Part the First—
Truth will come to light; murder cannot be hid long; a man’s son may; but, in the end, truth will out.
—The Merchant of Venice, Act II, scene ii
Chocolate. The boy breathed in deeply outside of a Muggle stand and just took in the heavenly scent, his mouth watering slightly. He rarely got to eat chocolate, and had only had hot cocoa once on his eighth birthday. His maman, who was both regal and beautiful despite her worn robes, had insisted that it was an “insufferable Muggle drink” and that no self-respecting pureblood would drink such a concoction.
Maman never mentioned money, not to him. There was always another reason. It was Muggle, it was dirty, it wasn’t proper, it wasn’t needed, but the boy knew. He had always known the implicit truth that would not be uttered.
They were better than that, his maman said. They were purebloods and from an ancient line, respected in England. They were better than royalty, as their family name suggested.
She never mentioned that they were shamed, and had been cast out of proper wizard society. Or, rather, that they would have been if society knew that he had been conceived.
As a young child, he would nod his head in acquiescence and, in time, he just knew that it was true, as well. He was better than everyone else despite their shame. He was a pureblood, better than the wealthy Muggles around him. They might have money and ignorance, but he had magic and blood.
The boy sighed and his black eyes blinked rapidly as he tore his mind away from the chocolate he couldn’t have. If only I had money, he thought ruefully to himself, his mind briefly turning to the small sum of three Galleons and two Sickles that he had as spending money for the entire year. He hated being poor, but there was nothing he could do about it but hold his head high.
And holding his head high is what he had been bred to do—even when Muggles were throwing stones at him.
Turning away, he entered King’s Cross Station, making his way to platform nine and three-quarters. He hadn’t been able to afford a trunk, so instead he had a satchel with all of his books, his spare set of robes and pajamas, his precious packet of tarot cards, and a jar of fireflies he had smuggled in. It wasn’t much. He didn’t even have a spare pair of shoes, but he would make do. He always did.
Princes never begged and never wanted what they could not possess. And he was a Prince. The last pureblood prince. He knew there was another – that he would meet him when he went to Hogwarts, but Maman would never speak of him. She said no one in the family would even mention his name. Maman would sniff whenever she thought of him and his blood-traitor mother who had procreated with a Muggle, of all indignities! Better a hobgoblin that had magic running through its filthy veins than a Muggle with no imagination or sense of its own inferiority.
Maman didn’t mention that they weren’t wanted either—like this half-blood—and that’s why Maman had gone to France. She never said, but the boy heard the whispers around him. “Illegitimate.” “No father.” “Il est marié.” “Whore.”
His maman had beaten him with magic when he had asked her why she was one when he was only seven.
The boy recited the mantra again in his head, tearing his mind from past memories and blocking out his wish to have a cat or any type of familiar really. He would be happy with a toad even. Or perhaps a set of play clothes.
Everything he owned was battered and used. Even his name belonged to someone else first. It seemed that everyone knew the name, and laughed at him for it. Maman told him to hold his head high. He was a Prince, royalty. Fallen, of course, but royalty nonetheless.
When he was small, the boy thought that meant that he was actual royalty.
“In a way we are,” his maman had conceded. “We are the elite.” The boy still clung to that dream despite himself. He refused to think of the Muggle Satan the priest spoke about in church. He had been royal, too, once—one of the Muggle God’s high angels. But he had fallen and gone into the darkest of pits.
When he had been only four he would cry, afraid that the Muggle God would be angry at him and cast him into the fiery pit, before Maman had told him that Muggles were inferior and their gods were nothing more than vengeful wizards that liked to play with them or flights of fancy.
The boy had hated the priest after that, and refused to let him save his soul, even though the little man had appeared to have made it his life’s goal to save the whore and her bastard changeling son.
“Le fils de Cain,” he would mutter to himself whenever he looked upon the small boy.
The boy’s robes were secondhand, one pair even having belonged to his maman when she attended Hogwarts. The one exception, though, was his beautiful wand. The boy’s mother had insisted that he could make do with his uncle Octavian’s, which she had saved after he had died after falling off his broom when only fourteen. He knew he could, really. He told himself he should be honored to carry his uncle’s wand but—he just wanted one thing that was his and his alone.
