Part the Ninth—
At Christmas I no more desire a rose, than wish a snow in May’s new-fangled shows; but like of each thing that in season grows.
—Love’s Labour’s Lost, Act I, scene i
The next evening, Fay and Eselde took over the sixth-year boys’ dorm much to the annoyance of Ron, Seamus, and Dean. “I made an appointment for you at Twilfitt and Tattings,” Eselde said by way of greeting. “I know you were planning to stop by, but I also wanted to send them a list of everything I thought might look good on you, and with a booked fitting they close the shop and give their full attention to you.”
Harry smiled at her. “Thanks, Eselde. When is it?”
“Oh, Saturday at two in the afternoon. I figured you would be finished at Gringotts by then. I can even come if you want a second opinion—no pressure.”
“You’re a godsend and that would be helpful,” he responded and she beamed at him before picking through his clothes once again.
“Wizard coat again?” she inquired before putting together an ensemble of the same black trousers and a black turtleneck.
A pair of Fay’s older brother’s dragon-hide boots was produced out of nowhere. “He hasn’t worn them in years. They’re far too small for him,” she explained—and transfigured them to fit him.
When Harry and Octavian arrived at the gathering—possibly a little late and with Harry’s hair more than a little disheveled—the party was in full swing. Harry instantly pulled Octavian into a corner where he had spotted some mistletoe, but ran into a snogging Hermione and Cormac McLaggen. Hermione looked more than slightly uncomfortable and quickly extricated herself from her date.
“Oh, Harry,” she greeted, as though she were grasping at anything to get away from Cormac. “Lovely party, isn’t it?”
“Er—yes,” he said trying to anywhere except at the disheveled Hermione. He was afraid he might have been scarred for life.
“Ah, Potter,” McLaggen greeted before his eyes widened. “Prince.”
Hermione’s head snapped up and she took in the sight of a rather striking Octavian in a gold wizard coat that appeared to be made out of flobberworm silk. It was oriental in style, hugging his frame tightly and Harry had learned that apart from a tank top and his trousers, there was nothing underneath it. With his hair falling loosely over the Japanese style collar, Octavian was easily the most attractive wizard in the room—and that included the unearthly looking vampire that was eyeing them both hungrily.
Harry protectively pulled Octavian closer to him.
The vampire appeared undeterred, especially as he had noticed Harry as well.
“Harry,” Hermione hissed. “What did I tell you about getting a proper date?”
He looked at her coolly and noticed that McLaggen was looking at her, startled.
“Hermione,” Cormac said, “I know you’re a Muggle-born and therefore don’t know, but there’s nothing wrong with it. Uncle Tiberius has a husband and he’s close friends with the Minister of Magic.”
Harry’s grip around Octavian’s waist tightened and he found that he had never been so grateful to McLaggen in his life.
She stared at McLaggen incredulously. “Of course there’s something wrong with it. Homosexuality is wrong, Cormac; it’s unnatural.”
“No, it’s not,” he countered, stepping away from her as if she carried a contagious disease. His face was slowly turning red in anger, and Harry was very glad that his anger wasn’t currently directed at him. “Nothing unnatural at all. With magic, homosexuals can even have children. My cousin Dacre is ten years old and coming to Hogwarts next year. What’s so unnatural about him?”
She crossed her arms and turned back to Harry. Octavian stood beside Harry proudly, his chin lifted in an odd combination of innocence and arrogant disdain, and the room almost hummed with his unspoken presence. None of them seemed to have noticed they had an audience.
“He’s racist, Harry, why can’t you see that? His father’s a Death Eater, he hates Muggles—”
“I’m not terribly fond of them either,” Harry cut out, stunning the room to silence.
Blaise Zabini arched an eyebrow from his place beside Daphne Greengrass, and peered at the quartet who were still under the mistletoe.
“If only Draco were here,” she murmured to Blaise who nodded in response.
“You-you don’t mean that,” Hermione stuttered.
