Damoiselle Stephagenia

Author: ExcentrykeMuse
Written: July 2018
Fandom(s): Harry Potter
Series: The Wicked Stepmother

Pairing(s): Lily/Lucius
Secondary Pairing(s): (slight) Lily/Voldemort, (slight) Lily/Regulus, (one sided) Lily/Sirius

Notes: Lily looks like Eleanor Tomlinson, first as Demelza Poldark as a red head and then as Isabel Neville, Duchess of Clarence when she has black hair.
Summary: Her seventh year, Lily discovers she’s the illegitimate daughter of a Black.  Now, brought into the fold, she must navigate around dark magic, a Dark Lord, and a pureblood heir who is falling in love with her.

Warning(s): pureblood culture, pureblood prejudice, cousin incest, (past) abduction, illegitimacy, torture, dark arts, lemonade

Lily at first thought they were from James Potter.  They were going after all.  After all these years, she had worn down and had decided to give him a chance.  A beautiful poesy of daffodils arrived by owl that Tuesday morning with the tight calligraphic hand, for the fairest of them all.  Trying to stay calm, she brought the daffodils to her nose and smiled.

“Who are they from, Lily?” Morag McDougall asked.

“Never you mind,” she replied, trying to hide her smile.  It wasn’t like Potter to be so thoughtful, but she smiled widely at him the next time she saw him. 

Of course, he was with his band of friends, and she thought she caught Black’s little brother there, but she honestly couldn’t be sure.

The date was on Saturday.  More flowers came, this time forget-me-nots, with the same handwriting.  I’m not James Potter.  Read Spungen’s.  Looking at the note, completely perplexed and being uncertain exactly what Spungen’s was, she slipped the note into her jeans pocket and made ready to go down to Hogsmeade. 

When James slipped a hand around her waist, she moved out of his grasp, instead smelling her flowers, wondering who had sent them.

“What’s Spungen’s?” she asked sweetly.

Spungen’s Guide to Pureblood Dynasties?” he checked.

“Yes,” she agreed immediately.  “That one.”

“It’s this thick book that all purebloods keep.  It’s ruddy impossible to wade through.  It keeps all the traditions of the Sacred Twenty-Eight along with basic pureblood protocol.  Stay away, Evans.  Not even academic curiosity is worth it.”  He shuddered.

She nodded but glanced down at the forget-me-nots, wondering what Spungen’s said about them. 

Lily kept them with her all day, and her mind kept wandering to them.  She just couldn’t seem to pay attention to Potter, to his jokes, to the fact that he was trying to make her laugh and give her a good time.  Occasionally, she would manage a half-smile and was glad when their lunches came at The Three Broomsticks because it meant she didn’t have to talk.

“What is it with those flowers?” Potter finally asked when they were walking up to the castle.  “All you’ve done all day is buy sweets, a few new quills and some ink, drink butterbeer, and ignore me.”

“I haven’t ignored—”

“Tell me one thing I’ve talked about,” he asked angrily.

She stood there, her mouth hanging open.  “It wasn’t intentional,” she finally admitted.  “I’m sorry, Potter.”

“And the flowers?” he asked.

“Aren’t they pretty?” she deflected.  “I’ve always liked flowers.  I’m named Lily, if you remember, and my sister’s Petunia.  I had a little brother, Florent, which means ‘flower’.”  Lily turned away from him and continued up the path, determined to go to the library if it wasn’t already closed.

He didn’t catch up with her.

Spungen’s Guide to Pureblood Dynasties, c. 1500-present was a large, dusty book.  That night, Lily read the introduction which stated that Muggleborns would never understand the intricacies of purebloods, which Lily thought was complete rubbish.

She didn’t go to breakfast the next morning, which was a Sunday, and read the basic courtship of purebloods that were not tailored to a specific house.  She, as a Muggleborn, didn’t have a house so there were no traditions specific to her family.

Her finger followed each line of the tiny print and then she found it—flowers.  They were a sign of devotion and an intention of marriage.  Lily nearly dropped the book that was balanced on her knees.  Some pureblood wanted to marry her—and it wasn’t the annoying and arrogant James Potter.  Now she just had to figure out who it was!

Looking over to her bedside table where she had conjured a small vase, her forget-me-nots were still blooming.  The meaning was clear—she had mistaken this wizard for James Potter, and now he didn’t want to be forgotten when she was with Potter—and she hadn’t forgotten him the entire date.  She bit her lip, hoping it wasn’t Sev.  It would be just like him—

Closing the book heavily and storing it in the drawer beside her bed (it barely fit), she jumped out of bed and hoped that Sev was still at breakfast.  She waited for him at the doors of the Great Hall after she spotted him with his little Death Eater friends.

Her heart clenched at the thought of all those years of friendship he ruined, but she held fast.  What he had done was unforgivable.

When he came out, she called, “Snape!” and walked toward him, his friends sneering at her.

One pair of eyes looked at her curiously.

She crossed her arms and ignored them all.  “Are you trying to make amends, Snape?  Because it’s not going to work.”  It wasn’t his handwriting, but there were ways to magically disguise it.

He sneered.  “How was your date with Potter?”

Lily flipped her hair.  “I would have told you once,” she admitted, “but you’re not privy to that information anymore.  So, you’re not trying to make amends?” Lily checked.  “Good.  I don’t want you to.”

She turned on her heel and went into the Great Hall to see if there was any breakfast left, but she felt a pair of eyes still on her.  It was probably Sev, but she turned anyway.  The boy was a few years younger, with hair cut to his ears, close to his head, and the gray eyes of Sirius Black.  He was a Slytherin, she saw.  Their eyes connected, and he nodded to her in respect.  For some reason that she couldn’t explain even to herself later, she nodded back to him.

Next she received pink carnations on a day when she had a particularly grueling Charms examination.   She was completely confident, Charms was her best subject, but she was not looking forward to it.  Still, the carnations were greatly appreciated.  Best wishes although even you do not need Felix Felicis.

“Lily,” Morag asked from beside her.  It seemed like she was reading the note.  “Who’s your boyfriend?”

“He’s not my boyfriend,” she stated definitively as she slipped the note into her Potions book, “I have no idea who it is except that it’s not Potter and it’s not Severus Snape.”

“You’re accepting flower nosegays from him, whoever he is.  He’s your beau.—When’s the wedding?” she asked excitedly.

“Er—” she responded.  “I think we’re nowhere near there yet.”  Lily gave a strained smile.   She didn’t even want to think about marriage in the abstract, and she didn’t even know who was sending her flowers!

“Have you sent love tokens back?” Morag asked excitedly in a whisper.

“No…” Lily responded.  “Whatever would I send back?”

“Well, you look at his house in Spungen’s—you do know about Spungen’s?”

“Of course I know about Spungen’s!” she similarly whispered.  “But I don’t know his house!  I don’t know who it is!  Remember?  He just sends me flowers and little notes and I don’t recognize the handwriting!”  She was hyperventilating now and Morag quickly made shushing noises and rubbed her back to calm her down.

“We’ll pick one of the Sacred Twenty-Eight from the Houses and choose that way, and we can send it to ‘Lily Evans’s Suitor’.  It should get to him then.  Come.  We’ll do it after class.”

Lily nodded and then picked up her carnations, smelling them, and then grabbed her bag.  Morag stood next to her and the two friends walked out.  Her eyes flashed over the four Marauders, and she thought, Black.  He was the only one of the four who was Sacred Twenty-Eight.

That evening, the carnations in the little vase, Lily and Morag were sitting on her bed, the book between them.

“Black?” Lily suggested.  “It’s just—I saw him and—”

“No,” Morag agreed.  “Black is perfect.”  She grabbed the book and started flipping through it.  Stopping at a page, a look of concentration fell over her features and then her face fell.  “Cufflinks.”

“I don’t have cufflinks!” Lily whispered desperately.  “Wait—what if I send him poetry?  That’s romantic—like flowers!”

Morag looked at her dubiously at her and continued to read before flipping near the back of the book.  “Prince accepts poetry.”

“Perfect!” Lily stated.  “Maybe on the envelope I should put that I don’t mean James Potter.”

“You might be right.—What poetry are you going to send?”  She looked at her friend eagerly.

“Oh, Shakespeare?  He’ll have never read it before.”  She crawled off the bed and went into her trunk, and picked through it til she found the complete works.  Flipping through it, she found one that was particularly romantic and showed it to Morag.

“I don’t understand it.”

Lily rolled her eyes.  “Well, if he gets it, he’ll like it,” she promised.  “I’ll just copy it out now and send it out this evening.  She went over to her desk and in careful penmanship wrote out the poem, signed it LE, and sent it out with Morag’s owl.  “There, it’s done.”  Lily was well satisfied.

The owl flew down to the dungeons and into the Common Room.  There was an impromptu meeting among the students who had dark leanings.  One student, Regulus Black, hung on the edge, his mind on the most beautiful witch he had ever seen.  An owl flew down the staircase and landed on his shoulder, causing a few students to look over.  Regulus looked down at each and everyone and then, curious, untied the piece of parchment, sighing at the direction.  He opened up the scroll and read a poem by someone named Shakespeare.  Love is an ever-fixed mark.  A smile crossed his lips.  It seemed he was successfully wooing Lily Evans, the girl he was certain was Stephagenia Black.

James Potter was paying Ursula three sickles when Lily came down for breakfast on Friday.  “What was that?” she asked in confusion.

“Nothing,” Potter answered quickly—too quickly.  “How are you, Evans?”

“Fine,” she answered carefully.  “You?”

He shrugged.  “The same.”

“Well,” she began, before she nodded to him and wandered away.

The next flower was a single Easter Lily, which made Lily smile, but the note was much longer.  Have you ever considered that you were adopted away from your family—that you may in fact be a pureblood?  Stand in front of a mirror and whisper, “finite incantem”, and I would guess that your eyes would no longer be green and your hair no longer that glorious red.

Immediately she caught the owl before it was about to fly away and wrote down a quick note, How can you possibly guess something like that?

She sent it off with the same direction, not even showing the note to Morag, who looked at her expectantly.

The owl came to her privately when she was getting ready for bed.  She looked at the familiar hand and opened it up.  Uncle Lycoris confessed what he knew of his granddaughter on his deathbed.  He said she was called Lily, that she lived with Muggles as her mother was not married to his son.  She had hair the color of phoenix fire and eyes the color of the Killing Curse.  Would you like me to be with you?

She paused, looking at the owl who was waiting for her response.  Tearing off a piece of parchment, she wrote, Were the flowers a lie?

The next half hour was torturous.  When the black owl finally arrived back, she took the message and unrolled it hurriedly.  They were an opportunity.  If you are a pureblood, I am permitted to send you flowers, Stephagenia.

The name made her gasp.  She had seen it before on a baby’s blanket in the attic.  The blanket had stars and unicorns on it.  Lily had thought little of it, but now—it could be the blanket of a wizarding child.

Moaning Myrtle’s bathroom.  Now.

Finding a robe to go over her cotton nightgown, Lily put on her slippers and ghosted down the stairs to the deserted Common Room.  She didn’t see Potter sitting by the fire in an armchair, watching her, nor did she realize he was following her out the portrait hole under his invisibility cloak. 

Lily reached the bathroom first and looked at herself critically in the mirror.  Was this really a mask she had been wearing her entire life?  She took in a deep breath and took her hair down from the ponytail she was wearing and brushed it out with her fingers.  Hearing footsteps behind her, she turned to see the boy with gray eyes.  Looking at him, she blinked.

“You’re Black’s brother,” she realized.  “Oh no, Black.  He’s horrid.”

“He’s horrid to everyone,” the boy admitted.  “Try living with him.”

Lily held out her hand.  “Lily Evans.  I don’t think we’ve officially met.”

Surprisingly, he took her hand and lifted it up to just beneath his lips, never touching, and let it hover for a few moments before releasing it.  “Heir Regulus Black.”

She had no idea what that meant, but she wasn’t going to ask.  Instead, she tried to inquire brightly, “Finite Incantem?  This isn’t a prank—”

“No,” he told her sincerely.  “This isn’t a prank.  From what I understand, you have to do it to yourself.  Try your eyes first, individually.”

Going to the mirror, she pointed to her left eye and murmured the spell.  Her green eye then melted into gray.  She screamed.

Regulus was immediately behind her, holding her upright as her legs seemed to have given way.  “I brought firewhiskey,” he told her quietly, “in case you needed a little liquid courage.”  He reached into his robes, he was actually dressed, she realized, and gave her a flask.

Quickly taking it, she took a swig and then sputtered before wiping her mouth with the back of her hand.  She was sure she was creating an undignified portrait of herself, but she didn’t care.  Her eye was gray!  Holding back tears, she pointed her wand at her other eye and let it melt into gray as well to create a perfect set.

“I’m going to look like Black,” she realized in horror.  “I don’t care if half the witches our year have slept with him—he’s just—disgusting.

“You could look like Cousin Bellatrix,” he soothed.  “She’s the most beautiful witch most men have ever seen.  She turns down a marriage proposal at least every month.”  It seemed like there was more to the story, but Lily let it pass.

“My hair, she whispered, pulling it over her shoulder before her gray eyes met Regulus’s gray eyes in the mirror.  “How closely are we related? It’s just—you send me flowers.”

“Cousins,” he answered.  “Second cousins.  Uncle Lycoris died last August and confessed your existence to Father, who’s been searching for you.  I wrote to him in September and told him I found you, but I’d bringing you back into the fold—but I wanted you to fancy me a little first instead of seeing me as your cousin.”

“Do cousins often marry in the wizarding world?”

“My parents are cousins,” he answered automatically.

She grimaced.  “My life is so bizarre.  My eyes are gray, my hair might change drastically, and the strange baby blanket for Stephagenia in the attic could very well belong to me!”

Regulus stroked her hair soothingly.  “Drink a little more firewhiskey.  Then we’ll look at your hair.”

Grabbing the flask, she took a deep swallow, sputtering a bit less.  Her lips shone with liquid, but she merely licked it away.  Then, closing her eyes, she tilted her wand to her hair and whispered, “finite incantem.”  She couldn’t open them.  Lily just couldn’t.

