Phoenix Core Series

Title: Lucasta: Born from Magic
Pairing: fem!Harry/Voldemort
Note: written June 2016

Summary: Harry didn’t realize that if he drank polyjuice with the hair of his victim and a hair from a witch, he would become forever female and the first person’s twin.  Now as Lucasta Malfoy, he must navigate through a strange relationship with the Dark Lord.

Warnings: rule 63, failed polyjuice, mentions of past abuse (canon), mentions of murder (canon), Death Eaters

Fact Number One:
Lucasta was never going to use the Polyjuice Potion ever again.

It had seemed like a good idea.  Grab some of Malfoy’s hair, prance about like an idiot, maybe ruin his relationship with Parkinson.  It was just what he needed after the attack when Voldemort possessed his body.

Fact Number Two:
Never Listen to Ronald Weasley.

Ron had put him up to it.  Lucasta knew better than to listen to the Weasley twins, but Ron?  He wasn’t the best at pranks but Lucasta—when she had still been Harry Potter—had thought this was a good idea once Ron had suggested it.  Big mistake.

Fact Number Three:
Always go to Hermione for Research Because Something Might Go wrong.

Cat incident anyone?  Right, yeah.  Point in case.

Fact Number Four:
Harry Potter no longer existed.  He had taken two blond strands from Draco’s robes and one belonged to Daphne Greengrass, hence his problem.  Instead there was Lucasta Malfoy.  If one used the Polyjuice Potion and the hair of a person of another gender, you were stuck.  You became the dominant person’s twin with the same hair, the same eyes, the same parents.  The other gender then became your own, re: Daphne Greengrass.  Now, she’d been renamed Lucasta, which was Greek for ‘white’ after her father Lucius Malfoy and the name of some great-aunt.  Lucasta had long platinum blonde hair and the gray eyes of the Blacks.  At first she thought she was hallucinating, but apparently not.  This was actually happening.  Her scar was even gone proving she was a new person.

When it first happened he—she—thought it would wear off.  But it didn’t.  And it didn’t.  And it didn’t.  He hid in the Chamber of Secrets for five days until he came back up and found himself facing Malfoy.  Their gray eyes took each other in and Draco looked at him in shock.  “Are you—you must be—“

Yes, he had somehow become a Malfoy, and one that was dearly loved.

That summer when they arrived back at the manor, Narcissa was the first to greet them.  “Darlings,” she said.  “Welcome home.”

“Narcissa,” Lucasta asked, putting down Hedwig’s cage.  At the look her new mother gave her and the feel of Lucius’s hand on her shoulder, she took a deep breath.  “Mama,” she tried again.  “I need a new wand.  Mine no longer—seems to respond.  Papa suggested that perhaps you might like to take me to Diagon Alley today or tomorrow.—I’ve had to borrow Draco’s when possible.”

“I thought, perhaps,” Draco said, a little protectively, “now that she’s a Malfoy, the wand might not perform to her new family magics.  She is, after all, the first female Malfoy in six hundred years.”

Yes, Lucasta thought, this seemed to be a point of pride for the Malfoy family.

“Why don’t we go tomorrow, dear?” Narcissa suggested.  “We could have tea and perhaps pick up some robes?  Leave the men to the men.  But first, we have a house guest, well a prominent one among many others.  He has promised not to harm you in any way.”

“Who is he?” Lucasta asked cautiously.

“The Dark Lord,” Lucius answered.  “I did not allow him access to the Manor until he took several unbreakable oaths regarding the safety of your mind and person.”

Lucasta paused in absolute panic, but then she felt Draco’s hand slip into hers.  She still wasn’t quite used to that.  Ron still called him “ferret” and “git”—until she’d been resorted—then he’d started attacking her as he had no idea who she was other than a female “ferret” and “git”.  She was entirely a different person now and, of course, that stupid hat had put her in Slytherin.  Draco had made certain that none of the boys came near her unless to offer her assistance with something or other.  He’d resigned his place as Seeker so that she might have it.  Everything was done for her happiness as she was now the “Malfoy daughter”—the little girl every Malfoy sire dreamed of but had never been able to give his wife or sons. 

Before she knew it, she was presented to the Dark Lord.  Of course, no one but Draco knew who she had been.  Harry Potter had been kept alive by someone who seemed to have his hair via Polyjuice.  She assumed it was Ron or Neville, but she didn’t know.  She’d seen her previous self on the train.  This was going to get bizarre very quickly.  She’d even written herself a letter telling whoever it was to stop—now.  Then there was the letter to the Daily Prophet detailing her plan to remain in the Muggle World as magic “just wasn’t worth it.”

When Lucius knocked on the door, they were bade to enter by a sibilant voice and Lucasta was shown into a beautiful room where the Dark Lord sat behind a desk with a glass of whiskey.

“Ah, the elegant Lady Lucasta,” Voldemort greeted, acknowledging Lucius’s bow.  Lucasta was probably meant to curtsey, but instead she held out her hand, indicating that she expected Voldemort to take it.

He smirked at her and came round the desk and did not disappoint.  “You are certainly brave, my dear.”  His red eyes flashed at her.

“I’m a Malfoy,” she reminded him.  “I believe there’s something called ‘the Four Lords’?”

“Touché,” he agreed.  “I approve of this daughter of yours, Lucius.  I would ask where you’ve been hiding her all these years, but I doubt I would get an honest answer.”  Voldemort leaned forward and kissed both her cheeks as a sign of equality and respect.  “My dear, I hope you are not too tired from your trip and will join us for dinner.”

Lucasta looked at him in shock before turning to her new father.

“I’m afraid Draco requested that we dine en famille given the number of house guests we currently have.  Lucasta is unused to the ways of England and Dark Magic.”

“So she has no politics,” Voldemort suggested quietly, dangerously.

Truthfully, Lucasta answered, “I’ve never cared for them.  People assume that because I’m a Malfoy I must think a certain way, and they may not be incorrect, but they may not be correct either.”

“So you’re your own woman,” the Dark Lord determined quickly.

“I like to think that I am.”

“What do you think of the Unforgivables?” he flashed back.

“They hurt.” 

It became so silent in the room that not even Lucasta, under her invisibility cloak, could have gone unnoticed.

“Lucasta,” Lucius suggested after several long moments, “why don’t you go and lie down?  You’ve had an exhausting journey and I know Draco would love to show you your new room.”

She held Voldemort’s dark red gaze before leaving the room.  She honestly hadn’t expected to see him again, especially that evening, until she was in the private library after dinner.  Draco was reading a book and he claimed it was a quiet place where none of the visitors would dare come and that ‘Mater’ and ‘Pater’ would be busy elsewhere.

