux Elizabeth Kingsley,” and then under issue “Lycoris Rosier Black.” The parchment glowed.
Lycoris tore out of the kitchen and went to the tapestry. There, emblazoned next to his father’s name, was Lux Elizabeth Kingsley. He smiled.
“It worked!” he called, and he turned to see Sirius and Flo standing behind him.
“Who’s Lux Kingsley?” she asked, looking at Sirius.
“My first wife,” he answered. “We had to marry in secret, and I loved her very, very dearly.—Now, do you want your mother’s portrait in your room or somewhere more noticeable?”
“The Landing,” Lycoris stated. “It’s just so bare.”
“There used to be house elf heads mounted on it,” Sirius said with disgust. “It took us two weeks to take them down, it was so horrible. It’s one of the reasons you couldn’t quite come home directly after I was freed.”
“There’s more to this story,” Flo decided. “I don’t suppose anyone will tell me.”
“I don’t want to upset you or the baby,” Sirius said gently.
“I’ll get it all out of her portrait.”
Sirius sighed. “I can’t stop you,” he admitted. “Nor should I, I suppose. But we should have it up within the week so that you can finally talk to your mother, Coris. She would be so proud of you.”
“Think she’ll be angry you’ve gone and married again?”
Sirius looked thoughtful. “I don’t know. We always said we couldn’t live without each other, and it killed me when I got out of Azkaban to find out she had died. It was the first place I went, to our little cottage. I visited the parish priest to see where she had gone. Fortunately, he didn’t recognize me, and he told me about her suicide. Didn’t tell me she was buried there, of course, the bastard. Still, we’ll get her moved now to the family mausoleum.”
Bellatrix smirked as she looked at the assembled party. “Really? All for me? I feel quite blessed.”
“Don’t,” Sirius put in, taking a sip of his tea. “I’m here under duress.”
“Don’t be like that, Cousin Sirius,” Narcissa stated. “I just pointed out that since the Dark Lord had your marriage to my niece recognized, the least you could do was have tea with your cousin.”
Selenadora looked over at Draco confused. “What are they talking about?”
He leaned over. “Magical incest. If anyone found out, Lie couldn’t have inherited the title. The Dark Lord had it all cleared up.”
“Now,” Bellatrix stated. “I know everyone of my generation, but who are all these young people? These three must be Malfoys.” She pointed to Draco, Lacerta, and Iolanthe. “Yes, I can see that you are. And the rest?”
“My courted, Lady Selenadora Black. She’s been living in France until recently with her mother.”
“Ah ha!” Bellatrix screeched in triumph. “Who’s your father?”
“Regulus,” she answered, holding up her head. “Lord Regulus Black.”
“And well you carry his likeness,” she admitted. “Regulus was always a quiet boy, but still waters run deep, especially in his case. And you must be Sirius’s son.” She looked at Lycoris. “Whatever have you done to your hair?”
“I am an ambassador,” Lycoris declared. “I follow my own dictates on hair fashion.”
“I see,” she said, lifting her chin. “The Dark Lord told me about you. Heir Lycoris Black, the stolen child. Who stole you?”
Lycoris looked her dead in the eyes and for the first time, admitted the truth. “James and Lily Potter.”
Bellatrix choked on her tea. “They dare to steal a Black? Such worthless, inconsiderate mudbloods and blood traitors. Potter may not have held a minor title, but to marry a mudblood was simply unforgivable. Unforgivable! And now this? How your poor mother must have suffered.”
“Yes, we did,” Sirius answered tersely. “We thought we’d lost Lycoris before he was born.”
“The outrage! I know the Dark Lord would punish them greatly if they weren’t already dead, young nephew. But surely this is not common knowledge?”
“Only the Blacks, the Malfoys, and He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named know,” Sirius put in. “My wife doesn’t even know.”
“Oh, yes,” Lycoris said happily. “Flo is having a girl! I’ll have a little sister to spoil rotten!”
“You’ll be surrounded,” Draco warned. “You already have a cousin, and now you have a sister on the way. Your life will never be the same.”
“I’m marrying in August, by special act of the Wizengamot,” Lycoris argued. “I won’t be there to be outnumbered.”
The cousins smiled at each other.
“Just don’t get any ideas,” Sirius told Selenadora. “Lycoris is a special case. He grew up far too young because he was stolen.”
“And who is your betrothed?” Bellatrix asked casually.
Everyone was suddenly silent.
Bellatrix looked around. “Was it something I said?”