(DM15) Part the Fifteenth

“Temptation calls like Adam to the apple / But I will not be caught”

“Remedy,” Little Boots

The cousins had stayed behind after dinner.  “Right, I can only say this in so many ways.  Tonight there’s going to be an attack, here, at Hogwarts,” Lycoris explained.  He looked at the faces of Selenadora, Draco, Lacerta, and Iolanthe.  “Stay in your dorms.  Don’t leave for any reason.  If for some reason, someone breaches it, scream your name.  Get either ‘Malfoy’ or ‘Black’ out of your mouth.  Now, you’re all in Slytherin except for Iolanthe, so I’d just play cards or something while everything happens.”

“You are definitely coming to Slytherin, you and Io,” Draco told him, reaching out his hand so that it covered Lycoris’s.  “Now, in fact.  We’ll go up to my dorm as the girls can get there, and I have a pack of playing cards.”

“I don’t understand,” Iolanthe whispered.  She was only a first year.  “What is happening?”

Lacerta looked her straight in the eye and smiled.  “We’re just going to play a game, us cousins, down in Slytherin.  Just like we do back home.  Won’t that be fun?”

“But I’m in Hufflepuff!”

“Never mind that,” Selenadora said.  “We’re sneaking you in.  We’re just going to have fun and forget about schoolwork.  I’ll even get Kreacher to come and bring us sweets.”  She smiled at Iolanthe who seemed to relax.

“Right,” Lycoris said.  “Let’s get going.”

The cousins walked at a sedate pace and didn’t garner much attention as they were usually seen together.  Lycoris and Iolanthe’s presence were noticed when they entered Slytherin, but Draco just stared everyone down as they went down the winding staircase to the dorm.

“This is me,” he said, patting a bed.  “Everyone up and I’ll get the cards.”

“Kreacher!” Selenadora called, and the elf managed to get through the wards.  She started talking to him quietly and then everyone was on the bed with pumpkin pasties and chocolate frogs and butterbeers.  Lacerta had closed the drapes.

“Right,” Selenadora began.  “Do you play games in England as we do in France?”

The tension was so fraught that Draco started laughing.

Still, they managed a game of piquet and a few of Jim Rummy.  They could tell when the castle was attacked.  There was a shift in the wards, and Draco didn’t look surprised at all.

“It was you,” Lycoris whispered to him.  They were sitting right next to each other.

“I’m not saying it wasn’t.”

“That’s Slytherin for ‘yes’,” Lycoris noted and the boys shared a look.

Fortunately, they were able to keep Iolanthe’s mind off of it.  They had her eating cauldron cakes and drinking butterbeer (they seemed to have an endless supply) and just having fun playing exploding snap.  Hours seemed to pass and then there was rushing on the stairs.

Their curtains were pulled open and the strange face of a wizard they had never seen before appeared.

“I am Heir Lycoris Black, Ambassador to the Dark Lord,” Lycoris stated.  “These are my cousins, Heir Draco Malfoy, Ladies Lacerta and Iolanthe Malfoy, and of course Lady Selenadora Black.”

The man looked between them and then grabbed Lycoris’s hair.  “Yes, I can see who you are.”  He closed the drapes again and then shouted, “Morsmordre!”

“What on earth does that mean?” Lacerta asked.

“I think we were just branded,” Selenadora remarked.  “I wouldn’t think on it.”

“No,” Draco agreed.  “It’s better not to.”

Iolanthe looked scared so they continued their game of exploding snap.

Dumbledore’s dead.  Surrender now and we will be merciful to you. LV

Scrimgeour looked up from the scroll.  “How was the battle of Hogwarts?”

“I don’t know,” Lycoris answered truthfully.  “My cousins and I sometimes have impromptu card games in the Slytherin dungeons, so we missed it all.  We were busy eating cauldron cakes and drinking butterbeer.”

“That has nothing to do with the rumors that your cousin Draco Malfoy’s bed hangings have the Dark Mark emblazoned on them.”