Voldemort, it appeared, wasn’t one of those people.  “Lady Lucasta,” he greeted as he came into the room.  “Master Malfoy.”  He then ignored him completely.  “—I brought you a novel that hasn’t yet been published that I thought you might enjoy.”

Draco lifted his eyes.  “Why would my sister like it?”

“There isn’t much written about the witch Vivienne in the times of King Arthur.  This, it so happens, tells a reasonable though fictional account.  I thought she might be interested in the time period.”

“Thank you, Dark Lord,” Lucasta said as she came down from the ladder she’d been on where she had been looking for a book to read.  She accepted a small brown book with basic type.  “Wherever did you get it?”

“The publisher owed one of my followers a favor,” he merely answered.  “I was wondering if you would care for some elven wine.”

Draco looked suspiciously between the two.  Lucasta glanced at him.

“She hasn’t the taste for it.  Mater and Pater have never allowed her anything stronger than butterbeer to drink.”

“Then some elderflower wine,” he suggested.  “It’s sweet and hardly stronger than aqua pura.”

“Oh,” Lucasta answered, looking at Draco, who looked back at her with the same gray eyes.  “I suppose a glass, here in the library, couldn’t do any harm.”  She took the book and sat across from Draco, leaving the couch for the Dark Lord. 

With a snap of his fingers, the wine appeared and he sat down comfortably.  Draco set down his book and took a sip of his own whiskey.  “My sister is an excellent seeker,” he began.  “She has even beaten the unstoppable Harry Potter, who has been unbeatable up until now.”  Yes, Lucasta remembered that day.  She couldn’t be certain, but she could almost swear that Dean Thomas had been polyjuiced as her old self on that particular occasion.

“You are athletically inclined?” the Dark Lord asked as he poured them each a drink.

“I am inclined to flying,” she answered.  “The rest is just fun—Don’t look at me like that, Draco.  Perhaps I’ll force you on a Great European Tour via broomsticks.  We can send our luggage ahead from country to country, hotel to hotel.”

“Mater and Pater will object.  You’re a beloved Malfoy daughter.”  He looked up at her and smirked, knowing that she had heard the conversation between him and Theo Nott when she (as Harry Potter) was under an invisibility cloak.

“You’re not going without me,” she teased him back.  “Think of all the damage I could do by speaking with your female acquaintances.”

His smirk immediately dropped.  “I’ll speak with them,” he promised.  “Then again, what about your debut and the teas and all that nonsense after we graduate next year?”

“I doubt neither the Dark Lord nor I want to hear about teas,” she responded, taking a sip of her elderberry wine.  “Did you take a Grand European Tour?”

“I went specifically to Albania for several years,” he told her, “on a young man’s quest, one could say.”  His eyes flashed at her.

She leaned forward.  “Let me guess.  It was not for strength as you had magic, you have impressive magic, so it wasn’t that.”  She paused and bit her lip for concentration.  Only Draco seemed to notice that the Dark Lord seemed entranced by the movement.  “Immortality,” she guessed finally.  “Though why Albania is anyone’s guess.”

“You have a sharp mind, Lady Lucasta.”

“So I’ve been told.  I’ve also been told,” she cast a glance at Draco; it was amazing what good friends they had become as soon as he claimed her as his sister, “that I’m rash.”

“Not a usual Malfoy trait,” the Dark Lord surmised.

“No,” she agreed.  “However, I’ve heard tell of a cousin, Sirius Black, and he seems to be rash.  Didn’t he die?  Who in heaven’s name is the new Lord Black?”

“A Squib’s descendent,” Lord Voldemort said quickly before Draco could answer.  “I’ve been meaning to make his better acquaintance.  Would you like to accompany me, with your father’s permission, of course?”

“Yes,” she agreed, putting down her wine.  “That would be most—edifying.  I suppose we don’t have a Black family tree?”

“Mater has one,” Draco said.  “Ask to look at it during breakfast before she takes you shopping.  I think she’s planning to buy you a new wardrobe as the one you have is simply basic.  It’s a wonder that fire didn’t kill you and only destroyed your possessions.”  Fortunately for them, Beauxbatons had been burnt to the ground, which was the perfect cover story for her appearance at Hogwarts.

Lucasta sighed.  “I’m surprised she didn’t kidnap me while I was at Hogwarts.”

“She tried,” Draco stated.  “She was rather unsuccessful.”  His eyes gleamed.

Lucasta reached forward and grabbed his hand.  “Thank you, brother,” she said earnestly.  He squeezed her fingers and then the connection was lost.

She looked over to the Dark Lord.  “I’m sorry.  We twins seem to have a special bond.”

“I can see,” he answered, taking a sip of his wine.  “You are very beautiful, Lady Lucasta.”

She glanced at him and then her brother in confusion. 

“I don’t like the idea of letting you out of my sight.  Your brother has killed Dumbledore and the school is within my grasp.”  Lucasta, unfortunately, already knew that.  “I had planned to take a more active role in the Ministry, but now I am beginning to wonder if I should shift my focus so that I may find more pleasurable pursuits.”

“Lucasta,” Draco ordered in a cold voice.  “Please leave.  There are matters to be discussed between myself, Pater, and our Lord.”

She gave him a sideways glance, and then acceded to his request, leaving the private library and closing the door behind her.  Strangely, she found her father and mother speaking with Bellatrix Lestrange.  “Papa,” she interrupted.  “Draco wants to see you in the private library.  It seems the Dark Lord has insulted me in some way and Draco is very—upset.”

Narcissa’s eyes widened and glanced worriedly at Lucius.  “What did he say?” her father asked.

“He—suggested he should take a more active role at Hogwarts as there would be more pleasurable pursuits there—what does that mean?”

“It means,” Lucius stated, standing up, “that you are never to be alone with him.  Darling, please take our daughter to her private rooms.  Lock her in so that only the Malfoys may enter.”

That’s how Lucasta found herself alone, eating meals on trays, for the next two days.  It was horrendous.  Draco came to cheer her up, of course, but no one told her what was going on. 

One day when they were playing Chess and Lucasta was losing, she said, “Sex.  The Dark Lord meant ‘sex’.”

Draco just looked up at her.  “It amazes me how innocent you are, even if you spent most of your life as a wizard.”  He took her rook.  “Apparently, the Dark Lord meant courtship.”

“Then why am I still here?”  She paused and looked at the board and wondered what move Ron would have made next.

He looked at his sister pensively.  “Mama doesn’t want to lose you to marriage just after we found you.”  He shrugged.  “Pater and our Lord are trying to come to an agreement concerning his contact with you over the summer given that you both reside here at the manor.”

