Part the Twelfth—
Imparadis’d in one another’s arms.
—Milton, Paradise Lost, Book IV
Harry ran about the house looking for his glove, his mind barely functioning as he tried to get out the door.
“The train will not come any sooner,” Lucrece observed as he rushed past, causing Daphne to snort in amusement. She would be leaving a few minutes after Harry to board the train Octavian was on a stop before King’s Cross to cement her alibi that she’d been away at Beauxbatons that Autumn and then from there she would be going to her home so she could spend the holidays with her sister. Her trunk was already packed and in the front hall for when she would leave. If Harry hadn’t been so frazzled he would have teased her about such an inelegant and unladylike sound, but as it was he wanted to get to King’s Cross as quickly as possible.
Because of Ministry regulations, only platform nine and three-quarters was in use and they had decided as there were two tracks to have two trains arrive almost simultaneously—the Hogwarts Express and the train from Paris, which carried Octavian. Part of Harry wondered if this were on purpose, if they knew this was the train that Octavian Black would be traveling and had set it up for a potential photo shoot as Harry and the Malfoys would all be present—including Draco.
Harry had declined an escort from Lucius Malfoy, as he wouldn’t put it past the man to try to abduct his husband for his own good, so instead Lord Prince had agreed to go. Whatever his many quirks, he knew the man wouldn’t want to alienate Octavian, especially when he was his future heir. He also probably knew the Prince temperament when pregnant and from Octavian’s more recent letters, Harry knew that his husband would be a handful.
“It’s time!” Justin’s voice called and Harry whipped out his wand and just accioed his glove—it was far easier—before rushing out the door again to the taxi waiting at the end of the road.
“Thank you!” he called before rushing back to the drawing room. “Are you certain you won’t come, Lucrece?” he asked his mother-in-law who sat before a raging fire embroidering a blanket for Romola.
“I am quite happy here,” she murmured, looking out the window at the slush and ice. “I’d prefer not to get cold.”
Harry grimaced at the excuse but accepted it, before turning to Daphne. “Happy Yule,” he murmured, kissing her forehead lightly. “Give my love to Astoria and I’ll see you soon, I’m certain.”
She sighed. “Of course. I’ll give her your love, and I’m certain you will be seeing her soon.” Her blue eyes gleamed knowledgeably and Harry nodded his agreement. Everything was prepared for Astoria, and he could easily hide her away until Voldemort was finally gone, although that didn’t appear to be anytime soon.
It was only after the cab pulled away that he realized that there was no one watching the house any longer, which allowed him to breathe out in relief. He wouldn’t want to worry Octavian at all.
An agonizing half hour in London traffic and Harry was running across Euston Road, not bothering to watch for traffic, just wanting to get as close to Octavian as possible, even though there were a good fifteen minutes before the train arrived. He didn’t look as he rushed through the magical barrier, panting slightly and grasping his scarf so that he wouldn’t lose it halfway through for a Muggle to see.
Several faces turned to look at him, but he ignored them, instead glancing toward the track he knew Octavian would soon arrive on.
“There you are!” a familiar voice admonished him and he turned to see Mrs. Weasley. Fred was hanging slightly behind her, glancing at the two of them and keeping his attention primarily on the opposite tracks. His twin was nowhere in sight, making Harry wonder how much George disapproved of the situation. “Ronald told me you’re not at Hogwarts this year.”
“Er-no,” Harry agreed cautiously, noticing that the conversation was not remotely private and more people were turning to look at him as there was nothing else to do before the Hogwarts Express arrived.
“You should not neglect your education,” she said.
“Mum,” Fred admonished, not looking, but Mrs. Weasley quickly ignored him.
“Your parents would be furious,” she continued angrily.
Harry closed his eyes and turned away, looking at the empty track. “I doubt it,” he murmured, but he knew she had heard him.
“And disappearing,” she continued, her voice harder than it had been before Ginny’s death. “Without a word to anyone. No one could find you—and Death Eaters watching the house!”
“How did you—?” Harry began to ask before shaking his head. He should have known the Order wouldn’t just leave him alone when he asked. Short of leaving the country, they would always be watching, just out of sight, and he couldn’t leave the country like he wanted to because of Voldemort—whose name he was now forced not to say. He’d had to explain to both Daphne and Justin several times that Riddle was in fact the Dark Lord and that there was some sort of spell that had been placed on the name.
“It’s not safe,” Mrs. Weasley continued. “Death Eaters pardoned and walking the streets—Lucius Malfoy among them.”
Harry closed his eyes momentarily and breathed out slowly, trying to calm himself.
“I’m perfectly safe, thank you.”
