Part the Fourteenth—
All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players: they have their exits and their entrance.
—As You Like It, Act I, scene vii
Drama seemed to abound over the next few weeks at Hogwarts. Harry and Octavian were finally not the center of gossip but rather Romilda Vane (who had been expelled and was awaiting trial) and Ron Weasley. It turned out that the Chocolate Cauldrons she had given Harry were not her only spiked treats, and somehow some spiked chocolate frogs ended up in Ron’s pile of birthday presents. No one was certain how it happened, only that Ron was going around like a madman, declaring his love for Romilda Vane and trying desperately to find her, until he knocked himself out when the stairs up to the girls’ dormitory turned into a slide.
He was rather clumsy, it appeared.
Hermione had found him and brought him to Professor Slughorn, and somehow he had gotten poisoned in the process—though once again no one was really certain how it had happened.
The Gryffindor team was in uproar and fortunately lost their match to Hufflepuff, what with being down a Seeker and a Keeper. Cormac McLaggen had taken over the latter position and had sent a Bludger at Ginny Weasley, who had stepped up as Seeker, for some bizarre reason that Harry couldn’t really understand.
At least the Bludger wasn’t sent toward him.
He wasn’t sure if Octavian would have ever let him near his Firebolt ever again if that had happened.
Harry was surprised one day at lunch when Lavender Brown of all people came and sat near him at the Hufflepuff table. “Harry,” she greeted, sniffing before taking a large crêpe and putting it on her place.
“Lavender,” he responded, confused.
“It looks like you’re starting a trend,” Caspar said, grinning stupidly at the pretty girl who was beside him.
“Henri Jacques is very fashionable,” Octavian said with a teasing smile and Lavender looked up at him, surprised.
“Qui est Henri Jacques?” she asked in flawless French.
“Il est mon mari.”
“You think Harry is fashionable?” she squeaked, staring at Harry unabashedly before taking in his signet rings and wedding band. “Parvati might have been right.”
Harry, feeling uncomfortable, wanted to change the subject—as soon as possible. “So, how are things with Ron?” he questioned and was surprised when Lavender viciously stabbed at her crêpe.
“Why don’t you ask Hermione?”
“Er,” he said, turning back to his breakfast.
Octavian was chatting happily to Aidan about the latest potion Slughorn was having them brew and Harry just sighed happily. There was another one of the professor’s dinners coming up and he and Octavian had been invited, of course. Everyone—including the Daily Prophet—wanted an ‘in’ on the newlywed Blacks.
There had been a great deal of speculation as to where they would live. It had been revealed that the Lord Black was forced to live with Muggles against his will—Harry secretly wondered if this was somehow Octavian’s doing, but he knew if it was that Octavian was taking care of him in the way he knew how.
Octavian, despite the treatment he’d been given his entire life, was a pureblood and had been raised to hold his head high. He had been taught to use all available outlets to get whatever he wanted and he was loyal and true to a fault—to Harry. He would never reveal personal details beyond the barest of facts, he knew how much Harry valued his privacy, but he would make sure that Harry wasn’t somehow forced to go back to the Dursleys again and refused to be separated from him even if they were both technically minors.
“Why is it always ‘perfect’ Hermione?” Lavender complained, taking another stab at her breakfast.
“Odd you should say that,” Harry mentioned off hand. “Cho complained of exactly the same thing.”
Octavian looked over at the mention of Harry’s ex-girlfriend and a small frown played on his lips. He was slightly wary of the seventh-year Ravenclaw. She was beautiful and intelligent—and also a legitimate pureblood. He couldn’t help but feel slightly inferior when he thought of her in the dead of night when he lay in Harry’s arms.
He knew that she had been Harry’s first kiss—and possibly the first person he made love to, and a small part of him was terrified that Harry would leave him one day because he hadn’t let Harry make love to him yet.
Octavian was aware that Harry was slowly seducing him. Every week or so Harry would ask if he could do a little more when they snogged. Although Octavian slept in his pajama bottoms, Harry now slept in only his boxers or, on occasion, nothing at all. He never asked Octavian to touch him and would only gently brush against Octavian’s own member, causing him to gasp and writhe at the gentle sensation. Harry would kiss Octavian until he was dizzy, trailing his lips down his chest and to his hip bones, hands caressing his back before settling on the back of his neck, kissing him senseless until Octavian forgot that he even wanted to breathe.