“And I am to be locked away until then?” she said petulantly.  “At least the book he gave me was interesting.  Granted, I’ve already finished it.—It’s strange, being a witch.  There are suddenly hobbies I must have that were not remotely on my point me spell.  I refuse to take up magical needlepoint.”  She pointed a finger at Draco and he lifted his hands in surrender.

“That’s why I’m here.  All your visits will be chaperoned by either a Black or a Malfoy and there are only to be two a day.  One will be dinner.  If you find yourself alone, he must leave you unless you are passing through the same space, such as a hallway.”

“Am I still to meet this Black heir?” she asked with a raised eyebrow.

“No,” Draco answered, “unless there is a second meeting.  Then Pater will accompany you.”

She sighed and just knocked down her king.  “I’ve lost anyway.  So may I leave this room now?”

Draco held out his hand and Lucasta was immediately out of her chair and running out into the hall, making Draco laugh. 

“Sorry!” she instantly squeaked when she almost ran into a man she had never seen before on the stairs.  “I’m a little overzealous to visit the garden.”

“Not at all, Lady Lucasta,” the man replied, obviously recognizing her.  “I’m your uncle’s brother, Rabastan Lestrange.”

“Oh,” she said, not knowing what exactly to say to the man who tortured Neville’s parents.  “If you’d excuse me—“  Lucasta didn’t wait for a response.  Instead, she continued to run down the steps, through the entryway and out into the front garden, no doubt surprising whoever she passed.

Lucasta had to be called in from the garden to dress for dinner.  She thought it was a pointless exercise, but she put on her golden robes, allowed a house elf to put her hair up more extravagantly, and put on the earrings her Mama had picked out for her.

Draco had come to fetch her as they had adjoining suites as they were twins, and she walked on his arm to the formal dining room.  Lucasta was not at all surprised to see the Dark Lord at the head of the table and her mother at the opposite side, serving as hostess.  Her father had a place of honor on the Dark Lord’s right and she—had somehow been placed on his left.  When Draco pulled out the chair, she was shocked for several moments before sitting down.

Then she looked to her left.  It wasn’t Draco—but Snape.

“Professor,” she greeted.  “I haven’t seen you since that night on the roof.”

That had been quite horrible.  She’d followed Draco up to the Astronomy Tower when the Death Eaters had been let in—Snape was there—he, in fact, had almost killed Dumbledore himself before Draco had caught her eye and pushed the Headmaster physically over the edge.  It was a rather Muggle death but highly effective.

Lucasta had been in such a state of shock that she couldn’t even scream.  She had been rushed away with Draco by the other Death Eaters into hiding before they had reappeared at Hogwarts, as if nothing had happened, the next day.

“Yes,” the Dark Lord said, entering the conversation, “how could you allow Lord Malfoy’s daughter to be placed in such a precarious position, Severus?  You are a master at potions.  You must know the bond between twins.  Where one is found, surely the other must follow—but to allow a young lady to be put in harm’s way… I am quite displeased.”

“As am I,” Lucius agreed.  “I know Lucasta was not to blame as I doubt she knew what was to occur.”

“I’ve seen murder before, Papa,” she told him a little angrily.

“Where?” he demanded.

“You wouldn’t like it if I told you,” she answered.  “Beauxbatons, however, has many secrets.  I’m sure Hogwarts isn’t as blameless as it seems either.”

“Were you part of the delegation, Lady Lucasta?” the Dark Lord questioned, “At the tournament?”

“You mean the ‘death match’?” she grimaced.  “No, I was fortunately spared that.  The stories were more than enough for me.—I finished the book you gave me, Dark Lord.  You were right: I did enjoy it.  Has the author written anything else?”

“There’s an entire series,” he told her.  “If you’ll allow, I can give you the first book tomorrow.”

“Guinevere,” she guessed.  “The Muggle—“  She decided not to say ‘whore’ in front of her father.  “Adulteress.  Am I correct?”

“You shall see tomorrow,” the Dark Lord promised, his red eyes looking at her earnestly.  “Perhaps I should wait though until you’ve finished your schoolwork.”

“What do you think I’ve been doing the past few days?” she asked.  “Draco’s even been reading over my essays when he’s bored.  He had me re-write my essay for Professor Slughorn three times!”

“An ideal brother then,” Snape intoned darkly.

“I don’t know,” she answered.  “I’ve only had the one.  Did you have brothers, professor?”

“No,” he answered.  “Just a friend who was like a sister to me.  She died a very long time ago.”  His confession made the small group turn quiet; Lucasta was uncertain what to say.  Sirius was the only one dear to her who had died, and she could not own any friendship with him now that she was a Malfoy and not Harry Potter.  Sirius would hate her if he could see her now, wining and dining with the Dark Lord and his Death Eaters.

“I heard,” Lucasta said carefully, “that there was this girl at Hogwarts.  She killed chickens or something and wrote threats on the wall with their blood.”

“Ginny Weasley,” Snape put in.  “What about her?”

“Draco said that there was no punishment.  I’m confused.  Isn’t the torture of animals illegal?  I know Papa would be angry if I started killing our white peacocks and writing menacing messages on the walls of the manor in their blood.”

“Supposedly,” Lucius said, carefully blotting his mouth, “she was under the control of a dark artifact.  Several students were petrified as the threats suggested.”

“Was it proven, Papa?”

“To Dumbledore’s satisfaction.”

“But you were on the Board of Directors.  I assume you will resume your post.  Shouldn’t that matter be—reopened?”

Snape chuckled.  “Even though you hid her all the way in France, the Malfoy hatred of the Weasleys still runs through her blood.”  In truth, Lucasta only brought it up to secure her place in her new family—and she knew the line between love and hate was thin—not that the Dark Lord was in love with her.

“I believe Lady Lucasta has an excellent point,” the Dark Lord said after considering her for a moment.  “Severus, I would like you to begin to investigate this as you are the new Headmaster.  Call her in as well as the petrified students along with the Potter brat, even if it’s true he’s gone back to the Muggle world.  We’ll see what they have to say.”

Draco and Lucasta were once again in the private library after dinner.  “Tell me, sister,” Draco said.  “I know this is difficult for you.  Your mind chemistry has been altered to better suit the Malfoys and your hormones are different because you are now a young woman.”

“I don’t understand courting,” she admitted to Draco as she sat down next to him.  “I sit beside him and speak about politics or nonsense and he just openly stares at me.  Am I even beautiful?  I can’t tell.  Before—I never found women beautiful.”

“Wait—are you telling me—?”

She shrugged and looked away.