“Of course I mean it. They’re terribly unobservant at best, failing to call child services when a child is clearly being neglected and half-starved, and bigoted at worst, trying to beat the magic out of the same child. We’re not even friends, Granger. I don’t know why I bother.”
“Harry, don’t say that—you’re just confused—”
“Right, so if I don’t behave and think the way you want, I’m confused. Right. Got it. Thanks. Glad to have that cleared up.”
“No, Harry, he’s confusing you. His mother did it to his father.”
Harry rolled his eyes. “Don’t tell me. He’s seducing me as we speak. Right here, right now. I’m practically panting and have taken off all of my clothes and wouldn’t mind an orgy if he suggested it. Is that what you’re saying, Granger?”
McLaggen laughed, breaking the tension. “Good one, Potter.”
He smirked. “Thanks, McLaggen.”
“Harry, why don’t you find a nice girl?” Hermione tried again. “I know Cho was a bit of a—”
“Crybaby, yeah. Very unattractive. I can’t decide if the fact that she was female or always crying was more of a turn-off,” he said crudely, wanting to shock her as much as possible. She’d asked for it, was begging for it even, and he was sick of taking everything she laid out on him.
Filch, however, broke up the argument when he came in dragging Draco Malfoy.
“Oh, he is here,” Daphne said as she watched that particular spectacle and Draco was invited to stay. She reached out to her him when he turned to go, and held him in the room. “You have to see this. Potter and Granger are having it out over Prince—if they start up again.” She smiled softly. “You look unwell, are you all right?”
“Perfectly,” he snapped though his eyes softened slightly. “How’s your sister?” he inquired as she handed him a glass of mead that Blaise had provided.
“Astoria?” she asked slyly. “Quite well. Gearing up for her O.W.L.s, although she’s not taking them until next year.”
Draco sighed, attempting to relax and ignoring his Head of House who was trying to get his attention. He needed this, he thought, he just needed a break from it all, to get back on track perhaps after break.
He’d been getting sloppy, especially since Filch had managed to catch him. He closed his eyes warily before opening them again.
“Typical Ravenclaw,” he said fondly.
“Yes, well, we can’t all be Slytherins.”
He smirked. “Every family has the occasional black sheep, though Astoria is far from that.”
“I—Draco,” she said softly when she noticed that Ginny Weasley was dragging her boyfriend over to Granger who was still whispering angrily at Potter. Prince had slipped away, most likely on a pretense to get drinks, and was talking quietly to another student as he watched his boyfriend anxiously out of the corner of his eye. “I trust if I tell you something, you might be able to get the information to the appropriate source?”
Draco looked at her, surprised, but indicated for her to continue. “Potter has been studying pureblood traditions and courtship rituals; I’ve been helping him. He’s even asked me to meet him at Gringotts on Saturday to help him choose which betrothal ring to present to Prince—a Black betrothal ring.”
“He’s fully legitimatizing him?”
“Yes. He doesn’t realize all the nuances—he doesn’t even know who Prince’s sire is or the implications of the Lord Black recognizing him and marrying him, instead of the Head of the House of Potter.”
“Mordred,” Draco swore under his breath. “Prince would legitimately become my cousin.” He paused, thinking. “Does he know?”
“Prince? Not that I know of. It’s possible, however, though he doesn’t act like it.”
They both turned to look at Octavian who was now wincing at something the youngest Weasley was saying.
“Honestly, Hermione, it means nothing. It’s just a date to a party—Harry isn’t a homosexual.”
Draco rolled his eyes. “Filthy blood traitors and their Christian ideals.”
“I believe they are pseudo-Christians,” Blaise added in factually, before Hermione demanded that Harry choose between his Gryffindor friends and the racist Hufflepuff. “That is not going to go over well,” he murmured.
Harry merely stared at Ginny and Hermione. “I already made my choice yesterday, Granger. I thought you knew that,” he said, before walking away toward Octavian.
Harry smiled before pulling him toward some now free mistletoe. “I’m sorry,” he whispered before kissing him gently.
