Part the Sixteenth—
Tis now the very witching time of night, when churchyards yawn and hell itself breathes out.
—Hamlet, Act III, scene ii
Harry awoke the next morning, happy and sated, with a very beautiful and completely naked Octavian in his arms. He sighed as memories of the night before washed over him.
The touch of hands pulling at his hair, making him want more. Lips against the curve of a hip bone.
Fingers worshipping every indent of every scar from the horrible stoning.
Firefly light dancing across the shadow of an arm, the bend of a leg. His mouth feeling so warm, so full, so intoxicatingly perfect.
Rose petals kissing his heated flesh as he kissed Octavian’s.
Octavian moaning his name as he came in his mouth.
Sheets pressed against heated skin as the sound released his own pleasure.
The sight of Octavian sending him over the edge.
Octavian had pulled him up until he could kiss him sleepily and lazily, the taste of warm milk mixing with the salty essence on Harry’s tongue.
Feeling complete and utterly loved through the one kiss, knowing that soon, soon, he would belong entirely in body to Octavian.
Rose petals lying all around them, creating an Eden within the dormitory.
Life couldn’t be more perfect than this. All he wanted was the ability to continue to love and worship Octavian in any way he was permitted.
Stroking the side of Octavian’s cheek, he leaned down and brushed his lips gently against his husband’s.
“What good did I ever do to deserve you?” he murmured into the budding morning light.
Harry gasped for breath as he came out of unconsciousness, a name he couldn’t remember still lingering on his lips. His eyelashes fluttered groggily as he took in the sight of clouds of gray and small flecks of flickering light—almost like fireflies, he thought to himself for some reason.
. . . Lightning bugs dancing in the air, their green and red light reflecting off of pale skin and honey-colored hair. . .
He heard someone bustling toward him and he reflexively reached beside him to find his glasses. He could feel that he was in a bed, but there were no curtains around him so it couldn’t be Gryffindor Tower. The infirmary, perhaps? Why was he in the infirmary?
And why couldn’t he remember anything apart from snatches of color and the rushing of wind?
“Ah, Mr. Potter,” Madam Pomfrey greeted him. “How are you feeling, dear?”
His throat was dry and parched, but he tried to open his mouth to answer. “Hit-by-Bludger?” he managed to gasp out, his body telling him this is exactly what happened.
She sighed. “Yes, Mr. Potter. I’m afraid so.”
Harry furrowed his brow, trying to remember the game, but couldn’t seem to recollect it at all. All he could—sense—was that he needed to make sure someone was all right, that he was safe. But who?
Licking his incredibly chapped lips, he opened his mouth painfully before rasping out, “Is-he-okay?”
He didn’t know who “he” was. Harry just felt he—this person—was the name he couldn’t quite grasp.
Madam Pomfrey’s face relaxed slightly. “Mr. Black is well, worried about you, of course, but the Headmaster has forbidden you to be disturbed while you recover.”
Mr. Black? His sluggish mind tried to search his memories, but no, Sirius was dead. Had been for months. It couldn’t have been him, anyway, he had been on the run from the Ministry before he died—and he was Lord Black, if Harry remembered correctly through the fog that was trying to be his brain.
Who, then, was this Mr. Black?
Harry nodded. “Tell-him—” He croaked.
She smiled kindly at him and all he could think about was another smile—more innocent, more assured and yet slightly vulnerable, but he couldn’t attach a face to it for some unfathomable reason.
“I shall tell him that Lord Black shall return to him,” she whispered. “Now, drink this up. You’ve cracked your skull, Mr. Potter, and need time to heal. Sleep now.”
And dreaming of tarot cards and a legend of twin boys being nursed by a wolf, Harry drifted back into sleep.
Rose petals fell across his closed eyes, and Harry inhaled deeply, basking in the scent and decadence of it. Henry Jack. The words echoed through his thoughts, but they sounded wrong. Off. Henry Jack. Henry John. Henry Jacob.
None of them fit. None of them were him.
Henry. Harold. Harry.
Harry Jack. Harry John. Harry Jacob.
It was still wrong. That was not who he was, he thought desperately as the petals kissed him chastely, as the potion caused him to drift back into sleep again.
He breathed in deeply. Moss and honey and milk combined with rose petals, more delicate than Rose Water.
A scent someone else adored, but not for him.
Then he slept again.
A half-remembered conversation. A dry mouth, his tongue swollen almost with disuse.
Tell me the last thing you remember.
A voice he knew but could no longer place.
Male. Female. Old. Young.
Harry didn’t know.
Henry. Henry James.
A Muggle novelist.