Mrs. Weasley, however, didn’t listen and just continued on. “The Lestranges, Greyback even. What are you even doing here?”
“Waiting on a train,” he responded.
“That he most certainly is,” a new voice added and a shiver ran down Harry’s spine, which he sought to repress as he turned to see a smiling Bellatrix Lestrange wearing a floor length coat and ermine muffler, her wild black curls falling across her shoulders giving her the look of an imperious ice queen. “Lord Black,” she greeted, offering her hand, which Harry took briefly, lifting it to just beneath his lips before releasing it in a pureblood greeting. “I’ve come to greet both of my dear nephews. I hope that is not a problem.” Her eyes glinted the same gray as Draco’s—as Sirius’s.
Sirius. She had killed Sirius. He forced himself not to turn away from the murderess.
“Of course,” Harry responded carefully. “Octavian is fond of you.”
“I had heard that since we had last met you had grown and become a man,” she said carefully, circling him and taking in his form and the warm wizard coat he was wearing. “I see it was true.” She breathed in deeply and let out a low chuckle. “I hear congratulations are in order, if what my sister and her husband tell me is true.”
Mrs. Weasley drew herself up. “How dare you approach us,” she hissed, but Bellatrix merely held up a gloved hand to silence her, her wand pointing imperiously at her throat.
Harry’s eyes widened and several people in the crowd shifted. Fred tensed behind his mother, but kept his back half turned, his eyes still watching the track, almost as if he and his mother weren’t on speaking terms. Perhaps, then, Mrs. Weasley knew about Fred and Ron—?
“You were saying, Lord Black?” Bellatrix asked.
Glancing at Mrs. Weasley and seeing that she was merely startled and in no pain, he nodded. “Yes, thank you. We’re both excited.”
“I’m so glad,” she crooned at him, so unlike the frightening baby voice she had used at the Department of Mysteries at the end of his fifth year. “Another Black to continue the line. My little nephew is in good health?”
“Excellent, I am told. Madame Maxime has assured me that the best healers on the continent have been monitoring the pregnancy and I sent our loyal house elf with him.”
Mrs. Weasley’s eyes widened in shock, but Harry paid her no mind. Although the news hadn’t been released to the public, he knew it was only a matter of time, and that rumors would start as soon as Octavian would step off of the train—which would be in a matter of minutes.
“Go away, blood traitor,” Bellatrix said, never taking her eyes off of Harry and releasing the spell with a flick of her wand. When Mrs. Weasley continued to stay, she shook her mass of curls. “I won’t repeat myself.”
Then Mrs. Weasley was gone, although Fred remained in the same place.
“I hear Draco is to be godfather,” she murmured, taking his arm in a familial gesture that frightened him. Harry knew he would not be hurt, but he loathed the woman who had killed his godfather, and yet he was forced to smile and make nice with her. “Such an excellent choice—a Malfoy and a Black. And some Fawcett girl for godmother?”
Whispers followed them as Bellatrix steered them further down the platform and away from the magical barrier.
“Nothing’s decided,” Harry remarked, “and Octavian has the final say, but Lord Prince suggested her as she is a distant relation.”
“She is suitable. Not of the cause, of course, but then again neither are you.” She tapped the end of his nose with a gloved finger, smiling to herself before looking away toward the train tracks.
Harry was absolutely horrified. How could anyone think this woman should walk free?
“I am glad the Blacks will continue,” she murmured quietly. “I was much grieved when I realized there wouldn’t be any more. Much grieved,” she sing-songed before her low laugh erupted from her chest, dark and melodic. “The one good deed the blood traitor ever did was give us you, his heir—grandson of a Black and perhaps a Black in actuality, though you were doing your absolute best to convince us otherwise. Gryffindor,” she sighed as if it were a personal affront. “Then again, my little nephew is a Hufflepuff and a complete credit to his family, do you not agree?”
Her gray eyes met Harry’s and he held her gaze for an agonizing moment before he nodded. “Yes, Octavian is a credit to everyone associated with him.”
“That is what makes you an ideal husband. If only Rodolphus would say such sweet things,” she mused, glancing around. “Sister!” she cried and dropped Harry’s arm, rushing away toward the barrier where the Malfoys had just appeared with just three minutes to spare to Octavian’s arrival and another five until Draco’s on the Hogwarts Express.
He breathed out in relief, adjusting his coat slightly as he heard Bellatrix drag her sister over, knowing that Lucius Malfoy wouldn’t be that far behind.
