Part the Eleventh—
The nodding horror of whose shady brows threats the forlorn and wandering passenger.
The clock looked absolutely perfect in the front hall of the Firefly Jar. The shopkeeper had assured Harry that it would be delivered, but he had insisted on picking it up later in the day, bringing it home carefully in the late afternoon once he had said goodbye to Draco and Astoria outside of the Three Broomsticks.
He had easily tied the clock into the wards, which had immediately recognized that Harry as the new Lord Black, and placed himself on the clock as well as his husband. All of the other arrows had disappeared, but Harry knew that as soon as Romola was born and appeared on the tapestry, she would also appear on the clock. It truly was a beautiful artifact, and he knew Octavian would adore it. All he had to do was place a Notice-Me-Not Charm on it until Yule. It wouldn’t do to ruin the surprise too early.
“It’s a wonderful piece,” Lucrece murmured from the stairs, and Harry looked over and met her dark gaze. “A Yule gift to my son?”
“Yes,” Harry agreed, smiling.
Lucrece nodded. “I was surprised to discover this house did not have one when we arrived. Most of the old homes do, but this is a wondrous estate piece.” She walked down the stairs elegantly and came up to the grandfather clock, running her hands over the old oak. “Exquisite workmanship. I’ve never seen a clock this fine.”
“I’d only ever seen one—at the Burrow.”
Arching an elegant brow, Lucrece looked at him in question.
“The Weasley home in Ottery-St.-Catchpole.”
“Ah,” Lucrece murmured. “I was never acquainted with the Weasleys. We moved in very different circles and I believe Arthur Weasley was a decade ahead of me in school. Gryffindor, if I remember correctly.”
“Yes,” Harry agreed. “The entire family has been in Gryffindor.”
“The antithesis of mine, then,” Lucrece murmured, “apart from Octavian.”
Harry’s mouth thinned into a straight line, but he did not respond.
When he was alone in his room later that night, he pulled out the two letters, staring at them for several moments before opening the one from Draco first. It was short, and succinct, and didn’t even give away any names. All it said was: Hide her until it’s over.
Flipping it over for any clue, he finally set it aside, certain that it referred to Astoria and that Draco would somehow have set events in motion so he would receive more information when it was necessary. He would tell Dobby to prepare a room near Daphne’s over breakfast, though, in case Astoria appeared sooner than he thought she would. Hogsmeade would have been a good time to sneak her away from Hogwarts, he mused, but Christmas perhaps could be almost as ideal. A purported accident could occur that kept her at home or to St. Mungo’s where Harry could slip her into the Firefly Jar’s wards without anyone knowing.
He wondered just how horrible Hogwarts had become if a pureblood needed to get out—unless she was being punished for Daphne’s defection to Beauxbatons, although she did get permission from the Ministry. It could have been more a case, though, of Draco just wanting to keep her away from anything that was going on. He knew how protective Draco was of Octavian, and he didn’t have a lifelong connection with him as he did with Astoria, his closest childhood friend and girlfriend.
He sighed. The entire situation was just a mess and he, Justin, and Daphne were no closer to finding a way to defeat Voldemort once and for all—and as far as he knew there wasn’t even a vaguely-worded active prophecy that could help them. Even if there had been, it probably would have been destroyed at the Department of Mysteries at the end of his fifth year—just a few short months before Octavian came back into his life.
A smile played across his lips before thoughts of their separation spread over his mind again, causing him to frown. He tried to remind himself that it was only a matter of weeks before Octavian returned, before he held him in his arms again, and yet it had already been too long since he had kissed Octavian’s sweet upturned lips, had run his hands across his smooth stomach knowing that their child was growing safely inside of his husband, had made love to him in a darkened room with only jars of fireflies to see by.
Lord Prince had been right. Octavian had him completely wrapped around his finger, and Harry was glad for it. Octavian was everything; their future together and his husband’s happiness were all that were important to him in this world. He would gladly watch it burn as long as he knew that Octavian and their children were safe. That was all any husband and father could ever want—and within a few short months he would soon be both.
He looked across the room to the ornate calendar hanging on the wall. Octavian had somehow acquired it, probably giving orders to Winky, and it was made of fine parchment and penned with black, blue, and red ink and plated with gold leaf. He no longer had it making the current day, but instead had it open to February where Octavian had carefully written in their daughter’s due date—the third of February—their beautiful little girl who, if she were to go to Hogwarts, would probably have an equal chance of being a Slytherin, Hufflepuff, or Gryffindor with her heritage.
