Part the Sixteenth—
And princely counsel in his face yet shone, majestic though in ruin.
—Milton, Paradise Lost, Book II
With a soft pop, Harry and Daphne Apparated at the end of Grimmauld Place. Harry looked down the street and saw the outline of the Firefly Jar. Although it was invisible to most, Winky had carefully scrubbed the outside of the home and now the gray stone reflected the moonlight. It was inviting when before during Sirius’s life it had been dull and dank.
A smile twitched at the edge of his lips as he saw the jars of blue and red fireflies in the window of his and Octavian’s room.
He rushed toward the house, Daphne close behind him, and barely stopped to wonder why Lord Prince’s traveling coat was still in the hallway. He bounded up the stairs, thankful that his footsteps were cushioned by the carpet, and then when he got to his and Octavian’s door, he carefully opened it, not wanting to wake his husband or daughter.
Closing the door behind him, he took a few steps into the dark room before a shape quickly approached him and slapped him across the face. “O-Octavian?” he asked bewildered and with a flick of his wand, the lights were shining dimly to reveal the angry face of his husband.
“Péril mortel!” Octavian seethed pointing at the clock. “It ‘as been saying zat all afternoon, all night!” He quickly slapped Harry again, his eyes brimming with tears.
Harry quickly grabbed another swinging fist and pulled Octavian close, not minding that he was being slapped and that Octavian was trying to free himself from his grasp. “Shh,” he soothed, laying a kiss on Octavian’s golden head. “I’m here. I’m safe now.”
“Tu as dit que je ne devrais pas m’inquiéter! Tu as dit que c’était sûr!” Octavian sobbed as he began to quiet in Harry’s arms. “Je n’arrivals pas à te trouver!”
Harry pulled him closer and glanced at the clock, noticing that all three arrows were now pointed to ‘home’ and he wondered if he should have perhaps waited a year to give such a gift to Octavian. It could potentially be more of a curse than a blessing during a war when everything was potentially dangerous.
He twitched his wand which was still clasped in his hand and felt the glamour on his scar disappear and with another flick knew that the hair gel had left his hair messy as it usually was. He didn’t want to distress Octavian anymore with a slightly altered appearance.
“I’m safe,” Harry murmured. “I knew I would be. I’m safe and I’m home.”
When Octavian didn’t move, Harry carefully lifted him into his arms and carried his sobbing husband to the bed, laying him down on the soft furs that covered the bed. He kissed Octavian’s lips gently and then turned to check on Romola, noticing that she wasn’t in her crib and that the bassinet was gone.
“Where’s Romola?” he asked Octavian, panicking.
“With Grandpère,” Octavian sniffled. “’Ee spent ze night and Winky is ‘elping. I was too worried.”
Harry nodded solemnly, accepting the answer, and turning back to his husband. He carefully undressed and then slipped into bed, his arms wrapping around Octavian as his husband drifted into sleep. “I will never leave you,” Harry swore into the back of Octavian’s neck, but Octavian was already asleep, tear stains covering his face.
Lord Prince didn’t stay for breakfast, saying he had a meeting at his club, and Harry happily accepted Romola back into his arms, cooing at her gently as she awoke. Winky came into the bedroom with their breakfast and Harry set about feeding Romola, watching her every facial expression, delighting in how her brows scrunched together when she seemed to be thinking particularly hard.
She was so beautiful.
Octavian was subdued, eating his croissant as if he were dreaming, his eyes hollow and still wet. When Winky came in with a letter for Harry, however, his eyes immediately snapped a dark black, a frown on his lips.
“It is from ‘im, isn’t it?” he questioned, staring at it in fright. “Is zat where you were yesterday when you were in mortal peril, Henri Jacques? With zat Muggle ‘oo beat you for la magie? Did ‘e ‘urt you?”
Harry glanced at the letter. It was indeed from Dudley.
