Madam Potter

Author: ExcentrykeMuse
Written: July 2018
Fandom(s): Harry Potter

Pairing(s): Lily/Voldemort
Secondary Pairing(s): (past) Lily/James, (slight) Lily/Barty Jr.

Summary: Lily had been married for less than a week, and had avoided consummating her marriage.  Then her fairy godmother came in the form of Lord Black, who was looking for his long lost daughter.

Warnings: “forced” marriage, torture, murder, sexual desire, dark arts

The wedding night was not consummated.  Lily had avoided it at every cost.  She said she had drunk too much champagne, then she had a headache, then she just wasn’t in the mood.

After a week, James Potter finally gave up.

She never should have married him.  She never should have dated him.

Of course, he thought she was playing coy when she wouldn’t kiss him, always ducking under his arm when he cornered her against a wall at Hogwarts, running away from him down the Girls’ Dormitory, joining a group of giggling girls when he thought they were alone. 

The first time they kissed was their wedding and though she could feel the passion of it on his side, it was chaste on hers.

It was her first kiss and it was a disappointment.  She thought since he loved her, the love would transfer, but how wrong Lily had been.  She felt nothing but revulsion.

Her reasons for marrying James Potter were sheer desperation.  He had pushed every boy away at Hogwarts, even her best friend Severus Snape although he had already been drifting with his Death Eater friends, and there was no one left.  James had ruined her reputation.  Everyone thought she was a whore, so she thought she had no choice.  So she married a boy she hated.

Every night she knelt beside the bed in her pajamas that she made sure were as unattractive as possible and prayed to bring love into her heart for her husband, but God never answered her prayers.

Then she would get into bed beside James, who always watched her indulgently, and make some excuse as to why they should not consummate their marriage.

It happened six days after their marriage.  Lily was in the kitchen, cooking without magic as that was how her mother had taught her, when there was a knock on the door.  She and James lived in a cottage in Godric’s Hollow, which was a partial wizard settlement, but there were Muggles about.  Looking down at herself, Lily saw that she was wearing robes.  She sighed and went to the door.

Opening it, she saw another wizard who looked like an older version of Sirius Black.  “May—may I help you?” she asked in confusion.  “Are you—a Black?”

He took her hand in his large one and lifted it to beneath his lips, hovering, just as she had seen purebloods greet pureblood witches.  He then took her hand between both of his and smiled at her.  “I’m Lord Black, Madam.”

She nodded.  The Blacks, apart from Sirius according to her husband, were incredibly dark.  However, she personally never believed a word that Sirius Black said.

“How may I help you, Lord Black?”

“May I come inside and speak to you a moment, Madam Potter?”

She started at the name, but then stepped aside, reclaiming her hand and letting him in.  The man was dressed to perfection, wearing blue robes with billowing sleeves that then narrowed to cuffs that fit his wrists beautifully.  The robes were buttoned down to his chest to several inches beneath his waist to reveal black trousers, before flaring out.  As far as Lily knew, and she didn’t actively follow wizarding styles, Lord Black was wearing the height of pureblood fashion.

He looked around briefly before seating himself on the couch and Lily took a seat in an armchair.  “Oh, forgive me,” she realized.  “We have water.  I’m not certain where my husband keeps the firewhiskey…”

“Not at all, Madam,” he declined.  “I have been interviewing my son Sirius about his twin.  My wife is quite mad and lost her when she was two years old.”

She started at this and he looked at her knowledgably.

“I see you know something.  May I ask what?”

“I was approximately two when I was found and adopted,” she admitted.  “Please, though, this is private.  My husband does not even know.”  Of course, he knew next to nothing about her life.  Lily doubted Potter even knew she had a sister, let alone that she was named Petunia and called Lily “freak” because of magic.

He held up his hand.  “Not at all, Madam Potter.  However, this year when I was—interviewing Lady Black, she remembered that she changed my daughter’s features. To hide her from me apparently.  She used dark magic.”  His voice was dark, though alluring.  It was as if Lord Black weren’t telling the complete truth, but Lily let it go.

“What kind of change?”

“Hair, eyes,” he admitted.  “She made her look like a girl who could never be a Black.  Blacks have dark hair or are occasionally blonde.  It would have to be ginger.  Their eyes are always gray.”

She gasped.  She fit the description perfectly.

“As I said, Sirius had a twin.  He admitted that a girl, Lily Evans, shared his birthday.  He has always been a troublesome child and never told me before now.”

“You did something to him,” she realized, “and to your wife.  James was right when he said the Blacks—”  Lily let her words hang as she looked out the window.  “Forgive me, Lord Black.  You are my guest, I do not mean to impugn your character.”

“Not at all.  As you may have guessed, the child we think might be my daughter is you.  I would like your permission to undo the spells.  If you would come with me, I can have you back tomorrow or the next day.”

Lily looked at him.  “Swear to me, Lord Black, that you’re not kidnapping me.”

He took out his wand and crossed over his heart creating a red symbol.  “I so swear.”

Standing, Lily grabbed a piece of parchment and wrote, Family emergency.  Be back this week.  Lily, and left it on the bed upstairs when she packed a suitcase of three robes.

“Can we Apparate from the back garden?” Lily asked.  “I don’t want the neighbors to see me leaving with a strange wizard and think I’m running out on my husband—though it serves him right.”

He looked at her in surprise.  “You are a young bride.  You are not happy?”

“I’ve kissed my husband once and haven’t consummated the marriage,” she confessed because she just wanted someone to tell so badly, “all by my design.  I’ve regretted this since the moment I agreed to go with James Potter about a year ago.”

“That can be fixed if you are my daughter,” he promised, “as long as you are pure.”

They were now moving through the back door and Lily walked into the center of the garden.  “I’ve had one kiss my whole life,” she stated bitterly.  “Trust me, I’m pure.”

He placed a soothing hand on her shoulder and then side Apparated with her into an alley.  The two walked to a crescent called Grimmauld Place and then to a house.  “This is,” Lily said as she entered, setting down her suitcase. 

“Dark,” Lord Black, agreed.  “Come, let me show you to your room.  We’re all on the third floor, but you’ll be on the fourth.  I hope this won’t be too much of an inconvenience.”

Lily shook her head.

“Don’t go to the attics, even to get an owl,” he told her succinctly.  “I will explain it later if you prove to be my daughter, but it is far too complicated for a mere house visit.”

They were taking the stairs and then on the third floor she saw Regulus Black.  His eyes bulged out when he saw her.

“Black,” she greeted.

“Aren’t you married?” he asked in shock.  “Sirius was supposed to be witness.”

“He was,” she agreed.  “He wore the most ghastly robes, and I know nothing about such things.”  Moving past him, she continued to follow Lord Black up one more staircase to a floor of doors, all closed.  He went up to a door that had a temporary sign that read, “Madam Potter,” which he then opened.

The room was nice, with flowered wallpaper in blue and a large four poster bed.  A vanity was by the window that looked out onto the meadow behind the house.  “Thank you, Lord Black,” she stated.  “I will be very comfortable here.”

“Unpack,” he said.  “We begin after dinner.  Leave your hair down, if that doesn’t offend your sensibilities.”

Dinner was awkward, with Regulus staring at her.    Lily just enjoyed the lamb and the wine, and then followed both Blacks to an open room with blue curtains and a Tapestry on the far wall.

“Our family tree,” Lord Black invited.  “If you would like to inspect it.”

Carefully, she approached it and knelt down.  It took her nearly ten minutes to find Sirius.  She only found his scorched face because she discovered Regulus.  “What happened to Black?—Sirius?”

“His mother,” Lord Black stated darkly.  “Do you see his sister?”

“Yes,” she answered, touching the face of a young woman who resembled her greatly except for her hair and eyes.  “Stevanya, 30 January, 1960.  My exact birthday.  Why Stevanya?”

“Most Blacks are named after stars and constellation.  Sirius is a star in Orion, which is my name.  Stevanya, however, is for my uncle Stepan.  It had never been used, and you were unique to me.”

“Oh,” she murmured, standing.  “I see.  How wonderful.”  Looking around the room, she asked, “Do you want me to sit or stand?”

“Stand,” he stated.  He turned to her and brushed her hair so it fell behind her shoulders.  “This may be loud,” he apologized, “but I’m breaking a curse.”

It was loud.  Lily covered her ears as the sound of a woman’s piercing song, a high note no woman could ever hit, spread through the room.  She could feel the tip of Lord Black’s wand trace from the root of her hair down to the end, again and again, over and over.  Not knowing how long it lasted, it finally ended and she took a deep breath and let down her hands.

However, when she turned, Lord Black was holding out his hand to Regulus, who was handing him several hair clips.

Lord Black put his hand on her head and turned her around.  She felt the clips go in her hair and then the horrible sound began again.

When she thought she couldn’t bear it a second longer, the sound stopped and a hand alighted on her shoulder.  “It’s not perfect,” Lord Black’s voice echoed into the silence.  “It will take me a few more hours to get every hair, but—”  He conjured a mirror and handed it to her.

Lily lost her balance when she noted her hair was almost completely black with a few stands of red in it.  “This is my real hair?” she asked.

“I swear on my magic,” Lord Black intoned.  “Lady Black used very dark magic which dyes the hair permanently.  It is reversable but you can never dye your hair again, even with those Muggle boxes.”

“Of course,” she breathed.  “I understand.”  Her ears were still ringing, but she turned to leave.

“Kreacher will bring you a glass of wine,” Lord Black told her.  “Just to settle the nerves.”

She nodded and when she passed Regulus, he reached out and took her hand, squeezing it.  Lily was so surprised, she stopped and looked at him, and he looked back at her with his gray eyes.

Going to sleep after the glass of wine, wearing the horrible pajamas, Lily wondered what the next day would bring.

James had still not sent her an owl by breakfast, which she thought was a bit odd.  Still, she got dressed and walked downstairs.  That day they were in her room where she sat at the vanity and Lord Black spent nearly six hours with the horrible spell, finishing her hair.  She spent twenty minutes brushing the curls, noticing how there were streaks of a natural deep brown.

After lunch was the final step before the potion, which frightened her a little.

“Now,” Regulus explained.  “You just take this eye cup, hold your eye open, and tip the eye potion into your eye.  It will wash away the dye in your eye.”

“Will it hurt?”  Lily was a little frightened.

“We don’t know.  We have pain potions just in case,” Regulus promised after glancing at his father.

It hurt like a fucker.  She was on a timer of three and a half minutes that she had to keep her eyes open and in the solution.  As soon as she was finished with her right eye, she downed a pain potion and then wiped her eye of any residual eye potion.

Lord Black and Regulus were staring at her.

“What’s wrong?”

“It’s gray,” Lord Black told her, conjuring a mirror to show her.

And it was true.  She had one gray eye and one green eye.  “Why would anyone change their appearance like this if you can just wash it away?”

“We spent years trying to find this potion and it’s incredibly painful to change your eye color in the first place.  If you think this is horrible, it’s ten times worse to complete the initial transition.”

Lily grimaced, thinking of going through any of this—let alone it being worse—when she was only two.  Quickly, so as to get over it, she did the second eye and then spent a good half an hour just looking at herself.  Her face looked more stark and was more subtle without her bright green eyes.

“The potion is tomorrow,” Lord Black said, kissing her brow for the first time.  “That will prove who you are without a doubt.”