She heard an intake of breath and Regulus whispered, “Look at yourself, Stephagenia.”  Eyes fluttering open, Lily was shocked.  Her hair was black with a slight deep brown sheen, curling as it fell down her back.  She brought her hands up to her mouth and her legs actually gave out, Regulus catching her under her arms just before she crashed to the floor.

“I don’t look like myself,” she mumbled, as she turned around and embraced him, crying now.  “I don’t look like Lily Evans.”

“That’s because you’re not Lily Evans.  You’re Stephagenia Black.”  He ran fingers through her hair, another hand around her waist as she clung to him.  “Hush, you have a family who is waiting for you and who loves you—and Sirius ran away to the Potters, so you’ll never have to deal with him.”

She pulled away, tears still running from her gray eyes, and she said in disbelief, “Black ran away to Potter’s?”

“Yes.  You didn’t know?”

She shook her head.

“Yes.  He was disowned—he’s no longer Heir Sirius Black but Monsieur Sirius Black.”

“I—I don’t know what that means,” she finally admitted.

“Read—” he began, but she interrupted him—”Shut up—”

However, before she could finish, he had leaned in and kissed her.  Although he was certainly younger than she was, he was taller.  Lily whimpered into his mouth, her mind a little hazy and confused, and then she pulled away harshly.  “How old are you?”

“Sixteen—” he told her honestly, “but I’m unfortunately a fifth year.”

“That’s all right then,” she decided, but she embraced him again, her chin hooking on his shoulder.  Regulus resumed stroking her hair, which fell two feet past her shoulders.  “What’s going to happen to me?”

“Well, you’re going to hide from everyone tomorrow morning,” he told her succinctly.  “I’ll get Professor Slughorn to call Father and I’ll present you to him.”

“Can I sleep in the dungeons?” she begged.  “I don’t want anyone in Gryffindor seeing me.  I can transfigure this into a dress—Potter, he’s—like a little dog who with a bone—”

“The only bed is mine,” Regulus stated carefully.  “I’m willing to share,” and putting his hands up at the fire in her gray eyes, he added, “I won’t touch you, I won’t kiss you, it will be as if we were brother and sister.”  He took his wand and crossed it over his heart.  “I so swear.”

“Fine,” she agreed.  “We’re cousins, anyway.”

She turned to go and Regulus came up to her, taking her hand, and Lily smiled up at him. 

“Stephagenia?” she checked.  “What a peculiar name.”

“It is peculiar for a Black,” he admitted as they turned the corner.  “Usually we’re named after stars or constellations.  ‘Dora’ is popular for girls.  I have a Cousin Narcissa—a flower like many purebloods.”

She was asleep before they reached the dungeons, Regulus carrying her into Slytherin territory.  When one of the other boys who was still up reading saw him carrying the dark beauty, he raised an eyebrow.

“My cousin Stephagenia,” Regulus explained.  “She just needs a place to sleep tonight.”

“Of course.  How convenient for you, Black.”

Regulus immediately had his wand out and at his classmate’s throat.  “Do we have a problem?” he asked.  At the frightened look on the other boy’s face, Regulus growled, “I thought not.”

Lily woke up to the feel of fingers running through her hair.  “Don’t stop,” she murmured, snuggling deeper into the pillow.

“You need to get up, Stephagenia,” Regulus murmured near her ear.  “You have a dress to transfigure and I understand witches need time to ready themselves.  Also, you need to use the bathroom before the boys.”

She was immediately sitting up.  “Right.  Of course.  Professor Slughorn—”

“Sent him a note and he already granted us an interview just after breakfast.  You can sit with me at breakfast.  No one will hopefully notice you’re missing because it’s Saturday.—And you look.  Steph.”  The shortening of her name surprised Lily, but she let it pass.

“I look nothing like myself,” she murmured.  Getting up, she went into the boys’ bathroom and took off her robe.  Looking at her white cotton nightdress, she charmed it a pale blue, embroidered little flowers along the collar, which she stretched up to reach nearly up to her chin.  A belt she conjured from thin air with the same flowers and she tied it around her middle before, finally, transfiguring the cotton into a smooth velvet fit for Autumn.

The robe was a little more interesting.  This she transfigured into the same fabric, the same flowers along the cuffs and the hemline, which she transfigured into a velvet lining.  Then, taking it off, she created several stitches midway down the back in the center, to make it more form fitting while showing off the dress.  Putting it back on, she saw she was now wearing pureblood robes.  Her slippers she charmed to the same blue as the dress and made them slightly more delicate.

Hopefully this would pass muster.

Her hair was something of a nightmare.  Conjuring a hairbrush, it took her a full seven minutes to brush out all the tangles and let the curls settle.  Lily had seen pureblood witches wear their hair up so she folded the sides of her hair in on itself before a conjured ribbon tied it together, then she took the center of the ponytail and slipped it up past the ribbon, through the center of the hair, and then below the ribbon from behind.  It would have to do.

Washing her face and hoping it would be acceptable, she emerged to see Regulus already dressed for the day.

“Now,” he said, taking her hand.  “Everyone is either a ‘Lady’ or a ‘Mademoiselle’ depending on their status.  I’ll explain it later.  Your parents were never married so you are Damoiselle Stephagenia.  You curtsey to every single pureblood but offer your hand to a half-blood or Mudblood.”  She glared at him for the term, but he seemed nonplussed.  “If the person has no title, they are not a pureblood.”

“And you’re Heir Regulus,” she checked.

“Yes.”

“Then why did you take my hand?”  The thought bewildered her.

“Because I want to make you my Heiress,” he offered simply, before taking her hand in his and entwining their fingers.  “Come, let’s go to breakfast.”

They were fortunately sitting when almost everyone arrived, so Lily just nodded her head in respect to everyone who had a title.  She was surprised, when she met Severus Snape, when he bowed to her, and she looked at Regulus for some kind of explanation.  He merely whispered, “Later,” in her ear, which seemed to be the end of it.

“I hope we’ll see more of you, Damoiselle Stephagenia,” a handsome boy in his sixth year complimented her as she stood up to leave.

“My cousin,” Regulus stated coldly, “is a daughter of the House of Black, and fully recognized as such.  I would keep your thoughts to yourself.”

Lily didn’t say anything as they went to Slughorn’s office, really not understanding this new world she was finding herself in.  She hoped it would become clear in time.  Ideally, Spungen’s would explain everything to her.

Of course, that fell to Orion, Lord Black—another title she didn’t understand.

He came out of the floo and looked at her, really looked.  Slughorn had been dismissed and Orion circled her and muttered to himself.  “Hair’s right.  Looks like Bellatrix.  Eyes of a Black.  A bit tall maybe.  Figure like Narcissa.  No, I can see it.  Where’s her earlier likeness?”

Regulus waved his wand and a candid photograph of Lily under a tree with a book in her hand, looking out into the distance was shown.  “Ah, yes.  The disguise is exactly as Uncle Lycoris described it.—Well, young lady.  We simply must take you home for a week and see what we can do about legitimizing you.”

“My studies,” she stated worriedly.  “I’m Head Girl.”

“And I’m sure you’re clever enough to catch up,” he stated.  “Now, where’s Slughorn!”

In the end, she was released and she learned, strangely, that Lady Black was locked in the attic and had been for several years.  “Don’t go up there,” Lord Black told her plainly.  “The door’s been soundproofed, but Walburga’s a clever witch.  She’ll try to use you to get out somehow.  I’d rather you not be prey to her.”

“Of course,” Lily whispered in absolute bewilderment.  “Whatever you think is best.”

Still, it was only the two of them in the house, a dark place with house elf heads on the wall in the landing.  The current house elf, Kreacher, adored Lily and pledged to serve her, which was a bit strange to her as she had never seen a house elf before.

The next morning a nosegay of mistletoe arrived and Lily laughed.  “Sorry,” she apologized to Lord Black (or “Uncle Orion” as he wanted to be called), “it’s a little early in the season.”

“Who are they from?” he asked carefully.

She was suddenly on her guard.  “Am I not supposed to receive flowers because I’m—well—illegitimate?”  Lily hated saying the word, but she didn’t know what else to say.

“Not at all,” Uncle Orion hurried to say.  “It’s just—I don’t know if the wizard is of good standing.”

“Oh,” she admitted.  “I—I find it peculiar.  It’s Regulus.  We’re cousins of a sort, aren’t we?”

Uncle Orion paused and thought for a long moment.  “I believe this may be a misalliance—My wife and I are cousins and it is certainly not the happiest of marriages.  She rages like a wild beast and I have her locked up for her own safety.  For my children’s safety.  I don’t care what she does to me.  For your safety now.  She doesn’t need a wand to be dangerous, child.—I don’t believe either you or Regulus would go mad, but still—”  His voice drifted off.  “I would end this on your side and I will speak to my son.”

She let out a relieved sigh.  “I didn’t like it that we were cousins.”

He put a hand on hers gently.  “I will see to it, Stephagenia.  You shall be friends again soon, mark my words.”

That day a dark ritual was put into place.  A man that Lily had never seen came into the house with several potions ingredients and used a large cauldron in the basement, brewing something horrid smelling.  He didn’t leave that night.  Uncle Orion left him to his business, and Lily decided that she didn’t want to know what he was doing until she had to become aware of it.  The ingredients, at least, were highly illegal.

She spent her day roaming through the Black Family Library and at the end of one shelf, she found a manuscript marked Sandman.  In it, it described a dark creature that would come if called and whisper the name of your beloved in your ear before leaving again.  Disheartened about James Potter and Regulus, Lily took the manuscript and went to her room.

Pushing all of her furniture against the wall with the help of Kreacher, Lily cut the ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics into her arm and whispered the name “Sandman, Sandman,” over and over again, the window letting in the cold October air.  Then there was the shattering of glass and the visage of a creature so horrible that she could barely breathe.  Backing up, she tripped over the leg of a chair and fell back, hitting her head and losing consciousness.

When she woke up there was sand everywhere, but written clearly in it was a name: Lucius Antonius Malfoy.  She took a magical photograph of it so she wouldn’t lose the evidence.

The potion was finished her last day at Grimmauld Place.  Uncle Orion was there and she had to strip naked and submerge herself into the potion, sinking into it completely.  Lily felt the horrible sludge against her eyelids, in between her breasts, filling her cunt, and gasped her way out, hoping it had been enough.

A hand was held out to her and she stepped out of the cauldron and was asked to lie down on her stomach.

Her hair was pushed away from her back and then was studied, several photographs taken.

“You are my cousin’s daughter,” Uncle Orion stated happily, helping her up and putting a robe on her.  “From what we can tell, Lycoris forbade the marriage of his son Nigel to a girl named Alexa McFarley.  He found her unsuitable.  However, they lived as man and woman and had you.  Alexa tried to reconcile with Uncle Lycoris, but he refused, and Alexa hid your face and placed you with Muggles.  When Uncle Lycoris died, he confessed all, recognized you as a Black, and now we have found you again.”

It was certainly a great deal to take in.  “But the wizarding world still sees me as a bastard.”

“Nothing will change that,” he apologized, “except if you marry well.”

She had no idea if she would marry well or not, only that she had to find Lucius Malfoy.  And she did find him in The Daily Prophet the morning she was to go back to Hogwarts.  He was in the engagement section, having become engaged to her own cousin, Mademoiselle Narcissa Black.  There was a picture of the two of them, both fair haired with pale eyes.  He had a stern face that showed no happiness, although Narcissa herself was smiling.  Lily clipped out the article, claiming to Uncle Orion that it was family, and stowed it away for later perusal.

A meeting with Dumbledore was in order.  Uncle Orion had all the legal proof that Lily Evans was in fact Stephagenia Black—and he wanted her name and records to reflect that.  Her O.W.L.s, her roles as Prefect and Head Girl, her future N.E.W.T.s.  However, he wanted more.  He didn’t want Stephagenia being associated with a “Mudblood”.  He didn’t even want her in the same House.

“Except for my son Sirius, all Blacks are in Slytherin; Damoiselle Stephagenia should be the same.  She was merely confused by a Muggle upbringing.  I will take this to court.  There will be no stain on her character.”

“You mean there is no stain on an illegitimate pureblood but every stain on an upstanding Muggleborn?” Dumbledore asked in shock.  “You surprise me, Lord Black.”

“There is no stain in being welcomed back to her family,” he said coldly.  “She was hidden under Weasley hair and Mudblood eyes.  There was no way we would have found her if not for Heir Regulus!  I will contact the Minister for Magic if necessary—and if I find that you have connected Lily Evans to my niece—”

Dumbledore held up his hands.  Turning to Lily, he asked, “My dear, what do you want?”

“I—” she answered, looking between the two powerful wizards.  Then she cleared her throat.  “I don’t want to be anywhere near Potter—or Black.  Sirius Black.  I’m not sure if I could look Morag in the face and tell her I’m a pureblood when we’ve been the two resident Muggleborns for over six years.”  She swallowed, looking at her uncle.  “I don’t know who I am anymore—and if I can learn that in Slytherin House, as dark as it is with Death Eaters running around like mad people on cocaine—then I suppose that’s what I want to do.”

Deflating, Dumbledore answered, “Well, that’s not a very Gryffindor answer.  I’m not certain it’s Slytherin either, but I see your point.  She’ll be put in Slytherin and since the individual once known as Lily and now known as Stephagenia earned the place of Head Girl, she will keep it.  I’ll find a plausible reason.”  He nodded to a place by his desk.  “Your trunk.”

“Get what you need, Stephagenia,” Uncle Orion said kindly.  “You can put it in your new trunk with your new clothes.”

“The house elves will change her insignia tonight,” Dumbledore promised.

And so Lily was in Slytherin and she was surprised at what she found there.  Everyone was in small groups, discussing things quietly.  Occasionally books would be out for studying, but as it was a Sunday, it seemed like they were occupied by other matters.  Fortunately, Morag had sent Lily the assignments, so she had kept ahead of her work, but that didn’t stop her from feeling out of sorts.

“Steph!” Regulus called, and she quickly stepped up to him and his friends, her trunk levitating behind her.  “I see you’ve come to Slytherin.”