He was gentle, loving, sweet, everything Octavian had ever dreamed. Harry took care of him in the way no one ever had.
Octavian bit his lip as he looked over at the Ravenclaw table and saw that Chang was openly looking over at him and Harry. Glancing over at his husband, who was eating a strawberry, he smiled slightly to himself.
Today he would do it, Octavian decided. Today he would go to the infirmary and request the potion that would allow him to conceive a child with Harry through magic and their physical love. The Gnascum Potion only worked if the two participants wanted a child to be formed, so birth control wouldn’t be needed. Yes, he decided. Today he would do it.
“You cheated on Cho with Hermione?” Lavender asked angrily.
“What?” Harry exclaimed. “No! I never—would never—Granger was like a sister, just get that thought out of your head.” He shivered.
“Oh,” she said again. “Sorry.”
“No problem,” he muttered bitterly. “Actually, get the thought of Cho and me out of your head as well. That’s equally disturbing.”
“Well, she is pretty,” she huffed. “Granger’s not though.”
“Don’t you think Chang is pretty, Harry?” she asked, her eyes wide.
“She took the song ‘Cry Me a River’ to a whole new level,” he snorted.
“Is zat an English song?” Octavian asked innocently.
Harry smiled softly at him. “American, I think. It’s also Muggle.”
Octavian scrunched his nose and Harry laughed at the look. “Muggles can sing, Octavian.”
“Why would you listen to un chanson Muggle?”
“My aunt is rather fond of it.”
“What’s it about then?” Lavender asked. “What does it have to do with Chang?”
“She cried a lot and thought I was in love with Granger or something.”
“But you weren’t,” Lavender pried.
“So Ron might not be in love with her either?”
Harry went back to his food, not sure what to answer to that, but Lavender seemed happy enough.
“Thanks, Harry, you’re a life saver.”
She quickly stood and went back to the Gryffindor table where Parvati was sitting dejectedly without her.
Harry snuck a hand around Octavian’s waist and leaned his forehead against Octavian’s in comfort. “I will never understand Lavender Brown,” he mumbled.
Ron and Lavender, it turned out, weren’t the only Gryffindor couple having problems. Word soon reached Hufflepuff that Ginny and Dean had been fighting constantly and they soon broke up.
Ginny had started to cast him glances and he noticed that she always seemed to have a need to talk to Granger either before or after a N.E.W.T. level class that she shared with Harry.
Perhaps he was being paranoid, he thought, until he caught Ginny and Granger making their way into Moaning Myrtle’s favorite girls’ toilet, whispering furiously, the word “Harry” coming up. He had a free period and Octavian had class, so he found himself sneaking toward the door—wondering what on earth they might be talking about.
“Are you sure?” Ginny asked breathlessly.
“Yes,” Granger responded. “There’s really nothing I can do. Even if they wanted a divorce, it could legally never happen.”
“But-but that makes no sense!”
Harry heard shuffling and he pressed himself up against the wall, only a sliver of the door letting out light from the haunted toilet.
“I know,” Granger said, irritated. “If they had done anything but a betrothal ring there could be a divorce. The marriage could even be annulled if, well,” she paused and Harry could hear the rustling of her skirt as she moved in place.
“Well, what?” Ginny demanded.
“If they hadn’t consummated,” Granger stated factually.
“Hardly. I told you, Ginny, nothing will work since they used a pureblood betrothal.”
“Harry’s only a half-blood.”
Harry inwardly seethed at their discussion but kept quiet, wanting to hear everything he possibly could.
With a flush of the toilet—Harry briefly wondered if someone else was in the girls’ lavatory, though who would risk talking to Myrtle was beyond him—the conversation stopped and Harry could tell the two Gryffindors were breathing heavily.
“Must be Moaning Myrtle,” Ginny said. “Sometimes she moves about the pipes. You were saying.”
“Harry’s legally a pureblood, Ginny; the marriage is legal and a betrothed marriage can’t be broken, not even if they separated and shacked up with someone else would it end.”