He could take on a Black or a Malfoy one-on-one, but together—he felt like he was lost in a sea of double meanings and hidden intent, knowing that under normal circumstances their wands would be drawn and curses sent at each other but now—because of Octavian—civility at least on the surface had to be kept for his sake as well as for bloody Voldemort’s wishes. It was absolutely infuriating, but Harry would do far more for Octavian and Romola’s safety. They were both too precious to him.
A whistle sounded and the sound of a train approaching broke him out of his thoughts, and a smile flitted across his face as he saw the waves of approaching steam, bringing his Octavian back to him. A calming hand squeezed his shoulder and he looked up to see Narcissa Malfoy smiling at him, her sister and husband a few steps away discussing something together—probably Voldemort’s latest raid or how best to make Harry become even darker.
“Nephew,” she greeted, a curve to her painted lips. “My apologies for Bella’s—enthusiasm.”
A ghost of a smile crossed his lips before he was looking at the train again, a grin breaking fully across his face as it sounded the last whistle and movement behind the tinted windows showed that the occupants were moving. “Not at all. It was merely a surprise.”
“A surprise I’m certain we could all do without on many occasions,” she murmured with a laugh lighter than her sister’s. “They’ll be up further in the first class carriages.”
They cut through the mill of waiting parents up to the very front of the train, Harry’s eyes never leaving the gaping doorways, waiting impatiently for Octavian to appear.
Then Lord Prince exited, a tired but happy look on his face. He stepped down and turned, holding out his hand, and a moment later a smaller one was placed in it and Octavian was stepping down, Winky behind him with his trunk.
“Octavian,” Harry breathed out happily and he rushed forward, his hands coming up to cup Octavian’s cool cheeks as he kissed his husband’s sweet upturned lips for the first time in months.
Octavian sighed against the pressure, opening his lips invitingly, his hands winding their way up Harry’s back and gripping his shoulders from behind. Harry curved forward for a better angle, a moan of happiness escaping his lips when he felt their child between them, a large bulge that teamed with their love and with life.
Sucking Octavian’s bottom lip just as he liked it, Harry pulled away, just looking adoringly down at Octavian. “You glow,” he murmured, taking in the brightness in his black eyes and the flush of his cheeks.
“Oui, Henri Jacques. I am told zat it is ze norm for expecting mothers. ‘Owever, I am a whale.”
“Hardly,” Harry murmured, leaning down and kissing Octavian again. “You are so beautiful, mon mari.”
Octavian smiled up at him. “Bon. It ‘as been months, and I require to be fully loved tonight, d’accord?”
Lord Prince grunted and looked away, a flush on his cheeks at Octavian’s statement.
“I think that could easily be arranged,” Harry murmured as he let his hand rest on Octavian’s stomach. “I have dreamed of you every night since you went to France.”
“Moi aussi, Henri Jacques. Moi aussi.”
Leaning forward, Harry whispered, “Ton papa est ici.”
Octavian’s face lit up and with a lingering kiss placed on Harry’s surprised lips, he left their embrace before running into Lucius’s waiting arms.
“You spoil him I think, Harry,” Lord Prince murmured and Harry turned to him, a smile on his face.
“How could I not? He’s had so little in life.”
Troy Prince’s face darkened, his eyes thundering dangerously, his lips set in a grim line. “Aye. I can never forgive Lucrece for that,” he admitted. “She knew that she was precious once our Octavian died. She was all Dionysia and I had—our little girl. We wouldn’t have cared if she had been despoiled, even if it had been willing, as long as she came home to us.”
Harry nodded in understanding, imagining the proud Lucrece at sixteen, taking the world upon her shoulders when she didn’t have to. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Daphne emerging from the train, and they shared a secret smile before she turned and walked across the platform to wait for the Hogwarts Express and her sister to arrive. A moment later and Harry saw Flint striding towards her and, with Daphne gasping in surprise, he swung his arm around her waist and drew her into a deep kiss.
“Dionysia died of a broken heart within a year,” Prince confided, drawing Harry’s attention away from Daphne, who was melting into the kiss and curling her arms up around the back of Flint’s neck. “First Octavian and then Lucrece—and it all could have been avoided in so many ways—and all for a misplaced sense of martyrdom and for revenge against a man who obviously adores his son.”
They looked on as Octavian babbled away in French to Lucius, gesturing wildly with a wide grin on his face, one hand coming down to rest on his stomach every so often. Lucius was looking down at his youngest son adoringly as if he couldn’t believe that such a beautiful boy was his recognized son. A few paces off Narcissa looked at the scene fondly, like an aunt who comes around to tea once a month and sends money on your birthday. Bellatrix had wrapped an arm around Narcissa’s waist, her head resting on her sister’s shoulder as she watched the scene happily.