“Yes,” she agreed.  “Uncle Orion would have nothing else.  I’m not certain where to put this though.”  She nodded to her trunk, which was black with gold trim and was engraved with her name.

“Just go down the far staircase until the door reads ‘Seventh Year’.  Then choose the bed that seems unoccupied,” Snape drawled.  “You should be fine.”

She ignored him, not looking at her former friend.  “Well, I have research, Regulus.  Has your father talked to you?”

“About relationships between cousins?” he questioned.  “Yes.”

She placed her hand on his arm in sympathy and then headed down the staircase that was indicated.  The middle bed was free and she set about putting up individual pictures of the Blacks that had been given to her, including one of her father and grandfather.  She unfortunately didn’t have one of her mother.  She wondered what happened to her parents—whether they were dead or alive.  No one had told her, only that her grandfather was dead and that she was now under the protection of the Head of the House, Lord Black.

Picking up Spungen’s, she wondered what to do concerning Lucius.  He was marrying her cousin—and yet his name appeared on her floor in sand.  She turned to the House of Malfoy and began to read and then, well, she learnt that female admirers were to send men flowers.  It almost made her laugh.  Consulting a guide to Diagon Alley she had picked up, she chose a flower shop and wrote to them, asking if they could press flowers and send them to a specified address, charging it to a Gringotts account.  As her grandfather’s heir, Lily was a wealthy woman.

The next day she walked into class with her green scarf and green waistcoat, her Head Girl badge on her chest.  She looked around her, wondering where to sit.  A wizard with blond hair whom she recognized as a prefect called her over and she thankfully sat down next to him.

“So, Head Girl?” he asked.  “Do you know what happened to Evans?”

“Evans?”  Playing stupid would hopefully work.  “Was she Head Girl?”

“Yeah.  A Mudblood.  It’s nice to have a pureblood.”  He opened his book and removed a quill from where it was holding place.

She paused and picked up her notebook from her bag along with a black quill.  Blacks apparently used everything black if possible.  “I don’t know. I was appointed as soon as I transferred last night.”

“Well, welcome,” he reiterated.  “Theirn Nott.”

“Stephagenia Black.”  She offered a small smile.

The whole day fell into the same pattern.  Everyone wanted to befriend the new Head Girl and the new Black.  It didn’t matter that her parents weren’t married, at least not in class.  There she was desirable, and she basked in the attention.

The first night Lily ordered a yellow rose for jealousy and had it pressed with the simple signature, Sandman.  She instructed the flower shop that if Lucius wanted to get in touch with her, he could write to them and then they should forward it on.  However, she didn’t expect it—at least not so soon.

However, he did contact her.  I am happily engaged, he wrote.  He also sent her dead flowers, a clear symbol of what he felt of her.  Lily, however, wasn’t discouraged.  They were meant to be together.  The sand told her of such.

Of course, it wasn’t just the Slytherins who noticed her.  James Potter was Head Boy with her.  He looked at her warily.  “How are you related to Sirius?” he asked.

“Black?”

Potter nodded.

“Who’s his father?” she inquired in false confusion.

Potter looked annoyed.  “Lord Black.”

“Oh,” she stated.  “Uncle Orion.  He’s my second cousin.  Sirius, not Uncle Orion.”  She bit her lip in a habit she couldn’t break from when she was Lily.  “He must be Reggie’s little brother.”

“Older,” Potter gritted out.

“Really?” she asked in confusion, once again.  “Well, Regulus is the heir.  How peculiar.  I shan’t ask.  I’m sure Uncle Orion will tell me when I next see him.”

Of course, Sirius was also interested in her.  He always sat as close to her as he could in Slytherin/Gryffindor classes.  His eyes would follow her wherever she would go, and it was beginning to disturb Lily.  She would walk closer to whatever Slytherin happened to be nearby, even if it were Severus Snape.

In her free time, Lily was reading Spungen’s.  In one of the sections, she learned about The Wicked Stepmother, a private club for purebloods.  However, they measured dark magic, which was how you got your card, and you had to also have six generations of purity in your blood.  Lily had no idea if she was dark enough and—well—she was illegitimate.  She didn’t know if they would take her.

Writing to Uncle Orion, she posed the questions.  He promised her that he would ask the maître d’ next time he saw him, and during her next Hogsmeade weekend, she could sneak out to London and she could apply.  He also brought up the idea of a vined ring, a ring that signified purity of the body and fidelity to one’s future spouse.  Every Black had one except, of course, Sirius.  She had seen them on various purebloods, and a few had even asked her why she didn’t have one, and she’d answered that it had never come up.

In early November, Slughorn had a Slug Club soiree.  Lily was only mildly surprised when she was invited given what a short time she had been in Slytherin, but she immediately accepted.  She was a Black, after all, and brilliant at Potions and Charms.  Leaving out robes to be pressed, she put up her hair in an elaborate hairstyle the next evening and wore a dark green dress with light green swirls on it.  The dark green robe was purely ornamental. 

“Lucius Malfoy—”  The name caused Lily to turn and look at the familiar face, at the handsome face, the gray eyes, not gray like a Black’s, but gray nonetheless.  His hair was long and so pale it almost couldn’t be called blond.

He was standing with Slughorn and she moved forward with a purpose and immediately curtseyed to her professor.  “Thank you so much for inviting me,” she stated humbly.  “I am grateful for the invitation.”

“A Black is always welcome,” Slughorn assured her, “especially one so talented as you.  Have you met Lucius Malfoy, –”

“Oh, my name is unimportant,” she cut off her professor, before curtseying to the man she desperately wanted to impress.  “Tell me, Heir Lucius, are you a former student of Professor Slughorn?”

He looked pleasantly surprised.  “I am indeed.  My talents, however, did not lie in potions.”

“And where did they lie?” she inquired.  “We cannot all be potioneers, after all.”

“Defense.  I broke several records,” he stated with a sense of achievement.

Lily paused for a moment.  She motioned Lucius closer to her, away from Slughorn, and she stated in a quiet voice, “You can, of course, not answer my question, but as a Slytherin I have a natural curiosity.  Were you at all talented in the opposite of the subject, Heir Lucius?  It is a topic of great discussion in the Common Room at present.”

A small smile played on his lips.  “I’ll leave you to guess, Mademoiselle,” he told her, guessing her title incorrectly.  “However, I am prodigiously talented in subjects I put my mind to.”

She smirked.  “I don’t doubt it.  You are here, are you not?”

“Tell me of yourself,” he said suddenly.  “You are a talented young witch, a pureblood, the world is open to you.”

“My grandfather left me his fortune.  I believe my uncle, who has custody of me, expects me to be a woman of leisure.”  She paused.  “It is not how I envisioned my life, but I suppose it could be worse.”

“I grieve with thee,” he murmured.  “However, there is so much good you can do with that money.  You can influence politics, for instance, Mademoiselle.  Give to charity.”

“I suppose,” she agreed, “except I haven’t decided my politics.  All of Slytherin has taken it upon themselves to turn me dark as I’m Head Girl, but I find it more amusing than anything.”

He turned and picked up two glasses of champagne off of a moving tray and handed her one.  They clinked glasses and then drank, their gray eyes never leaving each other.  “There are positions that are not the two extremes.”

“Of course you are right,” she concluded.  “I am just so lost,” Lily admitted.  “You’ll find me quite ridiculous.  I’m seventeen and I can’t decide if I’m sympathetic to Muggles or not.”

“Surely there must be a reason.”  Heir Lucius took a long sip of his champagne.

“Of course there is,” she agreed.  “There always is.  The question you must unravel: what is the story?”

“You shall not tell me.”  It was a matter of fact.

Lily shook her head.  “I’m afraid I shan’t.—But why do you dislike Muggles?”

Smirking at her, he answered, “They are inferior to us.  Their lack of magic shows that they have not taken the evolutionary leap necessary to be one of us.”

“Evolution,” she murmured.  “I’m surprised to hear a wizard speak of it.”

“I’ve studied the question in great detail, from both sides,” he admitted.  “Perhaps I can suggest a few titles.”

Looking at him, Lily nodded.  “Perhaps you could.  I’m afraid most of my mail goes through my uncle.  Ever since my cousin started courting me against his wishes, he’s been watching my mail and chastising my cousin every time he sends me a gift.”

“And who is your excellent uncle?” he queried.

“You don’t know?” she teased.  “I know he’s technically my father’s cousin, but still…”  Lily finished her champagne and put it down on a passing tray.  “There’s Gigi Fawcett.  I’m afraid she’ll be insulted if I don’t go and speak to her.  Goodnight, Heir Lucius.”  To his consternation, she curtseyed to him deeply before leaving him abruptly.

N.E.W.T.s filled up Lily’s life, but she was happy when the second to last Hogsmeade Weekend before Christmas Break arrived.  She slipped off to London in seasonal robes and she and Uncle Orion went to The Wicked Stepmother.  The door was nearly broken down and the sign was swinging in the wind, made of a single piece of wood with the words etched on it rather crudely.

Uncle Orion held the door open for Lily and when they entered a little wizard stepped forward and greeted them both.  “Damoiselle Stephagenia, you are most welcome.  If you can place your wand in the instrument.”  He showed her a cone that was facing upward at an angle, and she put her wand in it.  At first, nothing happened.  Then the cone began moving counter clockwise.  The speed picked up and then it was moving so fast that Lily was getting dizzy just watching.

The little wizard was humming and a tickertape was coming out of the bottom.

Suddenly, the cone stopped and the little wizard broke off the tickertape.  He read it and looked up between Lily and Uncle Orion.  “Damoiselle she—a Black Card—” he whispered in shock.  “A lady hasn’t possessed one since the 1700s.”  His voice was now a squeak.  “Congratulations, Damoiselle.  Your card will be ready at the end of your tea.  You may take your wand.”

She did, having forgotten it briefly.  “What’s a black card?” she whispered to Uncle Orion.

“You have the darkest magic possible—black magic.”  He began to lead her to the door behind the maître d’, but Lily stopped and began to curtsey.

“No!” the little wizard commanded.  “You are a black card.  Here you curtsey to no one.”

Lily stared at him, but then nodded in agreement.  They entered and she was surprised to see all the tables full except one.  Lucius Malfoy was standing at a table set for three, a teapot ready, and several cakes sitting on a tiered tray.

“Heir Lucius,” she breathed—“How?”

“Magic,” he answered, shrugging.  “And Professor Slughorn was most helpful with your name, Damoiselle.”

Looking back at her uncle, Lily stepped forward and sat down in a chair he pulled out for her.  “Heir Lucius, I’m certain you know my uncle, Lord Black.”

“I have had that pleasure,” he agreed, nodding his head, before sitting down himself.  “I took the liberty of ordering you Paris Tea as I was hoping you’d had the joy of visiting Paris.”

“I’m afraid, Heir Lucius,” she responded, “I haven’t had the pleasure of visiting anywhere outside of London but Hertfordshire, and I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone.”

“We will surely change that, I think, Stephagenia,” Lord Black stated solemnly.  “The Alps perhaps or Norway.  Somewhere cool so as not to insult your sensibilities.”

Heir Lucius was, strangely, playing mother and pouring the tea for everyone, even giving Lily sugar “as it tastes better this way,” he explained kindly.  “How are your politics, Damoiselle?  Surely your place in society must influence them.”

“No,” she answered, taking a salmon sandwich.  “I don’t see why it would.  Are you implying something, Heir Lucius?”

“Not at all,” he stated quickly.  “I merely meant—your mother—”

“Gave me life?” she questioned calmly, looking at her uncle.  “Goodness, she did far worse than that.  I don’t even know if she’s dead or alive.”  Once again, she gave her uncle a questioning look.

“Alive,” he answered for her, “and you shall not be seeing her, Stephagenia.  That woman is a bad influence.”

“Quite,” Heir Lucius agreed.  “Damoiselle Stephagenia should receive protection.”

“From you, perhaps?” Uncle Orion asked plainly.  “You seem to have stalked her to a private family affair.”

“I will go when she asks me to go,” he stated plainly, “and she has not.”

“I shudder to think what my niece Narcissa would say at you giving attentions to Stephagenia—”

Lucius looked at Lily for a long moment before turning back to Uncle Orion.  “I frankly don’t care.”

This brought a small smile to Lily’s lips, which Lucius noticed and a smug look passed over his face.  “How are you enjoying the tea, Damoiselle?”

“I’ve never had anything like it,” she admitted, putting her cup down.  “Do they really serve it in Paris?”

“Not that I know of,” Lucius admitted.  “They drink a great deal of coffee.  However, I was uncertain if you favored that particular beverage.”

Her eyebrows rose.  “Well,”—She almost said ‘Dad’ and had no idea how to convey it.  “A Muggle I knew drank it quite a lot.  Every morning in fact.”

Uncle Orion coughed into his tea and then looked at her.  “Stephagenia!”

“It’s how I’m familiar with coffee!” she defended.  “Every day, three cups without milk.  Petunia and I drank what was left.”

“And who is Petunia?” Lucius questioned.

“A Muggle who should not be spoken about,” Uncle Orion stated.  “And she will never be mentioned in polite society again nor any other Muggle you happen to be acquainted with.”

She glanced at Lucius.  “It’s not my fault,” she grumbled.

“No,” Orion agreed.  “It’s your mother’s, which is why you are not allowed any contact with her.—Forgive Damoiselle Stephagenia.  She is quite overwhelmed on occasion.”

“Of course,” Lucius stated kindly, though he clearly did not understand.  “Cocoa?” he asked.

Lily took a deep breath, thinking about how she and Petunia would have cocoa every Christmas Eve.  “Yes, I am fond of cocoa.”

“Then I am prepared for the next time we have tea,” Lucius stated, “and hopefully I won’t have to resort to such extraordinary measures to see you.  May I ask your next stop?”

The Pumpkin Carriage,” Lily stated quickly before her uncle could shush her or give a vague answer.

Lucius looked down at her hands and then at his own, which showed a vined ring that climbed his middle right finger from the base to the knuckle, covered in diamonds.  Vined rings were only available to proven purebloods and signified fidelity to one’s future spouse.  In fact, there were magical punishments if the wearer was unfaithful before or during his or her marriage.  “Dare I ask if you are going to purchase a vined ring?  I realize that a lady usually picks hers out at fourteen or fifteen—”  He let his voice hang.

