Title: The Middle Malfoy (Metamorphmagus Redux)
Pairing: Harry/Lacerta Malfoy
Summary: No one wanted Lacerta Malfoy. She was opinionated, forward, and stunningly beautiful. That is, until she met her match in Harrigan Black, who is the metamorphmagus Harry Potter hiding in plain sight.
Warnings: Malfoy sisters, Neville leaving Lacerta at the altar, pureblood prejudice, metamorphmagus!Harry
Lord Black had a secret. A deep secret.
Blacks were not only born, but they could be made. The metamophagus gene was carried throughout the Black family, even through the maternal lines, until it would one day manifest. Tonks’s mother had been a Black. She was a case in point. Harrigan had been born Harry Potter. Most people forgot, but his grandmother was Dorea Black and with her came the gene.
Harry could make his hair grow longer, could make his scar disappear, but he had thought nothing of it.
Then, one day when he was twenty-one years old and being hounded by reporters about who the next Mrs. Potter would be, he ran around the corner and became someone else.
Of course, he didn’t realize it at first. Originally, he thought that the reporters just couldn’t find him. However, then he had ducked into some pub and went to the loo so he could run water on his face.
His reflection was surprising. He had the auburn hair of his mother, the high cheekbones of his father, and the gray eyes of what he learned were the Blacks. He then morphed back to Harry Potter right before his eyes. It was frightening.
Of course, a Muggle screamed and Harry had to obliviate him.
This, though, was the most wonderful find in his life. He started hanging around Grimmauld Place and found that he could hold his transformation at night and wouldn’t revert back to Harry Potter unless he actively sought it.
That’s when he found out he was Lord Black, through his grandmother. Sirius had died. Regulus was long dead. Their first cousins, Bellatrix Lestrange, Andromeda Tonks, and Narcissa Malfoy, were all female. Draco apparently didn’t qualify because he was now Lord Malfoy. So, they had to go up a line. And with another line they reached Dorea and her son James Potter. The Potter family wasn’t titled but it was respected. Then, through James, there was Harry.
Harry had planned his escape for months. He told Kreacher to always keep Grimmauld Place in good order, and waited for Hermione to begin her teaching as the Muggle Studies professor at Hogwarts. Ron was easy to shake. They were in separate Auror departments and so they rarely saw each other at work. Harry then claimed sick leave for a month—and he ran.
Now he lived in the South of France. Not being able to give up his name of Harry, he renamed himself Harrigan. Harrigan, Lord Black had a ring to it. At least Harrigan thought so.
He never transformed back to Harry Potter. As far as he was concerned, Harry Potter was dead. He didn’t get The Daily Prophet, but he assumed that Harry was eventually declared ‘missing’ if not ‘presumed dead.’
Putting his mind to work, he poured over books on pureblood protocol and memorized all the notable family trees of Britain and France.
In this way he lived a quiet life. That is, until Lady Lacerta Malfoy walked into his library.
Harrigan made it no secret where he lived. Most French wizards didn’t come to find him since he didn’t enter into society or involve himself in French politics. He lived the life of a recluse, if Harrigan admitted it to himself.
He was, therefore, surprised when Kreacher—who had eventually defected to France to be with his master—presented him with a calling card. Harrigan picked it up in surprise. His eyebrows rose. He knew the name from studying the Malfoy family tree. Lady Lacerta was the second child of the now late Lucius, Lord Malfoy and three years younger than Harry Potter had been. What was slightly surprising was that she seemed not to be married. Most purebloods married before they were nineteen.
“Right,” he said, “show her in.”
In a swirl of blue skirts, the most beautiful witch that Harry had ever seen floated into the room. She curtseyed. “Lord Black,” she murmured. He signaled that she should rise. “Forgive the intrusion, but I’ve been staying nearby and when I learned you were here in France, I could not resist seeing my kin.” There was an archness to her words, as if daring him to believe differently.
Harrigan motioned toward a chair. “I’m afraid I don’t know any of the family,” he admitted. “They’re all back in England, after all.”
She sat daintily. “Well, we all knew of Sirius, Lord Black, but he died when I was back at Hogwarts, and it’s been rather a mystery who the title fell to. I couldn’t quite believe it when I was told you lived here. I surely thought you must be a Muggle with the same title!”
“No, just me,” Harrigan admitted.
“Is Lady Black out?” That was definitely a challenge. To what he wasn’t entirely certain.
“I’m unmarried.” Kreacher fortunately came in with a tea service that Harrigan wasn’t even sure he remembered seeing before. Usually he just drank from an old stoneware pot.
His mind briefly flitted to Ginny. She and Harry—and, yes, Harrigan thought of himself as someone separate from Harry—had taken up again after Hogwarts, but it just hadn’t worked out. Harry had changed too much.
“And you? I notice you’re still a Malfoy.”
She sighed. “Jilted, I’m afraid. At the bondler. Hence my self-imposed exile.”
Harrigan barely kept hold of his cup of tea. This poor witch had been jilted? That was horrible. It wasn’t uncommon between Muggle-borns, but it was unheard of between purebloods. And a Malfoy would only marry a pureblood.
Feeling oddly protective of her, Harrigan wanted to wring the wizard’s neck. He paused. These feelings were certainly odd.
“Surely if it wasn’t your fault—“
She laughed darkly. “But of course, you haven’t heard. I’m Lacerta Malfoy, the witch of high birth, second only to a Black, who no one will touch.”
Harrigan frowned. “That seems a little—peculiar.”
“Isn’t it just?” She took a sip of her tea and looked about the room. They were in the library. “You don’t have many photographs,” she accused. “Don’t you want your ancestors with you?”
No, he had no photos. Harry Potter had photographs but he, certainly, did not. There were no friends and only distant relatives that he barely knew.
“My ancestors, I’m sure, wouldn’t want me around. I’m the upstart Black who gained the title just because there was no one left.”
She raised her eyebrows at him, in curiosity. “I won’t pry, however dearly I may wish to,” she commented. “Mother wouldn’t allow me to.” That seemed to settle the matter for her. Then, she did ask, “How distantly related are we? Do you know?”
“Yes, actually. I’m Dowager Malfoy’s second cousin.”
“Not too close then,” she mused to herself. Her face brightened, making her seem even more angelic with her platinum blond hair and blue, blue eyes. Harrigan could easily get lost in them.
“Do you happen to fancy Muggle plays? I know it’s not de rigeur, but I’ve been reading a lot since I came to France. They’re playing La Misanthrope in Paris at the end of the week, and I can’t possibly attend without an escort.” She looked at him archly, as if daring him to refuse.
“Do you even have Muggle clothes?” he asked in confusion. He couldn’t think of a Malfoy actually wearing jeans.
“When I’m not wearing my robes, I tend to wear Illyria black dresses.” Black, after all, was the color favored by purebloods at Hogwarts. “I’m sure one will do. However, you haven’t answered my question, Lord Black.”
He looked at her hard. He saw her aristocratic cheekbones, her golden lashes, the bow of her lips, and he realized he wanted to kiss her. Such a thing would never be permitted unless they were engaged or they snuck off from her chaperone. Really, she shouldn’t even be at his villa without a chaperone. The fact that she was here spoke of daring and courage, and then to further go and ask him to a public event where, once again, no chaperone would be present, was positively startling.
“Was there any chance you were in Gryffindor?”
“No,” she answered carefully, too carefully. “I followed my brother into Slytherin.” She was looking away now, supposedly to view the books on the shelves.
“Aren’t you worried about your reputation?” he asked quietly.
She didn’t turn to look at him. “I’ve already been jilted by the Heir of a middle house. How much worse could it be unless I were to run off with a Muggle-born?” Turning to him, Harrigan saw the flash of pain in her eyes that then was quickly hidden behind a calm mask.
“It’s not you who has decided to come to France,” Harrigan reasoned.
“No,” she admitted. “My brother Draco couldn’t bear the sight of me, to be entirely honest. He blamed the fact that Heir Longbottom sent an envoy to convey his wish to not be married when we were already at the bondler on me. I can be difficult.”
