Part the Twelfth—
What potions have I drunk of Siren tears, distill’d from limbecks foul as hell within, applying fears to hopes and hopes to fears.
Harry had never slept better in his life than he did the first night in the Hufflepuff dormitories. Octavian had taken to using him as a full body pillow, his head resting on Harry’s chest and his right arm and leg thrown over Harry’s body. He wrapped his bare arm around Octavian’s back and sighed happily.
Looking about for his wand—he was wondering how long he could just bask in this closeness before their alarm would go off—his eyes caught sight of the small white envelope propped up on his bedside table.
He hadn’t had a chance to open it and he was a little curious as to what it was about. He knew that Bellatrix Lestrange was in Azkaban and he doubted Mrs. Malfoy would have anything to say to him. That only left Andromeda and Nymphadora Tonks, though why they would have any contact with Blaise Zabini was beyond him. Snatching up his glasses and placing them on his nose, he took the envelope and carefully opened it with one hand, not recognizing the elaborate seal on it.
Octavian shifted in his arms and mumbled something in his sleep, causing Harry to smile slightly. It sounded an awful lot like les anneaux—or wedding bands.
He began to harden at the mere thought of finally claiming Octavian and had to bite his lip until he drew blood, trying to calm his senses. After the first night they had slept in each other’s arms in the Room of Requirement, Harry had sworn to himself he would do nothing to frighten his innocent fiancé, including being aroused when the younger boy woke up.
It was difficult, very difficult especially with Octavian only wearing his pajamas, but he had managed it so far by imagining Mrs. Weasley or Albus Dumbledore. Filch, also, did the trick quite well.
After a great deal of rustling and pinching the missive with his thumb and forefinger, while trying not to drop the letter on a sleeping Octavian, he finally managed to pull out the letter. It was a small, delicate card with the words “Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them” etched in a pale gold on the very top.
The quote seemed familiar for some reason.
He inhaled deeply as he read the message. It was simple, straight to the point, and Harry was completely astonished.
“Lord and Mr. Black,” it began. “It has come to my attention that Mr. Black will be visiting his sire the same day I am to visit my husband. I wish to offer my humble services as a possible escort to and from the cell within Azkaban, if the Lord Black should wish it. I would be pleased if you were to meet me for tea at Madam Puddifoot’s the day before at three in the afternoon. Narcissa Black Malfoy.”
He stared at it incredulously, waiting for the words to morph into something that was plausible, but they remained just as dark and firm as they had all morning. He stared at it so long that he didn’t notice Octavian’s black eyes blink open.
“What is it?” he asked groggily as he snuggled deeper into Harry’s warmth.
Harry looked down at him and smiled slightly. “Bonjour, Octavian,” he greeted with a gentle kiss that Octavian returned.
“Hmm,” Octavian sighed happily. “What is the mysterious invitation?”
Harry hesitated but Octavian’s black eyes were so open that he held him slightly closer. “It’s from Mrs. Malfoy.”
Octavian tensed but quickly relaxed back into his betrothed’s embrace. “Oh? What does she want?”
“She wants to have tea with us the day before we go to Azkaban and has offered to escort you into your father’s cell as she’s also going, apparently. At least Thicknesse is allowing other families,” he muttered to himself, remembering the day weeks before in the Ministry when he’d met Malfoy and his mother.
“Are you certain?” Octavian inquired, confused.
“It’s all here,” Harry responded, handing over the note.
Octavian squinted at it, his vision still slightly blurry from sleep. “Bizarre,” he commented.
“Yes. What do you want me to write back?”
Octavian paused for a moment, considering, before shrugging. “As long as you are zere, I—I do not think I mind.”
Harry nodded, wondering at Octavian’s slightly unusual behavior. He had tensed again after reading the note and the hesitance in his voice made Harry wonder as to the cause. He shrugged it off, however.
He knew part of him would never fully understand Octavian or his life. Yes, he had been despised as a freak in the Muggle world, bullied until he felt worthless, but what Octavian suffered through was so much worse. Harry could at least partially escape to Hogwarts and the wizarding world. He was famous, yes, which annoyed him—but at least he wasn’t constantly derided, except by Snape.
Octavian didn’t have that. He escaped from one set of persecutors to another and pureblood society, which should have opened itself up to him with open arms, instead derided him constantly. Before Harry had met Octavian again, he doubted anyone but his Azkaban-interned father had truly loved and wanted him unconditionally.
“All right,” Harry whispered, “I’ll write back after classes this afternoon.”
“Give your answer to zat Zabini,” Octavian instructed, pushing himself closer into Harry’s arms. “It is an unofficial custom to reply ze way it was sent.”