Draco whistled.  “It’s a blessing that you are now my sister instead of my brother, though that would be impossible.  I say this as a brother, you are very beautiful, Lucasta.  I am not at all surprised at the Dark Lord’s interest, even though he’s never seemed to show interest in any woman before.”

“I want to cut my hair,” she admitted quietly.  “I know Mama will not let me as it’s terribly common but it hurts on top of my head.”

Draco smiled slyly at her.  “I have a solution.  Knock on my door tomorrow morning when you’re ready to have your hair done.”

She looked at him and then nodded.

And Draco did have an idea.  He somehow twisted it together in a long column and secured it with several ribbons.  It fell down her back, secure, and was not in a “common braid.”

“I don’t think Mater can object to that,” he stated.  “I remember some cousin or other doing it when I was little.  The key is the ribbons.  I’ll remind Mater to buy you a selection when you finally go to Diagon Alley.”

Of course, the dreaded shopping trip occurred.  Lucasta was dragged into several robe shops for an entire wardrobe from casual to evening and cocktail, even going down to the Malfoy vault for jewels meant especially for the daughter of the house.  She was able to get a new wand (unicorn hair, holly), and then got to rest her weary feet at The White Witch, an exclusive restaurant for purebloods.  Oh, and there were ribbons—there were two entire boxes.  Lucasta was a bit overwhelmed but Narcissa assured her she would need them all and Draco would certainly agree if he kept styling her hair.

“He gave me the first novel,” Lucasta told her mother when their tea arrived.  “I don’t know what to make of this—courtship.  No one’s ever been interested in me for me before.  I cannot help but think it might be happening to me again.”

Narcissa looked at her curiously.  “You came from money?” she guessed.

Lucasta shrugged.

“Well,” Narcissa began to answer, putting down her teacup.  “Your suitor does value the fact that you are the only Malfoy woman ‘born’ in six hundred years.  It speaks to your power.  He also admires your boldness and your beauty.  It’s a heady combination for a man who is used to getting what he wants.  He knows with you he may never get what he wants—and he’s attracted to that.”

“I thought that some men—when confronted with such a situation—desired to break the witch as if she were a horse.”  Lucasta as Harry Potter had snuck enough glances of Aunt Petunia’s soaps to know that this seemed to happen, especially where richer, possessive men were involved.  She didn’t know if Voldemort were richer, but he was certainly a possessive bastard.

“Your father took care of it.  There are several unbreakables in place,” Narcissa assured her daughter, leaning forward.

Lucasta stared at her mother.  “You’re joking.”  It was little more than a whisper, but Narcissa heard and shook her head.

So in shock, Lucasta sipped her tea automatically.  “Does Draco know?”

“He’s the one who insisted.  Your twin is rather protective of you.  I don’t know why, but I believe he feels guilty about your—birth.”

“I’m,” Lucasta paused.  “It’s certainly an adjustment and it’s strange, but I’m much happier.  I was in shock after it happened, obviously.  I’m not making sense.”

“Darling,” Narcissa murmured as she reached out for our daughter’s hand.  “You’re our miracle.  You know your Papa and I will never pry.  I’m just wondering why a female hair was on Draco’s robe.  He’s yet to give me a satisfactory answer.”

“Oh, that’s easy,” Lucasta laughed.  “He and Daphne Greengrass had a disagreement.  Draco’s sweet on her younger sister Astoria, Daphne got angry and physically charged him, and he tried to extricate himself without hurting her.  Close proximity, hair falls off, I grabbed it by accident.”

Narcissa hummed.  “Well, that Parkinson girl was entirely unsuitable.  I don’t quite agree with all Malfoy traditions, but I do respect their desire to marry blondes and Miss Parkinson was not that.  She also did not possess a high enough rank in society, nor do the Greengrasses, but they have an older name.  You, on the other hand, are a rare jewel, and your very first suitor, to be so distinguished—“

“And terrifying,” Lucasta murmured.

She felt the squeeze of her fingers and her gray eyes met those of her mother.  “If he makes you cry he goes under an Unforgivable,” she promised, “even if you’re married and with child and your hormones are acting up.”

“He promised that?” Lucasta asked, completely shocked.

“Draco’s idea.”

“Can he—have children?  Can I have children?”

“You’re both seeing a fertility healer next week,” Narcissa answered carefully.  “Just so we know what to be prepared for.  Your suitor hasn’t seemed to have guessed you’re only a few months old, so your reproductive system might not even exist—we can always say it’s a Malfoy curse.”

“I’m so confused,” Lucasta admitted.  “This is all rather confusing.  My thoughts have changed.  I know it’s the potion, but I didn’t even try to stop Draco that horrible night—“

“He’s your brother,” Narcissa soothed.  “I know he hasn’t been for very long, but loyalty is everything to Malfoys.  If you were in opposite positions, he would have done just the same.”

The Malfoy ladies finished their teas and wandered the alleys until it began to reach dinnertime and Narcissa promised to send a tray to her room so she could have time to herself after such a long day.  Of course, Draco somehow heard and bounded into her room and two trays arrived for them.

“Two boxes,” she declared, “just of ribbons.  I hold you responsible.”

“Pater managed to find a ribbon holder for you.  I’m certain a house elf will put it to rights by the morning so they’re out and organized for me tomorrow morning.  I’ll start teaching you so that you can do it at Hogwarts.  As much as I find it relaxing, you know I can’t sneak into you dormitory and you really shouldn’t float into the boys’ every morning.”

Lucasta laughed.  “No.  Do they have the same trick as in Gryffindor?  If a male takes a step up to the girls’ dorm, it turns into a slide?”

“No,” he answered.  “Massive shock that gets worse with each step.  The record is five steps and that was in the seventies.  I haven’t bothered to try as I don’t really want to get up there.”

“Yes,” she pondered, “this Astoria Greengrass.  The one Daphne doesn’t like.”

He looked at her a bit anxiously. 

“Well, Daphne is perfectly pleasant, though I can’t really say we’re friends.”

“Yes, Blaise,” Draco agreed.  “I don’t know how you’re friends.  His reason that you remind him as a ‘kinder version of his mother’ is actually quite frightening.”

“Why don’t you invite him and I’ll invite Astoria for a picnic?”

“Can’t,” he told her morosely.  “We have too many house guests.”

“Then we can call on the Greengrass sisters.  We both know Daphne.  I’ll drop a note asking if we can call as I’m interested in British architecture.”

Draco paused.  A spoon was carefully hovering over his soup and he carefully put it down.  “Lucasta, darling, I—“  He cleared his throat.  “Their father is a third son and a drunk.  They live in a squalid cottage and their father drinks whatever money they have away.”