Heir Longbottom? Neville? That was just—horrifying.
“I’d be happy to go with you. I should warn you, I may not be as fashionable as you are.”
“As long as you are presentable,” she said with a smile. “That is all that matters.”
Harrigan had a war within himself. He remembered Harry’s friendship with Neville and, if he were Harry, he would go up to his friend and punch him in the nose. What was so horrible about Lacerta that he would change his mind at the last minute? True, she was related to Draco Malfoy, but that was hardly her fault. She challenged Harrigan in a way he admired and he could admit that that might be a little off-putting to Neville, but at the altar? Harrigan would never be so cruel!
No, he decided. He had to do something.
That something, however, had to wait until after the theatre. Harrigan had gone out and had seen a Muggle tailor—he doubted that nothing less would do for Lady Lacerta—and found himself outfitted in a tux with a white tie and black cummerbund.
Harrigan felt a little out of place, but he purchased a small cape that he could pretend was a robe. He also decided to carry a walking stick, much like Lady Lacerta’s late father had. It was a way to bow down to pureblood tradition. He thought Lady Lacerta might like it.
Lady Lacerta was staying at a magical hostel a few towns over, and he was surprised to see how commonplace it was. Harrigan would never expect a Malfoy to reside in a little house with small rooms and no sense of interior decorating.
There was a matron and Harrigan had to sign in, and she gasped at his signature. She pressed a little bell to the right of her desk, which read ‘Room 4.’ Lady Lacerta appeared a few minutes later.
She was resplendent in a black Illyria gown that fell off the shoulders and had rouching down to the ground. Her black gloves accented the flesh of her upper arms and shoulders and her hair was swept up to where a white peacock feather was mounted proudly on her head.
Harrigan remembered a past time when Harry had seen the white peacocks at Malfoy Manor.
“Lord Black, what a fine picture you make,” she complimented as she fully came down the stairs.
“You’re very enchanting yourself.”
She gave him a sly smile. “I do try.”
Harrigan had hired a magical car for the evening to take them into Paris and the two of them sat in silence. He, however, could feel the tension radiating between them.
“How long have you been in France?” she asked finally, looking away from the window.
“Two years,” Harrigan answered truthfully. “I fear I haven’t mastered the language yet.”
“I had to learn French and Russian growing up,” Lacerta confessed. “That did not make for happy summers.”
“I would imagine not.” They lapsed into silence again.
When they finally arrived at the theatre, Harrigan quickly exited the car and ran around to the other side so that he could help Lacerta from her seat.
She walked through the theatre doors as if she owned it, turning heads wherever she went. Harrigan just couldn’t believe that Neville had left her at the bondler. Was he mad?
“So tell me, Lord Black, of your heritage?” she asked as they finally sat down. “Where do you fit on the family tree?”
“My grandmother was a Black,” he answered truthfully.
“Not a descendant of that horrible Squib then,” she muttered darkly. “It’s worse than being a Mudblood.”
Harrigan looked at her in shock. She stared evenly back at him.
“I thought that word was—out of vogue,” he said deliberately.
She shrugged. “I’m amongst family.”
He hated it when she said that. Yes, they both were part of the Black family tree, but he’d hate to think of this enchanting beauty as a sister.
“You do not know my political views,” he answered succinctly.
“If you’re really a Black then you hate Mudbloods.”
“My mother was a Muggle-born.”
She gaped at him. Then she looked him up and down. “Well, she clearly had no influence on you. You’re too regal to be anything but a pureblood.” She sniffed. “You’re far from common.”
He sighed. “I’ll take that as a compliment.”
“It was meant as one,” she agreed. She then looked at him piercingly. “Is that where you get your hair from? It’s rather unusual for a Black.”
“You’re a Black and you have blonde hair,” he noticed.
“My mother was—not the daughter of my grandfather’s wife,” she admitted quietly. “She’s a pureblood, of course, but she was blonde. We Malfoys tend to be fair in coloring.”
Harrigan thought back to Draco Malfoy. Well, that was certainly true. He also had no idea what to say to that.
She looked at him through her lashes. “I hope you think no less of me.”
“Why would I? You’re a perfectly charming if bold witch.”
She laughed at him giving him a knowing look. “I’m so glad you approve.”
The curtain went up. Harrigan didn’t watch any of the play. Instead he watched Lacerta and he was almost positive that she knew the entire time.
Still, there was the problem with Neville.
The only option he saw was writing to Malfoy about the matter. He sat down, with quill in hand, and wrote before he could second guess himself.
Lord Malfoy, I have met my kinswoman Lady Lacerta and have learned of the cruel way she was treated by Heir Longbottom. I cannot stress how unhappy I am about it. Please write and tell me that there has been some sort of consequence involved for Heir L. Your Kinsman, Harrigan, Lord Black
He leaned back and looked at the letter. It sounded awkward, but it would have to do. He sent it out with his owl immediately, expecting a written response.
What he hadn’t expected was to be given another card by Kreacher the very next day and to have an irate Draco Malfoy walk into his study. “What is this about, Black?” he instantly accused. “I’ve been to see Lacy and she already admitted to having tea with you in private. Then I get this letter. Are you playing with her heart?—because if you are, I don’t care about your status. I will run you through with a lancier.”
Harrigan hadn’t known that there were lanciers in the wizarding world. He guessed you learned something every day.
He licked his lips nervously. “She did have tea here earlier this week, yes. And I’m not playing with anyone’s heart.”
“Then why are you playing the lover,” he threw down Harrigan’s missive, “with this?”
“I don’t think that any woman should be treated the way she was. If I had a sister, I’d feel the same way.”
“So you view her as a brother,” Draco said, unconvinced.
“I view her as someone I just met,” Harrigan snapped. “Now what’s being done about Heir Longbottom? I knew him, when we were younger, and I really don’t understand what was going through his head.”
“Why don’t you ask him, then?”
“Can’t. He doesn’t know I’m Lord Black and probably wouldn’t remember me anyway.” At least not like that. If Harrigan started fighting Dark Lords and let the scar reappear on his forehead, it might be a different matter.
“Brother or lover,” Malfoy insisted. “I’m not answering any questions until I know your view on the matter of Lacerta.”
Harrigan clenched his jaw. “Lover,” he admitted, remembering the fact that he had dreamed of her all the night before. “But really, it’s a little soon—“
“It’s never too soon,” Draco said, punctuating his words with a shake of his head. “I decided I was going to marry the future Lady Malfoy when she was four. Of course, I thought she didn’t care a quill about me, so I had other girlfriends, but that never diminished my love for her. So, you’re at least twenty. You should have figured it out by now.”
Harrigan’s mouth formed into a line. “Are you going to tell me or not, Malfoy?”
Malfoy looked pensive. “It was an arranged marriage. Obviously, he wasn’t wizard enough to go through with it.” Clearly there was more to that story. “He’s also been barred to any society event that the Malfoys have been invited to. We refuse to be seen with him. Politically, he’s also lost capital. He holds a minor seat on the Wizengamot and now no one trusts his word.”
Poor Neville. Or not. It could have been much worse.
“Lover then?” Malfoy again demanded.
“Lover,” Harrigan again confirmed. “However, I would never impose on Lady Lacerta—“
“It will be no imposition on Lacy at all,” Malfoy said slyly.
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“She invited you to the theatre. She wanted to be seen with you. Have you even looked at the French Papers this morning?”
Harrigan obviously couldn’t say that he had.
Draco rolled his eyes. He threw down a copy that had been under his arm and on the front page was a picture of him staring avidly at Lacerta during he play. Her eyes were focused off onto the stage, presumably, and Harrigan would occasionally lean into her.
The headline blared that Lady Lacerta Malfoy of England had a new admirer.
“Now,” Draco was saying, “I don’t care if you’re technically my social superior, my mother was a Black, and you’re a potential suitor to Lacy. She’s going to come home to England immediately and you’re going to do this right. Am I understood?”