“You ‘ave nothing to be sorry for,” Octavian said softly against Harry’s lips. “And I am used to it.”
“Not for much longer,” Harry vowed. “Mon petit ami, mon fiancé,”he kissed Octavian deeply before he could say anything, leaving the younger boy dazed when he pulled away again. “Mon mari, mon amour. Say ‘yes,’” he begged.
“Je ne c-comprends pas,” Octavian said softly, his black eyes welling with tears.
Harry softly brushed the edges of his eyes and kissed him again. “There’s nothing to understand. I, as Lord Black, am asking you to marry me. I’m going to Gringotts on Saturday to pick out the ring—I have a few to choose from—and then as soon as I see you again, I’ll slip it on your hand and make you mine.”
Octavian reached up and brushed his lips against Harry’s.
“Is that a ‘yes’ then?”
“‘Ow can I say ‘non,’ mon Henri Jacques?” he asked in response, smiling.
“Then say it—please—so I can properly celebrate in front of everyone.”
“You wish to ravish me in front of ze entire Slug Club?” Black eyes twinkled.
“I’d prefer to ravish you elsewhere, if I’m honest.”
“Ah, very well, Henri Jacques. Lord Black,” he pulled away, bowing formally, “I accept your offer of marriage. C’est bon?”
Harry laughed before sweeping a smiling Octavian into his arms. “Brilliant, mon fiancé.”
“You realize you must now meet Maman à demain.”
“Should I wear this coat then?”
“It might be best.” Octavian laughed happily before seizing a smiling Harry and kissing him thoroughly under the mistletoe. When he pulled away, he blushed. “I think everyone is looking at us.”
“Let them look,” Harry said giddily, feeling thoroughly drunk although he had barely tasted his mead. “I am the happiest wizard in England, and I don’t care who knows at the moment.” He kissed his fiancé again, smiling. “Come, let’s go celebrate somewhere more private,” he whispered huskily.
Octavian could only nod happily. “I feel both wanted and loved completely for ze first time in my life,” he whispered very quietly.
“What was that?” Harry asked as he glanced over his shoulder.
“Nothing, Henri Jacques,” he replied with a fond smile. “It was nothing.”
Harry opened the door to the Room of Requirement, and grinned when he saw what the room had provided for him. Mistletoe hung all over the wooden ceiling, so that anywhere either of them stepped, Harry would be able to kiss his Octavian. A warm fire roared and spiced cookies and mulled cider were laid out next to a chaise lounge that was large enough for both of them.
There were several windows looking out onto the Forbidden Forest and the Black Lake and on each sill were several jars of sparkling fireflies of every color imaginable, giving the room a magical and innocent glow.
“Zis is beautiful,” Octavian exclaimed as he leaned against Harry’s back. His eyes took in every detail before alighting on the chaise. “‘Ow Francais.”
“I aim to please.” Harry smiled into his neck, before leading Octavian to the chaise. Harry sat down on it and then reached for Octavian, giving him the decision whether or not he wanted to lie down on top of his fiancé. “We won’t do anything you don’t want to,” Harry assured him, but Octavian didn’t hesitate.
Slowly, he unbuttoned his wizard coat until it fell unheeded on the floor and took his shirt off only a moment later. He blushed slightly as Harry’s eyes raked over his bare chest that he had only glimpsed earlier that evening.
Harry gasped when he saw several small scars littering Octavian’s torso and quickly stood, trailing his fingers against a prominent one on Octavian’s right shoulder. “What happened?” he asked breathlessly.
Octavian smiled sadly. “Les Muggles. Zey wanted to see if a Changeling-child would survive a stoning.”
“Merlin,” Harry swore, tracing a line over each one with his tentative fingers. “Je suis désolé.”
“Merci,” Octavian whispered before he reached up and gently pushed Harry’s coat from his shoulders. “I want to see you as you see me, Henri Jacques.”