Looking away after several long minutes, Harry turned to the second envelope that Draco had slipped into his pocket earlier that day. This one was actually labelled with his title carefully written on the front and bore the Malfoy seal. Wondering at it, he picked up a letter opener and carefully broke the seal open before unfolding the thick expensive parchment.
He swallowed as his eyes skimmed the message, a formal reply to the one that he had written last February to Lord Malfoy when he was still in Azkaban—before he had known the identity of Octavian’s father.
“He forgives me,” he murmured uncomprehendingly to himself. “Lucius Malfoy forgives me.”
The entire situation was unreal. He hadn’t seen the man since he had tried to gain the prophecy a year and a half before. The man had attempted to kill him and now—now they were not only in laws, connected intimately through Octavian, but they were writing each other family albeit formal letters and inviting each other to lunch at Belle Reve.
He swallowed before tossing the letter aside and running out of the room and down the stairs.
Justin poked his head out of the telephone annex, his brown eyes wide and looking at Harry. “Just a moment, Ivy,” he said into the phone, before putting his hand over the speaker so that Ivy—whoever she was—wouldn’t hear what he said. “Everything all right, Harry?”
“Lucius Malfoy has been pardoned,” Harry said quickly, “according to his letter. How the hell was he pardoned?”
Justin’s face paled and he turned back to the phone. “I’ll have to call you back, Ivy. Something’s come up,” he said hurriedly and then waited a few moments. “No, nothing’s wrong—just something surprising. A man who should have been in prison for a long time apparently was just pardoned and, well, he’s my friend Harry’s father-in-law. It’s a bit—surprising.—I can’t talk now. I’ll talk to you later.” Then he was hanging up the phone and following Harry down the stairs.
They both rushed into the kitchen, Harry searching for a copy of the Prophet or anything, but all they found was Daphne who was sitting at the table with several thick letters spread around her while carefully writing one herself. Harry briefly noticed that they all had dark blue seals and that they were unsurprisingly from—
“I didn’t know you knew Viktor Krum,” Justin remarked as Harry tore around the kitchen, looking everywhere for a paper.
“I—“ Daphne sputtered inelegantly, her eyes widening as she took in Harry’s wild movements. “Harry—what are you doing?”
“Do we get a copy of the Prophet?” he asked, and Daphne shook her head.
“No. Occasionally Madame Prince brings one back, but not today I don’t think? Why?”
“Dammit,” Harry swore, taking off from the kitchen to search for his shoes. The last thing he heard was Justin explaining that Lucius Malfoy had been pardoned.
Tugging on his shoes and summoning his wizard coat, Harry didn’t even think about it when he tore from the house and toward the group of men that had been watching the house for months. Harry would have probably forgotten all about them if Daphne didn’t constantly mutter under her breath about them, saying she didn’t want Flint to be able to find her that easily. Sometimes her relationship with Flint just confused Harry, but he put it out of his mind.
“Does anyone have a copy of the Prophet?” he asked breathlessly, and one looked at him stunned.
“Lord Black?” he questioned, but Harry just brushed him off.
“Daily Prophet. Now.”
A man with a rather thick neck and watery blue eyes reached into his coat and pulled out a crumpled copy and Harry snatched it away, opening it up and scanning the front page, which had a large picture of Lucius and Narcissa Malfoy smiling regally for the camera. The title “Malfoy Cleared of All Wrongdoing” blasted across the top.
Harry swallowed. It was really true. “He’s out,” he murmured and one of the men looked at him curiously. “My father-in-law. Octavian will be happy.”
The man looked at him in shock before his harsh face melted into a softer expression. “Aye, I expect Mr. Black will be.”
Harry turned back to the article and read the finer details, learning that new evidence had apparently come to light, proving that Lucius Malfoy had been present in the Department of Mysteries on secret Ministry business and had been caught up in the attack and then falsely sent to prison without a trial. It was plausible, of course, if one overlooked the fact that he had cast several dark spells at school children and had the Dark Mark on his arm. Harry was now only surprised that Malfoy hadn’t been pardoned sooner, but perhaps Voldemort hadn’t wanted to move too quickly, introducing all of his changes slowly.
The man with a thick neck cleared his throat and Harry looked up at him.
“Could I keep this? I realize it’s your copy, but I doubt Octavian would believe me unless he saw actual proof—and he doesn’t get the Prophet at Beauxbatons.”