Harrigan looked at him for a long moment. Then he got up and went to the mantle. On it was a small box made out of glass with fairy wings blown into it. He put it down before Draco.
It was the traditional opening courting gift for a Malfoy. Unlike other households, Malfoy gifts were never wrapped. They were merely presented.
Draco looked pleased. “Lacy’s not leaving ‘til tomorrow. I assume you’ve been to her boarding house?”
Harrigan rolled his eyes. “Where do you think I picked her up from for the theatre?”
Looking like he’d caught the canary, Draco smiled slyly. “Dear me. I wonder what that oaf of a Longbottom will think once you sweep Lacy off her feet.” He looked Harrigan in the eyes. “You’re invited for tea, at four. Mother will be there as your proper chaperone. I suggest you give her the courting gift then.”
They both looked at the beautifully crafted box. It was in the perfect shape for letters and was meant to hold correspondence.
“Perhaps then you might take up residence in England for the courtship?” Draco suggested. “International courtships can be so trying.”
“I’m only aware of the one Black residence in London and I’ve heard enough about it to never want to step foot in it.”
“Rent a house, then. There are Muggle manors that are being sold because the upkeep is too expensive.”
Harrigan lifted his eyebrows at him. “Aren’t we getting a little ahead of ourselves? She could reject my offer.”
Draco leaned back. “Then you clearly don’t know my sister all that well.”
It was a little sad, really. Harrigan tried on three sets of robes before deciding on a pair of dark blue robes. He buttoned his waistcoat that had intricate designs of unicorns on it, made sure his tie was knotted to perfection, checked his cufflinks which held the Black family crest on them (Harry had inherited them from Sirius), and placed on the robes that were more elegant than a Muggle suit jacket could ever be.
Remembering an alley he had seen, he Apparated to it, and then quickly took the steps to the boarding house two at a time. He rang the doorbell.
The same matronly figure answered it. “Sign in, please,” she said, looking him over and staring at the package he had under his arm. “Dowager Malfoy and Lady Lacerta are waiting for you in the tea room. Second floor, on your right.”
Harrigan let out a long breath he hadn’t been aware he’d been holding. He cautiously went up the stairs and found the room.
Lady Lacerta was as beautiful as ever. Her face wiped clean of emotion, her blue eyes nonetheless shone with intelligence and her hair was elegantly coiffed on the top of her head. She wore lilac robes over a black pantsuit.
Dowager Malfoy was as beautiful as ever. Harrigan remembered how beautiful she had looked when Harry had seen her at the Quidditch World Cup and again at the Battle at Hogwarts. She was seated next to her daughter, as cool and serene as ever, her grey eyes matching his.
Lady Lacerta instantly stood and curtsied. “Mother, may I introduce Lord Black. Lord Black, my mother, the Dowager Malfoy.”
At this Narcissa stood and curtsied, her eyes ever on Harrigan. He cleared his throat and offered a nod of his head to both women. The three sat down.
At first, nothing was said. Narcissa then cleared her throat delicately. “Lord Black, it is an honor to meet you. It has been too long since I’ve seen a kinsman.” She was dressed in black, probably still in mourning for her husband, and the color made her features seem sharper.
“I haven’t seen a Black in—“ he calculated the last time he had seen Sirius. It was just before his sixteenth birthday “—four years now.”
“A long time,” Narcissa admitted, “especially for one so young.”
“How old are you, exactly?” Lacerta asked curiously.
“Lacerta,” her mother warned. The question was a rude one.
“Twenty-four,” he answered dishonestly. Harry was actually twenty-one. However, it would look suspicious if Harrigan were the same age. “I know I’m young by wizarding standards.”
“Not at all,” Lacerta replied. “I’m eighteen. I just finished Hogwarts.”
It was only August. She must have been left at the bondler just a few months ago. Perhaps it was too soon to act.
Lacerta nodded to the package he was carrying. “Is that for me?”
Narcissa looked at her reproachfully once again. Still, Lacerta didn’t seem to notice. Her blue eyes held Harrigan’s and he gently laid the box on the table. Opening up the brown paper, he displayed the gift.
Lacerta breathed in deeply and hesitantly reached out to let her fingers trace a fairy wing. “I’ve never had a courting gift,” she admitted quietly. “Heir Neville never courted me.”
“Enough of that subject,” Narcissa put in. “Lord Black, I apologize for my daughter’s frankness.”
“I like it,” Harrigan admitted. “It’s refreshing.”
Lacerta was opening the letterbox and inspecting it. She then looked up at Harrigan and actually smiled. “It’s beautiful.”
“I’m glad you approve.”
She then looked at him suspiciously. “Draco didn’t put you up to this, did he?”
“Lacerta!” Dowager Malfoy was cautioning again. “The intent of the gift is clear. You should not question it.”
“I had meant to give it to you later this week before your brother arrived,” Harrigan answered truthfully, “but then I heard that you were leaving for England tomorrow.”
“Yes, the event of our outing has made international press.” She sniffed. “Vultures. They’ve been far too interested in me since the whole debacle.”
“It’s only natural, I suppose,” Harrigan put in. “I don’t suppose it happens very often.”
Lacerta glared at him and Narcissa put a quelling hand over her daughter’s. “No,” Narcissa said. “It really doesn’t.”
“So,” Lacerta said, “does this mean you’re coming to England, Lord Black?”
“I hadn’t really thought about it until today,” Harrigan admitted. “I don’t much fancy stepping into Grimmauld Place.”
Lacerta wrinkled her nose. “Potter’s friends live there. The war heroes, whatever their names are.”
“Of course, the property rightfully belongs to you,” Narcissa put in. “I hear Kreacher did wonders with the interior decorating.”
“Is that so?” Harrigan asked in surprise. “I suppose I could put together a letter of eviction.” He wasn’t quite sure how he felt about it. He had more than enough gold to rent a house in London, but Grimmauld Place, now that he thought about it, reminded him of Sirius. This was also the Order he was talking about. Then again, the war was over.
He sent the letter of eviction with Kreacher. He remembered that there was a Fidelius Charm on the property and he contacted Gringotts in order to hire a curse-breaker to take it down. It wasn’t easy, and could only be done if someone who held the secret directed the destruction of the spell, but it was still possible.
However, he was surprised when he floo’d in to Grimmauld Place a week later and found Hermione, Ron, and a baby still present.
He did not want to see them. Ever again, preferably. They belonged to a past that no longer held sway. They were strangers to him now.
“Who are you and what are you doing in my house?” he asked imperiously.
Ron cringed. Hermione, though, looked at him, unabashed, and walked forward, offering her hand.
Harrigan didn’t take it.
She looked at him angrily. “Hermione Weasley. We live here.”
“No, you don’t,” he answered. “This is a Black property. I gave you ample warning.”
“Hey, aren’t you that bloke that’s dating Malfoy’s sister?” Ron put in.
Hermione made a strange gesture with her hand, obviously meaning for Ron to shut up. “We won’t just let you kick us out of our home.”
“I think I have the law on my side,” Harrigan stated imperiously. “You’re technically squatters. I can have the aurors here in five minutes.”
“You wouldn’t dare.”
“Try me,” he stated flatly. “Aren’t you a professor at Hogwarts? Go to your accommodations there or you could go to his mother’s.” He gestured toward Ron. “Now get out. I’ll have Kreacher pack your things and send them along.” The wards bowed and sent a shiver down Hermione’s spine. He knew that it felt like a trickle of dark magic. Very unpleasant.
“Fine,” she said after about a minute. “We’ll be at Hogwarts.”
Harrigan bowed to them. He didn’t bother to watch them floo out.
The Master Bedroom was warded and Harrigan touched the knob and felt it accept him as master of the house. That was at least preferable. He opened the door and found a large oak four-poster bed with green hangings. Green wallpaper with silver snakes covered the wall. All in all, the room was horrendous.
“Kreacher!” Harrigan called.
The house elf immediately appeared.
“I need this room redone. Golds and light blues. You can leave the bed but not the hangings and then I want you to clean out the Weasleys’ things and freshen up their bedrooms. If there are any books lying about that are clearly Black books, sort them back in the library.” He sighed.