“A rather frightening individual interrupted us.  We introduced ourselves and he cast a spell at the hangings.  We thought it better not to investigate in case he was still lingering.”

“Hmm.  Surrender.  I must bring this before the Wizengamot.  Come back again this time tomorrow.”

“I have class.  I can come before dinner.”

Scrimgeour nodded.  “Very well.  I will have your answer then.”

It was three days after the attack and both Lycoris and Selenadora were called to the Infirmary, which was rather odd.  As far as they were aware, no one they knew had been injured or killed.

“There you are, you young whipper snappers,” Sirius greeted as he joined them in the halls.  “You’ll be happy to know that Harrendora is doing quite well.”

“The proud father?” Lycoris asked.

“Yes,” Sirius agreed.  “She’s not Lux’s, but she’s mine, and I love her for it.”

“Has Andromache met her yet?”

“I thought it better not to.  The courtship is so new,” Sirius admitted.  “I’ve shown her pictures, of course.  Andromache’s father, Lord Paris Prince, is a fright, though.  He’s taken it as a personal affront that I’ve been married twice before.”

“It’s not unheard of,” Lycoris mused.  “I think his own father was married three times.”

“I’ll mention that to him,” Sirius said, smiling.  They turned to the hospital ward.  “Now, I wonder what this is all about.”

There was a partition off to the side, and in there they found a witch that could have been Bellatrix Lestrange’s twin, except she had brown hair that was a little straighter.  She was crying and on the bed was the still but breathing form of Nymphadora Tonks, her hair a limp brown.

“Andromeda,” Sirius immediately said, engulfing her in a hug.  “How’s Tonks?”

“They don’t know if she’s going to make it.  Ted’s gone and I’m sorry but I just wanted family to be with me.”

“Of course,” Sirius murmured.

Lycoris took in the scene and immediately left.  Selenadora, looking between everyone, quickly followed him.  “Lie, what’s wrong?”

“She’s a blood traitor and Tonks is a half-blood.  I cannot bear the impurity of blood,” he stated as he walked down the main aisle.  “Muggle taint sickens me.”

“She’s our cousin,” Selenadora insisted.  “Surely this is a time of need when such prejudices should be set aside.”

Lycoris looked at her with sad eyes.  “I was captured by a Muggleborn and her husband, and when they died I was left with magic-hating Muggles who tortured me, Selene.  I have the scars on my back to prove it.  I refuse to morph them into existence even for my lover.  I hate Muggles.  They’re disgusting and beneath my notice.”

He made to walk away, but Selenadora grabbed his sleeve.  “You know I don’t hold this against you, I never would, but surely you are the product of something that is less than acceptable.  Can’t you find it in your heart—?”

“I,” Lycoris coldly stated, “am the product of a love that was so great it overcame magic.  Have you ever wondered why we don’t have godsiblings?  It’s so we’ll never be put in the same impossible situation again.  Now, let me go.  If you must, return to Andromeda.  She’s your cousin, and if you wish to comfort her, then please do.  I won’t stop you.  All I ask is that you don’t hinder me either.”

He then turned again and walked out the doors, probably to find Samhain who was his comfort whenever he could not go to Marvolo.

Selenadora was torn over what to do.  She stood in the ward, looking down at her hands, and tried to slow her breathing.

Sirius came around the partition.  “Selene?  Would you like to meet your cousin Andromeda?”

She looked at her uncle, who had nothing but hope in his eyes, and she turned back toward him.  Leaning up to his ear so that only he could hear her, she whispered, “This does not mean I’ve made a decision.  I have merely recognized the effects of war.”

“I understand,” he murmured, touching her arm.  Turning to Andromeda who had such hope in her face, Sirius led Selenadora to her.  “This is Regulus’s girl, Selenadora.  She comes to us from France.”

“I can see your father in you,” she declared, “and you must have your mother’s lovely hair.  I’m sure many a witch is envious of it here.”