Harry could feel his pulse quicken and only nodded before lifting the turtleneck and his undershirt over his head in one go. Octavian laughed softly as they got caught on his glasses and reached over to help him become untangled.
“Sorry,” Harry mumbled but Octavian only smiled.
“I would not love you so if you were not a little—maladroit.”
“Maladroit? Maladroit, am I?” Harry asked cheekily.
“Un petit peu.” Octavian stepped forward and lightly traced a large scar on Harry’s arm.
“Basilisk bite,” Harry said conversationally. “Fawkes—Dumbledore’s phoenix—healed me, but the scar never quite went away. Don’t tell Madam Pomfrey.”
“I ‘ad ‘eard. Ze Weasley girl was taken, yes?”
“Yes.” He laughed suddenly and Octavian glanced at him, amused. “Sorry—I just remembered—Bill Weasley, the eldest, is engaged to Fleur Delacour and Ginny absolutely hates her. Calls her Phlegm behind her back. It seems Bill and I have something in common.”
“I am not part veela, but thank you for ze compliment—I think.”
Harry kissed him lightly before leading him back to the chaise, lying down on it with Octavian in his arms. “No, I don’t think you’re part veela. I know you would never stand for such things.”
“Non, I would not—and I could not call myself a pureblood, and Papa would not be pleased.”
“Probably not,” Harry agreed, trying to imagine a Death Eater willingly procreating with someone with creature blood, and then wishing immediately that he hadn’t. Rodolphus Lestrange and a part-veela was not what he wanted to imagine when he was holding Octavian.
“Is it zat we are both Français? Or zat ze Weasley does not like us?” Octavian snuggled closer to Harry’s warmth and Harry sighed in contentment.
“That you are both French. And gorgeous—though I think Fleur is pretty because of her allure.”
“Zat must be très interessant. ‘Ow many Weasleys are zere?”
“Six sons and one daughter.”
“Sacrebleu! We are not ‘aving zat many. It would ‘urt too much.”
“We have years to think about children,” Harry soothed before drawing Octavian up so he could kiss him fully. He ran his hands up Octavian’s back and into his hair, reveling in its softness. He desperately wanted to rock his hips upward against his fiancé, but it was too soon, he reminded himself.
Although they could legally marry as soon as the new year—wizarding laws were rather archaic. An orphan or an illegitimate wizard could marry the year they turned fifteen, even if the wizard was born on the last day of December, he could marry the previous January as long as his betrothed was of age, or would be of age the same year. He knew Octavian wasn’t ready and he wouldn’t do anything to jeopardize Octavian’s happiness or trust. “Je t’aime,” he whispered huskily when Octavian finally pulled away.
“I love your hair,” Harry whispered as his hands traced Octavian’s lower back, caressing each scar reverently as if it were the most precious of things.
Octavian smiled sweetly down at him. “Thank you. It is traditional among the eldest sons of purebloods in France, and I did not know when I was a child zat zere was another ‘eir.”
“It suits you,” Harry said simply.
“Did you know zat I stole so I could buy my wand?” he asked quietly.
Harry’s eyebrows furrowed and he shook his head. His hands unconsciously played with the tips of Octavian’s hair, brushing against Octavian’s pale shoulders.
“When I went to Ollivande’s ‘e gave me so many wands to try—I knew zey were more expensive zan what I told ‘im I ‘ad, but I let ‘im.” He stilled, allowing Harry’s hands to quietly worship him in the half-light. “‘Ee told me something, Henri Jacques. ‘Ee ‘ad great difficulty finding a wand, and only certain ‘airs from unicorns reacted with me. Monsieur Ollivande said zat I was not only connecting with the ideal Chrétien of the unicorn, but with the pagan aspect zat is so often forgot.” He sighed. “I am not explaining it correctly.”
“Shh,” Harry whispered against his hair, his hand never stopping or slowing in its lazy motion.