A bowl, golden. Something he’d read about during one of his stays with the Dursleys. He didn’t know where he found the paperback. He just remembered holding it and reading it desperately.
Perhaps it was silver. The silver bowl. No. Gold. Yellow. Honey-colored.
The Honey Bowl.
Tell me the last thing you remember, my boy. Louder this time, clearer.
Something biting in the tone.
Eyes wrapped so he could not see, could not sense.
Your eyes need time to heal. Another voice, separate.
Potions slipping down his throat, confusing him.
A name he could not remember, on the tip of his tongue. Someone he needed to get to.
Tell me the last thing you remember. I cannot help you otherwise.
Chapped lips sucking in the air past his dried tongue, and he could no longer taste milk. He wanted milk but no matter how much he was given, it wasn’t right.
He was missing something in the milk—some reason why he needed it—but he could not quite remember.
Portraits on the wall, a picture of a lady. The sun was setting and there was only a thin gauze wrapping around his eyes now. He could almost see movement, see the woman looking at him through the picture frame.
She couldn’t speak.
Or she wouldn’t.
Not like Walburga Black who screamed bloody murder at him whenever he entered number twelve, Grimmauld Place.
It had to be cleaned.
The thought was strange, foreign to him, and still the portrait of the lady watched him, almost as if she were contemplating something.
Number twelve, Grimmauld Place.
The twelfth grim old place.
He’d never seen the other eleven.
Tell me what the last thing is you can remember clearly.
Someone would find that thought funny. A ghost. A friendly ghost. He would laugh with his blue hair.
He was solid, this ghost.
It was confusing—didn’t make sense.
Sandpaper mouth and wanting milk—milk with something mixed in it.
The glass was too cold, too impersonal.
Do you remember your name?
A slow nod. Almost. He could almost remember it.
Sighing, and now the lady was completely still behind his gauze prison.
Mr. Potter, what is the last thing you can remember?
Henry Jack Potter.
Bludgers flying, but he can only partially remember it.
. . . Fingers lacing together against sheets, rose petals, soft, the taste of skin against his tongue. The taste of milk on his tongue, warm still, and mixed with honey . . .
Sheets. Yellow with black trim, skating across his darkened memories.
Can you remember anything at all?
Voice weary, wondering, sitting away from the nonexistent light.
“Le magicien. Les amoureux. L’as des baguettes magiques.”
Nothing but sleep.
Memories began to float back to him in the darkened silence.
A pair of black eyes looking at him in adoration and wonder.
Getting his Hogwarts letter, being moved from the cupboard under the stairs.
. . . A boy, so like the one who floated on the edges of his memory, sneering at him and him being afraid . . .
Not Slytherin. Not Slytherin. Anything but Slytherin.
Ronald Weasley, tall, lanky, with ginger hair and a jealous glint in his eye.
A girl with bushy brown hair and buck teeth. Know it all. She always made him feel so insignificant.
Just Harry. I’m just Harry.
A woman whose hair he turned blue, teaching him French.
. . . He was so excited, finally being able to use the foreign words on his tongue. The small boy in front of him smiling despite his obvious fear at the situation . . .
Black eyes filled with hatred.
Saving the stone.
Second year. Ginny Weasley. Lockhart. Tom Marvolo Riddle. I am Lord Voldemort.
Sssssssilence, ssssssleeep, remember later. . . .
The hiss of a snake in his head.
Sirius Black. Lord Black. Flying motorcycles and werewolves. Chocolates and rats.
. . . Looking out into the crowd, the Hungarian Horntail before him, and seeing a flash of yellow and black, and eyes that looked so familiar. A small Hufflepuff without the badge, silently watching, but never saying anything . . .
I must not tell lies. Ron. Hermione. Ginny. Luna. Neville. The D.A.
Sirius gone through the veil.
Another summer at the Dursleys.
I assume he’s of some relation to the fourth-year.
. . . Rose petals and the smell of moss as fireflies dance against skin, kissing it as he makes love to the small figure before him . . .
After a Quidditch practice, walking through a hidden passageway and seeing Ginny snogging Dean.
Jealousy. Envy. But for something else.
Sleep. Remember later.
Sunlight and another glass of warm milk by the side of his hospital bed. Madam Pomfrey said he’d been there for over a week, and hadn’t been allowed visitors. He looked at her with a question and she simply slid him a pack of tarot cards. “Mr. Black sent you this. I—Professor Dumbledore forbade everything else, even a message. He thinks you shouldn’t be disturbed.”