“And then what?”

“You come home,” Lord Black promised.  “We will just quickly prove you are a maiden and then your marriage will be dissolved absolutely and you will have the privilege of being on the marriage market.”

Behind him, Regulus made a movement that suggested this was the last thing she wanted.

Lily slept like the dead.  She woke early in the morning and seeing several combs and clips left out for her, she did her best to put up her hair in the pureblood tradition before putting on her red robes that actually looked decent on her now with her dark hair.

She wasn’t allowed breakfast.  Instead she was taken to the basement where there was a man next to a cauldron of sludge.  Lily sniffed it and recoiled.

“Undress, dear,” Lord Black told her, “and submerge yourself in the cauldron.”

“Is this really necessary?” she asked.

“It will soak up your essence and show your lineage,” he promised.  Then he began to take off her robes, but she pulled away.  “Turn away,” she demanded of both the wizards and they fortunately did just that.

The potion was cold but she bore it.  Standing in the cauldron, Lily took a deep breath and dunked her head, feeling the cool sludge against her skin.  Lifting up her head, her eyes closed, she asked, “Now what?  Can I wipe my eyes?”

“Yes, of course,” Lord Black said.  “Let me help you out.”

She lay on the cold stone floor and then she heard a camera go off several times as photographs were taken of her back.

“Stevanya,” Lord Black said as he held out a towel to her.  “My little girl.”

She breathed out.  “I’m a pureblood and not a filthy Mudblood.”  Lily—Stevanya—just couldn’t believe it.  It was just too unreal.  How could this be happening to her?  If she had only known this a week ago, she never would have married—“We have to end my marriage.  Now.  Please,” she begged.  There had never been such desperation in her voice, but she had to get out.  She was slowly suffocating!

“You should eat,” he suggested, “then I promise.  I’ll get the first appointment with Gringotts.”

Stevanya nodded.  It was the best she could do.  Taking a long bath, she scrubbed the potion off her and when she was brushing out her long hair, she realized that her genealogy was still written as if by quill in white on her back.  Sirius and Stevanya, twins, then Regulus.  Moving up to Orion and Walburga.  How odd.  She wondered if it would go away.

As she put up her hair with a more elaborate comb, she smiled at her reflection, unbelieving that the girl looking back at her had once been Lily Evans.

Walking through Diagon Alley as a Black was peculiar.  Everyone bowed to Lord Black who moved about confidently with both Stevanya and Regulus with him.  Stevanya was so unused to shows of deference and then she paused when she saw James Potter holding the hand of a blonde witch and leaning in and whispering in her ear.  Grabbing her father’s arm, she indicated her husband.

“What is he doing?” she whispered angrily.

He grabbed her hand and pulled her away.  “It won’t matter in an hour,” he promised her.  “It is a great insult to the House of Black, but it will soon be over.”

She was still fuming, despite her hatred of her husband, during the interview.  A spell was cast on her to prove her virginity along with a Ministry copy of the marriage certificate and then a photograph of her back, showing her actual identity.

“Do you want to annul your marriage, Madam Potter?” the goblin asked.  “He may accept you back—you are his wife.”

“Marrying him was the biggest mistake of my life,” she stated harshly.  “I never want him to try and kiss me again.  I am no longer Lily Potter, I shouldn’t have to live by her unfortunate decisions.”

Lord Black placed his hand on her shoulder.  “I also don’t approve of the marriage.”

“Very well,” the goblin agreed, signing two pieces of parchment.  He handed one to them. Lily looked over it.  It showed the dissolution of the marriage of James Potter and Lily Evans due to non-consummation.  She gave it to her father, who folded it and put it in an inside pocket.

Stevanya was free.

Then again, next came shopping.  Stevanya unfortunately had to buy an entire wardrobe of robes and pureblood black and that took the entire afternoon.  It was certainly a task since Stevanya had no taste and she only had men to help her.  Still, it got done.

When she was trying on a black and white set of robes, a young man walked in with a gold waistcoat, looking at his watch.

“Crouch,” Regulus greeted, and the wizard looked up.  “May I introduce my sister, Lady Stevanya Black?”

This Crouch, who was rather handsome and had a sure and firm walk, moved toward her and took her hand, then lifted it up to beneath his lips.  “Lady Stevanya.”  He backed away and took her in.  “If I might make a suggestion, I would stick with colors.  Black washes you out.”

“Really?” she asked with a smirk, remembering how great she looked in black when she was Lily Evans.  “What about pureblood black?”

“That can’t be helped,” he reasoned.  “Robes can.  Let me see something else with Lord Black’s permission.”  He bowed to Lord Black who nodded in agreement.

Stevanya held in a huff and walked back into the dressing room and chose a light blue dress with a deep purple robe.  She came out a few minutes later and spun for Crouch’s inspection.

He stood back and took her in.  “Much better.  The blue is particularly flattering.”

“How are you such an expert?  Do you have a sister, Monsieur Crouch?”

Crouch placed his hand on his chest and bowed low.  “Bartemius Crouch, Jr.  Barty to my friends.  My father, Bartemius Sr., is the Head of Magical Law Enforcement.”

“What a fine pedigree, Monsieur Barty,” she agreed.  “However, you didn’t answer my question.”

“Only an ailing mother,” he admitted.  “I do, however, enjoy seeing a beautiful witch.  It’s really the only form of entertainment in Ravenclaw.”

She smirked at him.  “Really, Monsieur.  You surprise me.”

“Come to The Wicked Stepmother with me,” he invited, “with Lord Black’s permission.”

Regulus gaped momentarily before he collected himself.  “My sister has not applied for her card yet.  Perhaps it is premature—”

Whatever the invitation was, it was perhaps premature.  Stevanya had been married less than three hours before.  She still had her things at the cottage at Godric’s Hollow.  She would have to figure out how to get them back.  Also, she thought, she was probably going to meet her twin at some point, which would be awkward, especially if he recognized her.

“No,” Lord Black decided, “I think it would be beneficial if Stevanya went and had tea at The Wicked Stepmother.  We’ll get her card tomorrow or she can go as your guest, Monsieur Bartemius.  Send me an owl tonight.—Stevanya, I’ve tortured you enough.  We are leaving.  Wear those robes out.”

Monsieur Barty helped her down from the step where the changing rooms were and an assistant was directed which robes were wanted and which weren’t.

Stevanya luxuriated in her new room.  It was three times the size of the one she had been in before: a dusty pink with constellations on the walls and ceilings.  It was perfect with the four poster bed with gauzy hangings in white, the three piece vanity, and the walk-in closet where Kreacher had hung her clothes.

When she came down for dinner, she saw that she was right.  Sirius was standing in formal robes, his hands behind him, looking at the table that was set before him.  Stevanya stopped at the door and just stood there.  “I hear we might be twins,” she opened, looking at him.

He turned and started.  “Stevanya?” he asked.  “You—you’re more beautiful than Bella or Cissy!”

“I have no idea who those people are,” she admitted.

“Cousins,” he answered, coming forward and hugging her awkwardly.  “I’ve missed you.”

“Strange,” she mused.  “I was at Hogwarts the whole time.”

“Is that what Father asked me this time?” Sirius wondered as he pulled away from her.  Her arms were still at her side as she disliked him so much she really didn’t want to hug him.

“You don’t remember?”

“He makes sure I don’t.  I have no idea what he asked me—you don’t remind me of anyone I even know!”

She tried to hold in a snort, but couldn’t.  “Well, I guess I have the advantage over you, Sirius Black.” 

At this point, Regulus entered and Stevanya smiled at him.  “Look who’s here.  Now we can all be one big happy family, except for Lady Black who seems to be dead.”

Both brothers fell silent.

“Stevanya,” Sirius said carefully.  “Mother isn’t dead.”

“Oh?” she asked, looking between him and Regulus.  “Where is she then?”

“The attic,” Sirius whispered.

She stared at him, not quite believing him.  However, he cleared his throat, and looked at her.  “Pity you weren’t here last week.  You could have come to my best mate’s wedding.”

Shocked, she said nothing.

“Don’t tell me you’re a blood purist,” Sirius wailed in shock.

“Your sister,” Lord Black stated coldly as he walked in, “is going on her first marriage date later this week.  I think that should answer your question.”

Sirius looked at her as if betrayed, but Stevanya really didn’t care.  She was just happy to date someone who wasn’t James Potter, and had been glad the last few nights to not have to fear for her virtue.  Part of her had wondered how long it would take for James Potter to crack and force her.

An involuntary shudder ran through her.

“What’s wrong, Stevanya?” her father asked solicitously.

“I was thinking about Gringotts—and what could have happened if everything had turned out differently,” she admitted.  “I apologize.”

“Stevanya, there are bound to be horrors from your past life.  We do not begrudge you them.  As long as you tell us so we understand.”

Sirius rolled his eyes, confusing Stevanya.

“Do you have something to say, sir?” Father barked.

“Only, you’re not so understanding to your sons,” he stated nastily.

“You have not been traumatized like your sister.  She has undergone several dark spells in the past few days to return to her true form—and that does not include what your hag of a mother has done to her her entire life!  You will apologize to her, sir!”  His gray eyes flashed with flame and he and Sirius stared at each other.

“Sorry, Steph,” Sirius muttered before going back to his chicken.

Just as they were about to repair for sherry and firewhiskey, an owl flew in for Sirius.  He took it, read it, and turned red.  “Lily annulled her marriage to James!” he told them all.  “Can you believe it?”

Stevanya turned to hide her smile, which Regulus caught.  When Sirius finally left, she clinked her glass with Regulus and then murmured, “Guess I’m not cheating on Monsieur Barty,” which sent him into giggles.

A purple robe with a white pattern was placed over a lace dusty pink dress.  She wore a large wizard cross, an equilateral sign that signaled wizards to other wizards in the Muggle world.  She brushed out her hair and twirled it to the side of her head, which she pinned into place.  A simple comb that was curved was placed into the twirl. 

Regulus escorted her to The Wicked Stepmother where Monsieur Barty was waiting for her.  He smiled when he saw her and took her hand in a pureblood nicety.

“Lady Stevanya,” he greeted.  “I hope your week has been pleasant.”

He led her to a tea table and pulled out her chair.

“I saw my twin, Sirius,” she told him.  “His best friend is going through a difficult time, but I’m not acquainted with him.”

“Oh,” Barty said, leaning forward.  “May I inquire?”

Stevanya looked at him assessingly.  “I suppose it won’t be a secret.  Monsieur James Potter’s wife annulled their marriage.  I don’t know the basis.”  Of course, she did, but she wasn’t going to share it.  Six days.  She was rather proud of herself.  Six days of celibacy. 

“It’s very difficult to annul a marriage,” he said.  “Divorce is much more common and purebloods, as you know, never indulge in either.”

“Madam Potter wasn’t a pureblood,” she shared.  “However, I don’t want to delve into their marriage.  It is bound to be depressing.”

“Then tell me about yourself, Lady Stevanya,” he opened.

“Why don’t you tell me how you know Regulus, Monsieur Barty, if you are in Ravenclaw.”

“We have mutual friends,” he emphasized.

“Mutual friends.  He was OWL-level.  How many friends did he have outside of Slytherin?  You may have been first year NEWT-level, I believe, and so had more time to make friends, but Regulus?”  She was flabbergasted.  Maybe that’s why he was afraid of producing lower scores.