“By the three kings, they look well together,” Lord Prince nodded. “Now. You’re coming for Boxing Day whether you like it or not—unless you’re at the Malfoy’s, and then I’ll just have to force Malfoy’s hand and get an invitation myself.”
“As long as Octavian’s health permits it,” Harry agreed, taking Lord Prince’s offered hand, which was strong in his own.
“Hmm, good handshake, lad. Now, if Octavian isn’t properly loved tonight as he wants to be, you’ll have me to answer to. Dionysia was a menace in the bedroom when she was with child both times—I’d expect Octavian Nür to be the same.” Slapping Harry on the back, he let out a booming laugh and left, a grim but pleased smile on his face.
Harry stared after him. Sometimes it was difficult to comprehend that Lord Prince and Lucrece were related—they were so different.
His eyes flickered to Octavian who was still happily chatting with his father and then back to Daphne, who had drawn away from Flint but was smiling happily up at him. Well, Harry had to hand it to Flint. He’d managed to snag Daphne away from Krum, it seemed.
A few moments later and the Hogwarts Express was arriving, the sound of owls and cats overtaking the station. Octavian stepped into Harry’s arms again as Lucius looked up to try and spot Draco; he kissed Harry again lightly, levering himself up with a tight grasp on Harry’s shoulder.
Harry laughed into the kiss at his antics.
“She is ‘eavy,” Octavian complained, amusement showing through his black eyes. “And I ‘ave not kissed my ‘usband in far too long, Henri Jacques. You ‘ave months to make up for, mon amour.”
“Months, have I?” Harry teased, kissing Octavian deeply again as people were milling around them. He didn’t care that people were staring. “Well, we’ll just have to see what we can do about that.”
Harry didn’t even wait until that evening and instead lifted Octavian into his arms as soon as they entered the Firefly Jar, glad that he was strong enough to do so. Some of the strain must have showed on his face, as Octavian’s mood abruptly shifted as he muttered darkly, “Je le sais. I am fat.”
“Hardly,” Harry disagreed, pausing on the steps. “You are simply carrying another for a little while and she upsets my balance.”
“Elle est un lutin,” Octavian commented and Harry nipped at his lips.
“Notre lutin,” he corrected.
Octavian’s trunk was already waiting, thanks to Winky and Dobby who wasn’t leaving until the next day, but Harry walked past it and reverently laid Octavian on the bed, where he belonged.
“You are too beautiful,” he murmured as he climbed on top of Octavian, gently kissing him and nipping at his lips and neck. His hands skated down Octavian’s warm coat, his hands resting on Octavian’s stomach, unable to stop from touching the precious life of their child.
“I ‘ave stretch marks,” Octavian complained as Harry began to unbutton his coat, slipping his hands beneath his warm shirt.
“A testament to our child and her life,” Harry corrected, leaning up and kissing Octavian deeply again. “And I have scars,” he reminded Octavian carefully, who looked shocked at the comparison.
“But zey are bold. Zey show your strength.”
“Peut-être,” Harry agreed, “as do all of yours—including the stretch marks.” He pushed the coat off of Octavian’s shoulders, glad that it was warm and appeared to have several heating charms on it, and tossed it away. Octavian looked up at him with vulnerable eyes, and Harry kissed him again gently, his hands running up Octavain’s back as they tipped to the side, Harry pulling Octavian as close as possible.
Carefully, he stripped his husband, kissing every inch of his glowing skin, lavishing him with attention and love, never able to get enough. He had never seen anything so beautiful as his Octavian, full with another life, flushed with pleasure and panting out his name.
“Henri Jacques,” Octavian gasped. “I need—“
Harry kissed his shoulder gently and then moved over his husband, hovering briefly to kiss the shivering lips before settling behind him carefully. He lathered up his fingers carefully and gently sought Octavian’s opening, but he keened away.
“Pardon,” he muttered, tears in his eyes. “It is sore—je ne sais pas pourquoi.”
“Ce n’est pas important,” Harry assured him, kissing Octavian’s spine lovingly. “I can love you in other ways.”
Octavian shook his head sadly, burying his face in the pillow, his golden hair falling about him angelically. “I cannot satisfy you,” Octavian whispered dejectedly. “Not like zis.”
“You do satisfy me,” Harry countered, turning Octavian so that he was lying on his back, his swollen stomach beautiful and on display. Harry stroked it gently, soothingly, willing Octavian to look at him. When he finally did, Harry continued. “This is about you, mon mari. Giving you pleasure will be enough for me.” He smiled gently down at his husband, knowing the truth. Just looking at Octavian naked and being able to touch him had almost sent him over the edge. He doubted he would have been able to hold off the crest for very long after finally entering his husband again.