He looked down at the cards. “Thank you.” He reached out hesitantly, but didn’t touch the cards. He remembered that he wasn’t supposed to touch the cards; they belonged to someone else. Someone precious.
They were a message, but he couldn’t remember what they were supposed to mean.
“Your homework,” the bossy voice of Hermione said as she set a large stack of books next to the bed. “I got it all for you.”
He stared at her, before reaching once again for his now forever-replenishing glass of warm milk with a slight tint of honey. Harry thought he must have a guardian angel. Or a guardian house-elf.
“I thought I wasn’t allowed visitors.”
Brown eyes met brilliant green.
“Professor Dumbledore said that Ron and I could visit, and maybe Ginny. He thought we might be able to help you remember what you should remember.”
Harry grimaced at her. He really didn’t care for the emphasis in her words. “Wait—Ginny?”
Hermione smiled at him. “Yes, Ginny.”
He eyed her warily. “Why Ginny? I’d rather see Neville or—” Unbidden a flash of black eyes so like silver came to mind, but he shook it off.
“Or?” she prompted, biting her lip.
“Mr. Black,” he deadpanned.
He knew that name was important, the name linked to the tarot cards.
The ace of wands.
But he couldn’t remember what that meant.
Hermione looked worried before her face became unnaturally serene. Laying her hand on his, she leaned forward.
The touch made Harry want to shiver for some reason.
“Sirius is dead, Harry.”
He glared at her. “I know that. And Sirius was Lord Black.”
“Hmmm,” she hummed. “Ginny will be here after supper. She’s been anxious to see you.”
“Why isn’t she hanging with Dean instead?” he said bitterly.
She patted his arm but he shrank away from the contact. “You don’t remember?”
He looked at her oddly, but refused to acknowledge that he didn’t.
“She broke up with Dean—for you.”
Honey blond. Red. It was just wrong.
“Why would she want to do that? Why would I want her to do that?” he asked incredulously. “She—she’s—”
His thoughts tried to focus, but all he remembered were soft kisses and the light of fireflies, and his hand against a hard, warm—
“She’s what?” Hermione sighed. “Talented? Your best friend’s sister? Pretty?”
“Female,” he answered succinctly. “And she has ginger hair,” he added for emphasis.
Hermione gulped. “What’s wrong with ginger?”
“Everything.” His voice sounded almost petulant, but he didn’t care. It still ached, he still wondered, he had dreamt of honey in a bowl.
. . . Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Dan, Naptali . . .
“I don’t understand,” she responded stubbornly. “What’s wrong with red hair?”
“Everything. She looks too much like my mum, and not enough.”
She blinked at him. “I thought that would be a good thing.”
“Do you want to be with a less handsome version of your dad?” he snapped. At the look on her face, he scoffed. “Thought not. And, as I said, she’s female.”
. . . Gad, Asher, Issachar, Zebulun, Joseph, Benjamin . . .
“You’re not gay, Harry,” she said softly.
He looked down at his hands and stared at the thin band on his left hand, wondering about it.
. . . Words growled possessively in the night. Yours. Mine. Forever. Sweat slicked skin and a hard erection pressed against the sheets as he claimed sweet honey-lips. A smooth, flat chest beneath his hands . . .
“Where’s my husband?” he asked softly. His green eyes flashed dangerously at her and she backed up slightly. “Why isn’t he here? Why are you allowed in but he’s not? Where is he?”
Honey colored. Hair slipping through his fingers. A wizard’s coat. Dark eyes, almost black.
“I asked you a question, Granger. Where is my husband?” He lifted his hand for effect. When she wouldn’t answer, he shouted for Madam Pomfrey.
The last thing he remembered was the taste of a foul potion churning down his throat, the words whispered softly into his ear, “I’m so sorry, Mr. Potter.”
Doves flying. White wings flapping as small specks of light reflected off the beautiful wings.
An olive branch in its beak disappearing into something more sinister.
Harry could not understand in his sleep. The dove’s wings brushing against his cheek, trying to recall him to something, but he could not remember.
Husband. The word revolved in his head.
Husband. Son mari. Son amour. Son fiancé. Son petit ami.
A ring with runes inscribed around it. Dark. Black. Night.
Still, tiny insect wings contrasting with the powerful wings of a dove.
He sighed. Another paperback book in his memory-hand, as he turned the memory-pages.
Azkaban. Dark walls. Sirius lived here. Sirius was kept here.
Now the father was here.
Was he innocent? No, could not be.
A face and a voice in the back of his head.
He knew. He knew the identity of the father; the name had been whispered in the back of his mind at night when his fingers traced a calm and sleeping face, memorizing it with touch.
Ten million fireflies.