This was not the homecoming he was hoping for.
“You have Black eyes,” the portrait of Walburga Black whispered to him as he came down the stairs for dinner. “Has a Black come home at last?”
“Yes,” he responded, trying to be kind and forget her endless wailing. “I’m Harrigan, Lord Black.”
“A strange name,” she mused. “Irish.”
“My mother was Irish,” Harrigan lied. “Anyway, the Weasleys are gone, so you should be glad.”
The Master Bedroom would take days so Harrigan crashed in Regulus’s room. He decided to live out of his trunks until the Master Bedroom was complete.
Next, Harrigan had to declare his intentions to the world. This was rather simple. He bought a page’s worth of space in the Daily Prophet and stated that he, Harrigan, Lord Black, was courting Lady Lacerta Malfoy per Malfoy traditions. He was surprised at his first houseguest. It was Neville Longbottom.
He was sitting in the drawing room, the flea eaten excuse of a tapestry still on the wall, and Kreacher came with the card on a silver platter. Harrigan took one look at it and sighed. “Show him in,” he requested. “And where’s the good Scotch?”
“Kreacher’s put it in the decanter.”
Neville was shown in and Harrigan greeted him. “Heir Longbottom. Scotch?” He stood and strode over to the side table where he poured himself a glass.
“Er—no. That’s quite all right, Lord Black.”
Harrigan took a long sip. “What can I do you for? I take it you don’t want me punching you in the nose for leaving Lady Lacerta at the bondler? Then again, your loss is my gain.” He sat back down, ignoring Neville.
“That’s the thing. I came to talk about Lady Lacerta.”
“She’s cruel and vindictive and mean spirited.”
Harrigan looked at him over his glass. “Are you sure you don’t mean she’s classist, bold, and outspoken?”
Neville looked taken aback. “Then you have experienced it then. How could you find it charming though?”
“Because it’s just that—charming. She’s a woman who knows her own mind. That’s such a rare thing in wizarding society in general.” He briefly thought of Hermione, but she really just spouted off what books said. “I don’t find it a deterrent at all.”
“She’ll ruin you.”
“Perhaps you should have come to that conclusion before you humiliated her at the bondler,” Harrigan said conversationally, taking another sip of his scotch. “Now get out before I hex you.”
“I came to warn you—“
Harrigan punched him in the jaw, dropping his glass. “I said, get out.”
A few healing spells, and Harrigan’s hand was right as rain, but he felt he needed to see Lacerta. He was admitted into the drawing room where Lacerta was with both Dowager Malfoy with a younger girl with honey blonde curls. This must be the younger sister. “Longbottom hasn’t been here, has he?”
“No,” Narcissa said, “he’s blocked from the grounds.”
Harrigan took a seat tiredly. “Thank the old gods.”
“He’s come to your residence then?” Lacerta asked perceptively. “Worthless little toad.”
“I punched him in the face like a common Muggle,” Harrigan said happily. “I don’t think I’ve ever done that before.” He looked over at Lacerta.
“Your Muggleborn mother’s influence, perhaps?” she asked archly.
“Lacerta!” Narcissa insisted. “What have I told you about decorum?”
She sighed. “Decorum has gotten me nowhere. I would rather my future husband know exactly what he’s signed his quill to.—And if Heir Longbottom realized this a little too late for propriety’s sake, then more fool him.” She smoothed her robes, which were a pale green. They made her eyes seem more impossibly blue.
“Do you have your father’s eyes?” Harrigan asked, knowing the answer. He looked between her younger sister and Narcissa. “It’s only all of your relatives appear to have gray eyes.”
“Yes, I do,” Lacerta replied happily. “I have his hair as well, as does Draco, which I’m certain you noticed. The joke is that I’m pure Malfoy.”
“I see,” he responded, uncertain what else what to say.
“Lacerta,” Narcissa put in. “Why don’t you take Lord Black to the music room and play for him? You have my permission to be alone with him. Perhaps he will gain an idea for his next courting gift.” It was true. The second Malfoy courting gift was sheet music. “Actually, Io can accompany you. That would be more proper.”
The younger girl curtsied. “Lord Black.”
“My sister, Lady Iolanthe,” Lacerta introduced before sweeping from the room, expecting everyone to follow her.
Harrigan offered his arm to Iolanthe, who took it gladly. The music room was just a few doors down and Harrigan left the door open for the sake of propriety. Iolanthe took a seat on a settee, while Lacerta was seated at a piano. “Turn pages for me, Lord Black,” she commanded.
Harrigan came up and saw that she had chosen the Muggle Handel’s Messiah. She chose an Aria for Soprano, which was only two pages long, so Harrigan just stood there while she sang.
Her voice was like a songbird, light and yet full on the high notes, never backing down from a challenge.
“Will you sing my favorite?” Harrigan inquired. “It’s for bass, but I’m certain you can transpose when necessary.”
She looked at him in challenge and turned to the piece. Her voice was low, almost too low, though not quite, and her breath held out to the end of each phrase. As she finished, she smiled at him, and he clapped his hands appreciatively. “Brava, Lady Lacerta! Brava!”
“Some Bach perhaps?” she questioned, and she was fishing the music out from a long line of music along the far wall.
Harrigan was uncertain how long they spent in the music room, one piece being played after another. Lacerta was showcasing her talents as the Queen of the Night from Mozart’s The Magic Flute after tackling Wagner, when Draco appeared at the doorway.
“Yes, yes, you’ve wooed him. Come, invite Lord Black to dinner and be done with it.” He looked at Iolanthe pointedly and she instantly got up and headed toward the door.
“Io is only going into her sixth year,” Lacerta confided as she stood. “She’s had more courting offers than Draco knows what to do with.”
“Then I am fortunate he took time out of his busy schedule for me,” Harrigan declared, taking her offered hand and lifting it to just below his lips before releasing it.
She smiled at him, her hand still outstretched and he helped her to stand.
“Now, are you going to invite me to dinner or send me back to Grimmauld Place?”
“I wouldn’t dream of it,” Lacerta laughed. “Dine here if you can bear my family. They’re all terribly curious about you.”
Harrigan barely made it out of there alive. Draco was most put out to hear that his mother was not only Irish but a Muggleborn, though he was happy to hear her name was ‘Flora.’ He claimed it was a wizarding name and she must have been adopted by Muggles. Narcissa asked him about his Black family ties, which he scrambled to tell her without revealing who exactly he was, and then strangely the topic of Harry Potter came up.
“I think he went into the Muggle world,” Lacerta asserted. “It’s the only place he could have gone without being spotted.”
“He was brought up by filthy Muggles,” Draco agreed. “Perhaps he seemed more at home there.” He looked at Harrigan pointedly, as if daring him to say anything about his language.
Harrigan said nothing.
“Mother’s out chaperoning a marriage date for Iolanthe,” Draco said in greeting as Harrigan was presented to his study a few days later. “No one you need be ashamed of as a future brother-in-law.”
Harrigan cocked an eyebrow.
“Heir Cormac McLaggen. His family is very prominently placed politically.”
“I wouldn’t wish him on my worst enemy’s sister,” Harrigan shared. “Did you know he dated Muggleborn Hermione Granger at the end of their Hogwarts career? I don’t know exactly how you fall in line about that, Malfoy, but I trust it’s not favorably.”
“He did what? How can you possibly know this?”
“Ron and Hermione Weasley were squatting in Grimmauld Place. I had a heart-to-heart with each of them before sending them on their way. I believe McLaggen attended Slughorn’s holiday gala with Hermione Weasley. I’m not certain how far their relationship progressed.” He added this just for good form. He didn’t want McLaggen anywhere near Lacerta’s younger sister. He was vile!
“Right. Point taken. A Mudblood! Who would have thought?” He went behind his desk and wrote a quick note. An eagle owl fluttered up to the window and he tied the message onto his leg. “Go to Mother. Immediately.” Draco turned back to him. “Thank you for the warning, Black. Right decent of you.”