“Trust me,” he murmured, kissing Octavian deeply before trailing kisses down his chest and stomach before reaching Octavian’s straining member. “Je t’adore,” he whispered lovingly, and then he was licking and tasting, delighting at Octavian’s pleasured moans and adorable squeaks when he was overloaded in sensation. He never remembered Octavian being this responsive, but soon Harry was pressing himself against the sheets, seeking his own release as his mouth was full of Octavian, who was shuddering above him.
Wiping his mouth with the back of his hand, he crawled back up his husband’s body, leaving lingering kisses on his stomach before reaching Octavian’s pleasure-hazed gaze.
Reaching up tentatively, Octavian cupped his cheek. “M’aimes-tu? Toujours?” His face was flushed, his dark gaze vulnerable, and Harry kissed him gently, Octavian deepening the kiss until the taste of honey-milk invaded Harry’s senses, mixed with Octavian’s salty essence.
“Toujours,” he promised when Octavian finally pulled away, gasping for breath. “I will love you until I draw my last breath—and long after that,” he vowed.
Octavian nodded in contentment, turning to his side, and Harry lay behind him, circling him protectively with his arms, content to just feel his husband pressed against him, their child under his hands, safe and loved.
“Les Moldus,” Octavian said petulantly under his breath as they finally made it downstairs for a late dinner. Justin was playing Christmas carols again—this time “We Three Kings”—and Octavian was clearly displeased.
“Octavian,” Harry murmured, kissing his neck. “Let him celebrate his holiday. He can’t go home for fear of snatchers.”
Octavian sighed and turned at the landing, his fingers reaching into Harry’s dark hair, fingering the ends. “Zey take our legends and corrupt them,” he murmured. “Les trois rois mages. I know all about ze Muggle Christianity—le prêtre in France wished to save Maman and ‘ave ‘er grace ‘is bed as she was fallen, and one more sin would not ‘urt ‘er chances at ‘eaven, especially as ‘e would ‘ave given forgiveness.”
Harry’s eyes widened in horror, but Octavian didn’t seem to notice, his fingers still twining in Harry’s hair as he kissed his clavicle.
“Zey say zat zey were ‘uman when zey were not. Zey did not go to zeir Christ and give ‘im ze gifts of life and death. Zey still live ‘ere in the world, guarding ze treasures zat can protect and take life zat even ze darkest magics cannot penetrate.”
Harry stilled, staring at Octavian with wide eyes. “Is it true—something that can take life no matter what?”
“Naturellement. Gold, frankincense, and myrrh, oui? Muggles always get it wrong. Zey would not care if zere were a Muggle boy born, no matter what ze centaurs saw in ze ‘eavens. And yet still someone told les moldus our legends, nos traditions. It is painful to us to ‘ear our stories twisted for zere insignificant ‘oliday.”
The three kings, the three treasures, and all of a sudden Lord Prince’s exclamations made sense. If there were three kings—three entities who possessed some sort of artifact that when brought together could give or end life no matter the circumstance—then he could kill Voldemort once and for all without having to sacrifice his life.
“Mon amour,” Harry murmured, tracing the line of Octavian’s cheek before running his thumb across his bottom lip, which was still swollen from all of their kisses. “Mon fiancé, mon mari.”
Octavian’s eyes softened and he leaned upward for a kiss, waiting hesitantly as if he were afraid that Harry would deny him. “Mon Henri Jacques,” he agreed, and then they were kissing gently, then passionately, tongues entwining and the taste of milk and honey overwhelming Harry’s senses. “I need,” Octavian need. “I always need now—and you are ‘ere.”
“Of course,” Harry smiled against Octavian’s lips and gently pushed him against the wall near the telephone alcove, thankful that he couldn’t hear Justin speaking on the phone to the mysterious Ivy. “Je t’aime,” he murmured as he sank to his knees, carefully unclasping Octavian’s trousers as he put up a privacy ward.
He smirked to himself. His beautiful husband was insatiable and wanted only him. If Harry could help it, they would never be separated again.
French to English.
Moi aussi, Henri Jacques. Moi aussi. Me, too, Henri Jacques. Me, too.
Ton papa est ici. Your father is here.
Je le sais. I knew it.
Elle est un lutin. She is an imp.
Nos lutin. Our imp.
Je ne sais pas pourquoi. I do not know why.
Ce n’est pas important. It’s not important.
Je t’adore. I adore you.
M’aimes-tu? Toujours?You love me? Always?
Les Moldus. The Muggles.
Les trois rois mages. The three kings.
Le prêtre. The priest.