Flying on a motorcycle through the air.
A screw, pressed against his temple, turning slowly, slowly, driving him mad.
A name on the tip of his tongue even when he remembered. He knew the brother, the father, the wife.
Anyone could mistake the half-brothers for legitimate siblings.
A woman dressed in white running through a graveyard, the sister of another, who was the sister of another. Love. Betrayal.
Reading the book quickly from cover to cover, never setting it down.
Everyone knew. Everyone knew but him, and yet he suspected. It was so simple, so plain.
A Death Eater for a father-in-law and yet he could not care, even when he felt the turn of the screw deeper and deeper within his mind.
Rose petals falling lightly over them as dark eyes glance up at him through lashes, so beautiful, so masculine. A husband. A family to call his own.
A house-elf sent off to the London house to make everything ready for his new husband.
Walking out of the castle at night with only a jar in his hand when the boy is asleep and resting, going to the forest and gathering fireflies.
Lucioles. Light-bugs. Luc. Light. Nür.
So close. . . .
The screw continues to turn, but now it is pressed against the face of Malfoy, now grown. Skin gray, sickly, something’s wrong.
Malfoy walking near the tapestry on the seventh floor.
Firelight in the Room of Requirement.
What is he hiding?
The scent of Rose Water hanging in the air as Malfoy smells chocolates not meant for him. A young girl looking adoringly up at Malfoy and thinking he is beautiful not despite the gray tone of his skin and the bags under his eyes but because of them.
A name on the tip of his tongue, so close, a name that meant more to him than his own, a boy with black eyes looking up at him, full of wonder and love. . . .
. . . And I love him in return.
The thought flickered, faded, and jumped in a pool of light as Harry drifted through his sleep.
A name. If only he could remember. . . .
Harry felt soft lips against his own, but when he opened his eyes, he saw nothing. It was perfect, what he wanted, what he was craving. The taste of honey mixed in with milk filled his senses and he sighed in bliss. It was the taste of heaven, his Eden, something he never thought he would ever find on this world even after the war was finally over if he managed to survive it.
“H-Hello?” he said nervously only to see an invisibility cloak get thrown onto the ground.
A beautiful boy in a black sleep shirt and plaid pajama bottoms stood before him, biting his lip nervously. “Pardonne-moi, Henri Jacques,” he murmured. “Zey say you cannot remember, but it ‘as been so long. . . .” His lilting voice trailed off and Harry smiled at him.
“I’ve been waiting for you,” he confessed, lowly, and the young wizard smiled at him brightly.
“Yes.” He brought his hand up and showed him the wedding ring. “I can’t remember what my husband’s name is, though, and can’t figure out why no one will tell me anything about you.”
“It is to be expected,” the boy responded before cautiously crawling into the bed beside Harry.
Harry smiled at him and wrapped an arm around him. This felt right, perfect; this was the hair he’d been dreaming of, the eyes he had been visualizing, the voice that called to him.
“You’re the boy from the Hogwarts Express,” he realized allowed. “The one chased by le démenteur.”
“Oui, Henri Jacques. Mon frère did some research, and ‘e says zat within a few days, a week at most, once you are fully ‘ealed, you will remember everything, mon amour. Perhaps sooner.”
“You have a brother?”
A small nod. “Papa’s ‘eir, Henri Jacques.”
He furrowed his brow, and half thoughts flitted across his mind. Death . . . eating . . . illegitimate . . . love . . . respect . . . cold, dank walls . . . prisoner number . . .
He held the small boy close, “Je suis desolé.”
“De rien, mon Henri Jacques.”
They sat in silence for several long minutes, neither of them speaking, until Harry asked again for his husband’s name.
“Octavian Nür Black.” He leaned up and kissed Harry sweetly on the mouth.
“Octavian,” he breathed against soft lips, finally finding the name he was searching for. “I’ve been trying to say your name since I first woke up.”
Octavian smiled happily up at him. “I’m sorry I did not come sooner. Dumbledore would not allow me.”
Harry grimaced. “Even though we’re married?” He took Octavian’s smaller hand and admired the two rings shining in the darkness.
“‘Ee does not care for me—for us.”
Harry snorted. “Then he’s gone senile.” He paused. “Is Ginny Weasley in love with me? Granger was trying to make it sound like we were together.”
Octavian stiffened in his arms before turning until he straddled Harry. “Is zat all?” he asked, his tone dead and holding a hint of suppressed jealousy.
Harry smiled softly, loving the way this wizard claimed him as his own. He belonged—to Octavian. He could feel the love and the trust and the worry.