“I was OWL-level, Lady Stevanya,” he admitted and she stared at him.

“Year mates then,” she murmured.  “But mutual friends?”

“He hasn’t told you,” he realized carefully.  “I refer you to your younger brother, Lady Stevanya.”

“I want to know,” she stated firmly.  “What are you talking about?”  Then she realized.  “Are these the same friends as Severus Snape?”

“Exactly, my lady,” he said, leaning back.  “Now, what tea—”

However, she had already gotten up and was about to leave when she noticed a tall man had stepped up to the table and was holding the back of Barty’s chair.  He had deep mahogany hair that was clipped closely to his head, shocking blue eyes, and a handsome face with kissable lips.  He had a strong firm body, possibly useful in the Muggle sport of boxing, she thought, and as she stood there the two just stared at one another.

“Barty,” the man ordered in a smooth voice that sent a chill down her spine, “introduce me to the lady.”

Startled, Barty looked up and immediately stood.  “Of course.  My lord, Lady Stevanya Black, Lord Black’s only daughter.  Lady Stevanya, this is—”

“Marvolo,” the man interrupted.

Carefully, Stevanya held out her hand and Marvolo picked it up and held it beneath his lips for several moments, his eyes never leaving her.  The blue really was a startling shade, she realized.  She suddenly wished her eyes were green again, but then she wouldn’t look like the quintessential Black.

Monsieur,” she greeted.  “I’m afraid, I’m just leaving.”

“Please,” he murmured, a slight tone of alarm in his voice.  “Stay.  Barty must be off, mustn’t you, Barty?  I will gladly take his place and entertain you.”

“I couldn’t possibly—my father—”

“Lord Black and I are acquainted,” he assured.  “He’s often shown me your name on the Tapestry over firewhiskey.  In fact, I was there the night Lady Black scorched off your twin’s name.  It was quite horrible.  Monsieur Sirius was screaming and almost had his hand burnt off, Heir Regulus was standing in a corner and crying.  Dare I go on?”

“No,” she whispered.  “I’d never heard the story.”  Sitting back down, she indicated the seat to Marvolo although Barty hadn’t quite left yet.  “Goodbye, Monsieur Barty.  Thank you for tea.”

After a moment, he bowed low to her and then again to Marvolo before leaving.

Marvolo ordered a fresh cup for himself and allowed Stevanya to pour him the tea.  “Now, you have just graduated from the institution you attended.  May I ask what you plan to do, Lady Stevanya?”

“Father says I must go on marriage dates.  I don’t think that will fill the time, however,” she stated glumly.

Smirking at her, Marvolo took a sip of his tea.  “No, I imagine it wouldn’t.  I’m a politician and my spies say you’re clever.  Ten NEWTs and you’re expected to do well.  What would you do, if you could?”

“I daresay,” she answered, “I had not thought to be interrogated.”

“Forgive me,” he replied.  “It is just that you are so beautiful—one tries to speak of something else.”

She blushed.  “I’m not used to being called beautiful,” she admitted.  The only person who had called her beautiful was James Potter, and she never actually believed him.  At her wedding, of course, she was complimented, but that had been so strange to her.

“You’re the most beautiful woman I think I’ve ever seen,” he told her, causing her heart to flutter.

“Now I know you’re lying,” she whispered.  “I really am not—”

“Your father said you went missing.  They never said you were beautiful, whoever took you in, whoever stole you, did they?  They neglected you.  I’m so sorry, Lady Stevanya.  You should have been treasured.”

“I don’t think—” she began, but he cut her off.

“Did the eye solution work?  I know it was difficult to keep your eyes open for over three minutes, but I did test it out for nearly four years for the optimal time.”

She gasped.  “That was you?”

“Indeed,” he agreed.  “I know your father quite well.  I knew of his pain.  I could not find you for him, but I helped in every way that I could.  It must be quite startling, looking into a mirror and seeing someone else.”

Taking a chance, she admitted, “I’m quite glad, actually.  I did not like my life—before.  Circumstances outside of my control had made it quite bleak.”

He reached out for her hand and, somehow trusting it, she gave it.  Lifting it again to hover beneath his lips, he whispered so that his breath blew across her fingers, “I am sorry for it.”

Leaning toward him and forgetting her cup, she asked, “What happened with Sirius and the family?  I don’t understand.  From what I know, he should be the heir and not Regulus.”

“He was disowned when he ran away to live with the Potter boy,” Marvolo told her plainly.  “He lost his title, his future inheritance, he was burnt off the Tapestry.  Regulus, the next son, then inherited.”

She sucked in a breath and then nodded.  “Well,” she murmured.  “I never did like Sirius Black, but I don’t think he deserves such punishment.”

Marvolo did not commit to a side.  “I will not say anything against your excellent Father whatever I may feel.  However, you are safely at home with him and Heir Regulus.  I’m certain he will let you see Monsieur Sirius whenever you like as you are twins.  You have cousins.  You will be well loved.”

“What a strange concept,” she mused.  “To be loved.  I hope you have not known that pain.”

“I have known the pain of many things,” he murmured, looking down into his tea.  “I’m afraid that is one of them.”  His bluer than blue eyes looked up into hers and a heat rose between her legs, startling her.  She wanted to reach between them and touch herself, pushing her fingers inside.  It was such a wicked notion, that she could not imagine where it came from and her cheeks flamed up at the thought of it.

Marvolo smirked but continued to gaze into her gray eyes.  “Tell me,” he said, glancing down at her right hand.  “You don’t wear a vined ring.”

She looked down and was confused.

He held up his hand which showed a simple ring from bottom to knuckle on the third finger that crawled up the skin like a vine.  “It ensures fidelity to one’s spouse, future and present.  It will punish you if you break your marriage vows and punish those who seek to harm you.”

Thinking of James Potter and those horrible vows she had spoken, Stevanya quickly shook her head.  “No,” she whispered.  “I could never.”

“What happened?” Marvolo asked carefully, his hand reaching for hers on the table, nearly touching, but the fingers of each of their hands just shy from one another.

“Perhaps,” Stevanya whispered, “if you know my father so well, he might one day tell you.”

Marvolo insisted on escorting her home, and she was secretly pleased at the attention he continued to give her.  When they came through the floo in the basement-kitchen to see Kreacher preparing dinner, she smiled and turned to Marvolo.  “This is me,” she murmured.

“I must pay my respects to Lord Black,” he suggested and, knowing that purebloods were overly polite in their manners, she turned to Kreacher and asked him where her father was.

Leading Marvolo up to the Tapestry room, she knocked once before entering. 

“Father,” she greeted, “you remember Monsieur Marvolo.  He wished to pay his respects.”

Her father immediately looked up and upon seeing Marvolo sank to one knee.  “My lord, you do us great honor.”

Marvolo raised his hand and Father rose.

Stevanya was just staring at them in shock.  What was happening?

“I had the privilege,” Marvolo began, “of meeting Lady Stevanya at The Wicked Stepmother.  I had to throw away the boy you sought to give away her attention to.  I trust that won’t happen again.”

“No, my lord.  Of course not, my lord.”  Father was slightly sweating and was shaking his head to punctuate his words.

Stevanya was still terribly confused.

“Good.  At the next opportunity, I request Lady Stevanya’s company.  Will Thursday next be convenient?”

Wanting a say in the conversation, Stevanya summoned her datebook.  It was black in color.  Everything was black.  They were Blacks after all and their possessions reflected that.  Turning the pages, she murmured, “NEWT scores come out as early as that Wednesday.”

“We shall hope that they’re on time, then,” he decided.  “Two-o’clock, Lady Stevanya?  Perhaps you’ll have your card.”

“Perhaps I will,” she agreed, penciling him in.  She was afraid of getting a card though.  She didn’t want dark magic, but she liked The Wicked Stepmother.  It was a conundrum.

Marvolo picked up her hand again and raised it near his lips before turning and striding out the door. 

Stevanya looked at her father.  “My lord?  Barty called him that, too!  He’s socially beneath you, Father.  I don’t understand—I thought you were friends.  Instead you’re bowing and scraping to him.”

“Darling,” he said calmly, “there are some matters that you don’t understand.  However, he is a great ally to this House.  He honors us greatly with his attention to you.”

“I apparently don’t know who he is!”

“With time, Stevanya,” her father whispered.  “You must give us all time to acclimate to the situation.”

She moved toward her father and hugged him around the waist.  “Monsieur Barty suggested that Regulus was a Death Eater or would be.  I can’t believe he would say such hateful things about my brother—just because he’s in Slytherin does not mean he’s—”  She sighed.

“Regulus may surprise you,” Father suggested.  “Let him tell you about it in his own time.  That would probably be best.”

“He is a Death Eater, then.”

“I know you were a Muggleborn and do not understand,” he admitted quietly.  “But stay with us and learn from us.  We will learn from you.  All will be well, Stevanya.”

So she snuggled closer and wished that the world were a little bit different.

Even though Sirius was disowned, she was allowed to go and visit him.  Needing to get away from Death Eaters and men who seemed to be secret lords, she went to visit Sirius who was unfortunately staying at Potter’s house in Godric’s Hollow.  The place was a shrine to Lily Potter.  It was almost sickening.  There were pictures of her everywhere.  Stevanya didn’t even know how he got some of them, it was so peculiar.  She didn’t even know why he cared given that he had supposedly cheated on her the day of the annulment. 

She hugged her twin long and hard, just needing someone to be on her side, and then was welcomed into the house.  James Potter was sitting on the sofa with some cold tea and Sirius offered to make her a new cup.  She knew for a fact that all of the appliances were Muggle, so she wondered how Sirius would get on.

Not well apparently.  The tea was tepid and the bag had been taken out too soon.  Still, she grinned and bore it as best she could.

“Regulus,” she began, glancing at Potter, “might be a Death Eater.”

“Thought so,” Sirius replied.

“I don’t think you get it.  My little brother might be a Death Eater.  He’s certainly friends with them!  What am I supposed to do?  Father says to ‘learn from them’ and they’ll ‘learn from me’ but that’s a bunch of hogwash.”

Sirius put down his tea.  “Look,” he stated.  “You’re never going to change Reggie being a Death Eater.  He wants to impress Father too much.  What you can do is be the person he talks to, the person who reassures him and guides him.—Don’t you hate Muggleborns?”

“My wife was a Muggleborn,” Potter said morosely, looking at no one, before going silent again.  He really did look pale and a bit clammy.

“No,” she answered.  “Yes.  I haven’t really thought about it.”

There was nothing really to say after that.

Stevanya walked along the streets of Godric’s Hollow, remembering living there for the short time she was married.  She used to walk at night when James was asleep so she would still be sleeping when he woke up and went to work.  It was one of the tricks she used.  She had so many tricks, and she didn’t want to use them if she ever married again.

NEWT results came and, as Gringotts had promised, they came to Stevanya Black.  She opened them up hurriedly, not waiting for Regulus, and unfurled them.  Nine O’s and one E in Herbology.  She screamed and jumped up and down for joy, only pausing when Father held out his hand for the scores.  He then took her into his arms and kissed her head.

She was asked to leave when Regulus came in and, when listening at the door, she heard Father give a loud lecture about responsibility and duty, which could only mean that Regulus’s OWL scores were subpar to Black standards.