“She is,” Uncle Orion admitted.  “We needed her Wicked Stepmother card to prove her blood status and we were uncertain she would be accepted due to the circumstances of her birth.”

“How unkind fate proves to be,” Lucius stated, his eyes never leaving Lily.  “Let it be a gift from me.  Although not strictly a courting gift unlike this tea, it would please me greatly.”

Lily looked up in shock.  “Narcissa,” she whispered.

“The reflection of the truth can be deceiving,” Lucius admitted, nodding respectfully to her.  “If you would allow me, Lord Black.”

Uncle Orion looked at him a long moment and then at Lily.  “You are a witch of your own fate.  I may be your guardian, but it only goes up to a certain point.”  Yes, Lily had read about this.  She chose who she would marry.  She didn’t need Uncle Orion’s approval.

“You’re engaged,” she stated quietly.  “I’m afraid I cannot currently accept you as a suitor”—despite what was written on the floor of her bedroom.

He nodded once and stood.  Coming around the table, he picked up her hand and lifted it just beneath his mouth, his lips never touching, and then released it.  He then turned around and left the club, a stunned Lily and a pleased Uncle Orion in his wake.

When they arrived at The Pumpkin Carriage with her black card to prove her lineage, Lily discovered that she had a credit of two hundred galleons, curtesy of Lucius Malfoy. She looked through the rings and chose one that showed blue sapphires as roses and emeralds as leaves, climbing up in gold.  It was sung with the proper enchantments, and then placed on her hand where it was secured.  It could never be taken off, even in death.  She only had to pay one galleon for it.

Lily opened The Daily Prophet the next day and looked at the Announcement Section.  The engagement between Heir Lucius Malfoy and Mademoiselle Narcissa Black had been cancelled.  The idea made her sick, but she hadn’t made the decision.  She may have stolen Lucius, but he had always belonged to her.  The sand proved it.

Unfortunately, someone had noticed her interaction with Lucius Malfoy at Slughorn’s party and Theirn Nott’s older half-brother had seen that Lucius had served her tea at The Wicked Stepmother.  Rumors began to spread about her illicit relationship with Lucius and how she was even going the same way as her mother and was perhaps his mistress.  She held her head high despite the rumors, even when Regulus believed them.

“How can you do this to Narcissa?  Do you even know her?”

“Never met her,” Lily admitted.  “And I never did anything to her.  I’ve spoken to Heir Lucius twice and your own father was there once.”

Still, the rumors did not die down.  Lily studied for her N.E.W.T.s all through Christmas and was surprised when for Yule she had a gift from an unknown sender.  Opening it, she saw that it was an elaborate silver hairclip from Lucius.  The courting gifts to the House of Black were hair ornaments—and it was clear that Lucius Malfoy was serious about pursuing her.

She wore it in her hair when she took the Hogwarts Express back for second term to symbolize to everyone that she was nobody’s mistress, and fortunately all the whispering she heard was about courtship.

Talk was always political in Slytherin House and Lily was not immune to it.  Her parents had an affair, which made her the lowest category of pureblood.  She wouldn’t even possess her father’s surname if her grandfather hadn’t recognized her.  It did not endear pureblood culture to her.  However, her mother placed her with Muggles so she would have a better life—but was it better?  They hated magic.  Sometimes she thought that they hated her.

She knew of her cousins.  Andromeda had run away with a “Mudblood” and had been disinherited.  This bothered Lily.  Bellatrix was a Death Eater, which was apparently a good thing.  Narcissa was favored as she had almost married the future Lord Malfoy, but she seemed to be a weak, insipid thing.  Sirius had defected, and he had been blasted off the tapestry and was no longer the heir to the title.  Then there was Regulus, her closest relation and the heir, who was planning on becoming a Death Eater.

Lily herself was a black card.  Did that make her dark?  Was the fact that she liked her dark relatives a sign that she was dark herself?

And then there was Lucius, who sent her letters, and she asked him about politics and his ideas on Muggles—especially given her history with them.  He would send her beautiful hair clips and combs, that she would put in her hair and admire.  But the letters got progressively darker as he started speaking of the Dark Lord and his plans, what he meant to achieve, what his followers sought to bring about.  He never said he was a follower, that he agreed, but he laid out the simple ideas for her so that she could understand and make her own decision—and she knew the decision he wanted her to make.

I have a black card, she confessed.  I’m told this means I have black magic.  Does this make me a bad person?

He wrote back immediately within the day.  No, Damoiselle.  It simply means you glorify in the blackest of magics.  They are a pleasure, so heady with delight.  You deserve to learn this for yourself.  Let me introduce you to your cousin, Bellatrix.  She would be able to explain it to you so much better than I.

They met at The Wicked Stepmother at her next Hogsmeade Weekend in early March.  Bellatrix had the same coloring, the same curling hair, the same gray eyes.  She had a strong jaw and the brooding good looks of a self-possessed woman.  “Cousin,” she greeted, as she came up to Lily as soon as she arrived, kissing her cheeks.  “I got a request from Lucius, of all people, about you applying your dark magic.  Apparently you never have even though you’re a Black.”

“No,” she blushed.  “My mother gave me away—”

“You need say no more,” said Bellatrix, holding up her hand and taking a sip of her tea.  “Mothers can be beastly.  I hear you’ve been beastly, stealing Lucius away?”  She smirked.  “Never you mind that.  Now.  Are you ready to go all the way?  You have a black card so we’re going to cast some black magic, little cousin.”

Lily swallowed.  “You mean—the three—”

“Unforgivables?” Bellatrix laughed.  “Quite.”  She laid a hand on Lily’s.  “Little cousin, your blood needs this.  Your magic needs this.  It’s what you want, you just don’t know it yet.  You’re so young—and I hear you have peculiar politics that have clouded your judgment.  Let me help you.”

Looking down at the hand, Lily whispered, “Can I trust you?  I’m never sure who I can trust anymore.  I’m the upstart Black—”

“Whose mother was stupid enough not to wait until marriage,” Bellatrix sing-songed, “and who is clever enough to steal Heir Lucius Malfoy away from the trueborn niece of Lord Black.  You’re possibly the most powerful witch of the age, cousin.  Can you trust me?  I’m in love with your magic.  You can trust me more than anyone.”

Thinking a moment, Lily made a decision.  She would never come out of her shell and become Stephagenia Black if she didn’t learn to live the life of a Black.  Standing, she reached out to Bellatrix, who happily took her hand.

“Excellent, little cousin,” she grinned.  “Now, I have everything we need back at my flat.  I hope you don’t mind wearing black, even the masks.  It’s the best way to go about these things.”

They were dressed in black.  Black turtlenecks, black jeans, black socks, black boots.  Their hair was contained in ponytails and then clipped to the top of their heads before strange masks with pointed tops were pulled over their faces and necks.  Black gloves were pulled over their hands making it interesting for Lily to hold her wand.

“I want to visit a cousin of ours,” Bellatrix mused as she Apparated them to a line of trees outside of a Muggle graveyard.  “Perhaps you know him, he’s at Hogwarts.”

“Not Regulus!” Lily exclaimed.

“No, not Regulus.  I’ve yet to see how he’ll turn out.  No, the traitor, Sirius.  He’s gone to live with his best mate, Jim Potter or something.”

Lily bit her lip, determined not to correct Bellatrix.

“I hear he fancies a Muggle,” Bellatrix continued.  “I thought we’d show him a lesson.  Now, you know the incantation to the Imperius Curse?”

“Imperio,” Lily answered.

“Good.  Now, you can make the girl do or say whatever you want.  You just have to want to make her be your puppet.  Any chance you hate Sirius?”

“He’s annoying,” she reasoned, “but I hate James Potter.”  There was never a truer thought.

Bellatrix seemed to smile behind her mask.  “Good.  We’ll hope they’re together then.  If you need help, I’ll take over for a little while, and all will be well.”

They wandered at the outskirts of the village, the sun having set, and with a Point Me spell, Bellatrix found Sirius.  He was, in fact, with James Potter—and a girl.  She was cute, Lily realized, with blonde hair and blue eyes.  Her face was a little squashed, if you looked at it a certain way, and, well, Sirius could do better.  Then again, he enjoyed seducing witches.  Maybe he wanted to seduce her?

“Now,” Bellatrix whispered in her ear, “point the wand at her and whisper the word and think about how she is your puppet and you move and speak through her.”

Lily did just as she said.  She murmured the words she wanted the girl to speak, but nothing happened.  Loosening up her joints a bit, she pointed the wand again and whispered, Imperio!, and immediately the girl’s eyes seemed to glaze over.

The girl turned to Potter just as Lily wanted her to.  “James,” she said, “I heard about Lily Evans.  Shame that didn’t work out, but you did get that boy Severus to call her a ‘Mudblood.’  It’s all your fault!”

Bellatrix cackled beside her, having cast a spell that magnified her voice to where they were standing so they were eavesdropping but no one else could hear the Muggle, and James looked horrorstruck.

“And you wonder why she didn’t pay attention to you on her date!  She was so disgusted, she ran away home to her Muggle parents.”  Lily made her huff as if she were disgusted.  “Muggles, are there anything more tedious than magic-hating humans?”

Black reached out a hand to the girl, and asked, “Sarah?  Are you okay?”

Lily felt a gleeful smile crawl over her face as the girl—this Sarah—slapped him.  “Take your hands off me!  I won’t fall into your bed like every witch you know at Hogwarts!”

Whispering in her ear, Bellatrix ordered, “Make her do something.”

Not certain what to force the girl to do, she had Sarah fling herself in Potter’s arms and start snogging him, much to Black’s (and Potter’s) consternation.

“Now the next,” Bellatrix suggested.

Lily loosened her joints once again, moving them about, and then pointed the wand at Sarah.  “Crucio!” she muttered under her breath, and the girl screamed and fell on the ground.  It lasted only a moment, but she lay there panting, uncertain of what had just happened.

“Again.  Really hate her!”  Bellatrix’s gray eyes looked out of the hood, urging her on, and Lily nodded.

Lily set her jaw and breathed out the curse and once again Sarah screamed, this time for a full minute on the ground, her body twitching and thrashing.  Potter and Black had fallen beside her, trying to hold her down, talking over her and wondering what was happening, when Lily screamed, “Crucio!” over the mess, and Sarah’s screams increased and blood started pouring from her eyes and not even Black with Potter helping him could hold her down. 

Bellatrix tapped her on the shoulder and Lily surged toward the two Gryffindors and the girl and, pointing her wand in Sarah’s face, she screamed, “Avada Kedavra!”  A sickening green light burst out of her wand and suddenly Sarah was still. 

Breathing heavily, Lily looked at the dead girl and suddenly realized that Black was shouting at her and that Potter had gotten to his feet.  Turning around and running, Lily knew she wouldn’t beat them in a chase, but Bellatrix came and took her hand, shouting “Morsmordre” at the sky, before Apparating them away.

Immediately, Bellatrix was clapping.  “Brava, little cousin!  All three successfully cast and you escaped even though you showed yourself to two wizards—in disguise, of course.”

Suddenly, Lily heard footsteps and she turned to see Lucius coming down a marble staircase on the far side of the foyer where she and Bellatrix had Apparated.  “I’m so pleased,” he said as he motioned a house elf who was bringing three tall glasses of what seemed to be Licorne Lemonade.  “Ladies, if you would remove your masks.”

Immediately, Bellatrix pulled off her pointed hat to reveal a smiling face and curling hair, the ponytail falling down her back, and Lily hesitantly pulled off hers, to show similar hair that also had come down from atop her head.

“It’s alcoholic,” Lucius warned Lily as he gave a glass to each of the cousins.  “To Damoiselle Stephagenia!”

“To Steph!” Bellatrix repeated and they raised their glasses to her before drinking.

Lily blushed.

“You’re a Death Eater,” Lily realized, looking at her cousin.  “Are you—?” she asked Lucius.  “You’ve seen us in these peculiar costumes.  It’s just, Mother hid me with Muggles.  I can’t believe I tortured and killed one.”  Shaking her head, Lily just thought at how the magic coursed through her veins, bringing her to a high. 

Suddenly, a hand brushed the side of her face, and she looked up to see Lucius.  “We will avenge this travesty,” he promised.  “It will not go unpunished.”

“It will,” she swore.  “They were my family—”

“They were never your family, Steph,” Bellatrix told her.  “We were your family.  Alexa McFarley stole you from the Blacks for over sixteen years of your life.  How can you forgive your gaolers for that?”

The words haunted her, echoing in her mind, and yet she couldn’t reason against them.

Bellatrix came up to her and hugged her tight, running a gloved hand down her braid.  “Let’s get you cleaned up and ready for Hogwarts.  I know you’re clever enough to slip in this late, but you shouldn’t be dressed as a Death Eater.”  Her robes had migrated from Bellatrix’s apartment to a guest bedroom at the manor, and Lily still marveled that she wore the latest and most expensive styles at the pleasure of Uncle Orion.  Putting several jeweled clasps in her hair that had been given to her by Lucius, she finally completed her toilette.

She was Apparated to the gates of the school, which Lucius picked for her, and she ran up the path like a ghost.  Bellatrix had come with her, dressed still in black, though without the hood, and she pushed the doors open with magic, and with one last hug, Lily slipped down to the Slytherin dungeons. 

Regulus was waiting up for her.  “Where have you been, Steph?”

“I had tea with Bellatrix,” she answered with a smile.  “We might have got—carried away?”

“With Bellatrix that only means one thing—”

“Talking about men?” Lily supplied cheekily.  “Really, she is a darling.  I’m only sorry I haven’t met her sooner.  Andromeda is the one who ran away, yes?”

Her cousin just stared at her.

“I wonder if this Muggleborn was worth it,” she sighed.  “It’s potentially terribly romantic.—Goodnight!”  She wandered down the staircase and found that everyone was asleep.  Sitting at her vanity, she took down her hair and brushed it out, thinking of how it had been in a ponytail earlier that evening.

She supposed she had played the Death Eater earlier, which was slightly frightening.

