Part of the Willow Series
Title: The Basilisk Speaker
Summary: “Who said anything about having a mother?” the goblin said, turning. Now, no matter what, the doubt was there.
Warnings: rule 63, chan (17/12), forced marriage, mentions of homosexual relationships, veiled lemons
“It was a very proper wedding. The bride was elegantly dressed; the two bridesmaids were duly inferior; her father gave her away; her mother stood with salts in her hand, expecting to be agitated; her aunt tried to cry.” Jane Austen, Mansfield Park
Hestia Potter never hated her name so much as she did right that second as she stood there, speechless, in a private room in Gringotts, staring at a marriage contract. A small goblin, well, at least by goblin standards, stood behind an ornate desk, pointedly not looking at her. If it weren’t for the grandness of the room, Hestia would suppose the creature to be rather young because of his stature and his lack of facial hair, but it seemed she was mistaken in this as she was in almost everything else.
She scratched behind her ear rather nervously, knowing that the ebony curls were probably getting messed up, but she really didn’t care at this point. Mrs. Weasley could fuss all she wanted once Hestia came out of that room, and Hestia wasn’t entirely certain she wanted to come out of this room.
For some reason her mind went to all of those magazines Aunt Petunia had of Princess Di’s wedding. Hestia hoped her dress would be a bit less poufy.
“Are you sure this is right?” she whispered, her voice quivering. “It says a pureblood born between the years…” Hestia couldn’t quite get herself to finish the sentence. It was all just too horrible.
“A pureblood Potter, yes,” the goblin responded not looking up.
“My mother was a Muggle-born.” It was rather obvious. Aunt Petunia was a Muggle and, well, that was that. This sheet of paper had nothing to do with her.
“Who said anything about having a mother?” the goblin inquired and Hestia swallowed heavily.
“Beg pardon?” Her voice was now a hoarse croaking sound. No one would want to marry her, Girl Who Lived or not.
The goblin looked at her over whatever he was reading. “You’re a pureblood, Miss Potter. The contract applies to you.”
“But—but it suggests I marry some bloke this year!” she protested. “I’m just twelve!”
“You’re of marriageable age.” The goblin’s tones were clipped and Hestia wanted to wring its throat.
Hestia’s heart sank. Of course she was of marriageable age. She’d heard Mrs. Weasley go on about Ginny being of age the following August. “You must make a good impression, dear,” she had instructed, looking between Ginny and Hestia. “You must get plenty of offers even if you don’t mean to accept them. A witch must seem desirable, like Hestia here. Think of all the owls she’ll be getting.”
Plenty of offers. Hestia had already begun to receive strange owls, but she supposed it didn’t matter now. She was supposedly a pureblood and was to be married to one Marcus Flint.
“Is he the one at Hogwarts?” she questioned, sitting down wearily in the armchair that she had ignored up until that point.
“Lord Flint is beginning his final year,” the goblin responded, looking up at her with large blue eyes. Hestia, for whatever reason, had assumed they were brown. “Are you acquainted?”
On the Quidditch field. “No, not really.”
“Well, Miss Potter, it was not his place before you were aware.”
“Before I was aware—“ she echoed to no one in particular. “Right. Of course.”
The goblin looked satisfied. “I’m glad you’re taking this so well.”
Hestia laughed bitterly. “Do I have any choice?” she asked him.
He blinked at her. That would be a no, then.
“What happens next?” She started listing things off in her mind. Tell Mrs. Weasley. Wait it out as Ron yells and shouts a bit. Endure Ginny and her questions at night while Hermione tried to reason everything out. Buy wedding clothes, whatever that meant, and escape to Australia. Perhaps that should be first. Escape to Australia as a Muggle. She could change her name to Harriet and have everyone call her Harry or something. Having no guardian might be a bit of a problem, though.
The sound of a door closing made her turn and she saw Marcus Flint, all five feet eleven inches of him, standing in the doorway. He had coarse black hair, shifty grey eyes, and large teeth. Something about him made Hestia think he had troll blood in him. Directly behind him was a willowy witch with similar eyes but with brown hair.
“Ah, I see you’ve told Miss Potter, Gamble,” the elegant woman said. She was dressed in grey robes that perfectly matched her eyes. They were embroidered in blue and showed vines that appeared to be eating each other.
Hestia shivered. After her encounter with Devil’s Snare she knew there must be some sort of magical plant that would eat itself. There just had to be.