“I know Draco likes it,” she offered.  At Andromeda’s questioning look, she continued, “Heir Draco Malfoy.  We’re courting.”

“Strange,” she murmured.  “I thought Malfoys only liked blondes.” She gave a weak smile and then motioned to the bed.  “Nymphadora never thought of marrying.  She always said work was too important to her.”  Then she was crying again and Selenadora had no idea what to do.  Sirius pushed past her and hugged Andromeda and Selenadora slipped from the makeshift room.

“You might as well know now,” Scrimgeour said, handing over the scroll.  “I ask for his exact plan to restructure the Ministry and the role he plans to play in this whole farce, whether dictator, minister of magic, or something else.”

“I see,” Lycoris said.  Of course, he partially knew the answer to such a thing.  Marvolo meant to place a coronet upon his brow.  Surely that meant some sort of ruling position.

“I’ll bring this to him immediately.”  He carried several portkeys around his neck, one to Riddle House, one to Malfoy Manor, one to the Headmaster’s Office, and finally one to Scrimgeour’s Office.  “Goodnight, Minister.”  He took the blue ball while twisting it, and then landed in the same floo room where he had first encountered Riddle House.

He walked the stairways up to the office, where he did not find Marvolo.  Next he checked the bedroom, where he found him unlacing his boots, his hair loose about his shoulders.  Lycoris leaned against the wall.

“I hope you plan to take me to bed once you’ve dealt with this—impertinence.”

Red-brown eyes flashed up to him and Lycoris could only smile, his heart beating a little faster.

“Hello, fiancé-mine.”

“Hello, darling.”  The boot was quickly kicked off and the parchment was flung to the ground as lips softly met lips.

“We may be married under your rule,” Lycoris murmured.  “How strange would that be?”

“I don’t intend to dissolve the Wizengamot,” Marvolo assured between kisses.  “Now, I want you in my bed by the time I’ve dealt with this impertinence, as you call it.”

Lycoris laughed happily and Marvolo picked up the parchment and swept from the room.

He was not happy when he returned. 

“What is it?” Lycoris asked. 

“They demand to know your previous identity as part of the surrender,” Marvolo muttered darkly.  “I must meet with Lord Black and Lord Malfoy immediately.”

“But they can’t.  I—that’s secret.”

“There are other ways to win this war without an immediate surrender,” Marvolo assured him.  “This would have perhaps been swiftest and the most obvious, but it cannot be helped.”

Lycoris lay on his side and contemplated his options.  “No, you should consult your lieutenants, as well as Father.  I—he’s dead though.  Harry Potter’s completely dead.  Uncle Lucius made sure to kill him.”

“We can always find another identity,” Marvolo suggested.  “Something a little less heinous.  Blame an Order Member.”

“And which order member are you going to blame?”

There was a long silence.  “No!” Lycoris exclaimed, coming up to rest on his elbows.  “Why wasn’t I seen for eleven years if Andromeda Tonks took me?”

“She kept you locked in a basement.  Your father, after all, was a Death Eater and your mother was his godsibling.  It was unnatural.”

Lycoris shook his head.  “It would never work.  How did I get out?”

“Accidental magic,” Marvolo explained calmly.  “You escaped and you found yourself in Diagon Alley where you found your cousin Draco in a robes shop and the Malfoys saved you from Andromeda.  Simple.  It’s solved.”

“Not solved.  This will never come off.”

“Yes, it will.”

Lucius was all for it.  “Yes, it will be ample punishment for her imprudent marriage.”

“Can you hear yourself speak?” Sirius demanded.  “We can’t pin this on Andromeda.  Such a thing is simply preposterous!  She’s my cousin!”

“She’s my sister-in-law,” Lucius argued.  “I think I’m best to judge.”

“You hate blood impurity!”

“So does Lycoris,” Lucius drawled.

Lycoris just sat dumfounded as Marvolo watched on.  “If any of you have anyone to place the blame onto, then by all means, speak up.  However, I can find no other reasonable candidates.”