The next day, The Daily Prophet ran the story of Sarah’s torture on the front page.  Her smiling face was shown on an insert before her bloody body took up a whole half-page.  There were also inserts of Potter and Black.  They must have snuck out, too, for the day, Lily realized.  She read in detail where her torture of the Muggle was recalled in detail and how the authorities determined that all three Unforgivables were cast.  The guess was that it was an initiation right as a Death Eater had shown herself before the dark mark lit the sky.

There were no leads.

Lily thought she was safe, until Professor Slughorn informed her at lunch that her uncle was waiting to see her in his office.

Uncle Orion flashed a paper in front of her.  “Why do I have a feeling this is you?”

Taking a breath, she answered, “I’m not certain.  It was a Hogsmeade Weekend—”

“I know from Regulus that Potter has pestered you for years and even forced you on what Muggles call a ‘date’—did someone think he was the perfect target?  Did your black card catch someone’s attention?”

She resolutely was silent, looking over his shoulder.

“Stephagenia,” Uncle Orion said quietly, “what did you do yesterday?”

“I had tea with Bellatrix at The Wicked Stepmother,” she answered simply.  “I’m quite fond of her.”

“And she’s a Death Eater,” Uncle Orion moaned.  “She wanted to show you what a Black Card meant, didn’t she?  Don’t deny it—I know my niece.  You’re too good to pass up and—I’m sure I’ll discover your reasoning.  All I ask, Stephagenia, is that you stay safe and always tell me or someone in authority where you’re going for safety.”

Looking up in shock, Lily nodded.  “I can do that.  Does that mean I can visit Bellatrix again?”

“I expect it of an intelligent witch with a Black Card,” he answered simply.  “Regulus fancies himself a dark wizard, but I don’t think he has the heart.  What I find surprising is that Muggles fostered this in you.  Then again, you may hate them.”

She shrugged.  “I honestly don’t know.”

“Then find out,” he bad her.  “Bellatrix will help.  Get her to introduce you to some of her friends.  It

could be beneficial to you even though you’re much younger.”  He touched her cheek and stroked it with his thumb.  “Warn me next time.”

“What would be the fun in that?” she smirked.

“I’m your guardian, Stephagenia,” he reminded her.  “I’m responsible for your well being.”  He kissed her forehead and then flooed out. 

Checking the time, Lily realized she had just enough time to race to the Great Hall and hopefully grab something before Transfiguration.

Unfortunately, it was with the Gryffindors.  As soon as Black saw her, he cut a path to her.  “Black!” he called out.  “I know you weren’t in Hogsmeade yesterday.”

“Really?” she asked as they gathered a crowd.  “I was with our Cousin Bellatrix.  She’s my favorite Black.—Who’s yours?”

He ignored her.  “That Muggle yesterday.”

“Right,” she answered.  “I read about her.  So sorry for your loss.”  Her voice was sarcastic, which earned her a laugh from the Slytherins around her.  Lily could hear Severus’s distinctive laugh, but she tried to ignore it.

“She knew things—”

“Things,” she agreed.

“Here’s the thing.  There are only two people who might know those things.  Lily Evans, who decided to finish her education in the Muggle world, and possibly Regulus.  You’re friends with Reggie and the person who attacked us was a witch about your height.”

“Right,” she stated.  “So Regulus told me all your secrets and I used the Imperius Curse on some Muggle girl to spill them back at you?  I’m a Slytherin, I’m more subtle that.” She tried to push through, but Black just pushed her back.  “Do you mind?”

“Yes, you tortured and killed a Muggle in front of me!”

“I was with Bellatrix!”

“As if she wouldn’t go with you,” Black asserted.

Opening her mouth to retort, the class was called to order, and Lily gladly took her seat.  That, however, didn’t stop Sirius Black.  When they were supposed to be changing a pin cushion into a living turtle, he lunged at Lily and a duel broke out between the two of them, which involved both wands and hair pulling.

Lily cried out and shot something that came to mind and when it barely scratched him, she realized she needed Bellatrix to teach her spells that were a little more powerful.

McGonagall pulled them apart but Lily had managed to partially sever his thumb and she had a large slash on her cheek.  “Fifty points from Slytherin!” McGonagall insisted, “and seventy-five from Gryffindor for starting the duel!”

“What!” Black squawked.

“To the hospital wing!”

Severus Snape offered her a hand up off the floor, but she leveraged herself up on her own, not taking his hand.  Picking up her bag, she walked to the Hospital Wing.  When she got there, she caught her reflection in the mirror and saw her hair had fallen in wisps around her face.  It was positively disgraceful by pureblood standards.  She quickly took her hair down and started to brush her hair with her wand, the curls coming out naturally.

“You look like Bellatrix,” Black stated as they sat down on two separate beds.

“Hardly,” she argued.  “Our faces are completely different.  We simply have the same hair and eyes, of course.”

He snorted.  “Fine, then.”

Her gaze suddenly shifted to the hospital doors, even though Madam Pomfrey was healing her face.  Severus Snape had suddenly entered. 

Damoiselle Stephagenia,” he opened, and Black again snorted.

“Really, Snivellus?” he asked.  “You’re trying to get in with the illegitimate pureblood?  Even she can see you’re a worthless halfblood with a crooked nose and greasy hair!  Look at her robes!  She’s wealthy unlike you.”  He was sneering at the end of it.

Lily was reminded exactly why she disliked Sirius Black.

Hopping off the bed, she motioned for Severus to follow and waited for him outside of the Hospital Wing.  She wished she didn’t have to speak to him, but she looked at him expectantly.

“Have I offended you, Damoiselle?” he asked quickly.  “I have not been able to think how, but I would hope that you would not think too badly of me.”

“Is this because I’m Head Girl or because my uncle is Lord Black?”

He merely inclined his head.

“We’ve met before Hogwarts,” she admitted.  “You did not leave a favorable impression.”

Severus looked genuinely shocked, but she didn’t elaborate.

“If there’s nothing else?”

“No, Damoiselle,” he murmured as he moved out of her way and bowed to her, which was strange as she was usually the one used to curtseying. 

N.E.W.T.s continued to loom in her future, and she only punctuated her studying with her duties as Head Girl and letters from Lucius.  Then, she received a strange note.

It was only two days after The Daily Prophet had run the story of the torture and murder when a congratulatory note arrived.  It was a single black notecard with white ink signed LV.  The only person she could think of with those initials was Lord Voldemort.  Uncertain who to ask exactly in Slytherin House, she immediately sent the card to Bellatrix, asking if her suspicions were correct.  It turned out she was correct.

A week later a second note arrived.  It was also black with white ink.  It was an invitation over Summer Break at The Wicked Stepmother for afternoon tea.  She wrote to Bellatrix that she accepted the invitation from the same source as the original note, and it was confirmed a day later by her cousin.  She took the card and placed it near a photograph of her father who had the same black curls and gray eyes that she had.  Wondering, once again, if he was alive, Lily traced his face and sighed wistfully.

Lucius continued to send his notes and his hair ornaments, and yet Lily did not tell him about Lord Voldemort.  She didn’t know why, but somehow it seemed private, a secret between her and Bellatrix.

She corned Black the day before they were all to go home, N.E.W.T.s finally finished.  “You shouldn’t go to Potter’s,” she stated.  “I don’t like you—you think I murdered some Muggle—but you should be home with your family, your father, your brother.”

“And my mother?” he asked nastily.  “Do you know why she’s up in that attic?”

Lily swallowed.  She shook her head as she had no idea.

“She set my bed on fire when I was eight years old.  Then when I was eleven and at Hogwarts, she tried to smother Reggie with a pillow.  Dad drove her to it—I want out of that house!”

“Black—” she started again, but he grabbed her wrist and pulled her closer.

“Sirius,” he stated, his eyes dipping to her lips.  “I’m so glad you didn’t scar, Stephagenia.”

“As if that would be a tragedy to you, Sirius,” she sneered.  “Godric’s Hollow is not safe.  You shouldn’t be there—”

But then he had leaned down and he was kissing her.  With her free hand, she immediately slapped him.  “Just because my mother was a whore,” she seethed, “does not make me one.”  Pulling her wrist free from him, she walked away toward the horseless carriages, her cheeks red.  She found some Slytherins and got into a carriage with them. 

Purebloods never kissed maidens until the engagement kiss.  To be kissed was to dishonor a witch.  Only halfblood and Muggleborn witches could be kissed because they weren’t held in such high esteem.  She would be complaining to Uncle Orion, though she doubted he could do anything.

Bellatrix came over the morning Lily was to meet the Dark Lord much to Lily’s relief.  “Pink,” she decided.  “Only you and Cissy can wear it.  This one shows off your pretty little figure and has a nice texture to it.”  She pulled out a pink dress in a solid color with a robe with pink and green horizontal lines.  The two created an elegant silhouette.  Bellatrix found pink heels and a green flower comb that Lucius had sent her.

Next Bellatrix set about braiding Lily’s entire head in tiny braids, which she then twirled in complicated spirals using her wand. 

“I don’t recognize myself,” Lily stated obviously as Bellatrix fixed the comb in her hair.

“Good,” she stated.  “That way you can startle the Dark Lord if you see him a second time or if he sees you on the battlefield.”

“Why would he see me on the battlefield—?”  She looked up at Bellatrix.

“Because, dear one,” Bellatrix told her honestly, catching her eyes in the mirror, “because you like killing and torturing Muggles, even if you won’t admit it.”

“I will never be a Death Eater,” Lily stated resolutely.  “Don’t do that to me, Bellatrix.  I can’t serve—I can’t—It just.”  She didn’t realize she was hyperventilating until Bellatrix put her hands on her shoulders and placed her face near Lily’s so they could look at each other in the mirror.

“Hush, little cousin,” she murmured.  “If you can’t, you can’t.  That doesn’t mean you can’t be a dark witch.  Just be respectful to the Dark Lord.”

Lily flooed to The Wicked Stepmother and stood in the entranceway for a moment before she went up to the little wizard and presented her card.  “I’m meeting—” she began, but then realized she had no idea what to say.

Damoiselle!” the little wizard greeted.  “The Dark Lord is already here.  He is expecting you.”

Her face relaxed but then tensed again.  “Am I late?”

“I do not believe so, Damoiselle,” he answered honestly.  “Come with me.”

The sound of her footsteps echoing in her ears, Lily walked into the tea room and saw the back of a wizard’s head.  His hair was slicked back and cut close to his ears.  It was a deep mahogany and, when he turned at their arrival, she saw the most arresting face and bright blue eyes.  “Damoiselle,” he greeted as he stood, pulling out a chair for her.

Not certain if she should curtsey or not, she decided to take the chair, and luxuriated in the scent of his aftershave as he pushed her close to the table.

“Dark Lord,” she greeted when he sat back down, his royal blue waistcoat contrasting with his forest green robes.  “I was flattered that you noticed my—expedition.”

“It was flawed,” he agreed.  “You did not need to approach the Muggle to kill her, or show yourself to the two wizard boys, but it was a magnificent first attempt at the Unforgivables.  Why did you do it?”  He looked at her with intent interest.

No one had asked her and she paused.  “I wanted to see her eyes,” she realized.  “I’ve never seen death.”

“And now that you’ve seen it, Damoiselle?”

Her stomach clenched and her heart fluttered at the question.  “It was intoxicating,” she whispered, looking away. 

He leaned forward and she felt three fingers under her chin, gently guiding it so that she was looking at the Dark Lord.  “Good,” he said after a moment of looking into her eyes.  “Very good.”  The Dark Lord moved back and took her in before putting in their order for jasmine tea, utterly startling her.  “Are you going out with your cousin Bellatrix again?”

“I expect so,” she admitted.  “Uncle Orion will allow it as long as I tell him where I’m going in case there’s trouble—”

“Lord Black is a valued supporter,” the Dark Lord admitted.

The tea arrived and Lily took it and began to pour it between them.  She took a sip and sighed in contentment.  It was the perfect temperature and she rather enjoyed the flavor.  Sometimes she just loved magic.

“I didn’t know that,” she admitted, but he had set down his cup, and was looking at her with his piercing blue eyes, the next question on his lips.

“What is your next target?  Do you know, or has Bella chosen for you?”  The Dark Lord was leaning back and looking at her speculatively.

She took another sip of her tea.  “I believe we’re going to the Muggles who raised me,” she admitted.  “Honor demands it as my mother gave me to them instead of to the Blacks.”

“An excellent target,” he agreed.  “I didn’t know you were raised by Muggles.”

“Yes,” she agreed.  “It’s not widely known.”

“Stephagenia would have been a difficult name to hide,” he mused.  “Stephanie perhaps?”

“Neither,” she admitted.  “I had quite a common Muggle name.  I’m still getting used to Stephagenia, I admit, Dark Lord.”

“It certainly suits you,” he agreed, his blue eyes staring into her gray ones and causing her breath to catch.  “You wore Death Eater masks for your excursion as well as putting my symbol in the sky.”

Lily swallowed wrong and almost coughed.  “Those were Death Eater masks?”

“Quite,” he agreed in a cold voice.  “Should I take that as an indication that you wish to join my ranks, Stephagenia?”

She noticed the sudden switch to her given name.  It sent her heart racing, which confused her.  She was being courted by Lucius Malfoy, the wizard she wanted.  This man—this Dark Lord—shouldn’t be sending pulses of feeling between her legs, making her need to squirm to relieve the pressure.  She could feel a warmth pool in her panties that she didn’t understand, she just knew that he was somehow to blame.

“I’m afraid that if there was any indication,” she responded, “it was being made by Bellatrix.  I had no such intention, Dark Lord.  I apologize if there was any confusion.”  Lily took a sip of her tea, avoiding his gaze because she couldn’t bear to see what emotion they were showing.

The Dark Lord utterly surprised her.  “No matter,” he stated casually.  “You show signs of unusual talent.  I want to cultivate that and, yes, use it one day.  Would you oblige me and take up an apprenticeship under Bellatrix?  She has already agreed, in case you were worried.”  His blue eyes flicked down to her lips again.

“I will go out with her for fun,” she said firmly.  “We’re cousins and I won’t turn our relationship into something formal.”

“Then enjoy her company and enjoy your magic,” he bargained.  “Bellatrix is excellent in this.”