The table at The Wicked Stepmother was covered in rose petals when she joined Monsieur Marvolo, who took her hand in deference.  “Congratulations, my lady.  I heard about your unparalled NEWT scores and applaud you.”

“Father or the Ministry?” she asked as he helped her into her chair.

“Ah, my secrets are my own, Lady Stevanya,” he admitted.  “However, there are some I would gladly share with you.”

“Only some?” she teased.  “I thought I was far more beautiful than that.  I must be slipping.  Is it my hair?  It cannot be my gown.  I have it on excellent authority that I look heavenly in deep red.”

Laughing a little, he held up his hand and placed a box on her plate.  She looked at it and then at him, knowing it was a courting gift.  According to Spungen’s Guide to Pureblood Dynasties, c.1500-present, Black women were given hair ornamentation.  Opening the box, she gasped when she saw an ivory headband with spikes on the inside of it to hold it in her hair, runes written on it in onyx.  “Beauty,” she read.  “Radiance, Perfection—Is this a spell?”

“Or a description of the one who wears it,” he suggested.  “Still, I would like you to have it.”

“It’s too much,” she disagreed, caressing it with her hand before closing the box.  “This must be a family piece.”

“It is not too much,” he argued, leaving out any mention of family.  “You are beautiful.  Let me adorn you as I see fit.”

She raised her eyebrows but set the box to the side, placing her hand on top of it.  “Thank you, Monsieur Marvolo.”

“Mal,” he corrected, and she smiled to herself.

“You are sure of yourself,” Stevanya murmured.

“I’m escorting the most beautiful witch in wizardom.  I hope that you will not entertain anyone simultaneously,” he stated confidently, as if he thought that was inconceivable.  “Your father supports my suit, which is another battle won.”

“Yes, he does,” she agreed carefully.  “He behaved oddly when you escorted me home.  However, perhaps you can help me, Monsieur Mal.”

“How may I be of assistance?”

“My family is considerably darker than I have been.  I’m still trying to grasp their exact politics as I wish to know my family.  However, I recently learnt that my younger brother might—that his politics are quite—that is to say—”

“I think I understand you, Lady Stevanya,” he responded calmly.

“I don’t know how to approach him.  I want to support him although I may disagree with him, but he doesn’t know me.  I’m a stranger to him.  How can I say that I’m sympathetic to Muggleborns but if he wants them gone from the wizarding world, then I will do everything in my power to help him because he is my little brother,” then she quickly added, “inside the law, of course.”

“Of course,” he agreed.  “It’s simple.  You tell him that.  Get him to sit with you, just the two of you, and explain what you just said to me, to him.  He will be grateful.  You’re his older sister.  I imagine he looks up to you, even if he hasn’t known you for very long.”

She breathed out long and slow.  “I don’t know what I’d do if someone said that to me.”

“You’re in a different situation,” Mal argued.  “Different circumstances.  I suspect your upbringing was very different from a Black’s.”

“I suspect it was,” she agreed.

Grabbing Regulus the next day, she said, “I spoke to Barty about your mutual acquaintances.”  When he was about to speak, she put up her hand.  “I don’t have to know the details.  I may disagree with some of your friends’ politics, but if you need anything, Regulus, anything, for the cause or for yourself, and I can help, you only have to let me know.”  She kissed the top of his head.  “I am and will always be your big sister.”  She got up and walked away, hoping she had said the right thing.

“The Dark Lord,” Father explained at dinner, “is trying to do great things.”

“Yes,” she agreed sarcastically, “like kill all the Muggles and the Muggleborns.  I could be dead.”  She took a sip of her wine and looked across the table at Regulus and winked at him.

“You are far too regal to be dead, my dear, and far too talented.  He would have tried to recruit you, as I’m sure he will try to do now.”

The thought horrified Stevanya.  “I won’t be—”

“Are you sure he hasn’t, Stevanya?” Father asked her firmly.  “Think hard now, girl.”

Holding her glass of wine, she almost laughed.  “Barty Crouch?  He barely spoke to me before Mal threw him out!”

“Mal?” her father asked in an exaggerated voice.

“Mal,” she agreed.  “Monsieur Marvolo.  Mal.  He tells me I’m the most beautiful witch he’s ever seen and gives me courting gifts.  He gives me advice when I ask for it, and that’s it.  I have no idea what his politics are.”

Father stared at her for a long moment.  “Courting gifts.”

“I thought you approved of him,” she replied coldly.  “He knew all about the potion for my eyes.  He seems to have discovered it.. or developed it… or researched it.  He described himself as an ‘ally for the House of Black.’  Was that wrong, Father?”

There was a long pause when she was just regarded by both her father and her brother, who clearly didn’t understand what was happening.  Father took a deep breath.  “We serve Monsieur Marvolo,” he admitted, “although I myself am a powerful man.  He has shown great favor to the family.  One way he showed it was through the potion.  I think it was a bit of a game for him, a puzzle.  He always likes to know how spells work, from what I can tell, and this one eluded him.”  He took a deep drink of his wine from his golden goblet. 

She reared back.  “What are you saying?”

“That your ‘ally of the House of the Black’ will expect me to give you as a gift to him if he asks for you.  Watch yourself, Stevanya.  Be careful.  There would be no way out like there was with James Potter.  I would like it better if you spoke politics with Monsieur and he tried to convert you to his dark ways.”

At their next meeting, Stevanya was moving the teacup back and forth between her fingers, not really taking a sip, her mind only partially on Mal.  “Lady Stevanya,” he finally implored after three quarters of an hour.  “What ails you?”

“Father,” she admitted.  “He said—It doesn’t make any sense—You wouldn’t expect me as a gift, would you, Monsieur Mal?  The idea is a peculiar one, but he seemed to think it might be expected.”

A smirk fell on his attractive lips and he shook his head.  “If you were mine, I would want you willing,” he swore.  He set his hand on the tabletop and his simple ring shone in the candlelight.  “You forget I wear this ring.  I think it proves I’m a romantic.  I am faithful to my wife, whoever she is, so you would have to be my wife, and I have no use for a witch who wanted nothing to do with me.”

A small smile tugged at her lips.  “Why would he say such a thing?” she whispered, playing with her cup for a moment before taking her first sip.

“He doesn’t understand me, clearly.  No need to argue the point with him, Lady Stevanya.  Let him think what he will.—You look beautiful in your headband.  The white is stunning against your dark hair.”

She blushed despite herself.  “Mal,” she whispered, “you compliment your own vanity.”

“Perhaps,” he agreed.  “However, I sought to heighten your beauty, and I believe I made it shine.—If you will allow me, I may have a gift for you.  You must first get your card, and then I will see if it’s appropriate.”


“I like it better when you call me ‘Mal’,” he admitted, “to think that I am at least somewhat important to you, Lady Stevanya.  Please, let me do this for you.”

Hesitating, she bit her lip.  “I’ve been a little afraid.”

“Why?” he questioned.

“Sirius’s card is pure white.”

Mal threw back his head and laughed.  “He really is the white sheep of the Black family,” he murmured in between chuckles.  “Forgive me, that was something your cousin Bellatrix said.—I think you are different from your twin.  Come,” he held out his hand.  “I will be here with you.”

She swept to her feet, wearing a gown of sheer gold with orange and deep gold links forming a robe over it.  He escorted her out of the tea room, to the little wizard who was the maître d’.  “As we discussed,” he stated in his sinful voice.

The little wizard indicated silently a wooden cone that was tilted upward on an angle.

“Insert your wand,” Mal whispered in her ear and, after a moment of wondering if this was a good idea, she did just that.  The cone began to twirl counterclockwise, faster and faster until Stevanya wondered if it was even moving and wasn’t just standing still.  However, a piece of parchment like tickertape was coming out of the base and the little wizard was looking out it.  Then, suddenly, the cone stopped and Stevanya stole her wand back immediately.

Mal walked over to the tickertape and took it from the little wizard.  Squinting as he held it to the light, a grin then flashed on his face.  “A black card,” he whispered, handing over the parchment to the little wizard.  “You’re the darkest witch since the 1700s and only the second black card alive.”

“I don’t know what that means,” she stated with a quiver in her voice.

The little wizard was moving quickly behind his stand with a blank card and was weaving spells over it.  She tried to ignore him.

“The darker the card, the darker the magic.  Lady Stevanya, you have the blackest of magics.”

“Who else—?  The Dark Lord,” she realized, nodding her head.  Trying not to focus on that frightening reality, she asked, “Do I get my gift?”

He smirked at her and took her hands in both of his, pulling her close to him.  “You most certainly do, Lady Stevanya.  Tell me, are you acquainted with your kinsman, Heir Lucius Malfoy?”

“I’ve never heard of him,” she admitted in surprise.  “He’s an heir to one of the other Four Lords, though?”

“Quite,” he told her fondly.  “I thought he could explain Heir Regulus’s ideas to you, as a true believer.  He’ll be patient.  He knows you are not an adherent to them.”  Snapping his fingers at the little wizard, the poor man wove a few more spells on the card and then ran over with it, putting it in Mal’s hand.  He looked it over once and then nodded. 

Handing it over to Stevanya, she saw that it was perfectly black.  Her name was in a pale blue calligraphy with The White Witch inscribed directly under it, upside down.

“This will serve as a membership card to all of pureblood England,” he promised.  “Keep it close, Lady Stevanya.”

She slipped the card into her purse and he offered her his arm and she took it, the two of them walking out into Diagon Alley into a gentleman’s club named The Fairy Circle.  Witches, of course, were only allowed in the greeting room, which was made in dark wood, deep curtains, and aged armchairs.  Mal set her down in a chair and then spoke to the club butler before returning to her.

“Heir Lucius is coming to you,” he promised.  “Lady Stevanya.”  Their eyes connected and his searched hers for something that confused her, but he took her hand and lifted it to beneath his lips before parting.

Stevanya had less than three minutes to wait. 

Heir Lucius was young, no more than five years older than her, with long platinum blond hair, pointed features, and gray eyes that were a little more silver than she was used to.  “A black card,” he greeted as she stood.  He took her by the shoulders and kissed both her cheeks.  “Cousin, it is good to meet you.”

“And you, Cousin,” she agreed, retaking her seat. 

He settled down and looked at her for a long moment.  “Relax, Stevanya.  I’m not going to harm you.  I understand your gentleman friend wants you to know what it means to possess dark magic and what that means politically.”

“You know each other?” she questioned.

Nodding, he clarified: “For a few years now.  I’m actually quite surprised he chose me to speak to you and not your cousin Bellatrix.”

“I’ve never met Bellatrix.”

“Nor any of the cousins, I gather,” Lucius stated quietly.  “Now, to business.  To have dark magic means that you delight in darker magic.  You gain pleasure from the magic.  You don’t enjoy torturing someone, you enjoy the magic that does the torturing.  Does that make sense?”

She nodded.  “Why would you torture anyone to begin with?”

“Maybe they came into your house and threatened the life of your youngest child?  There are many different reasons, Stevanya.”

“Then why hate Muggles?”

“Because they don’t have magic and when they don’t have magic, they hate it and fear it.”  His gray eyes watched her and, unfortunately, his words hit home and she clenched her jaw and looked away.  “You disagree?”

“No, Lucius,” she admitted.  “I’ve just seen it in practice.—Muggleborns?”