Worry. Octavian worried for him, and that just made him even happier.
“Yes,” he responded. “I told her that Ginny was female. All I could remember was rose petals and firefly light and kissing every inch of you.”
Octavian blushed prettily in the moonlight. “Bon,” he whispered. “You should remember zat. J’étais très nerveux.”
Harry sighed, an unformed memory tugging at his thoughts. “I wouldn’t want to make you nervous, Octavian.”
“Je sais.” He smiled and then kissed him again, gently but lingeringly. “You are so good to me.”
Harry kissed his eyelids and sighed. “What happened, Octavian? I know I was hit by Bludgers, but I can’t remember anything.”
“It was Quidditch. You are ze ‘Ufflepuff Seeker, oui?”
“W-Wait. Hufflepuff?” he asked incredulously.
“Oui. It is une tradition at ‘Ogwarts. If you marry a ‘Ufflepuff while ‘ere, you become a ‘Ufflepuff.”
Harry gulped. Why was Hermione getting his notes for him, if he was now a badger? “O-Okay.”
“It was against Ravenclaw. I did not see what ‘appened. It was an illegal move; you ‘ad already caught ze Snitch, but someone grabbed a bat and ‘it a Bludger at you, Henri Jacques. It was ‘orrible. You were smiling at me and zen you were falling and zere was blood. Zey would not let me see you.” Tears began to form in his black eyes and Harry gently brushed them away.
“I’m sorry, Octavian. I’m so sorry.” He kissed his husband softly and held the smaller boy against him, willing the intense love he felt—however clouded in fog within his mind—to reach his Octavian.
“Zen when zey realized you could not remember, you were declared an amnesiac, and Dumbledore your legal and medical guardian. It was ‘orrible. ‘Ee would not let me see you, and tante Narcissa does not ‘ave much sway in the Ministry, so she could do nothing.”
Octavian nodded and Harry sighed. “I love you,” he admitted. “Although I cannot remember the details, I still love you.”
“Mon dieu, I was so afraid zat you would no longer.”
“I could never stop,” Harry reassured him. “Not even losing my memories could make me forget that I loved someone and that you needed me.” They sank back into a comfortable silence before Harry inquired, “What happened then?”
“Mon frère and I tried to sneak me in a few times, but it did not work. Finally, I tried ze invisibility cloak, and ze wards Dumbledore set up could no longer keep me out.”
“Thank the gods.”
“Oui. Je remercie les dieux.”
“You are French,” Harry sighed in happiness, changing the subject away from their separation. “I think I was going through ‘le withdrawal Français,’ as Bill would say.”
Octavian stilled completely above him and Harry looked at him questioningly.
“You told me ‘e said zat over Christmas,” he murmured before he once again leaned down and claimed Harry’s lips passionately.
Harry moaned at the onset, especially when Octavian began to wriggle on top of him, causing his blood to rush to his now hardening arousal. “Gods,” he moaned, his hands snaking into Octavian’s hair, and with each kiss, his memories became more and more solid, still shattered but less fuzzy, more intact.
A snippet of conversation here, a smile there.
. . . Standing outside of Dumbledore’s office when Octavian had wished he could remain neutral, that Harry deserved the choice, and the brush of lips, their first kiss, before running up magical revolving stairs . . .
. . . Lightning bugs dancing in the dusk, listening to the secrets they whispered to each other, and even their magical light couldn’t compare to the spark in Octavian’s eyes . . .
“Romola,” he whispered against bruised lips, causing Octavian to pause. “Our little girl.”
Lips attached desperately to just beneath his ear, sucking, moaning, and Harry was lost in sensation as he remembered, remembered, and all because he had his Octavian Nür back in his arms, where he belonged.
And everyone who had tried to take this away from him would pay, he vowed silently. No one hurt his Octavian and got away with it.
French to English Translations.
Le magicien. Les amoureux. L’as des baguettes magiques. The Magician. The Lovers. The Ace of wands.
Juste Henri. Just Henri.
Je t’adore. I adore you.
Son mari. Son amour. Son fiancé. Son petit ami. His husband. His love. His fiancé. His boyfriend.
Les lucioles. Fireflies.
Pardonne-moi, Henri Jacques. Forgive me, Henri Jacques.
Mon frère. My brother.
Mon amour. My love.
Je suis desolé. I am sorry.
De rien, mon Henri Jacques. It is nothing, my Henri Jacques.
Bon … J’étais très nerveux. Good .. I was very nervous.
Je sais. I know.
Une tradition. A tradition.
Mon dieu. My god.
Oui. Je remercie les dieux. Yes, I thank the gods.