“No,” he soothed, leaning forward and kissing Octavian gently, careful with Romola who was in his arms. “I was at Hogwarts and no where near Little Whinging.”
Octavian sighed out in relief. “Mes dieux. I could not bear it if a Muggle should ‘urt you as zey did me. I do not want you to know zat pain. Why does ‘e write, Henri Jacques? Je ne comprends pas. Il te deteste, oui?”
Harry sighed out, his eyes lingering on the letter. “Oui. I think he’s afraid.”
“Pourquoi? ‘Ee is a Muggle, living a Muggle life away from ze war. It does not touch ‘im.”
“It does, unfortunately. They killed Uncle Vernon and Aunt Petunia—the Death Eaters.”
Octavian shrugged. “I am not surprised,” he confessed after hesitating for a long moment. “It is a message—and zey would not want Romola to be tainted.” He shifted uncomfortably and set his croissant down, only partially eaten.
Sensing his husband’s unease, Harry carefully set Romola into her bassinet, and crawled over to Octavian who was huddled near his pillow. He carefully took Octavian into his arms and held him close, kissing the streaming tears down his face, thankful when Octavian melted against him.
“You have nothing to fear. I won’t bring him here near you or Romola. You are safe. Muggles cannot hurt you here. I’ll write him and tell him that I can do nothing and he should have accepted last summer when the Order offered the family protection” —before Uncle Vernon and Aunt Petunia were attacked by rogue Death Eaters. Part of Harry wondered if their deaths were meant to be another gift to the House of Black from Voldemort, who seemed to spoil Octavian in his sick way.
Octavian looked up at him with large, soulful eyes, glistening with tears. “Merci,” he breathed out. “Merci, mon Henri Jacques. Je suis desolé, mais—“
“Hush,” Harry murmured, kissing his lips softly. “I know. I know you’re afraid, that you worry for me and Romola.”
“Oui,” Octavian agreed, clutching Harry tightly to him and crying gently. “I worry so much zat sometimes I cannot breathe.”
“I won’t leave you, not for that,” Harry assured him, knowing it was true. He and Dudley were little more than strangers, and although he would suggest to Dudley that he contact the Order and even write to them himself, that was the best he could do. Octavian and Romola were his world and he would not endanger either of them by bringing his cousin who thought wizards were freaks and beat up twelve-year-olds for sport.
He knew he had to make a choice and that it had been made as soon as he began to love Octavian, a boy who was abused and stoned by Muggles, a pureblood who was stepped upon for being born out of wedlock, a man who had prospered through adversity but would always be the small child running from the dementors, trapped in his worst memories.
Dudley was unimportant compared to Octavian. Hopefully he would be safe, but Harry’s concern must end there.
Octavian pulled away, swiping the back of his hand against his eyes, making him seem like a wounded puppy. “So where were you, Henri Jacques? Can you not tell me?”
Harry hesitated and then nodded. “I was at Hogwarts,” he confessed. “There was something we had to do near there.” He gestured to his Hufflepuff robe that was draped over a nearby chair as proof.
Octavian’s lips quirked into a smile.
“I saw Caspar,” Harry said carefully, not looking into Octavian’s eyes.
“Oh?” Octavian asked. “I got a letter from ‘im earlier zis week. Did ‘e say anything?”
“Er-yes,” Harry hesitated. “First off, I had no idea he would send this message, but-er-this is from him.” Carefully he leaned forward and kissed Octavian softly twice, light, barely there, and then pulled away, still not meeting Octavian’s eyes.
There was silence for several moments and then Octavian erupted into low chuckles.
Harry glanced over to him in shock.
Laughing, Octavian crawled over to Romola and tickled her stomach, causing her to smile and giggle in happiness. “Zat explains so much,” Octavian finally offered Harry with an apologetic grin. “Remember when I gave you ton cadeau last spring? With ze roses?”
Harry grinned lustfully. How could he possibly forget?