“They hate halfbloods and purebloods for their culture that they weren’t born into.  They also bring in Muggle culture into our lives when we don’t want it.  They don’t respect us.” 

Stevanya had to keep herself from laughing at the thought of cooking without magic in the Potter home.

“They also come from Muggles, they’re tainted,” he added darkly.

“You cannot seriously expect me to believe—”

He opened his hands out in supplication.  “I am merely explaining our point of view.  You are probably still going on marriage dates and may have a favorite.  Tell me, Stevanya, have you imagined children yet?”

She looked at him, stunned, as such a thought had never occurred to her.

“A child,” he suggested, “with your black curls, startling blue eyes, and our friend’s good looks.  A beautiful child.  What if you spend eleven years trying to bring him up right, to be a good wizard, and then he goes to Hogwarts and befriends a Muggleborn who convinces him that it’s better he doesn’t pray to our ancestors and, ten years later, he marries his friend’s Muggle sister and pollutes your blood?  What do you think of that?”

She had been that Muggleborn just a few weeks earlier.

The thought that such a child could exist brought warmth to her heart.  “I’m not sure my father would like such a child,” she murmured.

Lucius looked at her in surprise.  “What do you think of such a child and this future for him?”

Her mind flickered back to her and James Potter and how unhappy she had been with a pureblood—but then again she hadn’t been herself at the time.

“I think,” she murmured.  “I would want my son to marry for love—but to someone who was equal to him.  I wouldn’t want him to be superior, always knowing he was better than his wife and having her disappoint him, or inferior, and forever hiding.”

Smiling, Lucius’s face brightened.  “You are beginning to understand.  Another way to look at it is equality.  You and our friend are equals.”

“How are we equals?” she questioned.  “We’re both purebloods, members of The Wicked Stepmother with dark magic, but I’m the daughter of Lord Black.  He doesn’t seem to be connected to any title, although people bow to him and act strangely around him.”

Carefully, Lucius admitted, “I think it’s because they act strangely around him, that he is your equal.”

They looked at each other, Stevanya trying to determine what he knew, but finding only hidden knowledge in his eyes.  He knew, he just couldn’t or wouldn’t tell her.  He wasn’t even using Mal’s name.  No one ever did.  He was always ‘my lord’ except here he was ‘our friend.’  The entire situation was infuriating.

“If it’s about equality,” she began quietly, “then there’s a hierarchy if Muggles are filth beneath our slippers.”

“Indeed.  Each tier is more important than the last.  Muggles, as the lowest, are selfish creatures who hate those with magic and would steal it if they could.  There is a theory that Muggleborns have stolen magic from magical children.  It is unproven, of course.”  He looked at her carefully.

“That’s ridiculous,” she began but then she stopped.  Stevanya had no proof that it was false.  She had none that it was true either.  She thought she had been a Muggleborn, which would have disproved the theory, but she was actually a pureblood.

“Is it?” he asked her quietly.

The two cousins looked at each other for a long moment.

“So you disenfranchise Muggleborns because of their crimes and kill Muggles and Muggleborns for the same reason.”  Stevanya smiled at him because it was all ridiculous.

“I would never sanction killing, but politics come into play.  Death Eaters and the Dark Lord follow these ideas.  They glorify in their dark magic and they wish to protect us from Muggles and Muggleborns.”

“Are you saying I should become a Death Eater?” she asked sweetly.

“Hardly, Stevanya,” he grinned.  “I’m saying you should glorify in your magic.  You have a black card.  It’s a sign.  You’re a Black.  Don’t be like your twin.  Don’t hide in the light where they’re too afraid of their own shadow.  Be magnificent—”  Then, he reached out and grabbed the front of her robes, pulled her forward and kissed her.

It was dark and forbidden, and yet so innocent with lips just touching and sucking gently.  There was a hiss and Stevanya smelled burnt flesh.  Pulling away, she looked toward the smell and saw a vine ring with diamonds in it on Lucius’s middle finger. It seemed to have burnt the flesh of his finger a black color, steam rolling up from the burnt flesh.

She gasped in horror.

“It was worth it,” he whispered in her ear.  “You’re worth it, Stevanya.”

“How—How am I related to you?”  Her large gray eyes looked at him and he stroked her cheek. 

“I’m married to your cousin Narcissa,” he admitted and she nodded.

She stood and turned to go.  He didn’t reach for her, but she could feel his eyes upon her.  Stevanya could never be alone with him again.  It would be wrong.  She was with Mal—and Lucius was married to her cousin.

Stevanya also knew those rings were a bad idea.  A simple kiss had done that?  He shouldn’t have kissed her, but half of his finger was burnt off!

Realizing the only person she could tell was her twin and hating her life for becoming so peculiar, Stevanya Apparated to Godric’s Hollow and knocked on the cottage door.  James Potter, deathly pale and bleary eyed, answered and she gave him a hopefully sympathetic smile.  “Is Sirius still staying here?”

“Are you his girlfriend?”

“I’m his twin,” she answered slowly.  How did he not remember that?  “I would appreciate—”

“His twin is dead,” Potter spat, “like my poor Lily.  I can’t find her anywhere.” 

Suddenly there was rushing behind Potter and then Sirius was there, looking at her in her formal robes.  “Stevanya!” he greeted.  “Marriage date?”

“Quite,” she answered.  Twenty minutes later, barely having time to drink her firewhiskey, Sirius was out of his chair and railing against Lucius Malfoy.  “Never mind Narcissa,” he stated, “she’s a spitfire.  She can take care of herself.  You’re just out of Hogwarts and don’t seem the type to hurt a fly.”

“I have a black card,” she whispered.

He stared at her.  “I have a white one.  I need to be escorted in.”  Still, he pushed his way through the back door, his wand out and she ran out after him.  He turned on his heel, ready to Apparate, and Stevanya lunged at him, catching him at the last moment.

She fell on a lawn with white peacocks wandering over it of all things. 

“Dragon dung!” Sirius swore as he helped her up.  He then walked up to the door and started banging on it.  “Lucius Malfoy!” he called.  “Face me like a wizard!”  He banged on it some more.

Stevanya stood back and just watched, unbelieving that someone was finally fighting for her honor.  No one had helped her at all when it came to Potter.  Even Sev just watched and held her when she cried.  He’d go against the Marauders because he hated them, but not to help Lily.

Eventually, the doors swung open and Sirius charged in.  Stevanya was instantly running after him, up a marble staircase and to the left.  Sirius was shouting and pushing open doors, a beautiful witch coming out and looking at the two of them.  She had blonde hair but their same gray eyes.

“Sirius?” she asked before turning to her.  “Who are you?”

“Stevanya,” she responded as she ran after Sirius. 

“Lucius!” he shouted.  “Face me, damn you!  I know what you did!”  Finally, he threw open a door and stood there.  Stevanya took a deep breath and then entered the room.  Lucius was standing from a chair, a glass of firewhiskey in his hand, his finger still burnt, and Monsieur Mal was sitting casually, watching what was happening.

Sirius picked up a decanter and threw it at Lucius’s head.  “Don’t you dare touch my sister again, you lecher!”  He twirled his wand and everything that was glass began to break.  Mal quickly threw his glass in the fire before his blood red liquid splashed all over him.

Still, Lucius did nothing.  “I did not hurt Lady Stevanya.”

“I don’t care if you hurt her,” Sirius stated as he stalked forward.  “You’d already be dead if you had.  You stole her maiden’s kiss, which belonged to her husband.  I see your finger, you bastard.  It’s charred.  How could you do this to Narcissa?”  He turned and pointed to the woman who was standing in the doorway, watching everything with a cool eye.

Mal looked down at his nails.  “Lucius,” he intoned.  “You know I am courting the lady and asked you as a favor to explain to her dark magic and politics, and you dare to betray me?”  His blue eyes looked up and held Lucius still.  “I am most displeased.”

“My lord—” Lucius began.

“Sirius,” Stevanya murmured—“just—”

“I can’t cast it,” he whispered into her ear.  “I don’t have dark magic.”

She looked at him in shock.  “Which?”

“Cruciatus,” he admitted.

“Isn’t that a little—”

“No,” he answered solemnly.

Lucius was still begging Mal to forgive him, speaking of her beauty and her keen mind, when Stevanya summoned all of her hatred of being kissed against her will, first by Potter and now by Lucius, how she never had a choice, that she was just an object to men, and she whispered, “Crucio!”

At first there was silence, as if everyone had heard her, then Lucius was jerking at the floor, screaming and twitching violently.  Her hand began to quiver the longer she held him under the curse, the screaming scaring her in a way because she had never made anyone scream before, but someone came up behind her and a hand covered hers, holding her steady.  When Lucius’s voice started getting raw, she lowered her wand and marveled at how the stylish wizard looked haggard and disheveled.  He was finally silent, however, although he had tremors, his hands shaking over his chest as he swallowed convulsively.

Looking up at whoever was behind her, she saw it was Mal, and she gave him a small smile.  She turned to Sirius, and asked, “Is that you wanted?”

“Yes,” he agreed, staring.  “That was mad scary.”

“Don’t ask, then,” she drawled angrily. 

But he came up to her and hugged her, pulling her away from Mal, who stepped away from the twins.  She angled it so she saw Mal, and mouthed, “Thank you,” before burying her face in Sirius’s shoulder.  “Come, I’ll take you home,” Sirius told her as he pulled away and cupped her cheek.

They passed by Narcissa, who then ran to Lucius on the ground.  Mal continued to stand where Stevanya had left him, regarding the scene around him with the interest of a Muggle tourist.

“Don’t tell Father,” she begged him, but Sirius merely shushed her. 

“We’re going to get you changed and into bed,” he promised her.  “I don’t want you to worry about a thing.”

Of course, when she woke she found Sirius was still at Grimmauld Place and he had told their father about everything, down to her black card.  She was paraded before Father at breakfast, where she was made to tell him exactly what happened.

“Why were you alone with Heir Lucius?” he asked suddenly.

“Mal introduced us,” she finally admitted, “because I had a black card.  He was most displeased that Heir Lucius—and when my hand became unsteady, Mal placed his hand over mine to help me.”

This actually put Lord Black out.  “Unfortunately, I cannot call Monsieur Marvolo out, and Heir Lucius has already been punished by this family.  I will invite Narcissa over for tea, see how she is.  You can meet your cousin without torturing her husband, Stevanya.”  He flicked his hand and Sirius and Stevanya, who were standing next to each other in front of him, stood to take their seats.  They sat on the right, Sirius and then Stevanya, with Regulus on the left.  It was a little strange because Regulus was the heir and should be on the right, but it seemed that this is how they had always sat, and so they continued, and Stevanya was added as she was Sirius’s twin.

Stevanya was at her toilette for Narcissa, a deep gold dress with red flowers and a jacket more than a robe, a waist that was slightly lower than the Empire style.  She was applying kissable lipstick, that wouldn’t smudge even when kissed, when Kreacher informed her that she had a guest.

She was shown into the Tapestry room and saw Mal.  Uncertain what to do, she hovered in the door, until he turned from a sketch of her and her two brothers that was being used as a mockup for a magical portrait. 

Finally, gaining her courage, she came in and offered, “I don’t think it captures Sirius.  He’s kinder.  I think he likes to hide it—but he’s kind.  I never knew, all these years.”