Harry smirked. “What would I ever do without you?”
“Wear too large clothing and listen to zat Muggle-born boss you around?” Octavian teased and Harry growled in the back of his throat before fully claiming the sweet lips before him.
“I like it more here.”
“Ah,” Octavian gasped, “to be a ‘Ufflepuff!” He nipped Harry’s bottom lip playfully before bounding out of the bed toward the lavatories, leaving a rather frustrated Harry in his wake.
Harry’s appearance had caused a sensation, of course, as soon as he walked into the Great Hall that morning. The entire Huflepuff table—most likely because of their tradition—had to stand up and clap at the sight of him, causing every head in the Hall to turn toward him.
McGonagall’s face went sour and she glared at the Headmaster, clearly wanting him to order Harry back to her house. Dumbledore’s eyes glinted a steel-tinged blue and he clenched his jaw in annoyance, but he could do nothing at present.
Ginny Weasley, however, had no such qualms.
“Harry,” she said derisively as she pushed Aidan over and took a seat across from the former Gryffindor. “You’re wearing Hufflepuff yellow.”
He looked at her coldly before glancing at the Gryffindor table. His entire year was staring at him with various emotions written across their faces, and Dean Thomas looked jealous for some reason. He shrugged it off.
“Yes,” he replied, taking a bite of his toast. “I’ve been Hufflepuffed.”
“That’s what I’m calling it, anyway.”
“Harry,” she sighed. “This is all,” She waved her hand up and down Harry’s body, “this isn’t right.”
Justin Finch-Fletchley snorted into his sausage. “Run off, Weasley. You’re in Hufflepuff territory, and according to a clause in the Hogwarts School Charter, Harry has been Hufflepuffed. He’s a full member of our house now and is even our new Seeker.”
Harry’s ears went red.
“Ask Sprout if you want,” Justin continued.
“Who will be our Seeker then?” Ginny asked, voice rising. “You can’t just steal ours! Harry, get out of those robes this instant.”
“He can’t,” Caspar interrupted. “We cursed all his yellow.”
“As zey say,” Octavian looked at her coldly. “Henri Jacques ‘as been ‘Ufflepuffed.”
“Please don’t sing, please don’t sing,” Harry muttered to himself, remembering the off tune song the fourth-year boys had sung at them before they went to sleep the night before.
His prayers were only partially answered.
“Badgering, Badgering, Badgered badgers badgering,” Zacharias Smith began, causing Harry to sink into his seat.
At least he could sing a little, Harry thought wryly to himself.
“He’s been badgered,” Justin stated authoritatively. “Or Hufflepuffed as it’s now called. Nothing to be done. He’s betrothed to a Hufflepuff while still attending Hogwarts—so he’s now a Hufflepuff himself.”
“He can’t—possibly,” Ginny stammered, her brown eyes locked on Harry’s.
He shrugged. “I fully admit to being badgered,” he stated though he somehow thought it sounded a bit wrong. He preferred ‘Hufflepuffed’ for some reason.
Thank the gods, he thought to himself, that at least his schedule wasn’t going to change drastically.
That night Harry unfortunately had another lesson with Dumbledore. He’d managed to slip his response to Blaise just before dinner and was surprised when the Slytherins were the only ones who weren’t teasing him about his new robes.
“Aren’t you going to make fun of me?” Harry asked Blaise in confusion.
The Slytherin looked at him, astonished. “What for, Lord Black?”
“My being Hufflepuffed?”
Blaise snorted. “Hardly. Ever since you started taking an active interest in Black, his sire’s heir has laid into anyone who tried to mess with your courtship.”
Harry looked at him, startled. “I don’t understand.”
“Of course you don’t.”
Harry blushed, but he held his ground.
Blaise sighed. “I don’t know everything. How could I? Before he hated Black for being a stain on his father’s reputation, on his reputation by association. You’re taking that stain away, legitimizing him. The heir—well. Purebloods are family driven.”
“He wants a brother,” Harry realized aloud.
“Yes. He wants the brother he never had because the bitch La Princesse sought vengeance on the sire. He can’t have it, though, until you’re married, and maybe not until everyone has graduated from Hogwarts. It’s too dangerous.”
“Because Octavian’s sire is a Death Eater.” Harry sighed, running a hand through his messy hair.
“The heir wants to know if Black can forgive him for the past,” Blaise stated quietly, neither looking at each other.
“How cruel was he?” Harry asked bitterly, not bearing the thought of anyone hurting his Octavian.