“I take your meaning,” she agreed as much as she would agree.

Then he smiled at her and she had to rub her legs together to stop the heat between them.  Her eyes looked back, wide and innocent, and she thought how she wished such a man were not a Dark Lord, but just a man who would want her fortune enough to overlook the fact that her mother had never married her father.

“Do you take it, Damoiselle?” he asked with a smirk on his face.  “I would have you in my bed instead of on my battlefield, and you will be well taught in the Dark Arts—”

Before she realized what she was doing, Lily tossed her cup of jasmine tea in his face.  “I am not my mother,” she seethed.  “What is it with you men, thinking that because my father never married the woman who gave birth to me, that I am willing to be some man’s mistress as well?  I am the niece of Lord Black, I carry my father’s name, I’ve inherited my grandfather’s fortune.  Look at me and realize that I am more than simply Damoiselle Stephagenia.”  Standing elegantly, she didn’t even curtsey before she strode out of the hall, her robes trailing behind her, determined to find Bellatrix.

“I just don’t understand,” Lily complained as she and Bellatrix Apparated away from The White Witch, an exclusive restaurant for all purebloods, no matter how dark or light their magic.  “He wanted me in his bed.”

Bellatrix shrugged as they entered her flat.  “He’s a powerful man, little cousin.  It doesn’t excuse what he did, but he’s used to getting his own way.  You’re beautiful because you’re a Black.  You’re desirable politically for the same reason.  He thought he could get away with it because of your mother—he was wrong.”  She clapped her hands.  “However, let’s go Muggle hunting.”

“I have to tell Uncle Orion.  He made me promise.”

“Then send him a note and I have the clothes from last time.  I thought I was able to figure out your size pretty well.”  Bellatrix was using her sing-song voice.

“Different hoods,” Lily demanded as she went to a desk where there was stationary and quills.  Penning a brief note how she was going out with Bellatrix to the Evans household and might spend the night if it got late, she sent it off.

Bellatrix pouted.  “I’ll transfigure yours,” she decided.  “As long as we can place the Dark Mark in the sky.”

“Fine,” Lily agreed.  “I want to torture my sister Petunia but I have a hankering to use a kitchen knife on my parents.”

“Do it the Muggle way?” Bellatrix asked in confusion.  “You won’t confuse the Muggles that way.”

Lily pondered this.  “No torture then.  Just kill them in their sleep before moving over to Petunia.  She’s the real target.”  Her mind moved to her sister and how she hated Lily’s magic and called her a ‘freak’ and ‘unnatural.’  It was almost worse than Sev calling her a ‘Mudblood.’  “At least they won’t recognize me without my mask,” she realized.

“No,” Bellatrix realized. “I heard you were a carrot-top before.”

Laughing, Lily agreed.  “I suppose that’s one way of putting it.  I never would have considered hurting Muggles, curtseying to anyone, dark magic—”

“Then I suppose we are turning you into a Black.”

The two cousins moved into the two bedrooms in the flat and got changed out of their robes into the black infiltration outfits.  Lily took down her hair carefully, leaving it in the hundreds of braids before putting it in a ponytail.  Deciding not to put it up after this because of the nature of her hair, Lily took the hood and came out to see Bellatrix all ready.

“Your hair.”

“It won’t go up,” she promised.  “Maybe if I had a few hours and a house elf, but not with a few minutes.  Help me with my hood.”

Bellatrix took it and transfigured the cone at the top to a smooth surface that would mold to the top of her head.  She also put in a bit of room at the back for Lily to stuff in her hair.  The two were ready and it was not even nine. 

They Apparated to Milltown and Lily looked around.  She darted from bush to bush with Bellatrix following her and then they were breaking into the back of the house. 

Lily could hear the telly running and she snuck into the living room to see her father watching the news.

“Avada Kedavra!” she intoned from the side, and he turned to look at her just as the green light hit him.  He didn’t have time to clutch his chest, but sloped over, a look of shock on his face.  He was dead.

Clapping her on the shoulder, Bellatrix turned and went upstairs, looking for the other victims. 

They found Petunia first, in her room in only her bra and panties.  That was something that Lily really did not need to see.  “Silencio!” she commanded before putting her in a full body bind.  “She’ll save for later,” she murmured to Bellatrix.

Her mother was going through photographs in her room.  Lily silenced her steps and came ups and then looked over her mother’s shoulder.  They were all of Lily when she was a child. 

“These were before Lily Evans had magic,” she realized angrily.

Turning around, Mrs. Evans gasped and Lily backhanded her.   “Did you hate her that much?  You disgusting Muggle!”  Kicking her in the side repeatedly until her mother started coughing up blood, Bellatrix finally grabbed her.

“Magic, little cousin.”

It was as if a spell were broken and Lily muttered, “Avada Kedavra!” casually, not even watching as the life left her mother’s eyes.

When she came back to Petunia, she felt absolutely drained.  A sense of need washed over Lily, like a dark lethifold after its prey.  She walked up to Petunia and held her lids open and used the heel of her wand above her eye and plunged it into the socket.  She saw her sister’s mouth open in a scream, but no sound came out.  Lily grinned and then repeated the action on the other eye.

Feeling perverse, she kissed Petunia’s forehead before casting the killing curse on her. 

Looking up at the door, she saw Bellatrix leaning up against the doorway.

“We’ll have to clean your wand,” she murmured, “but very clever.”  Holding out her hand, Lily stood and took it.  The two cousins wove their way through the house and out the back where Lily cast the morsmordre before Bellatrix Apparated them away.

Bellatrix immediately cleaned Lily’s wand and gloves.  “We don’t need anyone finding this, especially if they come knocking tomorrow morning,” she told her.  “Now, to bed with you.”

Lily found a long cotton nightgown and crawled into bed.  Dressed impeccably in the same robes from the day before, Lily went to the breakfast nook and saw The Daily Prophet

“Muggle family of witch Lily Evans murdered by Death Eaters,” Lily read.  “I’ve learned to hate that name.”

“I’m sure you do,” Bellatrix agreed.  “Lily may be a flower, but Evans is absolutely common.”  She took a bite of a buttered bagel.  “You have a note.”

Looking at her plate, she saw a familiar black envelope, and she opened it to find a black notecard with white writing.  She read it and threw it down.  “He begs me to reconsider.  What he doesn’t specify if it’s the bit about me being his mistress or a Death Eater, though we agreed about me not being a Death Eater.—I think I’ll ignore it.”

“If you think that’s best,” Bellatrix stated airily. 

“Yes, I do.”  She put the card back in the envelope.  “Now, let’s see what kind of coverage they give our exploits.”  Lily opened The Prophet and began reading, completely forgetting about breakfast until Bellatrix reminded her.

When she arrived home, Uncle Orion kissed her on the cheek and Regulus smirked at her.  There was a new comb from Lucius and she marveled at the burnished silver and the constellation of Cassiopeia on it.  She put it with her growing collection and was determined to wear it later that week when she saw him. 

First, however, she was seeing Cousin Andromeda.  She had made a few overtures, especially when she found she had a young cousin who was five.

Uncle Orion found out, however, just before she was about to leave.

“What’s this?” he asked, holding up an address in Muggle London.

“An address—”

“Yes, but it is my niece’s address.  What are you doing with Andromeda’s address?”  His voice was harsh and he crumpled the paper in his hand and threw it in the fire although it was July and the house shouldn’t be cold enough to need one.

“How do you know?—and that’s mine—” Lily blurted out.

“I make it my business to know everything, and you are not going, Stephagenia.  She is unsuitable for a young lady of your standing.”

“I have no standing!” she cried.

“You have little standing, but you are an heiress and a Black!  Remember that always!  She is disinherited and has lost all position in society.  I forbid it, Stephagenia, and you must heed my wishes until you are suitably married.”

She crossed her arms in anger.  “She’s expecting me.”

“I’ll send her a note,” he promised.  “Now change out of that Muggle claptrap.  It’s positively indecent.”

Lily looked down at her black jeans and blue peasant top but decided not to argue it.  Grumbling, she climbed the stairs, and breathed in deeply as she changed into house robes.  Her hair was still in tight braids and she had discovered how to put it into a sweeping high ponytail and then thread the tiny braids together to create a complicated knot.

There was a tap on the window and she saw a magnificent owl holding a small black envelope.  She sighed and let the bird in and took the letter, opening it to find a black notecard with white ink.  I have never seen a talent I have wanted to nurture as much as yours, it read, nor seen a woman I have wanted more.  I pledge my fidelity to you if you promise your body to me.  LV

Enraged, Lily threw the note onto her desk that was still against the wall.  She had kept all his notes as evidence of how he was just a man led by his cock like any other. 

The owl waited for three days to the point where Lily felt obligated to write a reply.  I am not my mother.  You insult me to think that I am.  She didn’t even bother to sign it.  He would realize who it was from. 

Once again, her mind turned to her mother—Alexa McFarley.  Who was she?  Where was she?  Did she ever think of Lily or her father?

A week passed and then, at breakfast, another black notecard arrived with a package.  Do you doubt my desire now? LV  Lily turned over the card, which said nothing.  She looked at the package, which was covered in black paper and opened it.  Inside was a box, about the width of her head, though not that tall, and when she opened it up she gasped.  There, nestled in blue silk, was an ivory coronet with runes running around it.  Carefully, Lily lifted it up and placed it on her head, looking between Uncle Orion and Regulus.

“Heir Lucius sent you that?” Uncle Orion asked in disbelief.  “It must have cost half his estate!”

“No,” she breathed, taking it off again.  “It was from—”  However, she didn’t name the Dark Lord.  “Beauty, Radiance, Perfection,” she read.  “I think it’s a spell.”

“Whoever it is,” Uncle Orion stated, “it’s a king’s ransom.”

Lily wasn’t certain whether to see the Dark Lord again.  Instead, she took tea with Bellatrix, the Coronet on her head.  “Lucius did not give you that.”

“Why not?” Lily asked, her braided hair securing it in the back.  “Isn’t he in love with me?”

“That’s not the point,” Bellatrix argued.  “You are permitted a second suitor and permitted to wear his gifts even if Lucius is in love with you.—Still, get ready.  The cheese grater curse.”

“That can’t be what it’s called!”

“No,” Bellatrix smiled.  “That’s its nickname.  Imagine taking a cheese grater to human skin—on a large scale.  It’s a form of torture.”

Lily had thought she had been safe, but when she was sleeping over Bellatrix’s, the authorities came.  Bellatrix was all cool pureblood grace, lounging on a couch as she was drinking a glass of red wine.  “Ah, Stephagenia, these men have some misconception about those Muggles who were killed a few weeks ago.”

“Oh,” she murmured as she sat down in the pureblood black she had yet to change out of.  Bellatrix offered her some wine, and she took it because she still couldn’t stand what had happened.

A man named Kingsley Shacklebolt came over with a pad of paper and a quill hovering near him.  “Damoiselle Stephagenia Black?” he asked.

Nodding, she didn’t say anything and took a sip of her drink. 

“Let it be recorded that the suspect confirmed her identity,” he read to the quill.

Suspect.  That sounded bad.

“You did not always live under that name,” he checked.

“I resent the implication!” Bellatrix immediately interjected.  “As Stephagenia’s temporary guardian, she does not have to answer any questions about her identity.  She told you who she was.  She just graduated from Hogwarts.  She was Head Girl and in Slytherin.  She took ten N.E.W.T.s and we expect great things from her.  Capiche?”

Shacklebolt just looked at her, but then turned to the quill.  “Got all that?” he asked and the quill shivered, which seemed to be an affirmative.

“Where were you Friday, March Twelfth, Damoiselle?” he asked, and she paused.

“I believe that was a Hogsmeade weekend,” she murmured.  “I met Mademoiselle Bellatrix Black, my cousin, at The Wicked Stepmother for tea, we came here and drank wine, and then she and Heir Lucius Malfoy snuck me back into Hogwarts as it was long after curfew.”

“That was a great deal of wine.”

“There was licorne lemonade,” Bellatrix added helpfully.  “My cousin is not used to alcohol.  I doubt she remembers much of the evening, but Heir Lucius Malfoy is her suitor.”

Pausing, Shacklebolt looked between them.  “I hate to admit reading the Society Section, but I thought he had been engaged to a different Black.”

“My sister,” Bellatrix admitted, examining her nails, “Mademoiselle Narcissa Black.  Damoiselle Stephagenia is eminently more suitable.”

He snorted.  “An illegitimate—”

Bellatrix stood angrily, her wand in her hand but still at her side, her glass of wine discarded on a side table.  “I would not finish that if I were you, auror.  Aren’t you supposed to treat all potential suspects with respect until they are found guilty?  Stephagenia is a seventeen-year-old girl!”

“Well,” he stated, backing up two steps at the menacing Bellatrix Black.  “The preliminary interview is over.”  He snapped his fingers and the quill and notepad folded.  “We will, of course, confirm your alibi.”  The aurors were gone within a few moments.

Lily downed her wine.  “What if they speak to Lucius?” she asked.

“Hush, little cousin,” Bellatrix soothed.  “He knows to stick to the truth as much as possible, that he saw us late in the evening, that there was licorne lemonade, that he helped you to Hogwarts.  He won’t mention that you were intoxicated, but if they try to trip him up, he will claim you are a lady and he would never mention such a thing even to law enforcement.”  She ran a hand along Lily’s braids that had fallen out and were fanned around her face.  “It’s good your hair was down.  You look like you were at home with only ladies.”

“You were in a nightdress and robe, Bellatrix.”

Bellatrix smirked.  “Even better.  And I think I’m ‘Bella’, little cousin.”

Lily smiled.  “Bella, then.—How old are you?”

“To ask a witch her age!” she mock chided.  She was pouring two more glasses of wine.  “Twenty-six.  Narcissa is twenty-two and Andromeda—” Her voice trailed off as she looked into the distance.  “Well, nevermind.  You’re wondering why I’m not married.”

“Well,” Lily admitted.  “I’m trying to learn about pureblood culture and—”

“I’m old,” Bellatrix chided.  “I’ve had my fair number of courtships, but I just haven’t wanted anyone.  Surely you know about it.  Down in your core, that burning…”

“That’s normal?” Lily squeaked.  “I thought I was ill!”