“I sometimes forget you knew the Blacks,” he replied.

“Not well.  Enough to get an idea of Sirius and Regulus.” 

He was drinking up her form obsessively, and then she realized she was wearing his second courting gift, a gold headband that was made of half crescents.  Her hair had been curled under and pinned there, giving her the illusion of short hair.  “You’re beautiful, Lady Stevanya.”

She didn’t answer, but took a step closer to him instead.  “Thank you,” she murmured instead.  “For yesterday—it was the first time I ever cast—Sirius’s magic is so light, he couldn’t, you see—and honor dictated that he punish Lucius—”

“I perfectly understand, Stevanya,” he murmured huskily, coming up to her and pressing his cheek against hers.  “As soon as he was able to stand, I punished him again for his insult against you.”

Stevanya noticed he had just used her name without a title, and this made her smile.  She loved the feel of his cheek against hers.

“I honestly believed it was safe to leave you with him,” he swore.  “He was your cousin’s husband.  He should have been safe.  I always believed him to have a happy marriage.  I’ve come to offer contrition.”

“Contrition?” she whispered. 

“I offer myself for the same punishment—”

She gasped and found herself saying, “Not today.  I’m too tired to even consider what you’re saying and what it means.”  Pulling away, Stevanya looked into his eyes.  “Father once said, that I would be courted for my magic because I’m a Black and I’m unusually intelligent.  Were you sent to court me?  Is that what Lucius was doing?”

“No,” he promised, cupping her cheek.  “I was walking into The Wicked Stepmother, when I saw you and you took my breath away.  I knew Barty and I knew I could make him walk away—and when I realized who you were, I knew you had finally come home, and I was glad I had some small part in it.  Part of me wonders who you were?”

Shaking her head, she whispered, “No, you don’t.  I don’t want to know, and I lived it.  My life was miserable.  Sometimes I wished that Lord Black had asked the pertinent questions that led him to me years earlier.”

“We all have wishes and regrets,” he soothed.  “What matters is that you are here now.  Stevanya, I—”

But they were interrupted.  Father walked in and stated, a little angrily, “Heiress Lucius is here, Stevanya.”  He bowed low to Mal.  “If you will excuse us, this is unfortunately a family matter.”

“I perfectly comprehend,” he stated.  “You will be pleased that I have offered contrition to Lady Stevanya.”

Father stared after him as he walked out of the room, which Stevanya realized had a tea table for four set up in the corner.  Sirius wandered in in Gryffindor colored robes, and came up to Stevanya, kissing her cheek.  He offered his arm, and she took it.  “Shouldn’t you be with your favorite Potter?” she asked.

“He’ll just be drinking more firewhiskey and bemoaning the loss of his beloved Lily.  It’s not like he’s been faithful, even from the beginning.  I think she figured it out—”

Her head wrenched around and she stared at him, before her eyes met their father’s.

Then Narcissa was announced.  Her face was wan but she was a beautiful witch with golden hair and gray eyes.  She was wearing pale blue, almost white, highlighted by sky blue.  “Uncle Orion,” she greeted coming and kissing his cheek.  “Thank you for the invitation.”

“I realize this is a difficult time,” he murmured, taking her hands.  “You remember your cousin Sirius, but this is his twin Stevanya.”

She nodded at each of them.  There was clearly no love lost between them.  They congregated at the tea table and Stevanya served the tea, which turned out to be rose tea.  “Ah, I see Stevanya still serves her mother’s favorite,” Narcissa sneered.

“I thought it brought a sense of tradition,” she lied through her teeth.

“The mother who kidnapped you and then left you to die?” she pointed out to the room.

“She’s still my mother,” Stevanya stated back coldly.  “I think it’s a trivial fact that she liked rose tea.  There’s no reason why we may not also enjoy it.  Must we despise a tea because of her heinous acts?”

Sirius then entered the conversation.  “It reminds me of pleasanter times in childhood.  Oh, Steph, clotted cream and strawberries!  Is this lemon bread?”  Before she had to invent an answer, he had plopped a sandwich in his mouth and looked at her approvingly.

“It seems you have gotten Sirius to come home even if for a little while,” Narcissa breathed, looking at the portrait.  “That is quite a feat.  Did you attend Hogwarts?”

“I did,” she answered carefully, “I don’t talk about the time before I came here.  It’s like a bad dream.”

“Of course,” she agreed in mock sadness.  “How horrible for you to watch the Blacks from far away, wishing you were one of them, only to have your fairytale come true.  How did you meet the Dark Lord?”

Father sucked in a breath.

“I have not had the pleasure,” she replied in clipped tones.

“Really, Narcissa, we’re here to speak about Lucius—”

“No,” she said, putting up her hand, “Uncle Orion, the Dark Lord was there last night.  He helped Cousin Stevanya cast the Cruciatus Curse on my husband—when it was the little kneazle who seduced him.”

Skimming over everything, she stated angrily, “I seduced him?  He grabbed me and kissed me!  Look at his ring!  It punished him and not me!”

“Vined rings are so peculiar,” she waved off.  “Still, you little slut, stay away from my husband!”

“Narcissa,” Father stated, “you will apologize immediately.  The Dark Lord is courting Stevanya—he gave her that headdress!  When you saw him leaving, he was here offering contrition for introducing her to Lucius—”

Stevanya looked over to Sirius in confusion, but he put a hand over hers and shook his head.

“The Dark Lord never offers contrition, especially not to a witch who chases after others’ husbands like a veela in heat!”

“He did to me,” she stated firmly, putting down her cup.  “Or would you like to ask him.—Oh,” she stated calmly.  “I forgot, he has to come to you.  You don’t know when he’s coming.  I can see him whenever I want.  In fact, I think I’m seeing him tomorrow or the next day, but I could change that.”  Of course, it was a little complicated.  She had to contact The Wicked Stepmother with her request, and they would contact Mal, who would then respond.  “And why would I ever want your pathetic husband when I have the Dark Lord?”  Looking to her father for approval, she saw it shining in his eyes.  “If tea is over, Sirius, I think you owe me your company.”

Sirius followed her to her room, and she closed the door behind them, breathing heavily.  “Was that wizard last night, the one who helped me, the Dark Lord?”

“I don’t know,” he answered.  “I’ve never seen the Dark Lord.  Is he—are you?”

“I think you call them ‘courted’ in the wizarding world.”

“By the old gods, Steph, who were you?” he asked her as she sat down and put on some eyeshadow, which she hadn’t had time to do earlier.

“I’m surprised you haven’t recognized me.  I just ask you don’t have your revelation in public, and if people have to be around, that it’s only Father and Regulus.  My life really was a nightmare before.  I don’t want it to come back.”

He put up his hands.  “I won’t ask.  Maybe one day you’ll tell me.”

“Maybe one day you’ll tell me why you aren’t heir anymore,” Stevanya suggested, looking over her shoulder.  “How do you fancy The Wicked Stepmother?  I’ve never been there without Mal—er—the Dark Lord.  You know, he told me to call him ‘Mal’ so I think I just will.”

“You love him,” Sirius realized, his gray eyes catching hers in the mirror.

“Do I?” she murmured.  “I thought it was too soon for that.”

He kissed the side of her head.  “It’s never too soon for that.”

Offering his hand, they swept out of the room, and flooed out to Knockturn Alley.  Stevanya gave her card and they were immediately ushered in and given a table.  “So,” Stevanya began, “you must do something, Sirius.  What do you do?”

He laughed at the question.  “I’m an archivist.”

Stevanya certainly hadn’t been expecting that.  “Do you enjoy it?” 

“Yes, I get to read what I’m archiving, and I’ve always liked the library despite the mishaps I’ve gotten myself into.  Most people don’t really know that about me.  I may be a troublemaker, but every morning you can find me in the library.”

“I never knew, Sirius Black,” she said with a smile.  “I wish you luck in your future endeavors.”

“Of course, Uncle Alphard left me a fortune—” he mentioned, and it was her turn to laugh.  “So I don’t need the galleons.  It’s mainly to get me away from Jamesie.  It’s getting pathetic.  So—” He tapped his naked middle finger.  “I know why I don’t have one of those vined chastity belts, but why don’t you?”

“I’m afraid of getting trapped in a loveless marriage,” she admitted, “and having no way out.”

“Oh, Steph,” Sirius whispered, reaching for her hand, “did your parents arrange a marriage for you before we recovered you?”

The tea came and Sirius poured it for them.  They had decided to get rose tea as their tea time had been cut short at Grimmauld Place and they both wanted more.

“Something like that,” she admitted.  “It was horrible.  He was horrible.  The thought of him made me physically ill.  And there was no way out.  Thank the old gods for Father.  It dissolved the betrothal,” she lied.  “You can’t let them know I told you.  This is one of those secrets that Father is keeping hushed up so that it doesn’t get out and no one’s put it about on the other side.”

“Understood,” Sirius agreed.  “It’s surprising you didn’t have a ring before.”

“I kicked up a fuss?” she suggested.  “No, really, I was lucky.  Who knows what would have happened with the transformation and the betrothal and—”  Her eyes flicked up and she saw Mal standing behind Sirius’s chair, his face blank.  “Hello.  We escaped Cousin Narcissa and her vile accusations that the entire debacle was my fault.  She had some pretty curious ideas about your identity, Mal.  Have you met my brother and twin, Monsieur Sirius Black? Monsieur Marvolo.”

Mal signaled to the waiter who brought another chair and cup.  This time Stevanya poured.

“You’ll be terribly bored.  We’re talking about family and friends.”

He put up a privacy bubble and looked at Stevanya.  “You were betrothed?”

“Are you the Dark Lord?  Is that why Father thinks I’m going to be courted by the Dark Lord’s followers?  Is that what yesterday was?  Is that why everyone calls you ‘my lord’ and bows to you?”

“You first, Lady Stevanya,” he prodded, ignoring Sirius completely, who was watching them both warily.  

“Yes,” she answered crisply.  “That was before.  I was very good at avoiding him.—You, Mal.”

He bowed his head in recognition.  “I would prefer it if you continued to call me ‘Mal’ instead of ‘Dark Lord’ when we are together.  I can see how it could be advantageous to you to call me by my title in all other situations.”

“Mal—” she breathed, “you can’t.”

“He can,” Sirius put in, taking a sip of his tea.  “The Dark Lord is supposed to be as beautiful and as terrifying as an angel.  I’m even jealous of his good looks and he was horrible to watch when you were casting that—spell—last night.”

“Why didn’t you tell me?” she asked Mal desperately.

“Because I loved you,” he answered truthfully, “even from the first.  I don’t expect you to love me yet.  I know you are a young woman with no ambition other than not getting married.  I’m willing to fight through this.—And as to Lucius, I just wanted to teach you dark magic because you are a black card.  I want you to glorify in what Mother Magic gave you.  Do you think, perhaps, you can place your trust in me once again and meet your Cousin Bellatrix?”

“Not without me,” Sirius stated stiffly.  “I won’t say anything or judge, Stevanya, but not after what just happened.  Narcissa is saying you seduced Lucius.  It’s a mess.”

Mal turned to him, repressed anger on his face.  “She—what?”  He paused.  “I will avenge your honor, my lady.”