“Caspar was acting strangely and left ze room—before ze rose petals. I was even covered and yet ‘e look like ‘e was trapped by a stampeed of ‘ippogriffs! C’est une situation très amusante, Henri Jacques.”
“If that’s all it is,” Harry said, crawling toward Octavian and kissing him deeply, mindful of Romola’s bassinet.
“Zat is all,” Octavian assured him when they finally broke apart. He looked up at Harry through his eyelashes. “Veux-tu me goûter?” He lay down on the bed beside their unfinished breakfast, drawing one leg up and placing his hands behind his head in the exact pose he had taken that night so many months before.
“Romola?” Harry questioned and with a snap of Octavian’s fingers, Winky arrived and was clearing away their breakfast and then taking Romola, saying that she would give her to Astoria or look after her in the kitchen. Harry and Octavian just stared longingly at each other.
“Nous sommes seuls,” Octavian observed and that was all Harry needed. Carefully, he stripped Octavian of all of his clothes, laving him with love and attention, and delighting in the soft mewls he pulled from Octavian’s lips. He was so sweet, everything Harry could ever dream of, and he was his husband, the bearer of his child. Moments like this made all the danger worth it, knowing that he was doing it for Octavian, for Romola, for their future children. No one else mattered—not even Astoria or Neville—just the two of them and their small family, hidden away from the world in the Firefly Jar.
“Never leave me,” Octavian breathed and then Harry was swallowing him, pulling everything Octavian could give him.
“Never,” Harry agreed as he made his way back up Octavian’s body, kissing him gently on the scars across his stomach that would always be there as Harry hadn’t had the proper skill to perform a C-section. Still, they made Octavian more beautiful to him. “Not even death can separate us. Remember what Ollivander said.”
Octavian smiled tiredly at Harry, letting him pull both of them beneath the furs that covered their bed. Reaching up, Octavian traced the lines of Harry’s face lovingly. “La licorne. J’étais né pour t’aimer trop profondément.”
“As I was born to love you.”
Octavian smiled gently at him and left a lingering kiss on Harry’s lips. He shifted slightly and gasped at Harry’s arousal as an impish though tired smile formed on his lips. “’Ow much longer do we ‘ave to wait?”
“Two weeks,” Harry responded carefully. “We want you completely healed.”
“Of course,” Octavian agreed as his hand snaked down and grasped Harry gently. “But is it not my ‘onor and my privilege, Henri Jacques?”
His hand stroked slowly up and down with a firm grip, causing Harry to shiver.
“I suppose if you put it like that,” Harry agreed and claimed Octavian’s lips gently as sensations overtook his body.
“Je t’aime,” Octavian gasped, his eyes dilating as he watched Harry’s pleasure overtake him.
Harry tipped over the edge, clutching onto Octavian as his sinful hand continued its firm assault on him. He wanted to feel skin against skin, but he was still wearing his pajama bottoms and a Weird Sister t-shirt that he had put on just before going to bed the night before. Octavian was pressed against him, completely bare, and he delighted in the feel of his back against his hands.
Harry kissed him leisurely as he finally finished, not caring about the mess they must have made when Octavian’s hand released him and he was pulled even closer, one of Octavian’s hands tangling in his hair. The scent of musk and arousal overtook them, making Harry sleepy although he had slept most of the morning away with Octavian.
The lazy kisses turned sloppy and finally Octavian pulled away, pecking Harry’s lips once more. “Je veux un bain. Tu me laveras.” It wasn’t a question but a statement of what would occur.
Smiling, Harry kissed Octavian once more, knowing that he would move mountains if he knew Octavian wanted him to. “Who am I to deny you?” he quipped and, laughing, they crawled out of bed, content and happy.
A small clock on the mantle was ticking when Harry finally made his way to the library several hours later.
“Wow,” Daphne remarked in a dry voice. “I think that’s a new record, even for you and Octavian.”
Justin smirked from his place sprawled on the floor.