“Only once then,” Bellatrix guessed.  “Not Lucius, perhaps.  I would glorify in the feeling no matter how uncomfortable you might find it.  Don’t count Lucius out, though.  He truly cares for you.”

“I care for him,” she admitted.  “I know I should—”  Lily sighed.  “Why is this so hard?”

Bellatrix handed her her now full glass of wine.  “Because it is the heart,” she told her cousin.  “Still, that coronet is beautiful.  It will make Lucius positively jealous!”

Lily smirked.  “Isn’t that the point of it?”

It seemed Witch Weekly thought she looked regal in the coronet and caught her in a pair of lilac robes and the coronet and declared her the best dressed witch of the week.  Although they, of course, listed her as Damoiselle Staphagenia Black, she was also the “ward and niece of Lord Black.”

Lucius, however, did not comment on it during their next tea.  Instead he slid her a box, which had a silver corkscrew in it meant to contain her braids in pureblood elegance while not forcing her to put them on her head.  “The spell to keep it in place is on the inside of the box,” he told her. 

She was holding it in her hand, looking at it from various angles.  “I’m trying to imagine how it works, but I think I need to use it first,” she admitted.  “I never asked if you liked my braids.”

“I adored your curls.”

Taking a deep breath, she nodded.  “The braids are not forever.  Bella put them in for me.”

“I should have suspected,” he guessed with a smile.  “The two of you are as thick as thieves.”

“I used to be close to Regulus,” she confessed, “but he tried to court me before I knew who I was and then once I removed the glamours on myself, he kissed me.  It was peculiar as he was my cousin and then I learned what an insult it was—It ruined our shortlived friendship.  Then Black—Sirius—and I fought a duel during Transfiguration over my supposed involvement of that Muggle’s death in Godric’s Hollow.  That ruined that although there was little to ruin.  Uncle Orion forbids me from seeing Andromeda even though she has a child and I adore children—and,” she bit her lip, “I’ve yet to see Narcissa.  I don’t know why.”

“She’s gone to a convent,” he admitted quietly.  “There are only a few magical ones, but she has gone to one and is a postulant.”

Lily raised her eyebrows.  “We sent a Black to a convent?”

Lucius reached for her hand.  “She sent herself to that convent.  If something so trivial as losing a fiancé she wanted only for my position drove her to such an action, then I shudder to think what losing a man she truly loved would have done to her.”

“How do you know–?”

He shrugged.  “It was no secret.”

“Why would you–?”  She searched his gray eyes.

“Stephagenia—” He begged, but she removed her hand and just took a sip of their Earl Grey and looked around them at the various patrons, ignoring him.

Lucius sighed.  “In the Malfoy family, it is tradition to marry blonde witches to keep the purity of blond hair in our heirs.  Narcissa is one of the few witches in a five year span who is blonde.”

Lily’s eyes widened.  “You—she—”  She swallowed.  “I don’t have blonde hair, Lucius,” she stated in a firm voice.  “I will never have blonde hair.”

“I don’t care,” he admitted.  “To hell with tradition.  I want you.  I’ve wanted you since this ethereal creature came up to Professor Slughorn and curtseyed low, surprising me at the strange form of deference, and then showed due respect to her elder.  She then turned out to be witty and kept her name a secret—leaving me before the conversation was over even though she knew I was Heir Lucius Malfoy.—I begged Slughorn for your name and was disheartened when I learned you were Damoiselle Stephagenia, but then learnt that you niece to Lord Black, showing your esteemed status in the clan.  I knew the three Black sisters.  Bellatrix always broke rules, Andromeda ran away she broke them so badly, though Narcissa was a weak little creature.  I figured you’d make a gaol break.  Another word to Slughorn and I learned when the next Hogsmeade weekend was.  Grimmauld Place was in London so I cast a spell to find a reservation for Lord Black, and so I found you.”

“I was quite—rebellious—that day,” she remembered, “talking about Muggles.  I was in shock over the Black Card and was trying to hold onto my roots.”

This only caused a small smile to form on his lips.  “That was endearing and certainly intriguing.  I saw the news clipping in The Daily Prophet, I see you did not need me to avenge your honor.”

“No.  Bella thought it would be an excellent learning experience.”  She took a sip of her tea.

“The eyes—” he pondered.

“The handle of my wand,” she told him in a low murmur.  “She was my sister and despised me.  It was so she never had to see magic again.  Petunia didn’t deserve to.”

He toasted her with his tea cup.  “To Damoiselle Stephagenia Black!”

Of course, she blushed.

The next time she was in Diagon Alley, she was wearing the corkscrew.  It secured her hair as it wrapped around the silver, hiding it from view, and creating a column of pure braids.  This time she was aware of the photographer who was taking several shots of her as she was walking to Flourish and Blotts.  In the next edition, she was quoted as the second best dressed witch of the week.  It made her smile as she read it in bed, pinning up the article on her wall with all the others about her exploits and the first Witch Weekly article.

She feared what would happen if the aurors came to her bedroom, what they would think of the sand and her collage of articles.

They did come when her hair was in a complicated knot and she was at The Wicked Stepmother.

“Auror Shacklebolt,” she greeted.  “I did not know you were a member.  As you see I am with Heir Lucius Malfoy.  If you would excuse me.”

“We have more questions,” he stated a little loudly.

Lucius stood in his purple waistcoat with its Asian collar.  “Damoiselle Stephagenia is in my care and she has a guardian until the day she is married.  You will not conduct an interview without me present.”

Shacklebolt made a resigned sign with his hand that they should follow him and they went to a little backroom where Lily sat and Lucius stood behind her.  “What were you wearing on March Twelfth of this past year?”

“Well,” she began, “my hair wasn’t in braids yet,” she began, “so it was in curls and up on my head.  Ivory dress, lace on the bottom, pale green robe with a sash.  Lace around the collar, three quarters sleeves.”

Mademoiselle Bellatrix?”

Lily laughed.  “Black, no lace, buttons if I recall.  There was a little cape on the robe, that came down to her shoulders.”

“Heir Lucius?”

She looked at him.  “It was quite late.  White shirt sleeves.  A waistcoat.  Er—green?  Was it green, Lucius?”

“I haven’t the faintest,” he admitted.

“Green,” she stated, “with ivy growing on it.  It’s not his color.”

“You are too kind,” he drawled.  “I was in Slytherin, I might remind you, Damoiselle.”  Smirking down at her, he put his hands on her shoulders and she looked up to him and smiled.  All was forgiven.  Glancing back at Kingsley Shacklebolt, he inquired, “Is that all?”

“No,” he said, unfurling a warrant.  “Let the record reflect that I have given Damoiselle Stephagenia Black warrant number—”

She took and looked at it with horror.  Handing it to Lucius, his eyes flickered across it before he sighed.  “Very well, auror.  Ask your questions.”

“Did you live under any previous name?”

“Yes,” she slowly agreed.  “My mother, when I was born out of wedlock, believed it was a good idea to hide me with Muggles.  I was Lily Rachelle Evans.”  Lily blew out of her nose.

“You were recovered and legitimized,” he determined.

“As you see.”

“What was your relationship with the Evans family?”  Lily hated the question.

“Well,” she answered.  “Tuney and I were rivals in everything.  It was rather difficult because I was a witch and she—wasn’t.  Still, highest grades, best boyfriend, you can imagine.  It got pretty nasty.  My parents couldn’t really control it.  They just—gave up.”

“Contentious relationships then.”

“Well,” she stated, “I don’t think they expected a witch when they adopted me.  I also think it would have been better if my mother had given me blonde hair and brown eyes like the rest of them instead of auburn hair and green eyes.  I’ll never understand that one.”

Shacklebolt.  “Are you suggesting your mother used dark magic on you?”

“I’m not sure if it was dark, but it was certainly effective.”  Then she looked over Kingsley Shacklebolt’s shoulders and saw Potter wandering around, checking for any spells on the room.  He must not have heard her because there was no starstruck look on his face that was so typical of him.  “Potter?”

“Trainee Potter,” Shacklebolt corrected. 

“We were Head Boy and Head Girl together,” she explained.  “Jesus H. Roosevelt Christ!”

Lucius squeezed her shoulder.

“I apologize,” she said, closing her eyes in humiliation.  “By the gods.”

“I understand it can sometimes be a shock to see old school mates and acquaintances in this position of authority,” Shacklebolt said unsympathetically.  “Do you think you’re capable of murder?  I understand from the maître d’ that you have Black Magic.”

“I have a Black Card,” she corrected.  “I have never been capable of murder,” she lied through her teeth.  “Is that all?” she stood.  “My tea is getting cold.”

“We will be getting a warrant for Number Twelve, Grimmauld Place in the next day,” Shacklebolt told her.

“You do that,” she said over her shoulder.

She rushed home with Lucius on her heels.  She kept him outside her room, as was proper, and took down her articles, handing them to him.  “Keep these safe,” she begged.  “I don’t know if they can reconstruct them from the fire.”

“Of course, Stephagenia,” he murmured, looking over them.

As soon as he was gone, she called Kreacher and had him clean up her room and put it back to rights immediately, making him promise it would be finished by dinner.  Her heart broke when she came into a clean room, no longer having to walk around the sand to her bed or her dressing table.

An owl was waiting for her with a headband of pure jade.  A black notecard accompanied.  This should make your hair shimmer and stand out against your glorious braids.  LV

She quickly wrote out a poem about Dido and Aeneas she had picked out and sent it out with the eagle owl.

She took the photograph of the sanding and called an owl to her from the owlry which was in a part of the attic separate from Lady Black, and sent the picture to Bellatrix Black, asking her to keep it safe.  She should have known that the aurors were watching her owlpost. 

Kingsley Shacklebolt slapped the picture in front of her.  “Sanding is very dark magic, is it not, Damoiselle?”

“Indeed,” she asked, picking up the picture.  “This is not a sanding.  This is the mock-up of a sanding.  It was to convince Lucius Malfoy that I was right for him if I couldn’t myself.”  Lily put the picture down on the coffee table between them.

“You expect me to believe—”

“You expect that a mere girl could have pulled this off?  My room is completely free of sand and has been for months.  This was never needed.  I just thought it would look bad, which obviously it does.”

Kingsley Shacklebolt growled.

It was then that Potter came down from her room with the cards from the Dark Lord.  She wanted to sigh and turn away, but she couldn’t have entrusted these to Lucius and it seemed it was better not to send them to Bellatrix.

Shacklebolt took them and started to read them.  “He wants you to be his mistress?”

“It’s not uncommon,” she admitted.  “My mother was my father’s mistress.  Wizards assume the pattern will continue.  It started in school and continues now.”

“And this LV thinks you have a great potential for dark magic.”

She shrugged.  “He was mistaken about a great many things.  I thought it was great blackmail material once he was married.”

“LV?” he asked, moving to the end where he spoke of courting gifts.

“Laurentius,” she admitted.  “I don’t know his surname.  I’ve been trying to discover it with little success.”

Shacklebolt returned the notes to Potter.  “Return the lady’s letters.  They’re of no interest to this investigation.”

Potter looked at Lily and she gazed right back at him, goading him to say something, wondering if he’d finally see the shadow of Lily Evans in her face.  He remained silent, however, although he turned to the letters and began reading them himself, as if he had the right.  Disgusting little toad!  She was glad she had only gone on that one date with him!

In the end, they turned up nothing.  They took the photograph of the sanding, however, which vexed Lily to no end. 

That night she was with Bellatrix again.  “Narcissa,” she told her, “is becoming a novitiate.  No one is going, but I think family should go and support her.”  Bringing out Licorne Lemonade in large whiskey glasses, she passed one to Lily.  “Will you come with me?  No one except maybe Sirius is coming.”

“Would she want me to?”

“She doesn’t know what you look like,” Bellatrix pointed out.  “You’ll be just another Black to her.  I don’t think she even knows that Lucius left her for another woman—let alone another Black—let alone you.”

“I will come,” Lily promised.

“Now,” Bellatrix said, “I want to get a little drunk and talk theory.  How do you feel about torturing a wizard?”

Lily almost spit out her spiked lemonade.  “Beg pardon?”

“A wizard,” Bellatrix stated again.  “There’s this pesky little organization called The Order of the Phoenix.  They fight the Dark Lord separate from the Ministry.  They’re annoying little flies.  I suggest we abduct one and, well, make an example out of him.”

“Have you thought of who—?” Lily asked.

“That auror you were complaining about—James Potter.”

Swallowing heavily, Lily tried not to choke.  “We can’t—he was in love with Lily Evans.”

“Lily Evans is dead,” Bellatrix stated calmly.  “Stephagenia rose from her ashes.  Steph, come on.  I would suggest Sirius but he’s still my little cousin and this will hit him hard, anyway.—Come on,” she wheedled.  “Or we could try one of the Prewett brothers.  They were a year or two ahead of you in Hogwarts.  Playing with twins is so much fun!”

She bit her lip.  Lily had liked the Prewett brothers.  Then again, Potter had read her letters.

“Let me think,” she finally decided.  “It’s just—I know these people.  I know in ‘war’ it doesn’t matter, but we’re not on a battlefield.  We’re making targeted attacks where we choose our victims.”

“Think then,” Bellatrix said dismissively.  “We have time.  We need a buffer between this Ministry business and our next—adventure.”

Lily slept in the spare bedroom again, her robes hung in the closet.  She had never been to a magical convent—or really any convent—before.  Not knowing what to expect, the next morning she dressed in her robes and did her hair simply in a twist with the coronet the Dark Lord had given her.

“Is yellow acceptable?” she asked Bellatrix over breakfast.  Her cousin was once again wearing a dark color, this time a deep red.

“Most assuredly, little cousin.”  She buttered a piece of toast.  “I must get you some Laverne foundation.  It makes your complexion positively glow.  Lucius will appreciate it.”

“You never wear any hair ornaments—not even from past suitors,” she noticed, “just those chopsticks, as we called them in the Muggle world.”

“Well, I have a collection,” she admitted, “but I don’t like to think on past suitors or give them the satisfaction of them seeing me wear their gifts.”