“Oh,” she stated.  “Diagon Alley?  Our treat?  We could go for ice cream.  Just the four of us, the Malfoys and the Greengrasses.  I’m sure someone in the family is a social climber.”

“Never thought I’d hear that from your former self,” Draco laughed.

“He’s dead,” she said in a low, angry tone.  “I’m alive.”  For some reason she was beginning to feel emotional and Draco brushed away a tear. 

“Of course, sister.  Forgive me.  I know it’s still difficult.  The magic must take such a toll on you.  But you know how happy you’ve made Mater and Pater.  How happy you’ve made me.”

She let him wrap an arm around her.  “I’m sorry.  For some reason today I’ve been a bit emotional.  Perhaps it’s all the shopping.”

It wasn’t the shopping.  Lucasta had heard of it before, but she had no idea what to do.  Fortunately it was after dinner when she ran toward the dining hall and caught Narcissa and pulled her away from one of her guests.  “Mama,” she stated.  “I’m dying.”

“Dying?” she asked in alarm.  “Why?  How?”

Lucasta pulled her into a side room.  “There’s blood.  I can’t get it to stop.  It’s soaked my lovely new underwear through and nothing seems to be helping!  I heard the girls go through this but they could always make it stop.”

Narcissa sighed in relief.  “We can make it stop, Lucasta.  We’ll get you settled and into bed for the next few days.  Come, darling.”

Never having been so embarrassed in her new life, Lucasta was now wrapped up in bed with chocolates on her nightstand and a house elf on call all night for anything she might need.  The Dark Lord had sent her the next two books in the series, knowing that women’s troubles plagued her.  At least this probably meant that she was able to have children.  Either Mama or Papa thought this was the best time for her to be examined, and it was confirmed.  She was fertile and could have children.

When she finally emerged for breakfast a few days later, the Dark Lord was waiting outside her door with another book, which was not a novel.  “I am glad to see you better,” he told her as he passed her the book.  “This is a history of Merlin and Morgaine.  I thought you might like a historical perspective written at the actual time.”

She took it and flipped it open.  On the left side of the page was Latin and the right was modern English.  “Ah, an incentive to improve my Latin,” she murmured.  “Thank you, Dark Lord.”

Opening her door, she placed it on a settee before returning to the hallway.

“We’re not permitted—“

“Lady Lucasta, we are permitted to walk together if we have a similar destination.  Mine is to the formal dining table and yours to a private one, I assume.”

She began to walk down the hall and he kept pace with her. 

“Do they teach Arthurian Legend at Beauxbatons?” he asked conversationally.  “I know it’s primarily French and at Hogwarts they’re obsessed with Goblin rebellions.”

“Dark Lord,” she answered boldly.  “We both know what I did and did not study.  Why dwell when you’ve managed to steal a few moments with me?  I greatly enjoyed the books you gave to me.  The hints of incest are interesting from a magical point of view.  I would never consider such an act with my brother, but it’s fascinating to see that it was not so morally reprehensible as it might be now at the time before King Arthur’s birth.”

“Your own cousins, the Blacks, practiced it.”

“They were second cousins.  That is entirely legal,” she argued.  “How did you find Lord Black?”

“I want you nowhere near the arrogant puff.  He thinks far too much of himself.”

Lucasta looked at him, startled.  “Well, I daresay my parents agree with you.  He is after all a half-blood if one were being kind.”  She reached the formal dining room.  “Enjoy your breakfast.”

“If I got your parents’ consent, would you join us?” His red eyes flashed.

“I haven’t seen my father in days,” she answered.  “Perhaps, if I am not stolen away by the fairies,” she teased, “you might join me and a guardian for morning coffee.  I’ll send a house elf if I can manage such an arrangement.”

He nodded his head and she disappeared around a corner.

Lucasta hadn’t realized how much Lucius had missed her.  He enveloped her in his arms and kissed the crown of her head.  “I am so glad you are feeling better, dearest.  Come, we ordered you chocolate to drink and your favorite pastries.  You are to be spoiled for another day or so.”

She sent a look to Draco who smirked at her.

The Dark Lord was invited to morning coffee.

After a few moments of silence, Lucasta asked the question she’d been wondering for quite some time.  “Why?”

“Why?” the Dark Lord reiterated.

“Your face.  I understand you were quite handsome.  Now you resemble—well—I know Gryffindors call you ‘snake face’ but that’s inaccurate.  So—why?  Don’t you get cold without your gorgeous dark brown hair?”

“You know what I looked like.”

“I stole a pensieve memory.  Might have been the wrong one.  Or the correct one.  Who can say?  The information in it was rather confusing.”

Voldemort put down the coffee and turned to Narcissa, “Would you be so kind to look out the window, Lady Malfoy?  I have something to show your daughter.  I promise that it is entirely proper and that neither of us will move from our chairs.”

Narcissa graciously nodded and did what was asked.  The Dark Lord followed her movements and then whispered in Latin as he brushed a hand over his face to reveal the handsome face of a forty-year-old Tom Riddle.

Lucasta sucked in her breadth.  “Why would you hide that?” she whispered desperately.  “You’re—the handsomest man I’ve ever seen and that includes models I’ve seen on magazine covers.”

He repeated the magic and the snake-face returned and Narcissa was called back.

“If you were not a Malfoy, I would say you could easily become a model, Lady Lucasta.”

“I have no desire for popular recognition,” she replied.  “I’ve always wanted a simple life, but perhaps I shouldn’t talk of such things—“  Lucasta looked at her mother, who gave a nod.

“Simple things,” Voldemort prodded.

“I’d like a nice small house with only a few bedrooms.  A garden.  Children who will play quidditch in the back.  I don’t know what I’d like to do—I actually thought of playing quidditch professionally but then people would know my face.  I thought of being an auror but I don’t like to fight even though I’m good at it—I was there with Harry Potter when you tried to take the orb back.  I’m never granting the particular friend who brought me there a favor again.  But I got out early enough.”

“So should I have my house elves stop in their restoration of my manor?”

“On the hill in Little Hangleton?” she asked cautiously.

“I see you know more than you let on.”  He tried to sound casual, but failed.

“I’ve shared my information with no one, even Draco.  They’re not my stories to tell.  I’d tear down that shack for therapeutic reasons.”

He looked at her calmly.  “Very well, if you wish it.”

“You should wish it as well.  I can’t see why you wouldn’t.”

Voldemort simply took a sip of coffee and then excused himself.  Lucasta just continued to drink her coffee.  “That was interesting,” she said.  “I was wondering what he would do if his temper got the best of him.”

“Darling, what were you talking about?  It’s best not to make the Dark Lord angry.”