“So you’re saying even if I manage to seduce Harry out of his marriage—”
“The best you can hope for is having tons of illegitimate Weasleys with him and be called a whore. You’d be little better than La Princesse.”
“You’re sure about this, Hermione?”
Granger sighed. “Yes. I’ve researched it from every possible angle. I’m sorry, Ginny.”
Ginny sobbed quietly. “Why? I did—I did everything you told me to do.” She was now crying. “I relaxed, I backed off, I dated other boys—and what happened? He first dated Cho Chang and then married Prince. What’s wrong with me?”
“There’s nothing wrong with you.”
“I’ve been in love with him since the first time I saw him on platform nine and three-quarters. I’ve always been there, in the background, and he never even noticed me unless he was saving me from Riddle first year.”
“Harry—he—I don’t know,” Granger sighed. It sounded to Harry like she was settling on the floor.
“I just,” Ginny confessed. “I really thought once he broke up with Chang I might have a shot, especially when we were on the team together this year. Damn Dean for—”
“—for asking you out?”
“There’s no way you could have known.”
Footsteps echoed within the toilet and it sounded as if Ginny had now sat down on the floor as well, her hair swishing against the walls.
“How did they even meet? He never even mentioned Prince until they went to Hogsmeade together.”
“It’s my fault.”
Silence descended between them.
“They initially met the beginning of our third year. Prince came into our compartment on the Hogwarts Express and a Dementor followed him in. He was shivering and mumbling to himself in French. Something about not being a fairy and that his mother wasn’t a whore.”
Ginny sobbed a little louder, and Harry could hear more shuffling, which didn’t make any sense as he thought both Granger and Ginny were now sitting. He quickly put it out of his mind, however, when his former friend continued her explanation. “Harry must have instantly adopted him. Sounds like something he would do.”
“No, he didn’t. Prince got sorted into Hufflepuff and then he didn’t speak to him again, as far as I know, until I mentioned earlier this year that there was a Prince in his fourth year.” Ginny must have looked at her in confusion, because she quickly continued. “He has this potions book that has been—written in—by someone calling himself the half-blood Prince. He was obsessed with the Prince until he met, well, Prince.”
“That was it then. A Potions book and my entire hopes just went down the drain,” she whispered dejectedly.
“Ginny, there will be others. I promise.”
“Like there are others for you?” she snapped. A moment later, she whispered, “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean that.”
“No,” Granger said, her voice tight. “You’re right. But I don’t think there will be anything between me and Ron—not since he became Won-Won.”
Giggles erupted and echoed off of the stalls, and Harry leaned away slightly, his mind trying to process everything.
“My fault, that,” Ginny finally admitted after she had quieted a bit. “Ron and Harry caught me snogging Dean and he went off on me. I might have called him a hypocrite since you had snogged Krum and Harry snogged Cho.” She paused. “I thought it would be Cho if it wasn’t me.”
“I guess he likes blonds.” Granger laughed and Harry rolled his eyes at how the conversation had degenerated.
He hadn’t known that Ginny was still hung up on him. He thought she had gotten over that by the Quidditch World Cup, but apparently not. The idea hadn’t really occurred to him. She was too much like how he would imagine his mother would look like, and that just seemed wrong in so many ways.
“So either I become a whore,” Ginny then said, interrupting his thoughts, “or I let the whore have him.”
Harry’s head snapped up in anger and he fisted his wand in his hand, ready to barge into the bathroom and hex Ginny so hard she was in the hospital wing for weeks even though she had just gotten out of it a few days before.
“It could get better,” Granger said, her tone light. “There is the war. Prince might not last, especially with his Death Eater father—”
“I really wouldn’t finish that sentence if I were you,” a new voice drawled and Harry heard a stall swing open. Unable to stand in the shadows of the corridor any longer, he approached the doorway and stood in it, looking aghast at the sight of Draco Malfoy casually leaning against the stall doorway, his shirtsleeves billowing, accentuating the gray tone his skin had taken over the past few months. “Don’t look so shocked,” he continued, his eyes meeting Harry’s before turning again to the two girls on the floor. “I was here first.”