Sirius blew out through his nose.  “This is utterly ridiculous.  We’ll be ruining Andromeda’s life.”

“She ruined it when she made her daughter a half-blood.”

Sirius just groaned.  “This is so disgusting I can’t even think.”

There was a pause.  “She tried to seduce me after I married Narcissa.  Draco was on the way.  She put Amortentia in my drink when she insisted we needed to meet to go over ways to divorce that Muggle-born she’d married.  I think that child of hers was about six or seven at the time.  Andromeda didn’t know if she’d be able to retain full custody of her half-blood daughter.  For Narcissa’s sake, I offered my assistance.  Little did I know it was a trap.”

Sirius looked at him warily.  “Line theft?  Really?”

Lucius nodded.  “Fortunately, I smelled the potion, and was rather ungentlemanly.  I poured it over her head and left where we were meeting.  She sent me several owls afterward, but I returned them all, unopened.”

“That’s disgusting,” Lycoris finally said.  It was the first time he had spoken during the conversation.  “I’m glad I refused to meet with her just these past few days.  I know about the Prince problem and how none of it was your fault.  This just would have been too much on top of that.”

“Whatever could she want with her sister’s husband?” Marvolo mused, skipping over the last part of Lycoris’s speech.  “Apart from the obvious, but it’s technically incest.”

“Watch it there, Dark Lord,” Sirius threatened.

“You have a dispensation, Lord Black, or have you forgotten?  Your son procured it for you.  I must say, he loves his mother very much as, I assume, he loves you.”

“If she’s guilty of attempted line rape and incest, why not stealing a child and keeping him locked in a basement?  It’s not that hard of a leap,” Lucius drawled.

Sirius sighed and dropped his head in his hand.  “Do you swear on your magic, Malfoy, that this actually occurred?”

“I swear on my magic and the life of my heir,” Lucius stated sternly.

“Very well.  I’ll announce a press conference for next weekend.  What name are we going to use?”

“Tom Brown,” Lycoris decided.  “It’s generic enough.”

“Fine,” Sirius muttered, standing.  “We can say you didn’t recognize your kidnapper until you saw her in the infirmary the other day.”

“What about Tonks?  I’ve known her for years.”

“You were locked in a basement,” Marvolo supplied.  “You never saw anyone but Andromeda.  I’m sure, if Auror Tonks ever wakes up, she’ll face an inquiry, but as she actually knows nothing, she should be fine.”

Sirius sighed.  “I guess we’re going to do this.  I’ll go to Hogwarts and tell Selenadora the change in plans.  I’m pretty sure she’s guessed who you were.”

“Yes,” Lycoris agreed nodding.  “I’m pretty sure she has, as well.”

It created quite the public scandal.  Lycoris could not walk through the hallways without being stopped.  “This is ridiculous,” Draco said as they walked between classes, Selenadora on his other side.  “You’d think you’d admitted you were Harry Potter.”

“Watch it,” he murmured back.

Draco nodded before turning back to Selenadora.  The two really were inseparable.  Lycoris wouldn’t be surprised if they got married straight out of Hogwarts.  They were now even holding hands in public, though right now Selenadora had her hand resting in the crook of Draco’s arm.

“What will this do to the family?” Lycoris cautiously asked, and Draco turned back to him.

“Well, she was already an outcast.  The fact that she stole her own cousin’s child in vitrus just damns her even more.  It shows how heinous she is.  First she marries a Muggle-born, and now this.  She must really have hated your mother.”

“I wonder if she knew Mother was married to Father,” Lycoris pondered seriously.  “The only people who knew, as far as I can tell, were James and Lily Potter and possibly Uncle Regulus.  Oh, and Uncle Lucius might have guessed.”

Maman never said a word about it to me,” Selenadora offered.  “So, if Papa knew, he possibly didn’t tell Maman.”

“How is she?” Draco asked.

She paused in the hallway and they both stopped.  “I got a letter just after Dumbledore died, but I wasn’t certain how to tell anyone.  She’s gone into a coma.  They don’t expect her to come out of it.  Uncle Sirius knows.”

