Part the Eighteenth—
If you can look into the seeds of time, And say which grain will grow, and which will not, Speak.
—Macbeth, Act I, scene ii
Octavian awoke the next morning, his body aching almost everywhere and his spine feeling like it had been split in half. His mind tried to grasp the reason for the discomfort, but he chose instead to snuggle closer to the warm body that was holding him possessively in his sleep.
Henri Jacques, he thought as he nuzzled the scar on Harry’s arm and breathed in his unique scent: a combination of cedar from his trunk and a hint of vanilla that Octavian folded between his wizard coats.
Henri Jacques. His eyes widened and he realized they were both completely naked before a satisfied smile crept over his features and lit up his black eyes. He had tired his husband out the night before.
Princes, as Maman often said, were always the best at whatever they set their mind to.
He smirked and kissed Harry’s shoulder softly and sighed in happiness as Harry mumbled his name in his sleep.
The pain in his spine, and back, and thighs was almost pleasant, as he knew that Harry had given it to him.
He glanced over to the clock on the side of the bed and the smirk on his lips widened to a grin. Breakfast time. He reached over his husband and grabbed the Muggle telephone and looked at it curiously. He had never used one before, but he had seen Muggles use them often enough back in France.
Room service. He looked at the numbers and took a guess based off of an old black and white Muggle picture he had once seen when he was a child. He pressed the zero button, and then put the device to his ear.
“Good morning. Concierge speaking,” a female voice spoke from nowhere and Octavian was so startled he almost dropped the phone.
“Bonjour,” he responded after a moment. “Is it possible to order breakfast, madame?”
“Yes, sir. Of course, sir.” He could hear clicking and then the woman spoke again, her tone almost reverent. “What would you and Lord Black care for?”
“Tea, earl gray, a glass of milk with honey on the side.” He bit his lip, trying to figure out what his husband would enjoy. “Actually, make it le café instead of tea. A full pot. Do you serve les crêpes?”
“Of course, Mr. Black. We have a French chef. Shall I have an assortment of toppings sent up as well?”
“Oui. Merci. ‘Ave zem knock softly.”
“Of course, sir. It should be there in ten minutes. Good morning, Mr. Black.”
He stared at the phone and then hung up before kissing Harry’s bare chest gently. He couldn’t help but smile as he stretched languidly against bare skin, feeling a shiver of desire course through him. He felt wildly decadent.
This was what it must be like to live fully as a pureblood heir instead of in the partial shadows. He knew Harry detested his—notoriety, for lack of a better term, but he was willing to adapt to pureblood lifestyles for him because he knew it would make Octavian happy. Harry was more than Octavian thought he would ever have—so much acceptance, so much love and adoration. He allowed Octavian his political opinions although he knew that, in principle, Harry believed there should be less importance on blood status.
Harry allowed him to keep his secrets clasped within his heart—the identity of his dearest Papa and would never ask. He smiled when Octavian manipulated the press to their advantage and Octavian even thought he saw a glint of pride in his eyes whenever he read a new headline that Octavian had specifically crafted so that it would eventually help them.
He knew that although Harry treated every magical creature with respect, that he would allow Octavian to raise their children to be pureblood traditionalists and to live and trust in the old ways.
A soft knock pulled him from his musings and he slipped from the bed, grabbing a silk robe to cover his nudity. He hadn’t quite reached the level of pureblood decadence where he could stride around their chambers in the early morning hours without any form of clothing.
Octavian, though, wouldn’t mind if Harry picked up this particular pureblood institution.
He bit his lip, willing his desire to leave him. He had plenty of time to attack his husband later, and he really wasn’t certain if his aching body could put up with any more physical demonstrations of carnal affection.
Carnal affection—what would Papa say? What about the little priest in their village in France?
He smirked and opened the door to reveal a rather pretty girl—if she hadn’t been a Muggle—in hotel staff uniform with a table filled with their order. “Mr. Black?” she asked and he nodded.
Opening the door wider, she wheeled in their breakfast and then stood by the door expectantly. He stared at her, completely confused. Why was she still here?
She cleared her throat and he continued to stare at her.