“I wouldn’t want Lady Iolanthe unduly hurt.”
“Yes, and what about you? I know nothing about you apart from the fact that you studied with tutors, your grandmother was a Black, and your mother was a pureblood raised by Muggles!”
“Has my honor at all been called into question?” Harrigan answered. “I realize I was alone with Lady Lacerta on two occasions, but those were by her design, not mine.” He found the words foreign, but they had to be said. He had to appear every inch the pureblood lord.
“Lacy may be the death of me,” Draco muttered. “I heard you punched Longbottom, curses to him.”
“Yes, he came to warn me off your sister.”
“And you didn’t listen?” Draco seemed to brighten. “There’s still time for me to call him out. I really should consider it if he’s slandering my sister even after everything.”
“Isn’t dueling illegal?” It wasn’t in France, but Harrigan was almost certain it was in England.
Draco waved his hand dismissively. “That’s the reason why I didn’t in the first place. I may have been mistaken. Then again, it all depends on you and your romance. If you see this through, there’s no real reason. It’s better off forgotten.”
“And I’m afraid you’re keeping me from my lady-love,” Harrigan replied. “Then again, you’re needed for a chaperone.”
“A house elf is waiting for me to send for her,” Draco responded. “What’s your income?”
Harrigan thought for a moment. He had both the Potter and the Black vaults. “Over two million,” he answered honestly, “per annum. I’ve never kept exact track. I have many vaults, as I’m sure you’ll understand.”
Draco whistled. “That’s twice the Malfoy income. Lacy has nothing to worry about then. Past girlfriends. Name them.”
Now this would get interesting. “A half-blood. We played Quidditch together. We were together for about three weeks. She cried a lot. That was when I was fifteen.”
“Hopefully you saw the errors of your ways.”
“Then one other. Another Quidditch player. She was my best mate’s little sister and we sort of fell in together.”
“When did you date her?”
“When I was sixteen, then we broke it off, and then again briefly when I was eighteen.”
“And no one since then?”
“No, I’ve lived in seclusion, here and in France. I hadn’t seen a woman in over two years until your sister walked into my library.”
“You know,” Draco began carefully, “she’s never played Quidditch. She races brooms. She’s the female junior champion in Wales. She also rides our Abraxans that we keep here. Have you ever ridden a Pegasus, Black?”
“No,” he answered.
“Perhaps she can show you today,” Draco mused. “That way you can be without a chaperone. It’s all I can think of when I’m with Lady Astoria.”
“When’s the wedding?” Harrigan asked perceptively.
“Next month,” he answered. “Of course, you wouldn’t have seen the announcement last May in The Prophet. You were still in France.” He hummed. “Shall I tell Lady Greengrass that you’ll be Lacy’s official escort?”
Harrigan grinned. “I’d be more than pleased.”
Draco smirked. “I thought so. I’ll have an escort card sent to you.—Now, I got sidetracked. Are you certain that Lacy isn’t the first witch you set eyes on in so long and you got fixated on her because of it?”
“No, I don’t think so,” Harrigan answered honestly. “It’s more than her beauty that strikes me. Her mind intrigues me.”
There was a knock on the door.
“Come in!” Draco called.
Lacerta entered, not looking up. “You called, Draco?—Oh, Lord Black.”
“I believe Black has a courting gift for you,” Draco put in helpfully. “Then I thought you could take him Abraxan riding. He’s never had the pleasure.” His eyes glistened in the light.
She seemed momentarily off balance before re-centering herself. She curtsied. “Lord Black.”
“Lady Lacerta.” He held out the sheet music. “It’s Medieval and entitled The Silver Swan. It’s hauntingly beautiful and I thought would suit your voice perfectly.”
She took it carefully and scanned it. Smiling coyly, she said, “I’ll be sure to play it for you in future when I have practiced.—Now, Abraxans?”
The master bedroom was finally done and Harrigan was all unpacked. The room was welcoming and he breathed in the fresh scent of the air. He lay on his back on the bed and turned his head, imagining Lacerta lying beside him, her hair out of her pureblood hairstyles and flowing down past her shoulders. He’d be able to reach out and run his hand through it. He shook himself when he realized he actually had reached his hand forward.
Right. It was time to be seen in Diagon Alley. After reading a complete guide to the Alley, he booked a table at the exclusive White Witch, which was for purebloods only. He petitioned Draco formally for permission to take his sister to the restaurant and, after receiving permission, waited impatiently for her outside of the restaurant.
He caught sight of her platinum blonde hair under a pink headpiece that resembled a contorted headband. Beside her, as per custom, was Draco. They came up to him, Lacerta in pale pink, Draco dressed in traditional pureblood black. “Before eight,” Draco insisted. “I expect to see your pictures in the Prophet tomorrow.” He leaned forward and kissed Lacerta’s cheek and seemed to whisper something in her ear. When he retreated, he shook Harrigan’s hand. “Black.”
Then he disappeared.
“No Illyria dress today?” Harrigan teased as he led her into the restaurant.
“Ha, ha, Lord Black,” she responded. “These are Faywick robes. Don’t they look well on me?”
“Fishing for compliments, Lady Lacerta?”
“Always,” she smiled coyly.
“You look stunning as always,” he responded, all honesty he could muster in each word. They stared into each other’s eyes and then the maître d’ cleared his throat.
“You must be Lord Black as you’re escorting Lady Lacerta Malfoy.”
“Quite,” Lacerta answered. “I hope you told the press we’d be here per my instructions and gave us a table with easy access for photographers.”
The maître d’ bowed and then led them to a table at the edge of the large glass globe that made up The White Witch. There were magical plants everywhere and a fountain in the middle, but their table was isolated and Harrigan could see reporters across the street.
“Devious, Lady Lacerta.”
She took off the white gloves she was wearing. “Lord Black, I think we can dispense with the pleasantries. We’ve known each other for long enough and we both know your intentions are serious. You may, when we are completely alone, call me ‘Lacerta.’”
“Lacerta,” he said happily, “I believe you know my name.”
“Harrigan,” she replied pleasantly. “But Harrigan what? I’m Lacerta Isolde.”
“Muiredach. It means ‘lord.’” He’d chosen it because he was now Lord Black and, well, he had decided early on with the name ‘Harrigan’ that he might as well continue the Irish theme.
“How prophetic, Harrigan. You know, Io’s been crying for days in her room.”
“The very same. None of us knew she had grown attached to him, but apparently she had. She has a courtship date with Chase Selwyn, though, tomorrow. Hopefully that will go well.”
“I’ve heard the name Selwyn before, but know nothing about the family,” Harrigan said truthfully.
“Well, they’re fourth in line. It’s the Blacks, the Malfoys, the Potters, then the Selwyns. Chase is a year above Io and in Ravenclaw. He’s only the second wizard to make it past Draco’s stringent guidelines for our youngest sister.”
“May I ask you something?” Harrigan requested carefully as their waters arrived and they were handed menus.
He looked at her and he saw that she meant it. “You’re just out of Hogwarts and yet you had an arranged marriage with, as you said, the ‘heir of a middle house.’ How did no one offer a courtship date for you? I really can’t believe it’s because you’re undesirable.”
“I’m not as a pureblood lady should be,” Lacerta answered sadly. “I speak my mind. No one wanted me. There were no respectable offers for me, not like there are for Io. Draco got desperate. He settled on a middle house because he thought I would be well looked after. Apparently he knew Longbottom at Hogwarts.” She sighed. “So it was all arranged while I was finishing my N.E.W.T.s and then when I got home from the summer, I was greeted with a fait accomplit. It was all rather horrible. It wasn’t even a proper society wedding. Just the families and the bondler.”
Harrigan reached out and placed his hand over hers, their fingers intertwining.
“But to think,” Lacerta concluded. “If it had never happened, then I wouldn’t be sitting here with you. You would also still be sitting in that villa of yours in France.”
They smiled at each other as the cameras flashed across the street.
Kreacher presented the morning Prophet with breakfast the next morning. Harrigan took it on a tray up in his room. It felt rather decadent.