“He needs to get angry.  I’m not subservient to anyone, especially not to him, and this was important.  If we can’t discuss something like this then we’ll never be able to discuss anything.—Draco and I are going out and I promised to change my hair.  Thank you, Mama, for agreeing to chaperone.  I learned a few things about my suitor.”  She kissed Narcissa’s cheek and then walked out of the room. 

A house elf put her hair in a low twist with an ornamental comb and she still had twenty minutes.  She traced the lines of her face.  Her hair was so pale that it was a wonder it wasn’t white.  Even her eyebrows were unbearably pale, but her lips were a natural peach.  She’d taken to painting them red.  Lucasta couldn’t do it at Hogwarts except for Hogsmeade weekends, but she was home.  She was teaching herself how to use eyeshadow (also not permitted at school).

When she finished, she left in a swirl of pale turquoise robes that were embroidered with butterflies that flapped their wings.

“Sister,” Draco greeted, as he offered her his arm.  “I hear you and the Dark Lord disagreed on some unimportant matter this morning.”

“It wasn’t unimportant,” she responded.  “It sounded that way unless you knew the details of what we were discussing.  He did actually leave before the conversation was finished.”

Draco paused and looked at her.  “That was one of the Unbreakables.”

“I determined as much.” 

They were now walking toward the floo room near the entryway.

“He is rather baffling.  No one has ever given me a book before.”

“Did anyone ever know you liked to read?  I doubt even the mudblood figured it out.  I mean, once we stole your trunk, I could tell by the number of books you had hidden under your broomstick, but honestly, Lucasta.  Wait until the Dark Lord figures out you like these ‘detective novels’.”

“Don’t tease.  Just because only Muggles write them does not mean they’re not good.”  She took a handful of floo powder and tossed it in.  A second later she came face to face with Ron Weasley.

Draco’s hand was immediately at her elbow.  “Come, sister,” he told her as they tried to move away.

“Is your sister too weak to face me?” Ron yelled.  “I let my sister speak for herself!”

“My sister is not a blood-traitor but a lady,” he argued, pushing her forward toward the entrance to Diagon Alley.

She immediately spotted the Greengrass sisters.  “Draco will be along,” she promised, taking a chair.  “Unfortunately we ran into Ronald Weasley and my brother used himself as a distraction so I could get away from Weasley’s verbal abuses.  How are you, Daphne?  And this must be your younger sister, Astoria?”

Draco did turn up two minutes later.  All Lucasta learned was that Daphne was jealous, Astoria was quiet, and Draco seemed to adore Astoria, down to the little glasses on her nose.  Then something caught her eye.  She saw Tom Riddle, Jr. walking toward Flourish and Blotts.

“He’s here,” she murmured to Draco before bobbing her head to the sisters and following the Dark Lord.  She caught him in the historical novel section, purchasing the next few books in the series she was reading.  “So,” she began.  “You’re not angry at me.”

A glance to her right showed that Draco had just walked in with the Greengrass sisters.  He was ever the chaperone.

“You wish for me to destroy my mother’s home,” he told her after a moment.  “Would you wish for the Black seat to be destroyed?”

“If Mama lived in squalor and was treated like a servant, then yes,” she responded heatedly.  “There is just such a house that I would level to the ground myself if it wouldn’t mean getting expelled.”

“Who’s hurt you?” Voldemort demanded.

“I can’t tell you—I can’t tell anyone but Draco and even he would tell Mama and Papa and that simply cannot happen.”  She looked down at her hands.  “I’ve seen the memories.  Your father would take his carriage down there with other women sitting with him and laugh at your mother because she was poor and plain and in love with the handsome Squire’s son.  Why would you keep that place as a shrine?  Riddle House is of course yours as you are that wretched creature’s only son and you brought yourself up from nothing to the most successful of—everyone.”  She had to tone down her language in case anyone was listening.  “The shack was a place where your mother was emotionally tortured and physically beaten.”

“Where did you get these memories?” he asked calmly.

“Dumbledore’s passwords are so easy to break.  So many interesting memories he’s collected over the years.  He’s rather obsessed with you for some reason.  They say that’s why Harry Potter ran away.  He forced him to watch too many memories and tried to put ideas into his head.”

Voldemort looked at her pensively.

“Why don’t we do this,” Lucasta suggested, coming round to sit in some chairs provided for customers.  “I think we have some portraits in the attic.  If this courtship is successful, I’ll see if Mama and Papa might lend them to us for our lifetime so we’re not in a bare house.  In exchange you’ll think of doing something with your mother’s home—of fixing it up at least so it could be perhaps a honeymoon cottage and not be a stain on Little Hangleton.”

He picked up her hand and placed it just beneath his lips. 

“I intend to start our own dynasty, not borrow your father’s.”

“Very well,” she promised.  “We can talk about it when it’s more appropriate.  Now, Draco and I are with the Greengrass sisters for the afternoon.  If there’s a Lancelot novel, I would be interested in it.”  She smiled at him kindly before joining her brother.

“Who was that?” he murmured.

“The wizard who likes to supply me with reading material.  It’s a handsome disguise, is it not?” she teased, before turning back to Astoria and linking arms.  “What are we looking for?”

When she left the dining room that night she was presented with two new novels.  “Lancelot is a little further on,” he apologized, and she accepted them with a smile. 

“I’m almost finished with my last,” she told him.  “I’ll be glad to have these waiting for the moment I need to pick up the next one.”  She leaned in.  “Why is my aunt following your every move?”

“It would be impolitic—“

She looked at him. 

“Bellatrix finds her husband unsatisfactory and believes I would be an appropriate substitute.”

“Will you explain to her that she is stepping on my territory?” Lucasta asked with a sweet smile.  “Until this courtship is over, I consider it binding.  Have Papa explain it if it would be more appropriate.”

“Consider it done,” he promised, and she left, going to the private library where she knew she’d see Draco.  “Well,” she greeted.  “I accidentally just got territorial over Aunt Bellatrix’s blatant sexual attraction toward the Dark Lord.”

“You know you’re a woman so you can’t call her out.  Do you want me to call her out as a male representative?”

“I told the Dark Lord to take care of it,” she said, shuffling some cards.  “He should be a bit territorial in return, methinks.”  She laid down a spread.  “It’s not like I’m undesirable—I think.”

“You’re a Malfoy and a daughter, no less,” Draco drawled.  “You’re highly desirable.  I half think Blaise befriended you only so you could get used to the idea of him before he begins to play the lover.”

Lucasta looked up at him.  “His mother’s the Black Widow.  I’m not that naïve.  She’s likely to kill me for some perceived slight or for stealing her precious son away from her.”