“Octavian?” a sleepy voice asked from the half-open door to the actual bedchamber before a completely sated and happy Harry walked in, wearing a half open silk robe, to the curious scene before him. “You got breakfast?” he said in awe.
“Oui, Henri Jacques. Is it not my ‘onor to take care of mon mari?”
He glanced back at the Muggle who was now openly staring at his husband and he huffed at the situation.
“She brought it and now she is waiting—for what I do not know. C’est très bizarre, Henri Jacques.”
Harry stared at him before laughing slightly. “She’s waiting for you to tip her, Octavian.”
Octavian just looked at him, perplexed, not understanding the term.
Harry shook his head before nipping back into the bedchamber and coming out with a crisp piece of paper that Octavian noticed was Muggle money. “Thank you,” he said sincerely and she smiled at him.
“My lord, sir,” she said before quickly rushing out.
Octavian’s eyes followed her in wonder but his mind was soon taken away from her when he felt two strong arms wrap around him and soft lips kissing his neck.
“Mon mari,” Harry purred and Octavian arched into the touch.
“I-I wanted to give you your meal in bed, Henri Jacques. You should be without clothes.”
Harry snickered against his skin before drawing back again. Seeing the earnest expression on Octavian’s face, he nodded dutifully before undoing his robe and dropping it on the floor and striding back into the bedchamber.
Octavian’s blood rushed quickly from his heated cheeks, and he had to swallow, reminding himself that he could indulge now whenever he chose. He hurried after Harry, only half remembering to bring their breakfast along with him.
They didn’t make it back to Hogwarts until lunch the following day. Neither of them had left their honeymoon suite the entire weekend and they only left the bed when Harry wanted to wash away Octavian’s aches that morning in a luxurious bath.
Both knew they would have been missed; it was inevitable. Harry had already drafted a letter to the new Minister of Magic, demanding that charges be brought up against Albus Dumbledore. Octavian really had been the architect of the letter, dictating it to him as they lay decadently in bed the night before after indulging in a dinner of les moules and la champagne. Prospère had followed them to Little Whinging and had taken it directly to the Ministry, though they hadn’t heard a response back.
It had, however, only been twelve hours.
Hedwig had followed her friend and they had also sent off a missive to Madame Maxime, in perfect French, requesting placements the following year and detailing Octavian’s achievements in Charms. Harry would miss Neville and his new Hufflepuff friends, but he didn’t regret his decision. He would not sit by and allow others to dictate his life or even worse—take away Octavian’s choices from him, and so if they had to leave the country to finish their education, then they would.
“Go into lunch,” Harry said, kissing his head softly as they stood in front of the Great Hall.
“But Henri Jacques, you must be ‘ungry as well.”
“Of course I am, but I expect that the Headmaster is waiting for me and I would rather get this over and done with, Octavian. Go eat. Let me take care of this.”
Octavian leaned into his touch. “You will be all right?”
Harry smiled down at him before kissing him softly. “As long as you are happy.”
“Je suis heureux, Henri Jacques,” Octavian assured him, nuzzling his nose in a chaste sign of affection. “Je t’adore.”
Harry watched longingly as his husband quietly made his way into the Great Hall and sighed. He knew their absence would have been noted and he didn’t want anyone—especially not Dumbledore—approaching Octavian.
Sighing, he turned and made his way to the Headmaster’s office and wasn’t at all surprised when the gargoyle leapt aside, permitting him to enter. “Damned bastard,” he muttered to himself, not caring if the portraits overheard him.
Knocking on the door, he heard the soft command to enter, and he walked into the room, noting casually that it hadn’t changed.
Phineas Nigellus looked down at him sternly from his portrait but Harry could see the smile in his eyes.
“Ah, Mr. Potter,” Dumbledore greeted and Harry turned to see that he was sitting regally behind his desk. “I’m glad you have returned unharmed.”
“Of course I’m unharmed,” he responded before sitting down. He noted that Dumbledore hadn’t offered him a seat or even his customary sherbert lemon. “I only ever seem to be injured or lied to when within these walls.” He gestured to the stone ramparts of Hogwarts, choosing to bring up all of his complaints at the beginning of the conversation.