“That’s for your fiancé—”
“Of course. Tell the heir,” he said, looking straight into Blaise’s deep eyes, “that even though I do not know who he is at present, if I ever find out that he has hurt Octavian in any way from this day on, I’ll make Voldemort look like a sweet toddler once I’m through with him.”
Blaise shivered at the threat but only nodded. “The heir has stated something similar if you break Black’s heart.”
Harry smirked. “We’re on the same page, then.”
His meeting with Dumbledore was far less pleasant. When he entered the Headmaster’s office, the Pensieve was nowhere in sight and instead the desk was covered in back issues of the Daily Prophet, Clairvoyance, the Quibbler, and even the American run the Civilized Shaman.
Dumbledore was standing behind his desk, staring out the window at the dark sky, his hands—one charred and the other wrinkled—clasped together. “Take a seat,” he commanded sternly, shocking Harry. However, he didn’t move from his standing position.
“I see I am to be reprimanded,” Harry said, with a sliver of steel in his tone. He stepped forward to look at the Civilized Shaman and saw a color spread of him and Octavian having lunch at The Leaky Cauldron, the betrothal ring clearly visible on Octavian’s left hand.
“I heard you visited the Ministry over your holiday,” Dumbledore began, turning and taking his seat regally.
Harry didn’t respond but instead stood silently.
“You aren’t going to tell me?” Dumbledore said in exasperation.
“I don’t understand what my going to the Ministry has to do with our lessons.”
“I am merely trying to protect you, my boy,” Dumbledore stated, a hint of exasperation in his tone. “Scrimgeour and Fudge before him have been trying to get their hands on you so you could give them public support, and you just walked into the Ministry without any proper protection.”
“I don’t think I need protection from my own Ministry unless Umbridge is walking around,” Harry stated before finally deigning to sit. “We’re not seeing another memory then?”
“Not tonight, Mr. Potter. Not tonight.”
“Then why am I here?”
“You have been behaving recklessly, even before you left the Weasleys without permission, Harry.”
“I stayed out of everyone’s way,” he argued back. “Minded my own business, and I didn’t need permission to go or leave anywhere, professor. I’m a Muggle-raised orphan and have complete autonomy in the wizarding world.”
Dumbledore looked at him, completely flabbergasted. “I see Mr. Prince has been corrupting you.”
“Educating, professor. He is also now Mr. Black since our betrothal.”
“Ah, yes, your robes. Are you certain that is wise?”
“I’m following one of Hogwarts’ oldest regulations; I can’t see how it cannot be.”
“But you are a Gryffindor, Harry—”
“—who was supposed to be in Slytherin and has now found himself in Hufflepuff.”
Dumbledore took a deep breath. “Surely you must see what a negative influence Mr. Prince has been on you.”
Harry clenched his jaw.
“The amount of press you’re receiving alone. Clairvoyance and the Civilized Shaman claim you are the next advocate of pureblood rights. You should stop all of this now before it gets out of hand.”
His blue eyes bore into Harry’s, and Harry refused to look away.
“I don’t think I’d like to take these lessons anymore,” he said into the silence of the room.
Phineas Nigellus, who had been watching the conversation with interest, muttered, “Finally, a flare of Black pride and intelligence.”
Harry smiled softly to himself.
“Harry, I really don’t think—”
“I don’t want any more information on Voldemort. I’ve had enough of him and I now have a family to protect, and all you do is disparage my fiancé.”
“He is illegitimate.”
“Not for long, and I frankly don’t care,” he seethed. “I wouldn’t change a thing about him.”
“It is not done.”
“Why do you hate him so? What did Octavian ever do to earn such deprecation from his own headmaster? Don’t even answer that, your justifications don’t matter to me.” He quickly stood up, adjusting his glasses on his nose. “I mean to take full possession of number twelve, Grimmauld Place at the end of June and would like the Order to have vacated the premises by then and the secret of the house’s location to be passed to me. I don’t want anyone to be able to step into my home except Octavian and myself.”
Dumbledore paled considerably. “Surely, Harry, you cannot mean to—”
Harry sighed, looking at Phineas Nigellus’s potrait. “I do. Octavian deserves a home as soon as possible and I don’t want to go back to my parents’ home at Godric’s Hollow. I’ve already sent my new house-elf to begin cleaning and hopefully redecorating.”
“Very well,” Dumbledore responded, clearly displeased. “There is something, though, that I need you to do.”
“There is a memory Professor Slughorn possesses. He has given me a modified version of it, and I fear will not give me the original.”
“Perhaps it should stay that way,” Harry responded quietly. “It is his memory, professor. He has the right not to part with it. One’s mind is sacred.”