“I’m not a pureblood,” Hestia piped up, remembering the clause that had jumped out at her. She wasn’t even sure how her father had signed such a horrible document, but somehow he had.
“Of course you are,” the lady responded, though she didn’t seem entirely certain herself. “You’re here, aren’t you?”
“I was kidnapped.”
Flint smiled to himself. “I did see a gaggle of Weasleys looking particularly upset in the lobby.”
The lady sniffed. “Yes, brother. I had noticed but I had thought not to comment. I’m certain Gamble doesn’t need reminding that the bank has such clients.”
Hestia was immediately angry. She sat up a little straighter and looked at Flint’s sister. “The Weasleys are my friends.”
“Oh,” she responded in mock-innocence. “I do beg your pardon. Perhaps someone should send them home. You won’t be leaving this room until you’re Lady Flint.”
“What!” Hestia squawked. “I barely know him.”
“That’s hardly his fault,” the lady responded. “If you’d been remotely cunning and been sorted into Slytherin—“
“Junia,” Flint interrupted, speaking for the first time, “that really is enough.” His voice was like dark chocolate and Hestia couldn’t help but shiver. His grey eyes were focused entirely on Hestia. “I apologize for my sister and for the suddenness of our nuptials.”
“I—“ Hestia began, but the fight went completely went out of her as she stared into his eyes. She looked over to Gamble who seemed entirely too amused. “This is binding and legal?”
Gamble sat up a little straighter. “Entirely, Madam. You can wait a week or so, but you are without a guardian and the marriage to one in his majority would give you just that, so it is preferable to do it sooner rather than later.”
Hestia wasn’t certain why she wasn’t hyperventilating. She really should be. Then again, she’d faced a three-headed dog. “I’m not dressed.”
“No, you’re not,” Junia remarked.
“Out,” Flint instructed, staring down his sister. “You are disrespecting the future Lady Flint, Mrs. Crabbe.” The two siblings stared at each other before Junia stood and exited from the door.
“Just thought you’d like a relative present,” she murmured by way of farewell. Her robes swished and then the door was closed once again. It reminded Hestia as to how underdressed she really was.
She glanced down at her jeans and purple t-shirt, and pushed her unruly curls behind her ears. Her nails, she noted, were bitten and dirty. “Perhaps we should do this later when I can wear something or borrow one of Ginny’s dresses.” Even Flint was dressed in dark red robes, the cape coming to his knees. He looked rather dashing and Hestia half expected him to have a sword.
“It’s not necessary,” Flint assured, stepping toward her.
“How did you even know to come?” she wondered out loud.
Flint actually smiled at her. “Gamble was kind enough to have another goblin Floo us. We knew you’d be informed this summer and I wished to be here when you found out.”
Hestia’s stomach sank and she took a step back. “Didn’t want me to do a runner?”
“Didn’t want you to be frightened by the unknown. I’m more than the Slytherin Quidditch Captain.” He took her hand gently in his and raised it to just below his lips.
“Well, you’re Lord Flint apparently, whatever that means,” Hestia griped. Flint hadn’t let go of her hand yet and she felt a little—startled—by it all.
“It means we’re very wealthy and you’re one of the most powerful women in the realm.”
Well, that wasn’t starkly honest at all. “I thought I already was as the Girl Who Lived.”
“You have notoriety and fame. There’s a difference.”
“I still say I’m not a pureblood.” She wasn’t going down without a fight. Never. She was Hestia Lily Potter after all.
“The goblins say you are,” Flint countered, “and you are if I say you are as far as society is concerned.”
“Your own sister didn’t believe it.”
“Junia never likes losing,” he growled, before hooking his arm around her waist and bringing his lips down to hers. It was magical. The soft feel of lips on lips, the pressure, the feeling of feeling warm and safe and wanted. There was no pressure for her to do anything else, but she moaned a little and brought her arms up to the back of his neck.
It was a truly wondrous first kiss. Somehow, Hestia knew that this marriage was more than just a piece of paper to Flint.
“Do you swear by the agreed contract, Lord Flint?” Gamble’s voice floated into Hestia’s consciousness, and she caught her breath when Flint ground out a “yes.”
“Miss Potter?” he asked while she was being kissed again. His hands had found their way into her hair and she was now gripping his shoulders. He pulled away from her and she made a sound of disappointment in the back of her throat.
“Oh, what?” she asked, eyes glazed as she looked at Gamble.
“Do you, Miss Potter?” Gamble was actually smirking at her. She wondered why.