Dumbledore sighed. “I received a letter from the Minister of Magic this morning, Harry. He seems to be under the impression that I, how does he put it, ‘illegally separated a student from his legal spouse when he was injured.’”
“Hmm, yes. I have to agree with that statement.”
“I have done no such thing.”
“Really, sir? I seem to recall Octavian not being allowed to see me. I said several things in relation to him and instead I had potions forced down my throat to keep me quiet. You only permitted Weasley and Granger to visit when I don’t even speak to them—something which you, sir, are well aware of. You even were going to let Ginny Weasley come and see me, a girl who in this very office stated that she wants me to leave my husband and run off into the Muggle world with her. It’s disgusting, frankly.”
“I did it for your health.”
“I was returned to my health as soon as I saw Octavian.”
Blue eyes hardened. “If that is how you feel,” he began.
“Yes, that is exactly how I feel.”
Dumbledore’s charred hand tapped gently against his desk. “So be it,” he finally stated, tired. “Where have you been these past twenty-four hours, young man?”
Harry stared at him firmly. “With my husband, as I was denied that basic right.”
“You were not well.”
“I was well enough to try and state that I wished for him. I specifically remember trying to tell you about a conversation I had with him about Romulus and Remus. That was you, sir, wasn’t it?”
“I believed you were speaking of Professor Lupin, Mr. Potter.”
“If I had been speaking about him, I would have used the words ‘professor’ or ‘Lupin.’ I also would not have mentioned Romulus.”
“As you say.” Dumbledore looked old and worn, which startled Harry a bit. “If you will not tell me where you have been—” He waited patiently but Harry did not answer. “I have a few other matters to discuss with you.”
Harry waited, but did not express any interest.
“The first is that I received a rather—peculiar letter from Madame Maxime.”
Harry smiled. “Really, sir?”
“She has requested your transcripts as well as Mr. Prince’s as you have each been given a place at Beauxbatons, she informs me.”
He hummed in the back of his throat. “Mr. Black.”
“I beg your pardon?”
“My husband’s name is Octavian Nür Black, professor, as you are well aware. It was announced in the paper that we were engaged and then again, when we were married. I also know that Madame Maxime would have referred to him properly.”
Dumbledore, however, ignored him.
“Do you believe in love so little then that you would completely disregard it when it is legally recognized?” Harry asked in little more than a hushed whisper. “Do you have so little respect for our emotions that you would choose to become heartless like Voldemort?”
Blue eyes flashed dangerously at him. “I would not speak any further if I were you, Mr. Potter,” he warned.
“A mother’s love for her son is all right then, but that son’s love for his husband is not—even when Octavian’s been legitimized.”
“I will not speak any more on that subject.”
Harry ground his teeth together.
“Now, Madame Maxime—”
“Octavian and I will be attending Beauxbatons, yes.”
“I care little where Mr. Prince finishes his education, although he is a Charms prodigy. I do, however, care about your safety, Mr. Potter.”
“The war hasn’t touched France. We will be safe there.”
“Surely, Harry, you must reconsider.”
“There’s nothing to reconsider,” Harry bit out. “Octavian is my husband and this institution treats him like dirt. We will no longer attend because of what you did while I was ill. How dare you give me the comfort of enemies and withhold from me the only person I’ve ever loved? It’s despicable.”
“The lad has a point,” the portrait of Phineas Nigellus put in. “Wizard marriage bonds are sacred, Dumbledore. Merlin himself would be ashamed of you.”
Dumbledore, however, clearly wasn’t listening. “I will have you know I extracted the memory from Professor Slughorn.”
Harry sighed and placed his forehead briefly in the palm of his hand. He knew it would happen. It was only a matter of time.
“Do you not wish to know how to kill Voldemort, Harry?”
He set his lips in a thin line. “I’ll leave that to greater men,” he said softly, his tone excluding Dumbledore from this category.
“Harry, you are ‘the Chosen One,’ the prophecy child.”
“Just because I have the power does not mean I will or even wish to wield it, sir.”
Dumbledore stared at him, entirely astonished. “He will never stop coming for you,” he whispered.