Changing the subject, Draco looked back at the Quidditch magazine he was reading.  “I thought we’d pop by Gringotts tomorrow, just the two of us.  See if we can get the money from your original trust fund back.”

“What am I to do with the artefacts?  I’m obviously not heir to that house anymore and I can’t possibly explain them to Mama and Papa.”

“Gifts from an admirer?” Draco suggested.  “Anonymous gifts?”

She glared at him.  “Perhaps it’s better if it just settles dust.  I don’t need it and, well, you know the official story.”

“You can write a letter to Gringotts and ask it to be transferred to a Muggle bank and then withdraw it and have it reconverted, but that might look suspicious.”

“Unless I left it there and converted it slowly over ten years or so.”

“You’re not that patient.”

“I can go three days without food and water, Draco.  I can be very patient when it comes down to it.”  She glared at him.  It was then that Draco looked up and his face paled.  Lucasta turned and saw the Dark Lord standing there, his face blank of all emotion.

Slowly Lucasta rose, a little uncertain of what to do.  She nodded to her twin and then went to the door, offering her hand to the Dark Lord.  He took it and lifted it just beneath where his lips should be and then she passed him, not wishing to discuss her past with him.

“What is it that I don’t know?” she heard the Dark Lord ask Draco and she closed her eyes.  She did, however, keep walking.

When she reached her father’s study, she knocked and was admitted.  “He knows something’s wrong,” she stated.  “I was telling Draco that I could go without food and water for three days and the Dark Lord overheard.  He wasn’t supposed to be in the private library.”

“What wizard would do that to a child?” he asked in suppressed anger, standing and coming around the desk.

“Dumbledore,” she said through a sob, “he left me with Muggles because he wanted me to die in the war.  He was conditioning me for death.”

Lucius took her gently by the shoulders and looked into her gray eyes, searching her for something.  “You didn’t defect to the Muggle world,” he realized.  “There was a potions accident.”

“Papa,” she murmured, tears rolling down her cheeks.  “I didn’t want to deceive you, but my brother said it would be better—“

“Hush, child.  You are and always will be my daughter.  I’ll see what I can do.  The private library?”

She nodded.

“If he asks you, you were stolen from St. Mungo’s and placed in the hands of Muggles and we recently discovered Dumbledore was behind it, though we do not know why.  It’s why Draco pushed him off the tower with his hands instead of cursing him.  He wanted him to feel the pain we’ve been feeling all these years.”

“All right,” she promised.  “How do I know magic?”

“Your ingenuity and Malfoy talent,” he told her, clipping her chin in affection.  “Go to your rooms.  Call a house elf and get some chocolate or cookies perhaps.”

He strode toward the door and disappeared quickly although he seemed to set an elegant pace.

Draco found her in her nightgown and robe, pacing her boudoir.  “Pater told the Dark Lord your cover story.  He seemed to believe it.”

She sank down on a settee in relief.  “I had no idea what to do or say,” she told him.  “I was so shocked.”

“He wants to see you.  Pater said he would allow it even if you’re in your current state of undress.”

She hugged the robe closer to her.  “I don’t want to be seen like this,” she whispered.  “I don’t want.  You’re the only person I told, Draco.  God, everything before I hid in the Chamber is like a dream to me now.  I’m not him anymore.  I’m me.  I’m Lucasta.”

“Listen,” Draco said, taking her hands and pulling her down on a settee.  “He’s going to ask for the names of the people who did this to you.  Say that you’re waiting for a chance where the two of us can have vengeance, that it’s an oath we swore privately to each other.  Give him no other details.  Say you try to forget everything before we were reunited.”

She nodded and, going to the mirror, put her hair in a net and then followed Draco out the door.  “Don’t ask,” were the first words she said.  “Draco and I have the honor of killing those monsters.  We haven’t decided when exactly.  We don’t want it to be too suspicious, but it is our vengeance.  We’re twins.  We are the party most injured in this crime.  Draco already killed Dumbledore and I will kill the Muggles while Draco watches and serves as back up.”

“I’m thinking kitchen knife,” Draco added.

“You don’t think an unforgivable?” she asked, taking her eyes off of the Dark Lord’s intense gaze.

“Better we make it look like a Muggle committed the crime.”

She shrugged.  “There’s more than enough time to plan this, and I know their routine.”

“You suggested earlier that you had a right to be territorial,” he said dangerously.  “I demand the same right.”

Lucasta turned to Draco.  “A moment.”  She walked toward the windows and looked out at a twilit lawn.  The Dark Lord was behind her.  “You murdered your father and grandparents and set your uncle up for murder.  You yourself did what you needed to do yourself without reference to anyone.  These monsters took me away from my family.  This is a family matter.  You did not even know that I existed.  One of us may decide we don’t want to marry the other,” she spoke quietly.

“If you had been born,” he argued, “I would have taken you to Little Hangleton.  You have that much importance in my eyes, Cass.”

She paused at the nickname but did not comment.  “I know you understand the bond of twins.  You’ve spoken of it to Professor Snape.  They almost ripped it in half, Dark Lord.  This is a matter between my brother, myself, and my captors.”

“Then I ask a token of good faith,” he murmured as he slid a ring off of his middle right finger.  It was made of gold with a strange black stone in the center.  It was beautiful though crudely made.  “This holds a piece of my soul and is an old piece from my mother’s side of the family.  If you are angry with me, simply put it away for safe keeping as it has a great deal of sentimental value.”  He slid it onto her hand.  “If I cannot be with you, then at least my heart can go with you, Cass, darling.”

“Please don’t ever use legilimency on me,” she begged.  “Dumbledore did when I turned up because he didn’t believe me or Draco—“

A long, thin finger traveled down her cheek.  “You have nothing to fear.  Your dear brother insisted on an oath.”  He took a deep breath and stepped away from her.

Lucasta looked at him for a moment before turning toward the door and leaving the room, walking down the hall as she pulled her night robe closer.

“That was lucky,” Draco announced when they were alone together in her apartments again.

“Yes,” she agreed.  “I don’t like it, though.—This stupid polyjuice potion is changing my brain chemistry.  And now he’s calling me ‘Cass’ of all things.”

“You do realize that you’re engaged to be married,” he answered casually, as he held up the ring and let the dark stone hit the light.  “It’s strange as most wizards choose something a little less—distracting—but it clearly is an original and powerful piece.  Also, it is common for wizards and witches to have private names for one another if they are married or related.”

“This is not an engagement ring,” she countered.  “It’s on my right hand.”

“Only because it would obstruct a marriage band on your left.  You’re engaged, sister.  If I were you, next time I see him, I would ask the Dark Lord for a name to call him by.”  He was laughing now as she looked down at the ring.