He looked over the paper. There he was with Lacerta, smiling at each other, their hands entwined, with the title Lord Black to take Malfoy Bride?
“I very well am,” Harrigan growled.
Iolanthe Malfoy was a hard one to crack. Draco arranged for Harrigan, Lacerta, Iolanthe, and Chase Selwyn to go to Hogwarts for a picnic. Kreacher had taken great delight in dressing him in all black, including his tie.
While Harrigan had his head in Lacerta’s lap, her hands running through his auburn hair, Iolanthe was sitting as far away from Chase as possible. As far as Harrigan could tell, he was a good kid.
“Lady Iolanthe,” he finally said, sitting up. “Do you like Muggleborns?”
She shook her head.
“Well, McLaggen probably slept with one. He certainly did other unseemly things to her.” He remembered how Hermione had told Harry about hiding from McLaggen as he’d gotten too handsy under the mistletoe. “Do you really want a husband like that?”
Both she and Lacerta looked shocked. He couldn’t really see Selwyn from where he was sitting.
“So—give this guy a chance. He seems like one of the good ones.” He glanced over at the boy now. He had black hair, silver eyes, and full lips. Setting his head back in Lacerta’s lap, he saw her shocked face. “I’m sorry for offending your ladies’ sensibilities.”
At least Iolanthe had attempted conversation after that.
“You did that well,” Lacerta commented as she looked over at her sister and Selwyn. “You only got away with it because you’re Lord Black, you know.”
“What’s the point of being ‘Lord Black’ if you can’t use it on occasion? Your sister was being ridiculous.”
“There’s no doubt about it in my mind. I remember Selwyn from my days at Hogwarts. He’s been sweet on Io since I can remember paying attention to such trivialities.”
“You find your sister’s heart trivial?” Harrigan asked, a little confused.
“I’ve become—rather selfish. She got all the attention while I received none. She started going on courtship dates last summer while my marriage to a wizard from a middle house was being planned behind my back. I was thrown away, Harrigan. How can anything but my own happiness seem trivial in comparison?”
Harrigan reached up and gently ran his knuckles along her cheek. “I hope you’re not simply settling for my title.”
She looked pensive. “I know I shouldn’t say such things, but I think I would marry you without your title. I am, after all, overlooking your mother’s peculiar upbringing.”
“There was an active conflict on. Don’t forget the Dark Lord and his various activities.”
“Allegedly,” she joked. “No, all teasing aside, I find myself very happy, Harrigan, for the first time in a long time.” Her hand had stilled in his hair and he took her free hand and kissed the palm of it.
“That’s all I’ve ever wanted since you walked into my library.”
Of course, Harrigan was called out for his behavior. Both Draco and Narcissa were there and it was in the study. For the first time, Harrigan noticed that there was a large portrait of Lucius Malfoy, cane in hand, staring imperiously down at him from over the door. He’d remained silent last time. This time, not so much.
“When is your next courtship gift?” Draco demanded. “By the old gods, you had your head in her lap and Io said you kissed her hand! Of all the Muggle things to do.”
“I think we’ve established, Draco,” Narcissa said, “that Lord Black’s mother had an untraditional upbringing. There are bound to be some oddities of character.”
“Muggle,” Lucius huffed. “You allow my precious Lacy near a Muggle-lover.”
“I never said I was a Muggle-lover,” Harrigan defended. “To be honest, I quite distrust them. They seem to hate magic and magical children when they should embrace it.”
“You seem to be speaking from experience.”
“I knew a girl,” he lied. “I tutored with her. My head tutor begged me to allow it because she came from a home of Muggles where she was treated little better than a servant. So, I allowed it. We grew up together and I’d hear stories of what they’d done. Rest assured, they did not endear themselves to me. My father was also killed by a Muggle when I was three.”
“A Black killed by a Muggle?” Draco asked in horror. “What happened?”
This is where reading The Life and Lies of Albus Dumbledore came in useful. “I was performing some accidental magic in the village, at least that’s what I’m told. Some older Muggles saw it and began to throw stones at me. My father got me to safety—my mother had died in childbirth.”
“Ah, she didn’t have enough magic to save her,” Lucius put in sagely.
Harrigan glared at him. “My father went after the Muggle boys but one of their fathers had something called a gun. They shot him through the heart, and I was left to private tutors for the rest of my life.”
Lucius looked dour. “I was shot by a Muggleborn.” He sniffed. “Through the skull. Apparently it was for crimes against Muggleborns during the war. I left Draco in charge of this family far too young.”
“I’m only a little younger than you were, Father, and I think I’m holding us together soundly.”
“Not if that business with Heir Longbottom is anything to go by,” Lucius griped. “Narcissa, what could you have been thinking?”
“I was thinking of our daughter’s security and happiness,” she sighed, as if this were a familiar argument. “Please, Lucius, we’re here to discuss Lord Black’s behavior.”
“I can’t give her her next courting gift,” Harrigan declared. “She hasn’t showcased my last one.”
Draco pinched his nose. “I allowed the hand holding for the Prophet. You’re lucky only Io and Heir Selwyn noticed your liberties at the picnic. Also, you are never to speak of a gentleman’s ungentlemanly conduct to my sisters again. I don’t care how warranted it was.” He smiled. “Lacy told me of Io’s changed behavior.—However, this intimacy is befitting of Muggles and not members of the two leading families in British society.—Mother, how is Lacy coming along with that song?”
“She won’t stop practicing,” Narcissa admitted. “She keeps on insisting that she needs to get it exactly right.”
“Well, it’s right, now,” Draco decided. “Mother, go get Lacy. We’ll meet you in the music room.”
It was heavenly. Lacerta looked a little less composed than perhaps she wanted to be, sitting in her Illyria dress, and then she put her fingers to the keys and her voice rose beautifully over the high notes. “It’s so bittersweet,” she mentioned to Harrigan when Draco and Narcissa were giving them a little privacy at the piano. “Are you trying to tell me something?”
“Only that you have a swan’s voice long before your death,” Harrigan answered, picking up her hand and lifting it to just beneath his lips before releasing it.
“You have pretty manners. Dare I ask if my brother beat them into you?” she asked archly.
“You may ask away, Lacerta, but I will never tell.”
She smiled at him then, that secret smile she had started to wear whenever they were together.
His next gift he needed help on. He invited Narcissa to tea at Grimmauld Place and sat with her as she poured out their cups.
“I hope you like Earl Grey. It’s rather a favorite.”
“I prefer the more flowery Lady Grey, but that’s perhaps a woman’s choice,” she responded. “Now you wanted to see me.”
“Yes.” He put his cup down. “As you know, the next courting gift is a piece of jewelry. I thought I’d be a bit unconventional and get Lady Lacerta a pair of earrings. I was hoping she would wear them to the wedding, but I don’t know what color her robes are going to be.”
“I see,” Narcissa said quietly. “She hasn’t decided yet. She is, however, wearing a black pearl necklace. She has earrings to match, but they aren’t quite as delicate as she wants. They’re a strand of three pearls descending from the earlobe. Very tasteful, but not what she wants, and she spent all of her pocket money on her trousseau.”
“I understand you completely, Dowager Malfoy,” he said in response.
She took up her cup. “I’m glad that Lacy will get what she wants.”
Harrigan was rather horrible at going jewelry shopping. Once he consulted his book on Diagon Alley, he decided on The Glass Slipper, an upscale jeweler that catered to purebloods. As he walked in the store, he was met by the sight of glass cases against the four walls. The pieces of jewelry were displayed on swaths of royal purple and deep blue velvet, making the place shine with expensive delicacy.
“May I help you, Lord Black?” A young man with strawberry blond hair looked at him after writing something in his ledger.
“Yes. I’m looking for women’s earrings. Something simple—black pearl. Studs, I think they’re called.”
“Of course, sir.” The man moved to one of the cases and motioned Harrigan forward. He showed a display of black pearls. “May I suggest these,” he brought out a stand, “or these,” he brought out another stand.