“And I will never stop defending myself and those I hold dear. I will not, though, risk my life and my family’s happiness by going out and looking for a battle.”
The Headmaster looked stricken and visibly aged in the span of a few short seconds. “I see. It is done then.” He walked over to his desk and pulled out an old book, thin, crumpled, one that was clearly coming apart at the seams. “I leave this in your hands—for when I can no longer search. You may do with it as you will.”
Harry stared down at the leather cover and took in the title—Horcrux.
He glanced back up at the Headmaster but said nothing.
“In there is a piece of paper that has all of the additional information that I have learned. Keep it hidden; keep it safe. It cannot fall into the wrong hands,” he stressed, his blue eyes looking imploringly at Harry.
He only stared coldly back, Dumbledore’s recent treachery foremost in his mind. “As you say,” was his only answer. “Is there anything else?”
Harry slowly got to his feet. “Then good day, sir.” He walked out of the room, with the book, unaware that he would only see Dumbledore one last time alive.
“There you are,” a soft voice called out to him and Harry turned and saw Astoria Greengrass rushing toward him, her hair in a loose ponytail, her face wan and withdrawn. “We’ve all been worried about you.”
“Astoria,” he greeted. “Have you had lunch?”
“Yes, if you can call it that,” she sighed. “I saw Octavian was there. He disappeared for the last two days—did you know? When were you let out of the hospital?”
Harry laughed openly, forcing all thoughts of Dumbledore from his mind, and looked down at his odd friend. “I escaped around four in the morning yesterday. Octavian came and sprung me from the jailhouse.”
Astoria pursed her lips, bringing some color back into her face, but little. The pair was now walking toward the Great Hall, both in casual wizard dress. “And then?”
“Then we went to Surrey—to the town where I grew up.”
“Didn’t you live with Muggles?” she asked, shocked.
“Unfortunately. The worst kind of Muggles, too, but we needed to get out—after everything. Octavian wanted to see where I grew up.”
A small smile played on her lips. “I can imagine. Let me guess, he did what all men in his family do—he took over a large hotel and was sure to show you off to your best advantage. Everyone knew who you were and that you belonged together, and they all feared to approach you in case either of you glared at them.”
Harry’s eyes widened slightly from the description. “How did you know?”
She laughed prettily, a little warmth coming into her haunted blue eyes. “I know his half-brother, after all. I can see him doing such a thing.”
Harry stopped and looked at her questioningly. “I knew he came from money,” he admitted, “but I have no idea who his brother or father actually are.”
“You haven’t guessed?”
“There are over twenty Slytherins who could be his older sibling—twenty five if he’s also a fourth-year.”
“You really do have no idea,” she gasped, her pale hands covering her even paler lips.
She smiled sadly. “Would you like me to tell you about them, without giving you any details? I’ve known their family since I can remember.”
Harry smiled and nodded.
“Well. Octavian’s older brother was always very loved. Purebloods always prize their children, of course, but his parents gave the institution a new meaning. He was spoilt—they never could deny him anything,” she said with a fond smile. “He pulled my hair once when we were little, because he said it wasn’t fair that it was prettier than his.”
Harry laughed, trying to imagine a spoilt version of Octavian doing such a thing.
“He always wanted a brother—my friend,” she said wistfully, stopping on a step halfway down the main staircase and sitting down. She pushed some loose strawberry blonde strands behind her ears and looked off into the distance, not even noticing when Harry paused and sat down with her. “He didn’t like being an only child. He was jealous over that, too, and as his father would say—members of that family should never be jealous.”
Harry smiled. “This father sounds a bit like La Princesse. She has sayings, or so I’ve heard, as well.”
“Most families do,” Astoria confessed. “Anyway, my friend was jealous of me. I was prettier and I had a sibling. He decided if he couldn’t have a brother like he wanted, he was just going to adopt me.” She smiled. “He’s been my best friend ever since, in a quiet way.” She shivered slightly, her eyes once again distant. “He hated Black when he first saw him. I actually had already met Black on the Hogwarts Express. He was quiet and sitting in a corner of the compartment I was in, reading an old Potions book, and eating pumpkin pasties.”