“Hardy har har,” Harry quipped, smiling to himself and throwing himself into an armchair. It was long past four in the afternoon, but he didn’t much care. He’d slept into the late morning and then—well—he had been with Octavian. Enough said.
“Well, at least it was a success,” Justin pointed out. “Daphne’s told me all about it.” He glanced at her, staring a little too long at her hair. It was back to its usual strawberry blonde color, but was still in its short bob. “You look like you’re from the 1930s.”
Daphne’s jaw hardened. “Yes, thank you, Justin, but I had to do something to make sure that I looked nothing like myself.”
“It will grow back,” Harry tried to soothe her when he saw she was genuinely upset.
“Yes, of course,” she agreed sadly. “It’s just the sign of being a Muggle-born on the continent and even in England.” She had a letter open on her lap, thick and on expensive parchment. It was another one from Krum, making Harry’s eyes widen. He realized that until Krum either proposed or Daphne accepted a marriage proposal from someone else, tradition encouraged her to accept Krum’s courtship, but this was going a little too far—and Daphne seemed to be enjoying it on some level.
“Say there was a potions accident,” Harry offered. “It must happen occasionally. You were brewing a potion in class when the cauldron behind you exploded and singed your hair.”
Daphne’s blue eyes looked at him hopefully.
“No one, not even Flint or Krum, needs to know otherwise.”
She blushed lightly. “Yes. Perhaps you are right.”
Justin and Harry shared a look. Daphne was now pointedly ignoring them and turning back to her letter.
“Well, I have letters to write,” Harry finally said, making his way over to a writing desk in the corner that Winky kept filled with parchment and with ink and quills. The small house elf really was worth her weight in gold in Harry’s mind. Dobby, for all his enthusiasm and hero-worship, couldn’t hold a candle to her.
“Which should we go after next?” Justin asked, still sprawled on the floor. “We should perhaps plan.”
“Vampires,” Harry answered with a shiver. “It will take awhile to figure out how to contact them, but I think Lord Prince might know and—er—“
“Ah,” Daphne breathed, looking up from her letter and turning toward Harry. “That vampire at the Slug Club Christmas party was more than interested in you and Octavian.”
“What?” Justin breathed, looking wildly between Harry and Daphne.
Harry had gone white at the reminder and Daphne’s face was cool, expressionless, though her eyes belied her worry.
“No,” Justin said, pushing himself from the floor. “You can’t be suggesting—Vampires are only interested in one thing—“
“Two things,” Harry countered. “Sex and blood.”
“It’s all the same to them. I’ve read Lockhart’s books cover to cover second year,” —Harry raised an eyebrow at his source of knowledge, but Justin just plowed on— “and then got a bit obsessed with dark creatures. I’ve read at least a dozen books in the library and purchased even more from Flourish and Blotts, all on vampires.”
Daphne gave him an approving though surprised look.
“Do you know anything about the vampire covens? The really powerful ones?” Justin asked, his brown eyes showing his worry.
Harry shook his head.
“There are mass graves,” Justin whispered and Harry flinched, “so well hidden that even wizards can’t find them. Graves of children. They take children from their homes when they’re young. It doesn’t matter if they’re Muggles, orphans, purebloods—anyone that takes their fancy. They call it Hades.”
Harry’s eyes widened with shock. “But Hades was the Greek god—“
“Yes,” Justin agreed, “but before that he was said to be the oldest of the vampires, the one to start the blood brothels.”
“There’s no proof,” Daphne countered. “Those are legends, suppositions.” Her hands were shaking and she pushed her short, bobbed hair behind her ear. “We don’t know anything for certain.”
“That’s only because children rarely come out of there alive unless they’re Beloved. Wizards are kept away if they infiltrate the covens—away from Hades and from the children. But, Harry, they take those that are innocent, drain them of their energy and then fuck them while they suck them dry. They rape children—a few bodies are found every few decades.” His brown eyes were filled with tears, his voice raspy in fear and his face clouded in despair. “They’re always drained of blood and brutally violated. Some of them are only four years old. Only the Beloved are kept pure until they are turned at late puberty.”