“No one’s caught your eye?” Lily teased.

Bellatrix ran her pointer finger around the rim of her tea mug.  “There are the Lestrange brothers, but choosing between them…”  She smiled devilishly.

“Bella!” Lily screamed in shock, but Bellatrix just continued to smile.

They viewed the entire proceedings through a screen.  They were with a crowd of other witches and wizards and Sirius did turn up in gray robes.  He nodded to Bellatrix and then lifted her hand to beneath his lips before nodding perfunctually to Lily.  The three looked out the grate to see twenty witches in homespun robes symbolizing wedding robes take their vows.

Narcissa was beautiful even in such plain clothing, and Lily wondered why Lucius would ever leave Narcissa and her pale coloring for Lily.  Would he still want her if she looked like Lily Evans?—she couldn’t help but wonder.

While waiting for her N.E.W.T. results, the gifts from Lucius and the Dark Lord continued.  One day when she was wearing the headband, the Witch Weekly photographer following her, she met Lucius outside of The Pumpkin Carriage.

“Stephagenia,” he greeted, taking her hand and lifting it.  “I was just buying your next courtship gift.”

Lily blushed, bowing her head slightly.

Lucius must have caught sight of the headband, because his grasp turned into a vicelike grip on her hand.  “This is the second—ornamentation—you’ve worn in public that I’ve not given you.  I do not think they’re Black pieces.”

“Lucius, you’re hurting me,” she whispered.

He grabbed her by the shoulders and pulled her closer.  “Who is he?” Lucius asked desperately, his grip painful and unyielding.

“Lucius—” she begged.

“Don’t you know I love you?  Stephagenia—”  He leaned down to kiss her, but she hit him over the head, startling him so much that his grip loosened and she stepped back.

“I am not my mother,” she told him plainly.  “How dare you, Lucius Malfoy!”  She fixed her gloves, and he took a step closer, his arms outstretched.

“I apologize, Stephagenia.  I just can’t bear to lose you.”

She laughed desperately.  “You’re not losing me.  At least you weren’t.”

“Stephagenia–?”

Lily looked at him sadly.  “How can you insult me so?  Why does the entirety of wizerdom think I will let them kiss me or that I will be their mistress?”  Tears stung her eyes, but she didn’t push them aside, not wanting to smudge her blue mascara.  “Goodbye, Lucius Malfoy.”  She then swept into The Pumpkin Carriage, determined to browse the hair pieces to see if she could influence what was purchased next, though she doubted that was needed anymore.

She was the best dressed woman in wizerdom again.  Lucius had returned her wall clippings and so she put this one up, remembering what had happened just after the photograph was taken.

The gift from Lucius was sent to Lily, a beautiful gold hairband that instead of being in a straight line was made of several small half curves, the prongs coming out of the lower points.  She called Kreacher and had him take out her braids and then took a long bath, soaking her hair and then scrubbing it with magical shampoo to bring back the curls.

Lily was in there so long, she missed dinner, which was then brought to her room.  She towel dried her hair and let it fall into natural curls and smiled at the result.

Another note arrived, this time without a gift.  Must I prove myself any longer?  Please come to me and I will be faithful.  LV  Fuming with anger, she almost burnt the black notecard, but she threw it aside, determined to deal with it later.

“He hurt me,” she told Bellatrix when she saw her the next week.  “He saw one of the Dark Lord’s gifts after seeing another in Witch Weekly, and he—I think he got jealous.”  Lily sighed.  “I don’t know what to do.”

“The Dark Lord sends you gifts?”

“Once I refused to be his mistress—he began courting me,” she responded honestly.  “He’s the wizard I respond to so strongly, though now he wants me to be his mistress again.  Doesn’t he see I wear a vined ring?”

Bellatrix grabbed her arm and looked into her gray eyes.  “Walk away,” she begged her.  “He’s cruel.  I’m one of his Death Eaters and I know what he’s like.  I couldn’t bear for him to hurt you, and he would.  He delights in using the Cruciatus Curse on his followers, imagine what he would do to his lover?  He’s a sadist.  He’s brilliant, but he’s not for you.”

Lily carefully nodded, thinking.

Gideon Prewett was decided upon and they dressed in black, Lily twirling her hair on her head and putting it under her mask.

“I would extract an Unbreakable from Lucius,” Bellatrix stated easily.  “I’ll serve as bondler, that he’ll never hurt you out of anger or jealousy again.  I doubt he knew what he was doing.  He adores you.”

“He tried to kiss me, Bella,” Lily explained unhappily.

Bellatrix turned in her mask and shook her head in resignation.  “I will have a talk with him.  I promise, little cousin.”

The Prewett brothers were at the Burrow that night with their sister and her young children.  Creating loud screeching noises with their wands, Lily and Bellatrix stormed the house and grabbed the first Prewett brother they could as it was difficult to tell them apart.  They then Apparated away to a field in the middle of Northumberland. 

Lily placed a boot on his chest and shoved him down onto his back.

“Oh good,” Bellatrix sing-songed, “he doesn’t have his wand.  Which one is it?”

“I think it’s Fabian,” Lily admitted.  “I’m not an expert on the Prewett brothers, however.”

“Well, they’re both members of The Order,” Bellatrix sighed.  “What are your plans, blood traitor!”  And so began the interrogation.

Lily delighted in using the Cruciatus Curse on the traitor, reveling in his screams, until he was a useless mess, his tongue hanging out of his mouth.  “How long did I leave him under it?”

“Four minutes?” Bellatrix guessed.  “He’s useless to us now.”  She reached her hand up to the sky and screamed, “Morsmordre,” and then whisked her cousin away, back to her flat.  It was the first time they hadn’t gone back to Malfoy Manor.

Falling asleep with a smile on her face, Lily imagined that Trainee Potter was wading through the field, trying to discover what had left Fabian Prewett a shell of himself.

Bellatrix Apparated to Malfoy Manor as soon as Lily left that morning.  “Lucius!” she called.  “Don’t you dare hide from me like a rat scurrying away from a kneazle!”

A woman with blonde hair appeared and Bellatrix nodded to her.  “Lady Malfoy,” she greeted.  “Your son insulted my cousin.  I need words.”

“Your cousin?” she asked.

“Stephagenia Black, the young lady he’s courting,” she explained.  “He left Narcissa for her—”

“He left Narcissa because he thought she could not physically bear healthy children—” Lady Malfoy stated stiffly.  “I do not mean to insult the House of Black—”

“Lucius, you flobberworm!” Bellatrix called.  “How dare you—”

After a moment he appeared in shirtsleeves, trousers in the latest cut, and an ice blue waistcoat.  Bellatrix walked rudely around Lady Malfoy.  “You didn’t even tell your parents about Stephagenia?”  She slapped him hard.  “She was right about you.  You have no respect for her person.  First you lay your hands on her, then you try to kiss her, and now this?”

“Lucius?” Lady Malfoy asked, and he looked over Bellatrix’s shoulder, but he didn’t answer his mother.

“I love Stephagenia,” he stated emphatically.  “I had every intention of introducing her to my parents once we were engaged and it was a fait accomplit.  Then they could not object because my honor had already been engaged.”  His voice was hard and cold. 

Bellatrix looked taken aback for a moment, realizing he was referring to the fact that she was illegitimate and possibly that she was a dark beauty.

“Then explain the rest,” she stated, crossing her arms.  “Steph reasoned that you were jealous which is why you hurt her—”

“I was jealous.  No one can compete—”

“You compete by always being there for her, by listening, by not treating her like a common whore.  You know how much that means to her.  She is not even permitted to see her own mother because of how shameful she is, and men keep on threatening to make her just as shameful.  The headpieces she’s wearing are from a man who wants to make her his mistress and when he couldn’t get her that way, started sending her extravagant gifts.  She only wears them because they’re beyond beautiful, not because she favors the sender.”

“He did what?” Lucius growled.

“Yes.  Apparently they were at a tea to discuss magic and he offered her the position as his mistress.  He then followed it up in writing.  I haven’t seen the notes in person.  But, Lucius, you let her down.  She thought she could count on you to be a gentleman, and yet you tried to kiss her.”

“I love her and I was jealous, it was my only defense.”

“Well,” Bellatrix stated haughtily.  “I doubt she’ll see you.  You better write a damn good letter, Lucius, and you better write it today before it’s too late.”  She turned and swept past Lady Malfoy, acknowledging with only a nod of the head, before sweeping down the stairs.

“You have kept a courtship with an unsuitable woman secret, Lucius?” she could hear Lady Malfoy berate her son.

“She’s not unsuitable,” he argued.  “She’s just unconventional.”

“She better be blonde.”

Bellatrix smirked as she flooed back to her flat.

The N.E.W.T. scores came and Lily was standing in the Tapestry room with her Uncle Orion.  Regulus also had his O.W.L. scores.

“Ladies first,” Uncle Orion stated. 

With a quiver to her hand, she opened the envelope and pulled out the piece of paper.  Reading it, a smile erupted on herself.  “Nine O’s and an E in Herbology,” she stated proudly, handing it over to Uncle Orion.  “Now, if only I weren’t illegitimate, then I could go work for the Ministry or anywhere I wanted.  As it is…”

“You are wealthy, my dear,” Uncle Orion placated.  “You have no need to work.”

She sighed and nodded her head.

“And it is soon, I have no doubt, that you will be married.  Heiress Lucius Malfoy does not work, my dear.”

Thinking of how Lucius had tried to kiss her, she tried to shake the thought from her head.  She gave her uncle a tight smile before she turned to Regulus, who was looking at her longingly.  “Your turn.”

He sighed and then opened it.  His face fell and then he handed it to his father.

“At least there are only four Acceptables,” he sighed.  “You need to get your marks up, boy.  You need Outstandings.  Four Acceptables and two Excellents is not up to our standards.  Never mind your brother.  He did not show academic promise though your mother and I hoped you would.”  He handed back the paper.

Lily rubbed Regulus’ back in comfort and he smiled down at her.

It was then that an owl arrived for Lily.  She didn’t recognize the owl and opened up the window and let it in.  She did, however, recognize the seal of the House of Malfoy.  Wanting to chuck the letter on the fire, she nonetheless took it and asked her uncle to be excused.

The reason that pureblood maidens cannot be kissed is because it is believed that they will realize they are not attracted to the wizards they are to marry.  I did not mean to insult you.  I wanted to prove my love and devotion, show our compatibility and that I was your ideal match and not this phantom wizard.  It was wrong of me.  I quite lost my head.  I never meant to insult you.

I will admit that I was jealous and I am sorry that I hurt you.  It will never happen again.  I felt like I was losing you and grabbed you closer so you would not slip away from me.  I give you my word of honor as a wizard that even if you should walk away, I will never act like such a beast again.

Your devoted servant, Lucius Malfoy

Without even thinking, she flooed to Malfoy Manor and ran up the marble staircase.  Immediately, a stately woman with blonde hair came out of one of the rooms of the landing and took her in.  “Oh, no.  If you’re Stephagenia Black, you’ll never do.”

Lily paused.  “Is Heir Lucius here?  He wrote me a note and I need to discuss it with him.”

“Your hair,” the woman stated with a deep resonance, “is dark.”

Lily touched it.  It was in a twist with Lucius’s headband near the crown of her head.  “I’m aware of that, Lady Malfoy.  I am a Black, after all.”

“Narcissa was a Black,” she sneered, “and she did not have dark hair.”

“I cannot account for it,” Lily apologized. “Forgive me, but I need to see Heir Lucius.  If you must read his letter to prove that he would wish for my presence, then I will not stop you.”

Lady Black glanced down at the parchment and how it was nearly two pages long, and then flicked her hand.  “He’s somewhere.  Just act like a common Muggle and keep calling his name, and undoubtedly you will find him.”

Thinking that Lady Malfoy knew her history, Lily took offense.  “I beg your pardon?”

“I said, Keep acting like a common Muggle.”

“A common Muggle,” she repeated.  “You think me no better than a common Muggle.  How dare you, madam.”

A door opened and Lucius rushed out.  “Stephagenia!”

“Your mother thinks I’m not better than a common Muggle!” Lily accused.  “What have you been saying?”

“Nothing,” he promised.  “She knows nothing, Stephagenia.  I would never betray you.”

Tears were forming in her eyes, but Lucius immediately swept her in his arms as she began to cry against his shoulder.  She didn’t know why she was crying, perhaps because she was trying so hard to be a pureblood.  Perhaps because she had been killing Muggles and she didn’t want to be killed herself.  Perhaps because specifically her parents and Tuney were dead by her own hands.

“Darling,” he whispered, “you came.”

“Do you mean it?  All of it?  I cannot abide jealousy or what comes of it.  I lived in a dorm with James Potter and his incessant admiration since fourth year and when he finally gave up everyone thought I was just like Mother.”

She had pulled away, and he stroked her stained cheek.  “You are nothing like your mother,” he promised.  “I would not be here if you were.”  He looked over her hair and smiled.  “You undid the braids.”

“Yes,” she agreed.  “It was time.”

He leaned forward and kissed her forehead.  “Marry me, you beautiful girl.”

She bit her lip.  “Will I still be Damoiselle or the married equivalent?”

There was a gasp behind her, that must have been Lady Malfoy, but she ignored her.  The horrible woman would be her mother-in-law.  Lily would have to get used to her gasps and screams and all her annoying little habits.

Lucius shook his head.  “No, you will be Heiress Lucius Malfoy until the day I become Lord Malfoy.”

Looking at him, shocked, she could only nod before she rested her head against his shoulder. “I will marry you,” she whispered.  “But only if you tell Uncle.”

“I daresay I can survive Lord Black,” he told her as he ran a hand over her head.

“Lord Black!” Lady Malfoy whispered in shock.  Lily was really beginning to hate this woman.

That night after much champagne and celebration and an announcement and photograph of the couple sent to The Daily Prophet, Lily took out a sheet of parchment and wrote a quick note to the Dark Lord informing him of her engagement—and that she would not be his mistress.

Folding the paper, she gave it to one of her uncle’s owls and hoped that it would get to its destination.  Now she had her whole life ahead of her, without Dark Lords, and as the future wife to the man she thought she might one day love.

THE END.

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