Princes never begged, Maman had said. But she hadn’t said that they never steal.
It had started out as a small thing the winter before he received his Hogwarts letter. François, the filthy Muggle who lived down the lane, had a new bottle cap collection. The boy knew he shouldn’t have done it, but the set was complete, it was perfect, and he knew if he just had it and could get to Paris then he could sell it for a few francs—so he did. In those few moments, he hadn’t cared about the Statute of Secrecy, that it was wrong, that François had done nothing to him except for calling him a “bastard” and “filthy poor” to his face, which really was no more than the other Muggle children did. They all laughed at him and his odd ways. They said he was different. Abnormal. They even whispered to each other that he could talk to the fairies and forced them to steal away children at night.
The boy had used magic, having taken his uncle’s wand, and muttered a few incantations he had heard Maman use when the policemen would ask her what she was doing lingering outside of a bakery, staring almost longingly at a fresh loaf, despite the indignity of the act. Once she had almost been taken away because one had insisted that she was “selling herself.” The boy didn’t know what the policeman meant but he knew his maman had cried into her pillow for several nights after that when she thought he was asleep.
The bottle caps hadn’t been enough, however. Next, he stole Mademoiselle Renard’s silver mirror, having climbed in through her window in the dead of night. That had gotten a hefty price, although not as high of one as it might have as it was engraved with her Christian name – Gisèle.
No one had suspected him, fortunately, although Mademoiselle had cried on her maman‘s shoulder about how the maid was obviously not trustworthy. The boy may have felt badly that the maid had been fired from her post without references, left to be a beggar on the streets of their village, but she was a Muggle and had taunted him with the children whenever she had seen him.
Finally, he had snuck into the vestry when the priest was partaking of the communion wine and took several francs from the collection plate. The Muggle savior didn’t need it, he thought. He was already dead.
Maman had not asked where the money had come from, when he finally had it. He asked her if it would be enough and she had nodded hesitantly. “Oui, mon Octavian,” she had whispered in her lilting French, the accent almost perfect. “Je pense.”
Octavian had been happy with his new wand, and refused to look back and deride himself for his “ill-gotten gains.”
Mr. Ollivander, the small wizard who had sold it to him, had been an odd little man. “Ah, Mr.—” he began, his pale eyes shining in the gloom of the shop before they widened at the young wizard before him. “Why I never—” he said softly, neglecting to finish his sentence as he took in the boy’s sharp features and slightly wavy honey blond hair that fell to his shoulders. “I take it you’re here for a wand, young man?”
Octavian nodded nervously as he tried to hide his fear. He had already been everywhere else and hadn’t much money left. “I only ‘ave neuf Galleons and sept Sickles, Monsieur,” he said softly, enunciating the foreign English words on his tongue.
Mr. Ollivander looked at him pointedly, taking in his freshly pressed Hogwarts robes, which were slightly worn at the elbows. “I thought Hogwarts was more generous with its charity funds,” he muttered and the boy flinched. “No matter. I will simply charge it to the fund. Disgraceful. I will write to Dumbledore about this, young man, mark my words.”
Octavian lowered his lashes and closed his eyes, before returning a haughty stare. “I do not accept la charité, Monsieur.”
The wand maker was startled at the edge in Octavian’s otherwise innocent voice and nodded his head absently. “Very well, very well, young man.”
He snapped his fingers and a tape measure whirred into action, flitting about Octavian’s form as it took his measurements. Before he knew it a wand was thrust in his hand, and he waved it about stupidly. Then another and another. After half an hour, Mr. Ollivander looked at him speculatively. “I never got your name, young man.”
“Does my name matter?”
Ollivander sighed. “Your family name and heritage would give me a clue as to what type of wood and core would best respond to you. The wand chooses the wizard, of course, reflecting his inner self, but families often carry the same traits. You aren’t English?”
Octavian didn’t answer, not liking the line of questioning.
A sigh met his ears. “Try this. Yew, dragon heartstring, thirteen and a half inches –”
“Vine. Ten and a quarter inches. Unicorn hair.”
A slight tingle ran up his arm, but otherwise Octavian felt no connection.