“I’m sure I do,” she responded, and then Flint was kissing her again. She barely noticed when he slipped a ring onto the fourth finger of her left hand or when he urged her to do the same to him. Hestia felt wanted, loved, and when they finally pulled away, she couldn’t help but blush. Had she really just let him kiss her and kissed him back?
“None of that,” Flint whispered huskily. He placed a finger under her chin, lifted it, and then kissed her lips. “Do you like it?”
“Do I like what?” she asked stupidly.
He showed Hestia her left hand and she stared at the beautiful platinum ring, covered in white and black diamonds, on her finger. “Is that…?”
“Yes, it’s your wedding ring.” He looked at her indulgently.
Hestia blinked at him. “We’re married?”
“Shouldn’t there be vows?” she asked, glancing between Gamble and Flint. Marcus. She supposed she should call him “Marcus” now.
“There were, Lady Flint,” Gamble answered. He held up a certificate that was pulsing in silver and gold. “This proves your marriage and will be placed in the Flint vault.”
“What of mine?” Hestia asked worriedly.
“It is yours to do with as you will,” Marcus answered. “I will, naturally, pay for your schooling and clothing. You will have everything you desire.”
“Oh,” she murmured as she was ushered out of the room, the goblin still smirking at her. “What about the Weasleys?”
“Never you mind,” was all that Marcus would say. He led her out into the lobby where they were immediately greeted by Junia. She glanced at their joint hands.
“I see that it is done then, little brother.”
Marcus smirked at her. “Did you have any doubt, Junia?”
She sighed. “None whatsoever. Careful,” she said, turning to look over her shoulder, “the Weasleys are coming.”
“Take Lady Flint to The White Witch for our lunch reservation, if you will,” he said to his sister, before releasing his grasp on Hestia’s hand.
“I’ll be right behind you,” he murmured, kissing the top of her head. “And the name is Marcus.”
“I knew that,” Hestia remarked to Junia as they walked out of the bank. Hestia could just see Mrs. Weasley begin to berate Marcus and Ron looking after her in confusion. Hermione was standing apart from the group, her eyes careful but ever watchful.
“So,” Junia asked, as they walked down the steps of the bank. “How was the wedding?”
“I suppose there may be a hundred different ways of being in love.” Jane Austen, Emma
“It’s not the master bedroom,” Marcus said by way of apology. A house elf named Georgino of all things had brought all of Hestia’s shopping bags into a spacious room with a four poster bed mashed into one corner. It was larger than both of Dudley’s bedrooms combined!
Hestia twirled about in her new purple robes. “This is fine and I think I’m a bit too young for the master bedroom.” Marcus’s kisses were all well and good, but she really mustn’t get ahead of herself.
“Too young for me as well.”
She paused, glancing at her husband of mere hours before looking about the room. There was his Quidditch jersey at the back of the chair. She could see his books piled up on the desk. “Oh!” she squeaked.
Georgino made a timely entrance then. “There’s a house elf,” he declared, “he says is mistress’s friend is.”
Marcus didn’t look the least bit startled. However, Hestia’s eyes went wide.
“Is his name Dobby?”
“He’s a menace!” Hestia declared, visibly shuddering. “He doesn’t want me to go back to Hogwarts and smashed one of Aunt Petunia’s cakes just to get his point across.”
Marcus’s head snapped toward her. “Don’t allow this creature in the wards,” he commanded before taking Hestia into his arms and drawing her close. “We don’t talk about Muggles here.”
Hestia was shocked by the non sequitor. She had felt grateful one minute and now felt put out the next. “She’s my aunt.”
He had the audacity to laugh. “She’s a Muggle. She’s not your aunt.”
“She raised me.”
“Not very happily.”
“How do you possibly…?”
“I have eyes,” and he kissed her, soft and sweetly. He swept her off her feet and carried her to the bed . . . where nothing happened. They did, however, continue the argument.
Hestia, honestly, didn’t know why she was defending Petunia. The woman had kept her locked in a cupboard for far too many years, made her a great cook through slave labor, turned a blind eye when she became fast and quick because of “Harry Hunting” (no one much cared to say Hestia outside of Hogwarts), and forced her to wear her disgusting cousin’s castoffs. She’d never even had a doll growing up!
Mentioning that last fact about her life to Marcus had only made things worse. He had blinked at her for two minutes, called for a house elf, and half an hour later she had a beautiful porcelain doll with ginger curls and wide blue eyes.