Octavian huffed against Harry’s chest, causing him to chuckle. “Les licornes are drawn to zose ‘oo will love—zose ‘oo are meant to ‘ave a soul mate—and cannot be complete without zis love.” He lifted himself up so that he was looking into Harry’s astonished emerald eyes. “I wanted you to know,” he confessed, “zat—at least according to Ollivande—I was born to love you and only you, mon Henri Jacques.”
The smile that suffused Harry’s features at those words was blinding.
Harry grimaced when he got off the Hogwarts Express at dusk the next day, thinking about what the holiday season would hold for him. He wasn’t speaking to Hermione at all, Ginny he could barely look at, and Ron—well—Ron was too busy snogging Lavender and insisting Harry was not a poof for Harry to feel anything complimentary about him.
He was, however, dutifully going to the Burrow for Christmas. Under normal circumstances he wouldn’t bother, Hogwarts was a much better idea, but he was determined to speak with Mr. Thicknesse, who he had an appointment to see the following morning, choose Octavian’s betrothal ring, purchase clothes more suitable for the husband of the future Mr. Octavian Nür Black, and personally choose a rare plant for Neville’s Christmas present.
Yes, he thought, he could get through this.
To the amusement of Octavian, he was wearing exactly the same outfit he had the night before—primarily because the couple had fallen asleep in the Room of Requirement, and Harry didn’t see any reason to change when he had less than ten minutes to pack before catching the Hogwarts Express.
Octavian had somehow managed to change into a deep red wizard coat made out of brocade with black serpents sewn into the collar and a pair of casual slacks. He hoped once they were married Octavian would teach him the trick.
The evening was cool and Harry glanced around curiously, noticing that Parkinson, Zabini, and Malfoy were all watching him intently from their huddle on the platform. Harry linked an arm protectively around Octavian’s waist and ignored the gaggle of redheads that called his name.
“Maman!” Octavian called happily toward a woman who was sitting primly in the shadows.
Harry looked her over quickly. She had long dark brown hair with a slight wave to it and her black eyes shone out of a handsome face. She was petite, like Octavian, and although she was not classically beautiful, she was utterly captivating.
Many wizards—including Mr. Weasley, Harry noticed—were taking glances at her, but she ignored them all and instead a soft smile played on her face when she saw her son, although it did not reach her eyes.
She eyed Harry critically when she saw his arm wrapped around Octavian’s waist and she smoothed out nonexistent creases in her worn yet well-maintained velvet robes.
“Octavian Nür,” she greeted her son, who stared up at her nervously. “Introduce me.” Her eyes flicked to the right where the Weasleys were looking apprehensively at them.
“Of course, Maman,” he answered softly. “Henri Jacques, may I present Madam Lucrece Aurora Prince. Maman, my fiancé, ze Lord Black.”
Her black eyes flashed in astonishment. “Fiancé?” she questioned before holding out her hand in the Continental form of greeting.
Harry was suddenly glad he had read all the books Daphne had recommended to him as he grasped her hand and raised it an inch below his lips before releasing it again, his eyes never leaving hers.
She smiled at him. “Forgive me, Lord Black, but I had assumed that the next person to hold your title would be Master Malfoy. You have taken me by surprise.”
“Not at all, Madam. It took me by surprise as well. My grandmother was Dorea Black and my godfather was the late Lord Black. It is a pleasure to finally meet you.”
“And when did this all come about?” she turned to her son. “I have not had a single word about a Lord Black nor any notification of an engagement.”
“The second part is my fault,” Harry confessed. “I had planned on proposing right after break after I had chosen a suitable engagement ring, but I wanted—er—”
“It was very proper, Maman,” Octavian assured her. “Henri Jacques asked me last night and I thought it would be easier to inform you in person.”
She eyed her son critically before acquiescing. She turned again to the redheaded family. “It appears, Lord Black, that that party of Weasleys is waiting for you.”
“Please, call me ‘Harry,’ no one calls me ‘Lord Black.’ If they call me anything else it is ‘Potter,’ though it would be a bit odd having my future mother-in-law call me that.” He looked over her shoulder to see that Hermione had now joined the Weasleys and they were all looking over at him critically, except for Fleur who, once she had caught his eye, waltzed over.