Ollivander’s eyes narrowed as he noticed the slight shiver. “Hmm, the vine or the unicorn hair,” he muttered before handing him another wand made from vine. There was no reaction. “Unicorn hair then. Innocence. Purity. Very interesting.”
He shifted through a few boxes, before his piercing gaze fell on Octavian again.
“That’s only part of it, I imagine,” he remarked to himself.
Ollivander looked back at him. “Are you Muggle-born, young man?” he questioned and Octavian’s back stiffened at the slur to his heritage. “Of course, of course. How remiss of me. I only asked as Muggles see unicorns as primarily Christian symbols—purity, a representative of Christ. That sort of thing. And, indeed, unicorns are attracted to the pure of heart and to virgins. That’s basic knowledge.”
The wand maker continued to shift through several boxes, lining them up, clearly lost in thought about this particular client. “However, what is not well known is that they are also attracted to passionate lovers, not necessarily those who have been deceived—although there have been records throughout the centuries of unicorns comforting weeping lovers.”
Octavian stared at him in shock.
“Yes, yes,” Ollivander continued to himself. “I think that may be it if this one doesn’t work. Try this. Birch. Unicorn Hair. Twelve and a half inches.”
It was snatched out of his hand after only half a wave.
“I think, young man, I may safely say you are destined for what Muggles call a ‘soul mate.'” His silver eyes bore into Octavian’s as if trying to read his very soul. “Yes. Your spirit could not be truly complete without another. A great gift, if your love and heart is given to a soul worthy of such a gift.”
Several wands with cores of unicorn hair were pressed into his grip. The wand maker went through all of his aspen wands, muttering that it would be an appropriate wood, before attempting a few made of birch and even one from an ancient willow tree from somewhere in the Americas.
“Tricky customer,” Ollivander muttered to himself. “Very, very – ah!” He rushed into the back room and emerged with a wand that appeared to not have a box yet. “Just completed this, young man. Yes, yes. Apple wood. Very rare. The core is a single hair from a unicorn foal. Twelve and three quarter inches. Give it a wave.”
Octavian hesitated. “R-rare?” he whispered, his black eyes darkening. “Surely I cannot –” He gritted his teeth, not wanting to finish the sentence.
Princes do not mention any lack of wealth, he recited, a mantra he had to infer from Maman‘s own silence on the subject.
“No need to worry, young man,” Ollivander said kindly. “I have not given you a single wand you could not afford.”
He nodded slightly, half-knowing that he was being placated.
Magic rushed through him as his fingers wrapped around it, and he sighed in delight as black and golden sparks shot from the wand.
“Bravo, young man, bravo!” Ollivander exclaimed, clapping his hands. “That wand was a bit of an experiment, I didn’t think I’d ever sell it, but clearly I was wrong. The wand chooses the wizard; the wand always chooses.”
Octavian smiled innocently in awe despite himself. That hadn’t happened when he held his uncle’s wand, he thought.
Now, a day later, his hand clasped possessively around the length of magical wood that was hidden deeply within his pocket. His pack of tarot cards was in his other hand, his mind wandering again to the chocolate he could smell on the autumn air. His mouth watered and he shut his eyes. He hadn’t been able to afford breakfast, and he knew he wouldn’t be able to eat until dinner. His maman had sent him to England yesterday by Floo at midday with all the money she could afford to spare, which would include taking a room at the Leaky Cauldron and any food he might need to consume before going to Hogwarts.
As he approached the magical barrier, he couldn’t help but smile. It would all be different now, he told himself. Muggles would no longer laugh at him, saying he was strange or a Changeling-child simply for standing out on Midsummer’s Eve amid the fireflies that danced around him joyously at the happiness of the earth.
And with one final breath and a light in his eyes that almost turned them into the deepest of purples, Octavian Prince walked through a solid wall into a new world that was all his own.
Steam enveloped him and he couldn’t hold back the wide smile that spread across his features. He just stood there, happily, letting the mist whirl around him as if it were magic—which, come to think of it, it probably was. This was where he could be who he was meant to be, grow into his magic, and be wanted as a friend.