She nodded.  Turning to her twin, she suggested carefully, “Why don’t you come home to live?  I will make certain that Father welcomes you.  You cannot want to live with Potter.  He’s made his home a shrine to his wife and drinks firewhiskey.”

“It is difficult,” he admitted carefully.

“How long was he cheating on her?” she asked in morbid curiosity.  “You don’t have to answer me.”

“Since before they started dating,” Sirius admitted, glancing at the Dark Lord.  “I’m not sure I can leave him.”

“Even for your sister?” she smiled at him prettily.

“You’re sleeping in my room.”

“I am?  It’s pink!”  She blushed and glanced at the Dark Lord, who was looking mildly amused at the conversation.  “I’m sure there’s another suite—or I can move—”

“I won’t make you move,” he promised, “and I’ll think about it.  Mother’s finally gone, and she was the worst of it.”

Stevanya smiled happily and took another sip of her tea.

She walked out on both wizards’ arms.  The Dark Lord pressed his hand against hers, making her look up to see him smirking down at her. 

About once every week or fortnight, Stevanya would go to The Wicked Stepmother with the Dark Lord.  It seemed he favored the establishment because he was surrounded by dark wizards.  Not realizing it, Stevanya became the most knowledgeable witch concerning the Dark Lord’s military movements.   She knew when campaigns were planned because the couple deviated from their usual schedule.  When there was a sudden rescheduling, it meant that there was a sneak attack or they expected to be attacked themselves. 

It was all in her diary, if the Ministry ever thought to look there.  Of course, they never thought that like many men, the Dark Lord’s weakness would be a woman.

She met Bellatrix with Sirius on a Wednesday afternoon at the Lestrange ancestral home.  “Now,” she greeted, wearing a daring black dress that was cut low but had long sleeves, her wild and curly hair toppled over her head in no particular style, “I have licorne lemonade because I remember how much I liked it when I was at Hogwarts, but” and now she smiled “I added a little something extra as you are both over seventeen.  I thought I’d treat you like adults.”  A tray floated over to them which had tumblers of the cloudy white liquid and a slice of lemon floating on the top.

“Thanks, Bella,” Sirius said a little uncomfortably.  “I don’t believe you’ve met my twin, Lady Stevanya Black.  Steph, this is Madam Bellatrix Lestrange, Cousin Narcissa’s oldest sister.”

“Pleasure,” Bella stated, shaking Stevanya’s hand.  “Do call me ‘Bella.’  Family always does.—Now, my dear, I find it best to let someone else guide the conversation.”  She patted the seat on the couch beside her and Stevanya moved from her chair to sit beside her cousin, looking back at Sirius momentarily.  “Little witch, what do you want to know?”

“I—Muggles and Muggleborns.”

“Well,” she said excitedly.  “Muggles are deformed.”

“Deformed?” she stated in confusion.

“Yes, quite deformed,” she answered casually.  “You see, Cousin Stevanya, they are missing something in their fundamental makeup that would allow them to use magic.”  She was talking with her hands, which fascinated Stevanya, making her look at Bella with wonder.  Sirius was rolling his eyes.

“Now,” Bella stated, turning her head, to look up at a painting over the fireplace for no particular reason, “Muggleborns.  You may think that they suddenly have what is needed for magic, which is partially true.  But because no magic runs through their parents’ veins, they just have the receptors—”

Stevanya suddenly got excited.  “Is this the theory that they steal magic from pureblood and halfblood children?”

Bella clapped happily.  “I see you understand me!”

“Hogwash,” Sirius muttered.

“Not so, Cousin,” Bella stated quite firmly.  “There have been studies in important magical journals.—You’re here as a silent chaperone.”  She turned back to Stevanya.  “What else, Cousin?”

“Why torture and kill them, then?”

“Well, Muggleborns can make magical children into Squibs, injure them, kill them even.  They hurt our children.  It’s in defense and revenge.  When it comes to Muggles, they threaten our way of life.  Muggleborns are like a weapon into our society, and we must stop it.  Never mind that they’re inferior.”

“The Equality argument that Cousin Lucius spoke about—”

Bella reached forward and took her hand.  “I am so sorry, Cousin.  The entire horrible situation was explained to me.  I listened to Narcissa’s mad ravings and they were inconceivable, but the Dark Lord set it all to rights.  How he could do that to you, a young maiden, a girl just out of Hogwarts, his wife’s cousin, a Black is beyond me!  However, it is the Equality argument.”

Glancing over at Sirius, she leaned in to Bellatrix and whispered into her ear, “When I see the Dark Lord, I want to—touch myself.  I wanted to be touched when I held Cousin Lucius under the Cruciatus.”  She bit her lip and leaned back.  “After I got over the exhaustion and shock, I realized this.”

Stevanya took a sip of her licorne lemonade.

Appraising her, Bella carefully said, “You are certainly a black card.  Most people do not react so viscerally to dark magic.”  She leaned forward and whispered, “Sex directly after dark spells is the best.”

Blushing, Stevanya looked at her cousin.  “Really?”

She raised an eyebrow at her and looked aloof.  “Oh, yes.  I’m surprised I don’t have children.  Try”—again, she leaned forward.  “You don’t wear a vined ring.  Try snogging afterward.”

“I can’t,” Stevanya replied.  “He wears one.”

“It’s not cheating if you’re his future wife, is it, cousin dear?”  The two witches pulled back, Stevanya smiling, Bella smirking.  Stevanya picked up her lemonade and took a large drink.

“What have you been talking about?” Sirius inquired innocently, his glass empty.

“Never you mind, Cousin,” Bella stated airily.  “Women have their secrets.”

It was the next time that Stevanya was with the Dark Lord at tea, that she put up a privacy spell.  “Will you take me out to cast an unforgivable?  Bellatrix suggested making love—or at least snogging—afterward.  Apparently, I react very strongly to them and I rather—enjoy—the feeling.”  She flicked her gray eyes up.

He was looking with his impossible blue eyes at her speculatively. 

“Are you proposing marriage, Stevanya?” he finally asked.  “The only way I can ‘snog’ you is if you are my future bride.”  His vined ring caught the light.  “I will not make love to any witch until my wedding night as I hope for a handfasting.”

Stevanya didn’t know what a handfasting was.  She and Potter hadn’t had one.  They married by right of pomegranate.  “I—I hadn’t quite thought of the implications beyond wanting to feel—” she left it unsaid “but yes.  I’m proposing marriage, Mal.  I am making an educated guess that it’s terribly bad form for me to even bring up the subject—”

He offered her a small smile which made him seem slightly more angelic than usual.  “I accept.  When I take you out tonight, I will have the engagement ring for you.”

She blushed and then glanced at him.  “May I tell Father?”

“I will ask his blessing tonight, formally.  Tonight, wear simple pureblood black, put your hair together simply, no ornamentation.  If you have black gloves, wear them.  Boots are best without a heel.  Nine?”

Stevanya nodded.

He arrived punctually and she greeted him by the floo.  Immediately he put a ring on her hand with a jaggedly cut black stone.  “A family piece,” he told her.  “Hundreds of years old.”

“It’s you, Mal,” she told him, taking his hand and bringing him upstairs.

Mal was wearing black jeans and black boots, a black turtleneck and black gloves.  In his hands he held some sort of black material.  Stevanya realized for the first time in months, she was wearing her hair somewhat casually in front of a wizard.  It was down in a ponytail.

“Father,” she greeted as they entered the Tapestry room, bringing Mal in.  “We’re going out.”

“A moment, Lady Stevanya,” Mal asked her, bowing his head slightly to her.  “Lord Black and I have something to discuss.”  She smiled at him, giving him her hand which had his ring, and then walked out of the room.

Sirius found her waiting in front of her mirror, looking at the ring.

He whistled.  “Why is it on your fourth finger?”

“I proposed—to the Dark Lord,” she admitted.  “He said ‘yes’.”

You proposed,” Sirius checked, “to the Dark Lord.  Stef, have you lost your mind?  He’s—well—a murderer!  A good looking and charming murderer—but he still incites murder and torture!”  He flailed his arms about.

“You incite torture,” she reminded him, “or don’t you remember Lucius Malfoy?”

“That was different.  That was not about blood purity, that was about protecting your honor!”  Sirius stood for a minute, taking a deep breath, with his hands on his hips.  “Why would you do it?”

It was as if the world became in focus and she remembered James Potter in stark reality.  “Because I want him to kiss me, and I want him to touch me—until you’re trapped and face the reality that the person kissing you and fucking you is a person who makes you physically sick—then you’ll understand exactly what I’m talking about.”

“There will be others,” Sirius promised, coming up to her and embracing her.  “It doesn’t have to be him.—What if the Ministry finds out about you?”

“I don’t know,” she whispered.  “How am I supposed to know that?”

“You could be living with soldiers, in a tent, always on the fallout lines of a battlefield.  Or you could be waiting in a drafty castle.”

The door opened and Father was there.  “She will be living here with the Dark Lord, who will leave when his campaigns demand it.  Lady Stevanya Gaunt.  Does that please you, Steph?  You’ll be Sacred Twenty-Eight.”

Running from Sirius’s arms into her father’s, she hugged him.  “Thank you, Father.”

“Go.  Your fiancé wants to take you hunting and I expect you home by first light—and able to partake in a handfasting.”

“I don’t know what that means.”

“It’s a marriage ceremony,” he told her.  “You must be pure.”

She nodded and ran out of her father’s arms, down the stairs, and into the Tapestry room.  The Dark Lord was looking up at the sketch of the three siblings.  The painting was coming along.

“Reggie has gone back to Hogwarts,” she stated, coming up to him and taking his arm.  “I thought I would miss him more, but I’ve gotten close to Sirius.  It’s not as if I can only love one brother, but—I can’t explain.”

He looked over at her.  “You’re twins.  You share one soul, divided between the two of you.  It’s amazing that you lived away from each other for so long, that nothing pulled you together.”  He came around behind her and fitted a black mask over her face with a hood to cover her hair and neck. 

“There were forces—a force—pushing us apart,” she admitted, turning and seeing him put on his own mask.

“Remember to cover that ring,” he told her as she put on her gloves.  “We don’t need it being recognized or it being lost, though I never want you to take it off,” he breathed.  They walked out of the back of the house, into the garden, and the Dark Lord put his arms around her before he Apparated them away.

They were on a Muggle street and Stevanya looked up and down it, noticing the identical houses.  “Where are we?”

“Andromeda Black,” he explained, “married the conductor of the Night Bus.  He’s a Muggle-born, completely worthless.  He stole magic from a wizard and couldn’t bother to get more than one Acceptable on his NEWTs.  Now, he is corrupting their daughter.”

“You want—” she breathed.  “Just him?”

Their eyes connected through their masks.

“Just him,” he promised.  “This will give Mrs. Tonks a chance to marry a half-blood or a pureblood and possibly come home.–Ted Tonks is home tonight.”

Taking her hand, he led her toward number thirty-seven where the lights were off upstairs but the ones to the left downstairs were on.

The Dark Lord knelt down to pick the lock, but she put her hand on his shoulder and then leaned down and used a handy little spell that Sirius had taught her earlier that summer.  Silently and without so much as with a click, the door opened, and they quickly went into the hall.

“You take him,” he whispered.

They stormed the room, and they were both instantly bound and gagged.  “I haven’t tried this one,” Stevanya stated and then she whispered, “Avada Kedavra!” at Ted Tonks and with a green light he was dead. 