“You are Harry Potter?” La Princesse asked, hiding her shock well.
Harry nodded. “Yes. I hope that is acceptable?”
“Of course, Harry.” She hesitated and then kissed him gently on both cheeks. Her movements were exact, held no warmth, but were perfectly polite. “Welcome to our humble family.”
Harry smiled brightly at her and then Fleur was upon them. “‘Arry,” she greeted. “Zee Weasleys weell not come over and get you for some reason. Eet eez time to go, zough really I zink zey do not like ‘aving me wiz zem, much.”
“Oh, of course. I’ll be right there.”
“Zee coat eez very chic,” she complimented before looking expectantly at him.
He smiled at her cheekily. “Is there something you wanted?”
She hesitated and glanced back at the Weasleys. “Forgive me, Madame, Monsieur,” she said quickly. “‘Arry—I theenk—eet eez just a feeling when Bill reads me ‘ees sister’s letters—‘owever—”
He sighed. “What has Ginny said now?”
“I would lock your room at night. Een fact, try and share weeth Bill as I know ‘e weell not unlock zee door for her eef you ask. ‘Ee eez concerned but ‘e does not zink she will openly do anytheeng. I, ‘owever, am not so certain.”
Harry looked into her blue eyes and saw only truthfulness staring out at him and he nodded his head slightly in acknowledgement. “Thank you, Fleur. You are a true friend.”
“I should get back, and you should probably ‘urry. Madame Prince,” she nodded in acknowledgement, “eet eez a pleasure. A friend of ‘Arry’s eez a friend of mine. Monsieur,” she said before walking back to her fiancé.
Octavian looked up at Harry worriedly. “Are you sure you’ll be all right?”
Harry glanced over at Ginny who was taking looks at him. He thought she liked Dean—why would she—he shook off the feeling, not wanting to think about it any further. “I’m just surprised,” he admitted quietly, “and confused. If worse comes to worst, I’ll just spend a few nights at the Leaky Cauldron.”
“Is she a previous—attachment?” La Princesse inquired, her tone guarded.
“No,” Harry admitted. “I’ve never dated her. She was a bit stalkerish, in all honesty, when she first came to Hogwarts. Sent me a singing valentine in front of everyone when I was twelve.” He turned to Octavian. “If you ever need to send one to me, please make sure it’s not a dwarf dressed as cupid.”
Octavian laughed happily.
“I still have nightmares,” Harry admitted just to see Octavian’s smile widen. “Au revoir, Madame,” he said, turning to her before nodding his head. He then looked at Octavian and smiled.
“I see and hear nothing,” La Princesse said by way of permission and Octavian needed no further encouragement.
He wrapped his arms around Harry’s waist and pulled him down for a deep kiss that made Harry moan softly in the back of his throat. When he finally pulled away, Octavian was smiling innocently up at him, his black eyes glinting in amusement.
“Je t’aime,” Harry breathed against Octavian’s cheek before kissing him softly once more.
As he began to pull away, Octavian held on tightly. “Write to me all ze ‘orrors of ze Burrow,” he gently commanded and Harry couldn’t resist kissing him softly once more.
“Only if you write back,” he responded before, at last, turning and walking toward an angry gaggle of Weasleys, a wide grin on his face.
French to English Translations.
Mon petit ami, mon fiancé. My boyfriend, my fiancé.
Mon mari, mon amour. My husband, my love.
Je ne comprends pas. I don’t understand.
C’est bon? That’s good?
À demain. Tomorrow.
Je suis désolé. I am sorry.
Un petit peu. A little bit.
Très interessant. Very interesting.
Sacrebleu! (An exclamation of surprise meaning “sacred blue”.)
Je t’aime. I love you.
Je t’adore. I adore you.
Les licornes. The unicorns.
Au revoir, Madame. Goodbye, Madam.
Je t’aime. I love you.