“Voldemort does not care if the mind, as you say, is sacred.”
“And neither, apparently, do you.” He nodded to the portrait of his ancestor before rising quietly. “Good night, professor,” he said with steel in his voice before turning and sweeping from the room.
January bled into February, and Harry found himself every Saturday taking Apparition lessons. Ron glared at him since Harry was standing between Ernie Macmillan and Hannah Abbott, who had partially adopted him whenever he wasn’t with Octavian and his friends. The Ministry appointed teacher drawled on about his three D’s, making many of his pupils frustrated, but eventually, over the weeks, a few were able to successfully Apparate into the hoops placed in front of them.
Harry’s new Quidditch team soundly beat Ravenclaw much to Gryffindor’s displeasure just before Valentine’s Day, and Harry was rather surprised when Romilda Vane of all people came up to him in the library with a ‘congratulations present.’
Harry was once again sitting with Daphne Greengrass, who had almost become a friend of sorts, and he was reading The Pureblood’s Guide to Managing House-Elves. He knew Hermione—Granger, he reminded himself—would be horrified if she saw him, but the book was rather useful, talking about house-elf magic and how to properly treat and care for the small, symbiotic creatures.
“Excellent game, Harry,” Romilda breathed as she presented him with several Chocolate Cauldrons. “My gran sent these to me, but I’m not really fond of Firewhisky, so I thought . . .” She drifted off and Harry caught her drift.
“Right. Er. Thanks, Romilda. I’m sure Octavian and I will enjoy them.”
“Oh, no! They’re just for you, since you beat Ravenclaw and all, putting them out of the running for the Cup.”
“Er, right,” Harry responded, looking at Daphne with confusion clearly written on his face.
Romilda stood there expectantly before Daphne sighed in exasperation. “Thank you, Vane.” However, the small fourth-year didn’t move and, instead, pulled a chair over to them, creating an awkward silence. She pulled out a book that she clearly had no intention of reading and kept sneaking glances at Harry.
Daphne openly stared at her, clearly amazed at her audacity. “Oh thank the gods,” she muttered as she spotted her little sister and Draco Malfoy entering together.
“Harry James,” Astoria greeted joyfully as she skipped ahead of a pale and sickly looking Malfoy and came to sit by the now-Hufflepuffed Harry.
Harry laughed quietly at her. “Astoria Eostre,” he responded. “Malfoy.”
“Don’t say ‘Eostre,’ I simply hate it,” Astoria commanded, her strawberry blonde curls falling over her shoulders.
“I thought you liked it when I called you ‘Eostre,’” Malfoy said solemnly as he sat beside Daphne and took out some parchment.
“That’s you, Draco, this is Harry James.”
“Then maybe you should stop calling me ‘Harry James’.”
“Black calls you ‘Harry James’,” she protested.
“Yes, well, Octavian and I are betrothed and you and I are not.”
She huffed and then stared in shock when she noticed Romilda Vane was glaring daggers at her.
“Don’t you already have a boyfriend?” Romilda asked.
Draco’s head snapped toward Astoria, his eyes growing slightly darker, though his gray face betrayed nothing. Daphne smiled softly to herself.
“No, Vane, I do not,” she replied primly. “Ooh, Chocolate Cauldrons.” She opened up the box and Romilda stared at her in horror.
“Those are for Harry.”
Astoria looked at her curiously before inhaling. “They smell heavenly,” she smiled, “like furniture polish, autumn wind, and that aftershave you use, Draco, though why a Chocolate Cauldron would smile like that, I don’t know.”
“Are you sure?” Malfoy asked, his eyes darkening, but Harry quickly took the cakes back and smelled them himself.
“No. I smell moss, treacle tart, a broomstick, and honey-flavored milk.” He looked at them, confused. “Romilda,I thought you said they had Firewhisky in them, not treacle.”
Romilda’s dark eyes widened in horror and she lunged for the cakes, but Malfoy beat her to them and sniffed them. “Definitely chocolate and Firewhisky, but—” He paled considerably, “—fresh cut flowers, honeysuckles perhaps, old books, and—” His silver eyes alighted on Astoria and he paled considerably. “Vane,” he began harshly, “do you realize that I’m currently holding evidence of attempted rape and line theft?”
The young girl went as white as Nearly Headless Nick, but Draco didn’t pay her any mind.
“Trying to bewitch a pureblood Lord into falling in love with you, especially when he is betrothed, Mordred,” he declared to the entire library that was now listening, including Hermione Granger. Madam Pince looked up at them, mouth open, ready to scold, but she firmly shut it once again with an audible snap.