“Then why did he say I could take it off?”

“Try!” Draco wheezed.

She did.  It wouldn’t come off.  “This is quite—“  She really wasn’t certain what to say.

“I’ll tell Pater,” Draco promised before leaving the room, Lucasta all alone.  She shucked off her robe and just sat before her summer fire, looking at the ring.  She rubbed her finger round the stone and was startled when a grey shade appeared.

“Who are you?” she gasped at a kind looking woman who looked like Harry Potter’s mother.

“Lily,” the shade explained.  “You wear the ring of power.”

“I—“ Lucasta looked down at the ring.  “Yes.  It seems I am engaged.  When I see him again I’m going to be rather cross as I prefer to be asked directly.”

“Like any young lady, I imagine,” Lily said, sitting down next to her.  “My husband asked me over seventy times before I agreed.”

Lucasta swallowed.  “What made you change your mind?”

“I was damaged goods,” Lily admitted, “by reputation.  I decided that James at least loved me and would try and make me happy.  We had a little boy, Harry.  I don’t know what happened to him.”

“He ran away,” Lucasta offered.  “Harry Potter.  The war was too much, so he left magic.  Hopefully he’s happy.”  She couldn’t look Lily in the face, but instead stared at the ring.

“Harry left,” she sighed, a little broken hearted.  “And you’re engaged.  Who are you, young witch?”

“Lucasta,” she answered.  “I don’t think I ever met Harry Potter except across a Quidditch field.  He and my brother were rivals at school, though.”

There was a knock on the door and Lucius entered, stopping at the sight of Lily Potter.

“Lucasta,” he asked carefully.  “Why is the ghost of Mrs. Potter in your boudoir?”

“It’s the ring he gave me,” she sighed.  “I touched it and she just appeared.  It seems I really am engaged?  Can one be engaged without one’s consent?”

“If you’re a pureblood,” Lucius answered carefully, before nodding to Mrs. Potter.  “Madam, I would appreciate a word with my daughter.  This is a very delicate time for her.”

Lily looked at him before glancing at Lucasta.  “I’ll come whenever you call,” she promised.  She then faded away until the two Malfoys were left.

“This ring appears to be peculiar,” was all Lucasta would say.

“This ring appears to be the resurrection stone.  It might be best if you don’t accidentally resurrect the shades of Harry Potter’s dead relatives.”

“It was hardly planned, Papa.  I just felt lost.”

“And so you wanted a mother—the mother a boy once lost,” he agreed, leading her to her vanity and taking down her hair.  “I brush your Mama’s hair like this,” he said, taking up a brush.  “I always imagined as a young man, doing the same for my daughter.  Now, you were in a consiliatory mood when the ring was given to you.”

“Yes.  He asked only that if Draco and I must go visit my captors on our own, that I carry his heart with me.”

“And you accepted his heart.”

“I accepted it in the ring.”

The feel of the brush lulled her into a feeling of peace and tranquility, and she smiled a little as her father’s experienced hands ran through her pale blonde hair.  “I’m afraid, daughter, that you did accept him as your future husband and as he had my consent for the courtship, it is binding until either one of you does something heinous in the other’s eyes or until the day you wed.”

“Did one of you speak to Aunt Bellatrix about her blatant interest?  I told him to.”

“You staked a claim,” Lucius clarified.

She nodded. 

“You are most definitely engaged, darling.  I’m afraid there is little I can do.—I also believe he spoke to her.  They exchanged private words and she seemed unhappy afterward.”

“Might I write him a short missive that a house elf might deliver?” she suddenly asked, turning toward him.  “I don’t know what to call him when I see him tomorrow morning.  He’s already calling me ‘Cass’, at least since he put this ring on my finger, but I shan’t go about calling him ‘Dark Lord.’  It would be beyond ridiculous.”

Lucius nodded and let her stand, penning a short note before sending it to her fiancé.  Two minutes later a response came and she looked at it for a long moment.  Lucius became concerned and took the paper from her.

“Mal,” he stated, “in private, short for ‘Marvolo’ in public.”

“At least he’s not calling me ‘Loo’.  I hexed Draco when he tried it on me.”

“Lovers,” Lucius told her, “are sometimes different than brothers.”

“I would have never thought of ‘Cass,’ but it’s been growing on me this past hour,” she decided.  “We’ll go King Arthur on each other as he adores giving me books on the topic.  Maybe I’ll summon Sirius Black.  He might be interesting if I ever get to meet this Castor, Lord Black.”

“Sleep,” Lucius ordered.  “I know you’re not in the least bit tired, but sleep, my darling.”

“Have you told Mama?”  Her gray eyes turned to his ice blue ones.

She’s trying to guess what kind of style wedding dress you would like.  You forget, Lucasta, you haven’t been ours for very long, so we often have to guess with you, which is our pleasure.  We would much rather have this stolen year than no time at all.

Lucasta smiled and kissed his cheek, before going to bed, knowing that she would hardly sleep at all.

And she didn’t.  When the house elf finally came to inform her breakfast was in an hour, she’d barely drifted into a half-slumber and had to take two pepper up potions.

She was walking through the hallway in a dress of crimson, when she saw Mal waiting for her, Bellatrix standing near the door several strides behind him.

“Marvolo,” she greeted, offering her hand that now held his ring on it.  He picked it up and left it hover a few inches below his mouth.  “I see the problem has yet to go away, from my own aunt, no less.”

Mal turned and saw Bellatrix, who in apparent fright, left them alone together.

“I wish you had told me we were becoming engaged,” she murmured.  “You know that I am ignorant in the ways of wizardom, Mal.”

He traced her face with his thumb.  “I could not lose you again to those Muggles.”

Her gray eyes sought out his.  She didn’t understand. 

“I understand tormentors.  I trust that young Malfoy can protect you, but the very sight of them could send you into terror, no matter how powerful your magic or character.  This ring gives you the oath that I will always protect you even when you find yourself in unforeseen trouble.”

“I’ll be known,” she whispered.  “I wish to remain in the shadows, Mal.  It’s all I’ve ever wanted.”

“Then you shall be the Dark Lady who is known only in theory,” he answered her.  “We shall live in our manor and if I am required somewhere, then I shall go without you.—Why don’t you go visit it with your brother, Cass?”

She looked at him again.  “You’ve never said it.”

He looked at her in curiosity.

“A proposal usually entails a declaration of love—at least in the Muggle world.”

Mal leaned forward so that his breath tickled her ear.  “I gave you the Resurrection Stone, darling.  Is that not declaration enough?”

She looked into his eyes and realized, despite everything, she wasn’t sure.


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