Octavian knew the traditional purebloods would never associate with him if they knew the taint on his birth. He was unsuitable. He could never mix with blood traitors—he knew that. They were too different. However, half-bloods born of old families that were brought up in the old ways . . .
He smiled at the thought. There were sometimes scions of old families with half-blood or even Muggle-born mothers who would still be brought up in proper wizarding traditions. Their fathers were often lax, if not blood traitors themselves, but once an heir was born they would often fall back into tradition and the ways of their family, wanting to give their children everything magic and an old name could offer.
Here, Octavian would never be called a Changeling-child, and would learn to—
Octavian tensed when he realized that someone was staring intently at him. He had acquired a great deal of experience over the years at knowing when he was being watched, both by his mother and Muggle boys who were looking for a way to hurt him.
He turned and stared, his face neither warm nor cold in its expression. “Nous sommes des Princes,” his maman would sometimes berate him. “Nous sommes les Slytherines. We do not show emotion.” He had been trained well over the years.
Pale eyes met his own dark ones, and Octavian couldn’t help but gasp in shock. The wizard was clearly wealthy by the cut of his deep blue and silver robes. The embroidery looked to be hand-stitched, a sign of status and leisure amongst the continental elite, although Octavian had not known that this particular fashion had taken hold in England. Perhaps it hadn’t yet. This wizard could have been from the continent or, even more likely, cultured in the wide scope of European traditions, customs, and politics.
High cheekbones defined the austere face that was so similar to Octavian’s features. Pale hair that was cut close to his face in the Roman fashion fell against the wizard’s cheeks, making it seem almost careless, though it heightened his handsome figure. Although his hairstyle was not in vogue amongst purebloods, it nonetheless looked flattering on the stranger, bringing out his piercing eyes that took in Octavian’s small form.
The man was alone, his child most likely having already boarded the Hogwarts Express.
With a click of his heels against the pavement, the wizard strode toward him, never removing his gaze from Octavian’s dark eyes. Not noticing the looks of those around him, the wizard stopped in front of him and kneeled down until he was almost level with him.
“Hello,” he said quietly, a soft smile playing at the corner of his lips. “Is this your first year at Hogwarts?”
Octavian looked at him, dumbfounded, before he collected himself. “Oui, Monsieur,” was his soft response.
Monsieur‘s eyes brightened at his French lilt. “Tu es français, petit. Très bien.”
Octavian smiled innocently at him. “Ma mère est anglaise. Et mon père, je pense.”
He smiled down at Octavian. “Oui, ta mère. She was very beautiful when I knew her. The most beautiful witch in England.” He looked like he wanted to reach his hand out and touch Octavian’s face, but with a blink of his eyes he restrained himself and smiled sadly. “What is your name, young man?”
Octavian swallowed nervously and glanced away. Princes never cry, he reminded himself.
Cool fingers grasped his chin softly before turning his face gently to look back at Monsieur. “Chut, mon petit. What’s wrong? Why isn’t your mother here to see you off?”
Octavian shook his head, ignoring the last question. “In France, when Muggles ‘ear my name zey call me l’enfant de la fée.”
The wizard sighed, before forcing his face back into a smile. “You are as lovely as a fairy, petit. More lovely even. And les magiciens? What do they call you?”
Sad black eyes looked into his and Monsieur gasped slightly at the pain in them. “Le bâtard, and I doubt it will be any different ‘ere with some,” Octavian prophesied sadly to himself.
It does not matter, he warned his heart. Here you have magic. That must be enough.
“I never would have wished that for you,” the wizard confessed, his voice deep with repressed emotion.
Octavian couldn’t help but look back at him in shock. His eyes raked over the face—the high cheekbones, the hair slightly paler than his honey blond color, the nose, the chin, the soft pink lips so like his own—he stepped back in shock, clasping his small bag to him closely.
“I –” the wizard began hesitantly, shutting his eyes briefly before opening them again. “I would like to know you, petit, if you would let me. I wished to make you my son in the eyes of the law and one of my heirs, but your mother, she—” He glanced briefly toward the clock and saw that the train was set to leave in only a few minutes. “Will you not tell me your name, at least, before you go to Hogwarts?”