The first were simple large black pearl studs. The second were smaller black pearls with another black pearl at an upward diagonal to it. He took the stand and inspected them closely.
“I see where your inclinations lie, Lord Black.” The jeweler took down the first stand and brought up another. “These are almost identical except the second pearl is a light coral. It creates a wonderful contrast and brings out the natural glow of the cheek.”
“Do you know Lady Lacerta Malfoy?” he asked.
“Yes. Lord Malfoy is marrying my third cousin, Lady Astoria Greengrass. Lady Lacerta is also a patron here.”
“Which do you think she would prefer and would the lighter pearl clash with her hair?”
“The black,” he stated firmly. “I know her fondness for black pearls. She owns several bracelets, headpieces, and necklaces showing off this type of pearl. I know she would look favorably on such a gift.”
Harrigan nodded then. “It’s decided then. Thank you.”
The jeweler bowed. “Not at all, Lord Black. Your patronage is compliment enough.”
Despite the fact that they were chaperoned by Narcissa, Lacerta squealed when she opened the package and actually hugged Harrigan. “They’re perfect,” she whispered into his ear. “Thank you.”
Narcissa cleared her throat and they reluctantly pulled away.
“I’ll be sure to wear them to the wedding next week. You’ll be my escort, of course, Lord Black.” She said it as if it were a statement and she had no doubt of his accepting.
Just to tease her, he took out a small pocket calendar and asked her, “What was the date?”
She glared at him. “A week from Saturday.”
“You’ll be happy to know my calendar is open. What time should I come and pick you up?”
“Two, I should think. Two, Mother?”
“Two then. Look dashing. I want to show you off and show everyone that the whole unpleasant affair last June did not get my spirits down.”
“Oh, I hardly think they did that, Lady Lacerta,” he joked. “You were in high spirits the afternoon I met you.”
“I was, wasn’t I, Lord Black?” she smiled at him. “Now, Draco wants to put you up for his club—The Golden Lion. It’s only a formality, what with you being Lord Black, but family members usually put up their family members, and you didn’t really know any of the Blacks.”
“What in the old gods’ names am I going to do at a club?” Harrigan asked, aghast.
“It’s simple,” Narcissa said, looking up from her needlepoint. “You can go there to have tea with a young lady, you may fence, play chess, paint. There are any number of rooms with various activities. In fact, I have no hesitation of allowing Lacy to be seen with you there once you’ve made your presence known. Just play chess with Draco a few times or go to the smoking room. It’s an excellent way to make contacts. Oh, and no offensive magic is allowed, not that we have anything to worry about with you, Lord Black.” She probably meant that he would just punch someone who offended him in the nose.
That was the most he’d heard from Narcissa in either his or Harry’s entire life.
“Come, go see Draco in the study. Lacy, you may escort him and show Draco your new courting gift.”
Draco looked up at him with approval as Lacerta showed him the present. “So, that’s why you wanted to see Mother,” he commented as they went to the floo room. “You wanted to know what she’d be wearing to the wedding.”
“Can I help that I want to declare her as mine? I don’t want any other wizard getting any ideas.”
“I don’t think they will, what with the way you two act around each other.” He threw the floo powder in. “The Golden Lion!”
Harry followed shortly after him and was met with a room of yellow marble. “Out of the way, Black, more people may be coming through.—Now, your name is being put forward tomorrow so today you’re officially my guest. Let’s talk about the timeline of yours and Lacy’s romance in the smoking room. I have my own special blend of cigar from Morocco. I think you’ll like it.”
“I don’t smoke,” Harrigan offered.
“Neither do I, except here. Wouldn’t want to offend the women folk,” he added jokingly. “Lady Astoria can’t stand the scent. I always have to put refreshing charms on myself as soon as I leave.”
“I’ve never heard how you and Lady Astoria met,” Harrigan began, taking a comfortable seat near the window and accepting the cigar offered. There was a lighter on the table between them and Draco picked it up, lighting his cigar.
“No offensive magic,” he declared, passing it over.
Once Harrigan got the hang of it, he didn’t mind so much. The taste was strange but the feel of smoke in his lungs was refreshing.
“Magically altered so you can’t get cancer,” Draco informed him. “Now, Lady Astoria. I told you I decided to marry her when she was four. We didn’t get together until my sixth year and she wanted a year being out in society before we got married. Hence the year’s wait. Still, she’s always been the witch for me. I cursed this Ravenclaw Seventh Year who was after her at one point.”
“Love at first sight then,” Harrigan murmured. “Or earlier sight.”
“Yes, like you and Lacy. Now, come. At this point you could propose at any time. Malfoys aren’t so strict about timelines. After the point of giving jewelry, you are free to propose.”
“Do you mean to manage the entire affair?”
“If I have to, then yes! I’m getting married in less than a week and then I’m off on my honeymoon for three months. If I don’t take care of Lacy now, then I may regret it.”
“Is that what you were doing when you tried to marry her off to Longbottom? Take care of it before you honeymooned?”
Draco looked crushed. “If I said ‘no,’ would it make any difference? I had no faith in my sister; I know that now. It was wrong. The fact that she could catch a wizard like you proves how very wrong I was.”
Harrigan puffed out some smoke, trying to make smoke rings but failing. “Perhaps Lady Lacerta is meant for a more mature palate,” Harrigan suggested. “School boys just couldn’t appreciate her.”
“Well, Longbottom didn’t appreciate her and the merits of the match were entirely on his side. I stupidly thought his Gryffindor side would show that he wouldn’t abandon her. How wrong I was.”
“I haven’t decided when I will propose,” Harrigan said after a long silence. “Part of me wants to propose the morning of the wedding, so she can show me off even more than she already plans to, but I don’t want to detract from your day.”
“No, I think that’s perfect,” Draco replied enthusiastically, his cigar smoldering between his fingers. “I’ll have Astoria announce it just before we cut the cake. Just make sure that when you’re in the receiving line, she shows the ring to one of us so we know it’s gone off without a hitch. I can’t imagine her refusing, but Lacy does surprise me at the oddest times.”
“How are Lady Iolanthe and Heir Selwyn getting on?”
“Oh, they’re here for a courtship date in,” he took out his pocket watch, “fifteen minutes. I wanted to be in the building. Io almost died, actually, when she was born. She had to be in St. Mungo’s for over a year. I’m afraid we’re all rather protective of her.”
“We think Mother was fed a poisoned potion. It’s the only explanation. We tried to get the law involved, but you know what they’re like. We were considered dark and there was no evidence apart from my mother’s physical state, so they let it drop. The whole thing was a travesty. I was only five and I couldn’t believe it.”
“How horrifying. No one knows why Mum died in childbirth. Everything was going so well and then—nothing. I was born healthy, though, and with more than my fair bit of magic. Apparently I used to light up my father’s face.”
“Your father—the Black,” Draco stated. “You never said what his name was.”
Harrigan, though, was ready for this. “He wasn’t a Black. His mother was. Cassiopeia.” Cassiopeia was the older unmarried sister of Harry’s own grandmother Dorea.
Draco hummed. “Mother has an old copy of the tapestry, written out by hand. I’ll have to look it over. Who was your father then?”
“Aurelius Cavanagh. Irish, like Mum. I never found out why I was never given a wizarding name.” A wizard by that name had been shot by a Muggle. Harrigan had done his homework. The man had never been married, but then again there wouldn’t be marriage records in a Muggle registry.
“Harrigan Cavanagh then. You’re lucky your name reverts to your title once you inherit it, otherwise I would never let you near my sister.”
“I think she’d have a word or two to say on the subject.”
They shared a laugh.
“You don’t sound Irish.”
“Tutors, remember? They gave me an English accent.”
“How happy for you. There was this Gryffindor in my year. Seamus or something who kept on trying to turn water into rum and having it blow up in his face. His accent was rather unpleasant.”
“I won’t take offense because I’m marrying your sister.” Harrigan rolled his cigar around his fingers. “I don’t suppose you know what type of ring your sister will like?”
“One of the Black family rings. You can just go pick it up from your vault.”