“Er—right. Of course, Lord Black,” the man responded, clearly out of his depths. “No, the reason why we’re here—“
“Yes, I’ve been wondering that for months,” Harry confessed. “You are a bit conspicuous to anyone who looks out the drawing room windows.”
The man’s lips thinned. He seemed to be the spokesperson—or spokeswizard, Harry supposed—of the small group. “Quite.”
“Ministry?” Harry questioned the man, looking about at the three others who were watching the exchange warily.
“No,” the thick-necked man admitted, and Harry nodded sagely.
“Ah. You’re one of them. I suppose your—lord—wants to know something. He could have just sent an owl,” he remarked, then shivered. He didn’t really want to receive an owl from Voldemort. “Or you could have had Lord Malfoy ask me.”
“We didn’t know who resided here,” the man finally admitted. “Only that he was uttering the Dark Lord’s name.”
Harry looked at him in confusion. How could he have possibly have known that? “There’s a spell for that?” he finally inquired, uncertain what to say. He hadn’t been accused of anything or taken anywhere, and he knew that Voldemort wouldn’t harm him because Octavian was supposedly neutralizing him, so this had to be merely a warning.
“Quite,” the man replied. “The Dark Lord would appreciate it if you—refrained.”
“Refrained. I’m assuming it’s from his title and not the name he was born with?”
The man looked at his companions in confusion before turning back to Harry. “His title,” he elaborated. “It is a sign of respect.”
Harry could sense the menace in the man’s words, and nodded. It would be difficult to break the habit, but he would rather not invite Voldemort’s wrath on him especially when he had managed so long living under his radar, able to move about the country easily while still trying to find a way to destroy him. He wouldn’t invite any notice, hoping to draw attention away from Octavian.
“Now. You are obviously residing in a house that is under the Fidelius,” the spokeswizard continued, his thick neck bulging unpleasantly as he swallowed heavily. “Might I inquire why?”
Harry stared at him for a moment, before shaking himself from it. “The Order of the Phoenix,” he explained. “They know the address and they rather despise my husband. It’s for his safety as well as my mother-in-law’s peace of mind. Did you know,” he said, thinking quickly and wishing to divert the Death Eaters’ attention from the house and to something that would anger them, “that the Order actually supported the idea to have Ginny Weasley seduce me away from Octavian and marry me in the Muggle world so we could have illegitimate ‘Muggle-born’ children? I doubt her death have halted their schemes.”
The spokeswizard’s eyes widened comically at the news and Harry looked at him impassively. After a few moments, he asked, “They know where you live?”
“Unfortunately, my home was once their headquarters under the former owner. The Fidelius Charm was quite necessary to keep them out and away from my family.”
“Understandable. Very understandable,” the thick-necked man responded, his eyes going to the two Muggle houses that surrounded the Firefly Jar. “Any chance you know where their current headquarters are located?”
Harry shook his head. “Dumbledore was angry enough when I demanded the house back. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Order has been disbanded with his death. He was the leader and their general. No one was a clear second-in-command from what I could observe,” he answered openly, neglecting to mention that he knew the Weasleys would never stop fighting and that he could see Alastor Moody taking up the banner of the cause—and the Order would easily follow him. “Is that all?”
The man glanced at his companions and then bowed to him. “Lord Black. An honor and a pleasure.”
Harry gazed at him imperiously and then nodded his head in recognition. “Good night,” he responded, before turning around and walking calmly back to the Firefly Jar, his heart racing in his chest from fear and adrenaline.
The doorman at Belle Reve immediately recognized Harry when he walked through the doors a few days later, dressed elegantly in black wizard coat with blue and silver trim. He had picked it out with Daphne’s help, as Lucrece had been rather angered when she learned not only of Lucius Malfoy’s pardon but also the invitation Harry had accepted to supper. He hadn’t worn it since the previous February as it was a heavy winter coat, not meant even for early spring weather, but Daphne had insisted it was perfect and also made his eyes look more blue than green.
“Lord Black,” the wizard greeted, bowing. “Lord Malfoy is waiting for you in the dining hall.”
Harry nodded his head and offered a brief smile, which was weaker than he intended as he was still nervous. He carried a small gift in his hands, an exquisite glass ornament with a fairy larva in it, which would glow at night. The fairy would hatch and grow, receiving sustenance from the magic in the glass, and would be an expensive and tasteful Christmas ornament for several generations. He only hoped it was suitable enough for his father-in-law and his family.