“That must have been just before I met him.”
She looked at him questioningly.
“He rushed into my compartment, being chased by a Dementor.”
Comprehension burned in her eyes. “Yes, he was terrified. We tried to get him to stay, but it was like he couldn’t even hear us.” She played with a strand of her hair absently, clearly nervous or agitated about something.
“Are you all right, Astoria?”
“What? Oh, yes. It’s just Draco—he’s being—I don’t know. I don’t understand. It doesn’t matter.” She smiled bitterly.
Harry squeezed her hand lightly.
“I, though, was telling a very important story. I remember the night my friend first saw your husband. He came to Ravenclaw and managed to answer the riddle and get into the common room. Everyone was confused, especially since he was supposed to be in the infirmary.”
Harry looked at her in confusion, but Astoria just continued.
“There he was, injured, and tears streaming down his face. He’d been—reckless about something just after he first saw Black. He said it was uncanny. He could clearly see his father in Black’s features—could see himself, and he knew his father had no brothers or sisters—only a distant cousin whose children he had known since we were both small. He just sat there, crying on my shoulder and holding me close, whispering about how he was in hell, and how could his father do that to his beloved mother. He didn’t understand and he despised Black for even existing, and he hated himself for ever wishing for a brother, although he now had one.”
They sat in silence, just staring at the closed doors to the Great Hall, hearing the distant sound of conversation.
“He just kept on trying to prove to everyone that he was better than his brother, that the name wasn’t ruined, but everyone knew. All the old families, anyway. It didn’t help when he found out that his father was sending Black presents and that he was now providing for him. It felt like a kick in the face, I imagine.
“My friend watched your husband, of course. He was obsessed with him—with the fact that he had a brother that he both wanted and hated. It was confusing. It’s still confusing for my friend. He doesn’t understand why his father would ever bring such dishonor to his mother, but you gave him what he always wanted, though in secret. He now has a brother he can recognize and—well, he’s learning to look past his father and La Princesse’s affair. I know if he could he would thank you for the chance.”
“I know,” Harry whispered. “Tell him that he will always have a home with us, with Octavian’s permission of course, when this is all over.”
She nodded. “He’d like that, I think—something to look forward to.”
“You’re welcome, too, of course.” He bumped shoulders with her lightly. “Even when you’re Mrs. Malfoy.”
Astoria blushed. “Don’t say that.”
“Why not?” Harry teased. “I see the way you both look at each other, and the scent of the Amortentia potion never lies.”
“Draco,” she sighed, resting her forehead in her hands. “He’ll be the death of me.” She sobbed quietly and Harry, not quite sure what to do, patted her on the back. “He—oh gods—I can’t help him. I know there’s something—some secret and it’s killing him. He’s working on something, I don’t know what, and every passing week he gets sicker and sicker. His skin is gray, his eyes hollow. He’s barely even eating and I can’t do anything. Whenever I try to do something, he brushes me off and says that it’s too dangerous, that all I can do for him is to live and be safe.”
“Shh,” Harry murmured. “Don’t do this to yourself, Astoria. Do what he asks—live, be as happy as you can. I’m sure it’s killing him seeing you like this.”
She took a handkerchief out and wiped her face before nodding quietly. “Do you think it will help?”
“Yes,” he stated firmly. “Show him that you care by smiling for him, at him. Get Daphne to give you the password to the common room and bring him food when he misses meals. Take care of him, and don’t pressure him. Whatever’s wrong,” He bit his lip in thought, “is probably weighing down on him. Lift the burden slightly so he doesn’t have to think of such things.”
Astoria sighed. “Of course. Thank you, Harry.” She kissed him on the cheek gently. “I insist you be a groomsman at the wedding,” she whispered quietly into his ear and he laughed.
“I doubt Malfoy would approve.”
“You never know,” she mused, allowing him to help her up. “You never know.”
French to English Translations.
Le café. Coffee.
Les crêpes. Crêpes.
C’est très bizarre, Henri Jacques. It is very odd, Henri Jacques.
Les moules. Mussels.
La champagne. Champagne.
Je suis heureux, Henri Jacques. I am happy, Henri Jacques.