Octavian looked at his scuffed shoes, feeling ashamed, before staring back at the wizard before him defiantly. “Un moment.” He dropped his bag to the ground, keeping it in sight so that no one would take it from him, and took his worn pack of tarot cards from his pocket.
The man’s eyes widened at the sight and he watched, entranced, as Octavian took out the cards and shuffled them before selecting a single one and turning it over. He smiled as he saw the Queen of Swords. “Octavian Nür Prince,” he answered in French as he quickly put his cards away.
“Octavian,” the wizard whispered proudly. “Octavian Nür. She did not forget me, then,” he said softly to himself, before his eyes turned fiercely back to Octavian. “A fine name. You carry it well.”
He couldn’t help but smile at Monsieur’s praise. Looking deeply in his eyes, Octavian couldn’t help but relax a little, letting himself believe for at least one moment that he was truly wanted. “Maman dit,” he confessed before closing his eyes in pain. “She says I should be in Slytherin, zat all Princes ‘ave been, mais –”
The man smiled kindly at him. “It is a tradition in my family as well, along with the occasional Ravenclaw,” he amended. “However, I do not think Slytherin may suit you. Whatever house the hat chooses will reflect what is best for you, and there will be no shame in any of them, as long as you follow our ways and do not betray your heritage.”
Black eyes shone with happiness and he nodded imperceptibly. “Merci, Monsieur.”
Monsieur hesitated before smiling. “Papa,” he corrected in little more than a whisper.
Octavian smiled brightly at the recognition, before he tentatively reached out his small hand, his fingers lightly brushing against his father’s cheek. At the contact, Octavian closed his eyes in happiness, knowing now that his father was real. His father was here, in front of him. His father wasn’t a figment of his imagination. “Mon papa,” he repeated, as his father smiled sadly at him.
“I—” he paused. “Would you allow me to give you money for sweets on the train? A growing boy can never have enough.”
“I do not—”
“Just to supplement, I assure you. It is an excellent way to make new acquaintances at the very least and I always enjoyed one too many chocolate frogs before term started,” he said conspiratorially, before reaching into his robes and pulling out a bag full of coins.
Octavian’s eyes widened and he reached out hesitantly. “You will not tell Maman?”
The wizard shook his head. “Of course not, Octavian. Les pères et leurs fils must have some secrets from the ladies.”
The whistle sounded and Octavian jumped slightly as he quickly grabbed the bag, causing the wizard to chuckle under his breath. “Bonne chance, Octavian,” he said in parting, watching Octavian in his worn robes run onto the train with a spring in his step. Octavian seemed so small and vulnerable, but there was a life about him that many purebloods lacked.
He glanced at his pocket watch. He had more than an hour before he was set to have lunch with the Minister for Magic. A trip to Diagon Alley, he thought, was in order. His Octavian would want for nothing.
He smiled sadly. He had missed eleven years in his youngest child’s life, and he would be damned if he missed another day.
French to English Translations.
Il est marié. He is married.
Le fils de Cain. The son of Cain (Cain was a figure in Genesis who murdered his brother Abel. In the Old English epic Beowulf, the ‘monster’ Grendel and his mother are said to be of the line of Cain.)
Oui, mon Octavian … Je pense. Yes, my Octavian … I think so.
I only ‘ave neuf galleons and sept sickles, Monsieur Ollivande. I only have nine Galleons and seven Sickles, Mr. Ollivander.
La charité. Charity.
Pardon, Monsiur? Pardon, Sir?
Nous sommes des Princes. Nous sommes les Slytherines. We are Princes. We are Slytherins.
Oui, Monsieur. Yes, Sir.
Tu es français, petit. Très bien. You (singular/familiar form) are French, little one. Very good.
Ma mère est anglaise. Et mon père, je pense. My mother is English. And my father, I think.
Oui, ta mère. Yes, your mother.
Chut, mon petit. Hush, my little one.
L’enfant de la fée. The child of the fairy (or changeling/changeling-child).
Et les magiciens? And the wizards?
Le bâtard. The bastard (as in illegitimate).
Maman dit … mais … Mum says … but …
Merci, Monsieur. Thank you, Sir.
Mon papa. My daddy.
Les pères et leurs fils. Fathers and their sons.
Bonne chance. Good luck.