The maitre d’ ushered him through to a table in the center of the room, strategically placed where everyone could see them but not overhear the conversation, and Lucius carefully stood, standing regally in black and silver robes, his platinum blond hair cut closely to his face in the Roman style and his ice blue eyes shining brilliantly from his pointed and chiseled features. Harry could see much of Octavian in the regal face, bringing on a pang of longing for his husband, which he tried to repress.
Only a few more weeks until they were together again…
“It’s true then,” Lucius said carefully as he gestured for Harry to take the armchair across from him. “Octavian said last February that you had turned into a pureblood Lord, and now I can see it with my own eyes.”
Harry smiled at the thought of his husband. “Lord Prince noticed that Octavian, like a true Prince, has me singing to his tune.”
Lucius chuckled to himself, his left hand resting on the top of his cane. “Yes, I can see that. It is as it should be from a father’s point of view.” His blue eyes assessed Harry carefully and then nodded in satisfaction.
“A gift for you and Lady Malfoy,” Harry began, holding out the carefully wrapped present. “Happy Yule.”
Looking momentarily startled, Lucius took it and set it aside for later. “My wife and I thank you, Lord Black.”
“Please, call me Harry,” he requested carefully after a moment.
Lucius’s eyes flashed in amusement.
“Lucrece has done me the honor,” Harry pointed out, the formal words feeling heavy on his tongue.
Carefully, Lucius reached out and took a sip of his whiskey, a brief sadness in his eyes. “How is Madame Prince?” he inquired carefully, not meeting Harry’s gaze.
“She is well,” Harry responded carefully. “She’s taken up residence with me and Octavian and is once again living in a style befitting her.”
Lucius breathed out carefully, the sadness once again in his gaze, although it was focused away from Harry. “I am glad. She deserves it completely. I was only sorry that she would not allow me to keep her in that style and in comfort for the rest of her life, and despite my respect and affection for my wife that I could not raise her to the position of Lady Malfoy. Would you tell her that?” His blue eyes flashed toward Harry, who stilled at the raw pain present in his eyes, even after over fifteen years had passed—Lucius, Harry realized, was still in love with Lucrece, had somehow managed to fall in love with a woman who always despised him, one that he had unintentionally injured and could never make full amends to.
A chilled Butterbeer was placed in front of him, and Harry sent a weak smile to the waiter before turning back to his father-in-law. “If I told her, she would not believe me—and it would upset her.”
Sighing, Lucius nodded his head. “I would expect it to be no different,” he admitted.
“Your orders, messieurs?” the waiter asked, and Harry glanced back at him, noticing that most of the other occupants of the dining room were speaking in low tones and trying to look unobtrusively at him and Lucius. They seemed to be causing quite the sensation.
“Les moules,” Harry said, remembering how much Octavian had liked it the last time. He handed the menu to the waiter.
“The usual,” Lucius intoned, his eyes once again on Harry.
When the waiter left, he leaned back casually, his arm resting on the armrest and the head of his cane carefully held in his fingers. “Octavian returns from France the week after next, is that correct?”
Harry nodded. “Do you wish to see him?”
Lucius inclined his head. “That would be preferable. I realize he will have difficulty traveling due to his condition, especially after such a long journey,” he hesitated for a moment, assessing Harry carefully. “When is he due?”
Taking a long sip from his Butterbeer, Harry carefully answered, “The beginning of February.”
Lucius sighed. “I would have preferred it if you had waited, Lord Black,” he responded coldly. “Octavian is much too young.”
“I agree,” Harry responded cautiously, “but Octavian took the Gnascum Potion without informing me, otherwise we would have been more careful.”
“It should have been a nonissue at his age. I know what young men are like, Lord Black,” he said, repeating the title Harry had asked him not to use, creating a distance between them, “I used to be one after all. However, there are ways to quell one’s intemperate thoughts.” His cane swung back and forth in his fingers, a casual threat, and one that was not lost on Harry.
Harry clenched his jaw. “Octavian asked me to,” he finally admitted. “I wouldn’t have otherwise.”
Lucius’s eyes froze into a hard ice blue. “You mean to tell me that my innocent son—“
“Yes,” Harry responded, not wanting to hear the question finished. “Yes, I am. He is my husband and I would give him anything he desires.”
“He was fourteen.”
“Nearly fifteen.” Harry knew it was a moot point, but he didn’t want to lose any more ground than he already had. “That is the legal age for marriage if one is an orphan” —or illegitimate remained left unsaid.