“Oh, Selene,” Lycoris whispered, reaching out for her.

Selenadora smiled weakly at him as Draco pulled her closer.  “It is nothing.  When I left France, I knew it was only a matter of time before she died.  I’m surprised she lasted this long, to be honest,” she murmured.  She then unhooked her arm and walked briskly away.

Draco made to follow her, but Lycoris held him back.  “Don’t.  She’s a Black.  She needs to process this on her own.”

“We all have Charms together,” Draco pointed out.

“Then we’ll see her in about two minutes,” Lycoris reasoned.  “Just give her this little bit of space.  Plus,” he smirked, “you’re carrying her books.”

Draco laughed a little at that.

Andromache sipped her tea.  She was visiting her Uncle Troy, Lord Prince, and her Aunt Dionysia.  “Did you know, dear?” Dionysia asked kindly.  “You are, after all, courting Lord Black.”

“No,” she answered succinctly.  “I, of course, knew that Heir Lycoris was a stolen child.  I just didn’t realize how horrid it was.”

“This demmed story.  It wreaks of a cover up,” Troy declared.  “Something worse happened to the boy, you mark my words.  They’re just trying to deflect attention.”

“How can you possibly know that?” Andromache asked.

“My Octavian Nür’s seen the boy.  Heir Lycoris’s cousins are in Slytherin with him.  He doesn’t act like someone kept in the cellar for eleven years.  Plus, he’s overheard talk of abusive Muggles, which is why Heir Lycoris is obsessed with blood purity.”

“Well,” Andromache stated.  “My courtship with Lord Black is still too new.  I know that Heir Lycoris is to marry this August, but I haven’t even gotten the name of the bride!  I haven’t even seen Lady Harrendora, in fact!”

“Don’t worry, dear,” Dionysia said, taking her hand.  “His last wife proved false.  He’s merely being overly cautious.  Also, from what you’ve told me, his family is extremely important to him.”

“True,” she said, taking a sip of her tea.  “Still, it would be nice to be invited to the wedding, or to actually meet Heir Lycoris.  We’ve exchanged several letters, but that’s about it.”

“Aye, give it time,” Troy insisted.  “Ye’re in it for the long haul.  Let it play out.”

She leaned over and kissed his cheek.  “Thank you, Uncle Troy.”

He smiled gruffly at her.

“Why am I here?” Andromeda asked, her tearstained face looking through the bars of a similar cell to the one Hermione had been placed in.

“My dear,” Lucius said.  “You were never tried for line left and attempted rape,” he reminded her, “and incest,” he added.  “I am, after all, your younger sister’s husband.  My nephew Lycoris has taught me an interesting Muggle expression: ‘What Goes Around Comes Around.’”

“That was over fifteen years ago,” she pleaded, her head scraping the top of the rounded cell.

“Yes,” he agreed, “and now you’re being punished for stealing a Black child in vitrus and holding him captive for eleven years.  Wouldn’t you call that line theft, my dear?  And, well, he was your kinsman.  First cousin, once removed.  If you’d ever done anything to him, it would have been incest.  Rape, well, we’ll just forget about that just for now.”

“You won’t get away with this,” she hissed.

“Ah, the inner Slytherin,” Lucius murmured.  “I had thought you’d lost it when you married that Muggleborn,” he spat out the word.  “Then there was the Amortentia incident, which nearly showed Slytherin cunning.  Really, my dear, you should have chosen an alcohol that would have masked the smell.  Research would have helped.—Also, the trial has already been held.  Your testimony wasn’t needed.  Heir Lycoris is too young to have his memories viewed or to take veritaserum and as he only confessed under duress, his testimony was all that was needed.”  He smiled at her maliciously.  “Oh, and just so you know, Lord Black knows about this.  All of this.”

Lucius had been leaning down so he could look into Andromeda’s gray eyes, but now used his cane to foist himself up.

“Enjoy Azkaban, my dear.  I hear it’s nice this time of year.”