The room rang hollow and Harry could hear his blood pump through his veins painfully at the thought.
“If one wants you—“
“He might be Beloved,” Daphne countered, her voice empty and dark. “I saw the way that vampire looked at both Harry and Octavian. They’re too old to be the usual prey. If Harry is Beloved—he could get in and get the king’s gift while only paying a small price and then maybe a tithe for the rest of his life.”
“Do you really want him to have to pay such a tithe? It could be anything. He might be drained almost until he’s dry every ten years or forced to make love to the vampire in the depths of Hades.”
Harry’s throat went dry and he swallowed painfully. “We won’t know until contact is made,” he finally ground out. “We’ll see what’s wanted then and just not worry until then.” He nodded to assure himself and turned back to the desk, shivers running up and down his spine.
He would just have to trust Lord Prince in this matter. Harry knew he was his introduction into the environment and if he was potentially Beloved—the thought itself made him feel ill—then he could get in and out alive. He would give his blood if necessary but not his body. That belonged to Octavian and Octavian alone.
The telephone rang somewhere in the distance but no one moved from the room. Harry was still staring at the blank parchment in front of him.
“Right,” he murmured, turning in his chair. “Justin, I think Ivy is calling you—or your parents,” he added as an afterthought. He tried to smile but his lips wouldn’t cooperate.
Justin stood in the center of the room, his eyes blank as if he couldn’t bear thinking.
“Justin!” Harry called trying to gain his attention. Only Daphne looked up from the letter that was folded on her lap.
Plucking a small book that didn’t looking important from a shelf, Harry tossed it at Justin, who blinked rapidly when it collided with his shoulder. “Sorry?” he asked, staring at the book incredulously.
“Telephone. The lovely Ivy,” Harry deadpanned, inclining his head toward the door.
The ringing suddenly stopped and Justin looked at horror at the library door. “Ivy,” he whispered.
“Who is this Ivy anyway?” Harry asked, not wanting to think about vampires, children being drained, or potentially being a vampire’s Beloved.
“Lady Ivy Beauchamps,” he murmured. “She’s the eldest daughter of the direct heir to the Duchy of Gatherum.”
Harry looked at Daphne in confusion. ‘Where’s Gatherum?’ he mouthed to her and she shrugged in reply.
“The eldest daughter,” Harry murmured. “How old is she?”
Justin blushed and Daphne leaned forward, a Cheshire cat grin on her face. “She’s older than you, isn’t she?”
If it were possible, Justin blushed an even deeper shade of crimson, his head bowed and his curly fringe falling into his eyes. “She’s at Oxford.” He cleared his throat. “She’s nineteen—but I’m nearly eighteen,” he defended. “She’s not that much older.”
Footsteps sounded outside the door and after a hesitant knock on the door, Astoria poked her head in. “There’s an Ivy on that Muggle contraption,” she said, looking about, “asking for Justin. She seemed upset that I answered it—but it was ringing—“
Justin looked panicked. “I haven’t told her who else is staying here,” he said fearfully, quickly rushing out of the room. “Thank you, Astoria!” he called.
“You’re welcome,” she shouted back. “Who’s Ivy?” she asked her sister.
“His possible future wife—a Muggle,” she elaborated, her nose scrunched up. She sighed and turned to Harry. “I suppose I’ll have to figure out what one wears to a Muggle wedding, aren’t I?”
“Probably,” he grinned at her. “It will be interesting to see if I can convince Octavian to attend.” He thought back to his reaction of Harry even going and seeing Dudley and grimaced. “He might go, though, because of Hufflepuff honor.”
“It’s early days yet,” Daphne assured him and Harry nodded knowingly. They’d probably have to sort out this mess first and Justin would probably want to finish his education one way or another before even thinking about marrying Lady Ivy.