“It’s not—they’re not—they’re just Chocolate Cauldrons,” she said desperately.
“If they’re just ‘Chocolate Cauldrons,’ then why does Astoria smell aftershave and I smell Rose Water instead?”
Astoria stilled and Harry looked at her, hoping she was all right. He leaned over to place a hand on her shoulder, but she started, her hair moving slightly around her shoulders, and Harry could distinctly smell Rose Water around her.
“Amortentia,” he breathed in horror.
Draco nodded. “Potter, do any of the things you mentioned remind you of Black?”
Harry nodded. “Moonlit moss and honey-milk. Octavian tastes of honey-milk,” he murmured to himself. “It’s his favorite. Winky even comes to Hogwarts at meal times to make sure he gets it.”
“You realize you’re going to Azkaban for this,” Draco stated coldly, but quietly enough so that no one outside of their group could hear. He firmly shut the lid and stuffed the cakes into his bag. “Potter, Vane, we’re going to see McGonagall immediately.”
“P-Please, Malfoy,” Vane begged, “I didn’t mean to.”
“Of course you meant to,” Daphne stated coldly. “I was here when you gave Potter the Chocolate Cauldrons. You do realize that he’s betrothed to someone whose half-brother is a Slytherin?”
Vane paled even more, if that was even possible. “But y—but he doesn’t care about Prince.”
“How ignorant are you?” Astoria said quietly. “And you call yourself a pureblood.”
“Of course I’m a pureblood,” Romilda shot back.
“Then think like one.”
“I am. Even if Harry legitimates him, he’ll never be recognized. He has no father, no brother. Only a sire who doesn’t care about him and a whore—”
Harry’s vision went an ugly shade of red but before he could do anything, Malfoy had seized her by the shoulders and was staring coldly into her eyes. “Don’t state such filth in front of respectable ladies.”
“It’s the truth. Everyone knows it’s true,” she stated, digging her grave deeper.
Malfoy opened up his mouth to respond, but Astoria quietly came over and placed a hand on his shoulder. “Draco, this is not the place or time,” she stated quietly and he instantly loosened his grip on the Gryffindor.
Daphne stood up and packed her bags. “I’ll serve as witness instead of Potter,” she stated quietly, “and we’ll go to Snape. He’ll be harsher, especially if Potter isn’t there or mentioned at first.” Her eyes locked with Malfoy’s.
Draco shook his head. “No, you know how he feels about Black,” he said, referring to Octavian.
“He wants me to break all contact with Octavian,” Harry put in quietly, making Astoria look up at him with wide blue-gray eyes.
Daphne bit her lip.
“Professor Flitwick is fond of Octavian,” Harry suggested tentatively. “He’s very protective of him.”
“Flitwick then,” Malfoy said authoritatively, grasping Romilda’s arms tightly. “He’ll make sure no one can ignore this.” He turned to Harry. “Go to him—you belong at his side.”
Harry nodded, dumbfounded. “Th-Thank you.”
“Tell him,” Malfoy said quietly, “that I’ll make sure his brother takes care of this completely.”
Pleading silver eyes locked with emerald and Harry was confused by all of the emotions warring within them. Harry could only nod, confused at the unknown Slytherin’s loyalty to a brother he could not even openly acknowledge and had to use others to pass on messages.
He watched as Daphne and Malfoy led Romilda out of the library and a hum quickly erupted as soon as the door shut behind them.
“That’s enough!” Madam Pince shouted. “This library is a quiet space.” Her beadlike eyes behind her spectacles zeroed in on Hermione who was conversing with Terry Boot and then flitted off to a group of Hufflepuff seventh-years.
“Are you all right?” Harry murmured to Astoria as they moved to leave the library as well. He quickly checked out the book on house-elves and Astoria only stood calmly beside him.
“He smelled Rose Water,” she finally whispered in wonder.
Harry smiled at her. “Yes.”
“Then why—” Her question hung silently between them and Harry sighed, having never dreamed that he would have a conversation on Draco Malfoy’s emotions.
“Why does he date Parkinson?”
Astoria nodded, her face still blank.
“Habit? They’ve been together since the Yule Ball, at least I assume so.”
Astoria looked up at him pleadingly, and he tried again. “I don’t think he’s been well since his father—”
“Yes, that must be it,” Astoria said to herself and then tried to smile brightly at Harry, but failed completely. “I’ll be all right, Harry,” she said when she noticed the concern on his face. “Go find Black. He should hear about this from you and not the rumor mill.”
Harry nodded once again and practically ran toward the Hufflepuff Basement, and didn’t stop until he held Octavian close against him once more.