A choked sob met his ears.

The ceremony was private and held on the first of August, a day after Harry Potter’s birthday.  The Malfoys were all there at Grimmauld Place along with Bellatrix and the Black household.  Marvolo cut open the palm of his hand with a silver athame diagonally, and handed it to Lycoris.  Taking a deep breath, Lycoris opened his own palm.  They joined their hands and the magic slithered between them.  Lycoris’s eyes flashed gray momentarily before shifting back to purple.  His hair was unbound, still blond and black, though with the Black curl to it.  His cheekbones had been raised again.

Marvolo thought he looked absolutely beautiful.

Next they cut the pomegranate and fed it to each other.  Lycoris laughed as he reached forward with his head as Marvolo teasingly held the pomegranate away from his lips.

“You, Dark Lord, you,” Lycoris accused.

“Don’t be ridiculous,” he responded, feeding Lycoris.  “I’m Tom Marvolo Riddle, Jr.”

They smiled at each other. 

Lucius handed the Dark Lord a box, which he opened to reveal a gold ring with a black stone in it.  “This is a Gaunt ring,” he whispered.  “It’s very dear.  You could say it holds a piece of my soul.”  His brown-red eyes sought out Lycoris’s and Lycoris nodded.  Although the Gaunt heir ring was already on his left ring finger, Marvolo placed this ring on the middle finger.

Sirius came up next and handed a similar box to Lycoris.  “I—I could have chosen the Heir Consort ring,” he stated plainly.  “But I didn’t.  This ring dates back about a thousand years and is written in Anglo-Saxon runes.  I thought it would suit you better.”  He opened the box to show a roughly hewn ring in pewter.  His eyes looked up hopefully to Marvolo, who smiled encouragingly back at him.

Sighing in relief, Lycoris slipped the ring onto Marvolo’s left ring finger.  He then jumped into Marvolo’s arms, and they kissed deeply, tongues playing with each other.  Marvolo’s hands were in Lycoris’s thick hair and Lycoris had placed his hands on the sides of Marvolo’s face.

The sound of cheering broke them apart and Lycoris blushed.  Marvolo took Lycoris’s hand and led him to their guests.

“What does this make you?” Selenadora asked over champagne.  “Consort Riddle or Heir Lycoris?”

“Heir Lycoris,” Marvolo answered for him.  “We agreed the line shouldn’t die out with him.”

They smiled at each other, their hands entwined.

That night, Marvolo undressed him and Lycoris pulled his hair over his shoulder.  He took a deep breath and then allowed the scars on his back to show.

At first Marvolo didn’t notice, but when he did, his fingers traced them.  “What happened?”

“The man who called himself my uncle would whip me with a belt if they didn’t like their dinner cooked just so,” he answered.  “Then they would lock me in my cupboard.”

Marvolo kissed his shoulder.  “Thank you for showing me.”

The scars melted back into Lycoris’s flesh.  “I don’t think on it.”

“No,” Marvolo agreed.  “That happened to Harry Potter, not to Heir Lycoris Black.”

Lycoris turned and, taking Marvolo’s face in his hands, kissed him softly.  “Hello, husband,” he grinned.

“Hello, husband.”

Marvolo was invested as King of Magical Britain on the fifteenth.  He was using his potion so that he showed his horrible snake face, but Lycoris was at his side.  As the priest anointed them, Lycoris took a deep breath.  A crown was placed on his head.  Marvolo had done as he had promised.  He had placed a coronet upon his brow.

In a quiet little town of New Zealand, a letter arrived for Hermia Chambers.  She looked at it and saw there was no post stamp.  Opening it, she read the perfect penmanship, in purple ink, and she couldn’t believe what she’d read.

There had been a coup in England, but she could not come home.

She could never come home, even if she wished to.

Hermia would have to content herself with this little life.

The letter was signed in the most peculiar way, and she stared at the signature for hours.  It read: His Royal Highness, Heir Lycoris Black, Prince Consort.

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