“Malfoy,” Granger spat.
“Granger,” he said in a mock-pleasant voice. “Weasley. I think that Lord Black and I are quite sick of listening to your gossiping about our families.”
“Lord Black?” Ginny said, her eyes going wide.
She squeaked when she saw Harry in the doorway, his wand drawn and pointed at her.
“I could sue you for slander against the House of Black,” Harry said coolly.
She paled even further.
“You could,” Malfoy agreed, “but humiliation would be so much better.” He pushed his lank hair out of his eyes and Granger looked between them with uncomprehending eyes.
“Why? What do you have in mind?”
“A formal apology in writing sent to the Daily Prophet addressed to the House of Black and to the House of Octavian’s Sire—those words, Weasley, make no mistake—concerning your false accusations about Mr. Black’s character and the statement that he is unfaithful to his husband, when all evidence shows that they are completely devoted to one another. You will also apologize, in this statement, to both the Lord and Mr. Black for vocally contemplating seducing the Lord Black for your own base pleasures.”
“You can’t do that,” Granger stated angrily, rising to her feet rather belatedly. Harry sighed inwardly. He had thought he had taught her better in the D.A.
“Perhaps not, but Lord Black can.” He turned back to Ginny. “Do this or Potter will take everything you and your immediate family owns in a lawsuit that will have international coverage. You know he’ll win—easily—and if you ever manage to earn a penny in your pathetic life, then he will take it from you as part of the settlement.”
She looked imploringly at Harry but saw that his eyes had gone cold.
“No one threatens my family,” he whispered dangerously, “or insults Octavian.”
She bit her lip, making it plump and red, which only disgusted Harry more.
“Really, Weasley, Vane has been sentenced to four years in Azkaban, had her wand snapped, and will be imprisoned once she turns seventeen. Just do it.”
“Harry, really,” Granger shot out, but Harry didn’t even remove his eyes from Ginny’s brown ones.
“All right then,” she said quietly.
“Have it to me by dinner and I’ll check it over before sending it in,” Malfoy sneered at her, “if that’s all right, Potter.”
He nodded. “I don’t want to see it,” he confirmed.
She looked away, tears brimming in her eyes again. Grabbing Hermione’s hand, she pulled the older witch away, brushing up against Harry, although he drew away with a look of disgust on his face.
Harry stood for several moments, just staring dumbly at the floor of the toilet, and only looked up when Malfoy spoke to him again.
“Potter, could you do something for me?”
“I—” He began, but stopped at the haunted look in Malfoy’s eyes.
“Just listen. That’s all I ask.” Taking a deep breath, he continued. “Things are going to get worse—a lot worse with the war. You know it, I know it, and everything might be in turmoil soon.”
“If things go wrong, I—and your husband’s brother—won’t be able to look after Black as much as he would like.” He twisted his wand in his hand nervously. “Promise me,” he said, his silver eyes shining, “that you’ll keep him safe. For his family. That you have somewhere that not even the Dark Lord will be able to find him.”
Harry gulped and read the raw emotion in Malfoy’s form. “Why?”
He laughed bitterly. “The Dark Lord is not—pleased—with your husband’s sire at the moment, or his family in general. Th-They—none of us are safe anymore. But you could keep him—Octavian—protected. That’s all his brother asks. That you keep his little brother safe and guard him with your life when he might not be able to.”
“I swear,” Harry whispered into the echoing room, feeling an eerie wave of raw magic ebb and flow between them.
Malfoy smiled and the gesture looked out of place on his sickly face.
A bell rang out throughout the hall and Harry and Malfoy both visibly jumped. “Charms,” Harry murmured and he went to pick up his bag, which he had left in the hall, forcing his mind not to center on the surreal hour he had just spent.
Octavian sat perched on the bed and stared at the potion bottle in front of him. With a note from Madam Pomfrey, he had had Slughorn prepare it for him, talking all the while about the next powerful generation of the family, and something about Lily Evans, who Octavian now knew was Harry’s Muggle-born mother.
It was a luminescent blue that shone among the new jars of fireflies that he had set up in their makeshift room. Harry was in the shower, easing away the stress of the day. He had heard from Astoria Greengrass what had occurred in the girls’ toilet and knew that Draco Malfoy had received the formal apology and had promptly sent it off to the Daily Prophet.