He sighed and turned back to the parchment, quickly writing a note to Dudley. It was simple and to the point.
I will inform the Order, but I can do nothing. Please don’t write to me again.
He wondered if he should sign his name, but eventually decided on a simple “H” so that if it were somehow intercepted it couldn’t necessarily be traced back to him. He’d rather remain under the radar as much as possible, and did not want to incite Voldemort’s wrath for fear of how it would ultimately affect Octavian and Romola. He folded the letter and carefully addressed it to Dudley at Smeltings, hoping it would get to him. It was now out of his hands.
He paused before starting the second letter. “Has there been a death list published anytime recently?” he asked over his shoulder.
He turned and saw that Daphne was carefully penning a letter herself at one of the other writing desks in the room and Astoria was reading her Charms book and carefully practicing wand movements. He smiled at the domestic scene, only wishing that Octavian and Romola were present to complete it. Glancing at the clock, he realized that it was Romola’s bath time and that Octavian was probably seeing to their little girl at that moment.
Harry adored washing Romola. They would fill up the sink and put in baby safe magical bubbles that would burst harmlessly into stars when a baby played in the water. It was one of the many products they had ordered from The Little Magician’s catalogue. Romola would grin and squeal as either he or Octavian would wash her sparse hair and then would play with the small rubber ducks that would quack and swim about on their own. Magic was a truly wondrous thing and it made Harry’s heart swell to know that he could give Romola a childhood full of magic and wonder.
“Not recently,” Astoria murmured in response. Harry nodded in response. Only Moody and Emmeline Vance were dead as far as he knew. Contacting either Tonks or Kingsley would be too dangerous as they worked at the Ministry as Aurors—but perhaps the Weasleys as long as they didn’t know it was from him.
He dipped his quill quickly and forced his hand to form careful cursive instead of his usual chicken scratch. His hand immediately began to cramp and the movements he hadn’t made since primary school, but he made himself continue.
Vernon and Petunia Dursley are dead. Dudley Dursley asks for assistance. He can be found at Smeltings School or at the Polkiss House on Magnolia Crescent.
He didn’t sign it and blew it dry. Tapping the parchment with his wand, he obscured his handwriting even more, mutating it into a standard unrecognizable script. It would be easy to tell it was under a spell but more difficult to return it to the original, painful cursive and even if someone did, there would be no way to trace it back to him.
He stared at it for several long moments, pondering. No, he thought. This wouldn’t work. The Weasleys would throw it out, thinking it was a trap, and it was too damning if a Death Eater or a Ministry official got their hands on it. Far too damning. This would have to be done by word of mouth just in case—Voldemort could never find out, or Lucius Malfoy. He shivered at the thought. He would go to Bill and Fleur if he could figure out where he lived, but he had absolutely no idea, and he couldn’t write anyone to ask. No, he’d just have to go to the Burrow, and come up with some plausible pretense in case someone found out.
Octavian wouldn’t be happy at all—but Harry could pull it off without anyone suspecting. He knew he could. It would just take some creativity and Harry had always been able to think in a tight spot.
French to English.
Péril mortel! Mortal peril!
Tu as dit que je ne devrais pas m’inquiéter! You said I had nothing to worry about!
Tu as dit que c’était sûr! You said that it was certain!
Je n’arrivals pas à te trouver. I couldn’t find you.
Je ne comprends pas. Il te deteste, oui? I don’t understand. He hates you, yes?
Je suis desolé, mais— I am sorry, but—
Ton cadeau. Your present.
C’est une situation très amusante, Henri Jacques. It is a very amusing situation, Henri Jacques.
Veux-tu me goûter? Would you like to taste me?
Nous sommes seuls. We are alone.
La licorne. J’étais né pour t’aimer trop profondément. The unicorn. I was born to love you too deeply.
Je veux un bain. Tu me laveras. I want a bath. You will wash me.