There were more rings than Harry ever hoped to choose from. He eventually settled on gold because he thought it would go well with her complexion, and then chose a ring that was both tasteful and rather large. He knew Lacerta would like it. She would like to show it off to all of her friends, whoever they were. Harrigan had never met them.
He was put up as a member for The Golden Lion and was voted unanimously in. He spent almost a day there playing chess (and losing) to various wizards, before Draco deemed it appropriate for him to be seen with Lacerta on the premises.
She was wearing a black Illyria gown, and Harrigan noticed she was wearing a black pearl bracelet. “I’m saving your earrings for the wedding,” she stated, sitting down opposite him. “I want to make a grand show of it.”
“Then who am I to stop you?” he laughed, taking her hand and raising it to just beneath his lips. “You look beautiful, Lacerta.”
She sat there just looking at him. “Harrigan Muiredach Cavanagh. Your parents did give you a mouthful of a name.”
“Are you suggesting something, Lacerta Isolde Malfoy?”
“Nothing, just that all my friends are going to tease me frightfully when they find out. Your name is quite a mouthful and so—un-English! It really is quite a fright.”
“I thought you only care about my title,” he teased.
“How forgetful of me,” she declared. “You know, I wish you would just take me away, back to France, where we wouldn’t have to be near these vultures any longer. Helena suggested you were only with me for my family’s position in society, and I know that’s what everyone is thinking. If we could just get away, back to that library where no one could find us, we could be happy, wouldn’t we?”
Harrigan wanted to reach out and hold Lacerta close, but the table and propriety were stopping him. Instead he whispered, “I did love the South of France, but there was no society there. You’d starve for human conversation, Lacy. I wouldn’t do that to you.”
She smiled at him. “That’s the first time you called me ‘Lacy’.”
“Is it?” he smiled back at her. “I’m refurbishing Grimmauld Place for you so you’ll have a proper London address. It’s slow work, but it will be ready in time for when we get back from our honeymoon.”
“Are you proposing, Lord Black?”
“Not until the day of the wedding,” he told her frankly. “Pretend to be suitably surprised when I bend down on one knee with your mother watching on as chaperone.”
She laughed, bright and full. “You better come at quarter to two, then, to give us enough time. I was thinking of wearing gloves, but I think I won’t, under the circumstances. Thank you, Harry.”
He reached out for her. “Please don’t call me that. My father called me that. It’s too painful.”
“Of course, Harrigan. I apologize.” Their hands were lying, almost touching, on the table, and he looked longingly into her eyes.
“I do love you, you know,” he whispered into the stillness. “I know it may not be polite to say it, but I do, Lacy.”
She gave him a soft smile. “I’ve come to love you, too, you strange wizard.”
Hermione, it seemed, was not done with him. She marched into the house the morning of the wedding when Harrigan was dressing and demanded to see him. Kreacher came up with his cufflinks, which were his initials ‘HMB’, and told him of the interloper. Securing his pocket watch, he muttered, “What could she want now?”
“I hope you know, Mrs. Weasley, that I have a wedding to get to.” It was only eleven o’clock but he wanted to make sure he was dressed perfectly to Lacerta’s high standards and left nothing to chance.
“The Malfoy affair isn’t until four,” she stated primly.
“Has it occurred to you that as an escort to one of the groom’s sisters, I need to be there before the actual service?”
“Yes, I’ve seen the papers. I’m friends with Neville, and I really don’t see what you could possibly want with the hag. She sounds dreadful to me.” Harrigan had his wand out and was immediately pointing it at her.
“That’s my future bride you’re speaking about.”
“Well. Congratulations, I suppose. Anyway, that’s not why I’m here.”
He looked at her, lowering his wand and willing her to continue.
“When my baggage was sent over, it did not include my copy of Tales of Beedle the Bard. It was a bequest and has rather a sentimental value to it. I was wondering if Kreacher might see about looking at it for me.”
Harrigan looked at her warily. “Kreacher!” he called and the house elf appeared. “Bring all copies of Beedle the Bard to my study. It seems Mrs. Weasley has lost her copy.”
He motioned toward Hermione for her to follow him and went to the study. It was in the process of being redecorated. One wall had the wallpaper completely taken off and had swaths of royal purple tacked on. Harrigan’s Quidditch things from school were on display throughout the room.
“Oh, I like what you’re doing with the place. It was so dark before but the purple really makes it warmer.”
Harrigan ignored her and took a seat on the opposite side of the desk. He didn’t bother to offer her a seat. After about fifteen minutes, with Hermione looking around at everything, Kreacher popped in with two copies. “This is all we have, Master.”
“Right. Thank you.”
He immediately recognized Hermione’s, but for good show he opened up the first. “No, this definitely belonged to the Blacks,” he said off-hand. He then picked up her copy and flipped it open, letting his eyebrows rise. “Albus Wulfric Percival Brian Dumbledore? Is that who you inherited it from?”
“Yes,” she said a little defensively. “He was my headmaster.”
“Headmasters normally don’t leave personal copies of their books to students.”
“No,” she agreed, “but there were special circumstances. There was the war and I was on the run from the Ministry with Harry—“
Harrigan closed the book with a snap. “There you are, Mrs. Weasley. I would keep a better eye on it in future.”
She accepted the book and then hesitated. “Where did you come from? The only Black we knew was Sirius and he died during the war.”
“Yes, I knew Sirius,” Harrigan admitted. “Barely, but he certainly made an impression. He stayed at my home for about a fortnight when I was still studying. I was getting ready to take my N.E.W.T.s, I remember.” He smiled to himself. “I was sad to hear of his passing. It came as quite a shock when I inherited everything along with the title. Of course, they’re both connected.”
“So this was never Harry’s house.”
“Potter’s? No. Even if Sirius left it to him in his will, it was always legally mine. I just haven’t had any use of it until now.”
She was gone after that and Harrigan could resume getting ready. He had chosen his auburn waistcoat as it complimented his hair, and a black tie with auburn dragons embroidered on it. His robe was a dark blue and shone in the light. He hoped Lacerta approved.
She was waiting for him in robes of periwinkle blue, a smile on her face. “Don’t you look dapper, Lord Black,” she greeted, kissing his cheek as no one was about. She had to stand on his tiptoes as he was well over six feet and she must have been only five-six.
“Do I get to kiss you when you say ‘yes’?” he asked as she pulled away.
“I think Mother will overlook it in the heat of the moment,” she responded slyly. She tugged him up the marble staircase and led him to the sitting room. “Mother,” she called, “look who’s come early. Lord Black says he has something important he wished to discuss.”
Narcissa glanced between the two of them. “Then, by all means, we are here.”
Harrigan took a deep breath and drawing the jewelry box from his pocket, he sank down to one knee. Narcissa’s eyes actually widened. It was clear that Draco hadn’t shared with his mother what was going to transpire.
“Lacerta Isolde Malfoy,” he began. “You know exactly what I’m going to say,” he teased, opening the box.
She stepped forward and caressed the sapphire. “Only that you love me and wish to marry me and give me children to fill our home with?” There was a twinkle in her eye.
“Is that a ‘yes’, then?”
“Don’t be silly, of course, it is!”
He surged upward, grabbed her around the waist, and kissed her for the first time. Her lips were soft and pliant beneath his own and she smelled of honeysuckle. Knowing he could easily get carried away, Harrigan pulled back. “Our children might not be blond,” he warned. He knew that if conceived in his metamorphically changed state, they would inherit his current features including his hair and his good eyesight and his gray eyes.
“We’ll make plenty of Blacks without black hair,” she declared and he slipped the ring on her finger.
“A Black family ring. I hope it’s both tasteful and large enough to shove in jealous witches’ faces.”
“You’re too horrible!”
“You’re the one who’s thinking it!”
She held her hand out past her shoulder and admired it. Harrigan noticed she was wearing his earrings. “Yes, I think it will do,” she replied archly. “Just.”
“Lacerta!” Narcissa gasped, but Harrigan and Lacerta were laughing in each other’s arms.