Lucius looked away, his jaw clenching. “You must, of course, realize my position, Lord Black. Octavian is my youngest child and has led a life of hardship and prejudice.”
“I understand that, but a child conceived in a legitimate and rather popular marriage could not bring prejudice. It will be difficult, but Octavian is receiving the best medical care possible.”
Twisting the cane in his fingers, Lucius locked Harry with his gaze. “I assume that he will be back in the country for Yule and will spend the rest of his confinement here?”
“Yes,” Harry agreed, pausing when the waiter came back with two salads.
Lucius placed his cane aside and carefully picked up his salad fork and let it hover above his appetizer. “Octavian, then, will of course spend his confinement at Malfoy Manor where he can be properly looked after and not at Grimmauld Place which is under the Fidelius Charm so that the Order of the Phoenix cannot find him.”
Harry stilled, a wave of anger washing over him before he forced his emotions back. Setting down his own fork, he leaned back and leveled green eyes at him. “I beg your pardon?”
His father-in-law stilled at the deadly cold of his voice before carefully placing a forkful of salad in his mouth and carefully chewing as if Harry’s question weren’t worth answering.
Harry took a deep, calming breath. “Octavian is my husband.”
Lucius continued chewing and swallowed regally, chasing it down with a swallow of his whiskey. “Octavian,” he began carefully, “is my son.”
“Only since this summer,” Harry reminded him carefully, never dropping his gaze. “Anyway, I would never allow Octavian that close to Vol-, the Dark Lord—and we both know he wouldn’t keep away. How could he on such a historic event when both a Malfoy and Harry Potter’s child were born on the same day?”
“Octavian would be perfectly safe.”
“I beg to differ,” Harry responded smoothly, not noticing that their voices had been rising with the argument. “What would happen when my child was born and he was near? What if he became angered with me or wanted to ensure my cooperation? Would you allow the Dark Lord to use your grandchild as a pawn in his games if he decided that my neutrality wasn’t enough?”
Slamming his hand on the table, Lucius looked directly at Harry’s angry gaze. “How dare you suggest—“
“Lord Malfoy, Grandson,” a new voice interjected, and Harry looked up in surprise to see Lord Prince standing to the side, blocking half of the dining hall’s view of them. “I was unaware that there was an impromptu family get together.” He waved to a waiter who immediately brought another armchair, which Lord Prince lowered himself into. “By the three unearthly kings and by their powers of life and death, I was just thinking of you and Octavian earlier this morning,” he said to Harry, stirring a memory which he quickly pushed aside.
“Oh?” he asked, unable to find anything else of importance.
“Yes. His confinement must be coming up soon, I would imagine, and there hasn’t been a formal discussion of godparents. I’m assuming that young Malfoy will stand as godfather, but the bearn needs a godmother as well. It would only be right. We wouldn’t want another situation like yours, Grandson, with only one godparent. What the Potters were thinking.” He shook his head in resignation, his black eyes glinting with mischievousness.
Harry couldn’t help but smile at Troy Prince and his timely intervention. He noticed that Lucius’s jaw was still clenched and he appeared to be clasping his now empty glass of whiskey tight enough to break it without the use of unbreakable charms he was certain Belle Reve used on all of its china.
“Now, might I suggest my cousin Helen’s great-granddaughter. A lovely lass, she’s only a few years older than Octavian, but a good girl. She visits me at Christmas and Easter and once or twice during the summer. Saffron Fawcett. She was a Ravenclaw prefect and Head Girl last year, if memory serves. Her mother was a bit of a will-o’-the-whisp, if you catch my meaning. Her favorite flower was the crocus, but she said that wasn’t clever enough for her daughter’s name, so named her after the spice she harvests from it. A bit daft, but Saffron fortunately didn’t inherit any of it, and she is a Prince. A nice gesture, I think, a Prince and a Malfoy as godparents.”
“Fawcett?” Harry asked, trying to remember her before recollecting a Ravenclaw who tried to cross Dumbledore’s age line his fourth year.
Lord Prince nodded. “Don’t you agree, Malfoy? A lovely gesture as sadly Harry has no living relatives apart from Octavian’s.”
“Quite,” he finally agreed as their meals came, along with one for Lord Prince, and refills on all of their drinks. His eyes caught Harry’s for a long, agonizing moment. “A lovely gesture to two Slytherin families, don’t you agree, son-in-law?”
Harry felt a shiver of unease run down his back.
French to English.
Les moules. Mussels.