A shot of pure bliss went through her and she began to pulse between her legs.  She began to sweat slightly and she pulled the Dark Lord into the hall, taking off his mask and kissing him, her lips slightly open, gasping.  He ran his hands down her arms as he kissed her back before whispering, “Not here.  It’s dangerous.”  He picked up his mask, and went back to the den.

“Go back to the Blacks,” he told Andromeda.  “They may accept your daughter.  You’re free now.”  He then exited and pulled Stevanya with him into the back garden.  Shooting the Dark Mark into the sky, he then Apparated them away to a garden she didn’t recognize.

It was a rush after that.  They were throwing the masks away, his hands were in her hair, and his lips were on hers.  She felt alive and that pulse ran through her body, begging to be satisfied, but she knew this was all she was allowed to have.  And it was enough, she told herself it was enough as his tongue fought with hers for supremacy. 

Sirius had basically moved back in without having told anyone.  He was redoing a suite for himself, a deep red color, which reminded Stevanya too much of the Gryffindor Common Room.

“Did you hear?” Sirius said, coming into the Tapestry room with an apple.  “Cousin Andromeda’s husband has been murdered by Death Eaters.”

Stevanya just looked at him.

“It was the night that you and the Dark Lord went out in black—and there were two of them!  A woman and a man!  What have you done, Stevanya?”

“Snogged the Dark Lord,” she admitted.  “I really suggest it, Sirius, then again I think you snogged every witch above fourth year in Gryffindor Tower except the lovely Lily Evans.  She was taken.”

His face paled.  “I haven’t snogged you, have I?”

“No!” she answered.  “Please give me some credit.  I would never—no!”  Stevanya shivered.  “And you’re now my twin.  I’m hoping we would have realized it was seriously weird.”

“You have a point,” Sirius agreed.  “So were you watching me?”  He waggled his eyebrows.

“We’re the same year, Sirius.  I was aware of you and when you snog my oldest friend, I tend to notice.”  She paused.  “Actually, you didn’t snog my oldest friend.  I would have paid to see that!”  She thought of Sirius and Severus and began to giggle uncontrollably.  “You and S—”  Stevanya caught herself.  “You and a Slytherin!”

He looked affronted.  “There are some pretty foxy Slytherins, yourself included.”

She didn’t correct him that she wasn’t a Slytherin.  Instead, she nodded her head in thanks.  All Blacks in recorded history were in Slytherin—except for Sirius (and, well, her).

“What’s Cousin Andromeda going to do now that she’s a widow?”

“That’s the thing—she’s gone back to Leigh Place with her half-blood daughter, and they’ve accepted her back!  You, sister, did something impossible when you and the Dark Lord went out to snog.”

“He’s in love with me and, as Dumbledore says, love is the most powerful magic of them all,” she laughed.

Sirius paused.  “How did you know Dumbledore said that?”

“What?” she questioned.

“He said it to the Gryffindors just before we graduated.  We were the last ones to go on stage.”  He came towards her and looked into her face, his gray eyes searching hers.  “Lily?”

“Don’t say that name!” she demanded as she stood up and walked away from him.  “Lily Potter is dead.”

“Lily Potter has a grieving husband!”

“Lily Potter never had a husband because the marriage was never consummated,” she argued back.  “And James Potter was a cheating son-of-a-bitch.  None of you can even recognize me without the ginger hair and those green eyes!”

“What did Mother do to you?—you’re nothing like Evans!” Sirius asked in horror.

Stevanya deflated.  “She left me with Muggles who hated me.  My own sister called me a ‘freak’ and ‘unnatural.’  It was horrible, Sirius.”

“No wonder they didn’t come to the wedding.”

“There never was a wedding,” Stevanya insisted, “because there was never a marriage.”  Pausing, she bit her lip and walked back and forth.  “I know you’re best mates with Potter—more than with the other two—but you can’t tell him.  He hounded me for three years before I went with him, and I only did that for a little peace—and then he still wouldn’t leave me alone!  I married him because he hounded me so much I thought that if I were his wife, he’d get sick of me.”

Sirius looked stricken.  “It was only a bit of fun.”

“I considered castrating him!” she screamed.  “That’s how much James Potter revolts me!”  Stevanya shivered.  “Get out.  I can’t bear to see you look at me.”

“Steph,” he begged, walking up to her carefully and then hugging her even though she was stiff in his arms.  “You’re not Evans.  I can’t—put you together in my head.  You’re my sister.  You’re my dark magic loving twin.  It’s scary.  What spell made you snog the Dark Lord?”

She sniffled.  “What are you talking about?”

“Secret spell.  I may have heard everything you and Bella were whispering to each other.”  His bark-like laugh filled the room.

Her cheeks reddened in embarrassment.  “The darkest of them all.”

Sirius stilled.  “So you only have the Imperius left?”  His voice was a bit strained.

“Don’t ask questions you don’t want to know the answers to.”  She snuggled against him.  “I won’t perform a prank for you, especially against Severus.”

“We need truth serum for that.”

Stevanya pulled away and looked up at that.  “What?”

“I want to know exactly what he thought of my twin sister,” Sirius stated, “and then have you take it out on him.”

“Should be easy enough to get,” she mused.  “Mal.”  He nodded in response.  “I know where Severus lives so if he went back there for the summer, then that’s easy.  My beloved family are there, but—do you think we should bring Bella?  Make it a family affair?”

“She doesn’t know who you were.”

“Well, that’s the reason we’re not bringing the Dark Lord.”

“Two person operation.  Why don’t we let him see our faces and put that horrible sign in the sky so he thinks that your fiancé is behind it all?”

“Okay,” she agreed.  “Now, to get the truth serum.”

It was easy enough to convince the Dark Lord.  A whispered word about revenge and how it was strangely Sirius’s idea, and he was slipping it to her three weeks later.

Next, they stalked his house.  It was on Spinner’s End in Milltown.  Sirius took this as an opportunity to spy on the Evans family, who lived in a far more affluent neighborhood and most specifically Petunia, who was planning her own wedding.

Severus was only home after five o’clock and was the assistant to some mid-level potioneer.  Stevanya was the one who lured his Muggle father out of the house with cheap alcohol and then put her first imperius on him, telling him to just drink more and more, even if his money ran out.  Mrs. Snape was more difficult.  She had no friends and no hobbies, so Stevanya sent her on a long walk that was going to take approximately three hours.  The Imperius curse made her heady and wanting.  She could feel her juices slick her thighs but she was here for another purpose, who would arrive in about ten minutes.

“Mother!” Severus called, and Stevanya answered, “In here!” from the living room.

She and Sirius looked at each other.  He was leaning against the mantle, right opposite the door, while she was hidden in the chair.  As soon as the door opened, Sirius flicked his wand and slammed closed behind Severus.  Severus began to chant something Stevanya didn’t know, but Sirius disarmed him quickly.

Clapping slowly, Stevanya got up from her chair and looked at Severus Snape for the first time in months.  His hair had grown out a bit, but was still greasy and his nose was just as hooked.

“Sev,” she greeted, using the childhood nickname even though he couldn’t recognize her.  “How was your day?”

“Forgive me, madam, but we haven’t—”  His voice was a bit of a sneer, but she just cut him off.

“Been introduced?  No.  I’m Sirius’s twin sister and Regulus’s older sibling.  Stevanya.  I hear you know someone named Lily Potter.  She lived just a few blocks down.”

He froze immediately at the name and Stevanya motioned to Sirius who whispered, “Incarcerus.”  Immediately, it was as if Severus had been put in a full body bind and he fell to the floor—hard.

“My mother!” he declared.

“Is out,” she supplied.  “No need to worry her.”

Sirius was now levitating him to sit in the chair.  It took a few moments to force the potion down his throat, but it was easy to see it take effect.  Severus’s skin glistened, his head drooped, and his eyes fluttered nearly shut.

Crouching down, Sirius asked, “What is your name?”

“Severus Tobias Snape,” he intoned.

“What do I call you?”


Sirius almost began to laugh at the seriousness Severus gave his answer but Stevanya slapped his shoulder.

“Severus,” she said.  “Tell us about your relationship with Lily Evans Potter.”

“I love her,” he admitted.  “I’m in love with her.”

“I knew it!” Sirius declared.  “I always knew he was in love with her.  With hair that greasy he could never go after her, but he could still look.”

Stevanya, however, wasn’t quite paying attention.  “Is that why you never had a girlfriend?”

“Why would I want anyone but her?”

The twins looked at each other.

After a moment, Sirius asked, “Tell us about Lily and James Potter.”

“He wanted to possess her.  He never loved her.  She only went out with him because he was a Quidditch star and she gave into popular culture.  Lily pretended to hate him just to make herself more desirable.”

She wanted to slap him.  She didn’t realize her hand was raised, until Sirius grabbed it.  “To be fair, that’s what we all thought happened.”

“Did you ever blame yourself for throwing her at James Potter?” Stevanya snarled.


“So the ‘Mudblood’ incident did nothing to help the romance.”

“I had already lost,” Severus intoned.  “It wouldn’t have mattered what I’d done then.  Even if it hastened it up a bit and she cried on his shoulder and he seduced her into his bed, it would have happened within the year anyway.”

This time, Stevanya really did slap him.  Without even thinking about it, she pulled out her wand and screamed, “Crucio!” delighting in his screams and the fact that his head bobbed back and forth as he was still incarcerated with magic.

“Stevanya, stop!” Sirius cried when she had been laughing like a fool for nearly a minute.  “Stevanya!”

Coming out of herself, laughter still ringing in her ears, she put down the wand and felt a sense of euphoria move through her.  By the old gods, she might have to fuck herself on her fingers tonight.  There was nothing else to be done.

Sirius rushed them out the door and she lit the sky alight with a green skull before the twins Apparated away.

“I’m going to kill him,” Stevanya stated plainly as they walked up to the Tapestry room.  “For saying all those horrible and untrue things.  He got off lightly.”  Sirius was right behind her and they turned into the room to see James Potter waiting for them.

“There you are!” he declared, coming up and hugging his best friend.  “You’ve been missing for weeks!”

“I’ve been with my sister, Stevanya,” he explained.  “I told you that we found her.”

“You told me she was dead our first year.”  He looked at her with hazel eyes in horn rimmed glasses.  His hair wasn’t as tosseled as it normally was, fortunately, but then again he might still be grieving his marriage. 

Sirius looked over at Stevanya.  “She never died.  She was just—lost.  And now we’ve got her back again.”

“Well, if you’re Sirius’s twin, you must be all right, then,” Potter decided.  “Come for a drink with me.”

She looked at him in shock and then glanced over at Sirius.  “Forgive me if I decline.  I’m engaged.”  Glancing back at Sirius one more time, she turned around and left the room.  She could not abide James Potter, even when she was no longer Lily Evans.

“Did you find what you were looking for?” the Dark Lord asked when they sat on the porch of a Muggle House where they had killed everyone inside—including a bride-to-be named Petunia.  “Who are these people anyway?”

“Oh, I heard that girl talking in a shop about how she was going to have a perfect wedding and I thought that I couldn’t allow that.  Mine was going to be perfect instead.”

He laughed at her and whispered, “I don’t believe you.”

“Women have their secrets,” she whispered—and he leaned down and kissed her.


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