Hestia had just stared at her. “What’s her name?”
“Sabrina,” Marcus supplied somewhat helpfully.
“Her dress looks like it’s made out of water.”
“I understand she’s a nymph.”
There was a long pause between them. “What exactly do you do with a doll?” Hestia asked, truly perplexed.
“Your ‘Muggle Aunt’ should have taught you,” Marcus responded gruffly. Not that again.
“She is my aunt!”
“If she were your aunt, you wouldn’t be a pureblood,” Marcus pointed out calmly. “And according to the contract—“
“I’m a pureblood,” Hestia sighed, sinking into the pillows and holding Sabrina to her. “Mum wasn’t my mum.” The words sounded wrong on her lips. She thought for several long moments. “Wait! Wouldn’t it be a problem if James Potter was my dad and his wife wasn’t my mum?”
She looked up at Marcus curiously, realizing that while his face wasn’t handsome, it certainly was striking. No wonder she liked kissing him so much.
“Only if his wife was a pureblood,” Marcus answered, startling her.
“It’s not really cheating otherwise,” Marcus explained carefully, watching her every move.
Hestia blinked at him several times. It seemed like marriage meant something else depending on blood status in the wizarding world. It was all rather confusing. “Wouldn’t it be odd that the Potters had a child when Mum wasn’t pregnant?” There was no way she’d stop calling Lily her mother. Her name was Hestia Lily Potter after all.
“Weren’t they on the run?”
That was a terribly sobering truth.
Marcus looked over her in her purple robes, clutching at the only doll she’d ever possessed. “There is always something else to consider. James Potter may have been your guardian. You may not actually be a Potter after all.”
“I what?” Hestia screeched, jumping up from the pillows but still grasping Sabrina tightly. “You can’t just say such things.”
Marcus looked at her for a long moment. “You are my wife. If I can’t be honest with you, I can’t be honest with anyone.” Hestia took it back. Marcus wasn’t striking. It was the troll’s blood he undoubtedly possessed somewhere far, far back in his bloodline.
“Everyone says I look like my father,” Hestia defended. “Even Snape and he hates me.”
“He doesn’t hate you,” Marcus refuted. “He’s constantly telling Malfoy that he’s going to have to battle out the second place in Potions with you because neither of you seem to have a hope of beating out Granger. Oh, and you should hear what he says about Quidditch.”
Hestia blinked in shock. “I-I’m n-not sure I want to,” she admitted quietly, taken somewhat aback.
“Anyway,” Marcus began. “You and Potter both have black hair but that’s it. His seemed to be messy, yours is a mass of curls and slightly darker. You don’t have the eyes of any Potter portrait I’ve come across—and I’ve seen quite a few—“
“How?” Hestia tried to interrupt, but Marcus was on a roll.
“Your eyes, instead, are a deep brown that are almost tinged with red.”
Hestia squawked for the second time that day. Marcus had actually noticed her eyes? She had always found them strange, but tried not to think about them. They reminded her a little too much of Lord Voldemort’s red eyes staring at her from the back of Quirrel’s head! Really, it was not the best of associations. At all. And now her husband had gone and noticed it.
“What do my eyes have to do with anything?”
“Nothing,” Marcus mused. “Everything.”
That night Hestia was surprised to learn that Marcus actually knew how to brush and braid hair. They were both in their jammies. It was oddly domestic what with Hestia still holding her doll and Marcus Flint, the frightening Captain of the Slytherin team, brushing her hair of all things. Dinner had been beans on toast and then marshmallows they’d toasted in Marcus’ Floo. Fortunately, no one had tried to come through it. And as Hestia settled into Marcus’ arms for the night, she had never felt so safe before in her life, and she wondered what that said about her.
The next day, Hestia realized exactly how possessive Marcus was.
“If they won’t send your belongings by owl, we’ll take them to court. Who are the Weasleys to defy the Noble and Ancient House of Flint?” His overly large teeth were scraping together and rather prominent, making Hestia wonder how Marcus hadn’t actually bitten her during one of their snogging sessions.
They were in the Mistress’s study and Hestia was wearing a house robe—this one what was supposedly a fashionable combination of pale blue and jet black. If it had been white instead of blue, the robes would have reminded Hestia of a tuxedo or a mime. She had been sitting, writing notes to her friends, when old Hermes arrived insisting that she meet with the Weasleys and Dumbledore at which point she would receive her trunk.
“It seems to be Dumbledore, too,” she pointed out.