First Romilda, then the threat of Cho, Harry’s first crush, and now the youngest Weasley.
His husband was in high demand even though he was married.
They could all currently give him children and Octavian could not.
He sighed and then resolutely brought the potion to his lips, draining it all in one go. It tasted oddly of cotton candy and fresh summer grass, though with a thick consistency that made him gag. He lay back on the pillows, allowing it to course through his system.
Octavian desperately wanted a life with Harry—a child to love and cherish once the Dark Lord was finally gone and his father and brother finally free—and now he could give Harry everything he might ever want.
He smiled happily to himself before quickly banishing the bottle and grabbing the glass of warm honey milk that had materialized on his bed stand like it did every night.
Drinking it slowly, he washed the taste of the potion from his mouth and snuggled deeper against the pillows, waiting for Harry. Soon, he thought, in a few short years, everything would be perfect.
Skin slid against skin and Harry sighed as Octavian opened his lips up to him, tasting the familiar honey-milk in the glow of dozens of fireflies.
“You took so long,” Octavian murmured in the half-dark.
Harry smiled at him before rolling over so that his husband was nestled on top of him. He slid his hands down to the edge of his pajama bottoms, slipping his hands beneath it and clasping Octavian to him.
They groaned into their shared kiss and Octavian squirmed closer.
“Wild horses couldn’t drag me away,” Harry vowed before sucking on Octavian’s tongue lightly as he carefully ground against him. “Can I taste you?”
“Tu veux me goûter?” Octavian questioned. “I thought you already were.”
Harry laughed softly before grinding upward again, causing Octavian to moan against his neck. “No, I want to taste you—all of you.”
Octavian blushed in the gloom and Harry looked up at him lovingly.
“You can say ‘no,’ Octavian, I would never push you.”
“Je sais, Henri Jacques.” He rested his cheek against Harry’s bare chest and just wallowed in the touch of Harry against his bare skin, contemplating.
“I’ll stop whenever you ask me to,” Harry assured him. “If you don’t like it or it’s too much.”
Octavian breathed in slowly. In—out—in—out—in—in again. “‘Ave you ever ‘eard ze song, Henri Jacques?” he questioned into the darkness and Harry’s arms tightened around him.
“What song?” he asked and Octavian shook his head.
“Nothing. Just what you said earlier reminded me of an English song I ‘eard once near Diagon Alley. It was a sad song. C’était une chanson triste.”
“Je t’adore,” Harry whispered against Octavian’s hair.
“Vraiment? Even zough I am young and inexperienced and ‘aven’t let you like Chang—” He stopped, unable to speak the words aloud. Tears formed in the corners of his eyes and Harry pulled him up until Octavian was looking into his expressive eyes.
“Octavian Nür,” he said quietly, cupping his cheek tenderly. “You are my husband.”
“I love only you,” Harry continued and Octavian nodded. “And I swear to you on my magic that I never slept with Cho Chang. She started that rumor and it’s not true. I kissed her once before Christmas my fifth year.”
“Pardonne-moi, Henri Jacques,” Octavian whispered, snuggling against Harry’s chest once again.
Harry sighed, clasping him tightly. “You have nothing to apologize for. I’m the one who should be sorry. I thought you knew that was a rumor—that I’d never do that with her. You’re my first and only, Octavian, and neither love potions nor childhood crushes will ever change that. I am yours, completely.”
Octavian began to shake, unable to keep the tears at bay any longer. “Je t’aime,” he whispered again and again against Harry’s smooth skin, and Harry just held him close, murmuring the same into Octavian’s honey-colored hair.
French to English Translations.
Qui est Henri Jacques? Who is Henri Jacques?
Il est mon mari. He is my husband.
Un chanson Muggle. A Muggle song.
Tu veux me goûter? You want to taste me?
Je sais, Henri Jacques. I know, Henri Jacques.
C’était une chanson triste. It is a sad song.
Je t’adore. I adore you.
Je sais. I know.
Pardonne-moi, Henri Jacques. Forgive me, Henri Jacques.
Je t’aime. I love you.