“He’s a half-blood who won’t take pride in the fact that his father tortured three Muggles. I don’t care if he’s our Headmaster or sits as Head of the Wizengamot.”
Hestia blinked. “I just—what?”
Marcus stopped his pacing. “Of course, you don’t know. You were left with Muggles.” He came over and kneeled in front of her, taking her hands in his much larger ones. “Hestia, dearest, you should not have to associate with such people.”
She looked at him in confusion. “Such people.”
“Blood traitors, half-bloods. I don’t even want to share you even with purebloods at this point. I’ve already received owls from acquaintances at school wishing for an introduction.”
Hestia could only focus on the second half of what he said. “Wait, what? How would they find out?”
Marcus released her hands and went over to a plush, lavender chair he’d been sitting on. The Daily Prophet was resting on the seat next to a cooling cup of Earl Grey tea. He placed it gently in front of her. There, emblazoned, was an announcement of their marriage and a picture of the two of them coming out of a robes shop, looking every inch the pureblood couple.
“It says we were married under Lex Puritium.”
“The Law of Purity—it means we’re purebloods,” Marcus explained.
Hestia sighed and sat back. “I’m not a pureblood,” she said without any great feeling.
“Of course you are.” He kissed her head. “You may say it for the rest of our lives, even in company, but I’ll still refute it.”
“I feel so loved.”
Marcus looked at her, hard, but said nothing to it. “I’ll answer that ridiculous request.”
Hestia held on to the letter even though he extended his hand for it. “I want my Nimbus back.”
“I have a spare one in the shed,” he countered.
“I doubt you have a spare photograph album of my parents, do you?” she quipped.
His face softened just a little. “We’ve been over this.”
“To our knowledge I am still a Potter,” but then it didn’t matter anymore, because he was kissing her gently, sweetly and she was lost in his embrace. She wondered how this could feel so delicious and wondered if she must be wicked. Aunt Petunia would certainly think so.
“Stop thinking,” Marcus commanded, and she did just that, until he snatched the letter out of her hand.
“Marcus!” she exclaimed, pulling away from the kiss. “They’re my friends.”
“They are Miss Potter’s friends. You are Lady Flint.” He sat down at her desk and took a piece of stationary.
“For less than a day!”
“Things change. The Muggles say the earth moves; so does time.”
The Muggles say the earth moves? What was he talking about? How was Hestia actually married to this man? Oh, right. The marriage contract.
Unfortunately, the next day Marcus had invited over a Miss Daphne Greengrass. “She’s in your year,” was all he said by explanation when Hestia could only stare at him. Yes, Greengrass was in her year, but they’d never exchanged a word.
Somehow, now, Hestia was having tea with this girl, who had golden waves twisted at the bottom of her skull. She was elegant and beautiful. Hestia felt a little jealous, as if she were an ugly duckling next to the most beautiful swan. Marcus at least didn’t seem to think so.
“Lady Flint,” Greengrass began, “it is a pleasure to make your acquaintance.”
“No, it’s fine,” Hestia deadpanned. “Nice to meet you, too.”
Georgino poured the tea. There was silence until Greengrass said, “I’ve always been curious about your name.”
“I’ve never really thought about it,” Hestia admitted. “It’s just—so unlike my mum and dad. Hagrid said they always called me ‘Harry.’ Mum anyway.”
“’Harry’ seems an odd pet name.”
Hestia could only agree.
Greengrass carefully took a sip of her tea. “You know, Hestia is the Greek goddess of the Hearth and Hospitality. Vesta in the Latin. It’s a very wizarding name—“
Hestia set down her cup. “You’re suggesting my father didn’t have a wizarding name.”
“James is rather Muggle, although carried by several kings.”
The problem, of course, was that Greengrass was right. James was a terribly English name. Wizard names were Latin, Greek, or occasionally floral. Her Muggleborn mother had more of a wizarding name than her father. The haunting words of Gamble came back to Hestia… Who said anything about having a mother?
Hestia had heard of such cases, of course, where two wizards if they were powerful enough could produce a child. Or of a single witch or wizard having enough sheer power to conceive a wizard of their own. She couldn’t see her mother standing for it, though, at all. Still, the doubt was there.
The doubt was now there.
“After abusing you so abominably to your face, I could have no scruple in abusing you to all your relations.” Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice
“You’re supposed to get marriage offers, not get married,” were the first words out of Ron’s mouth when Hestia finally saw her friends again. Marcus had been rather stringent.
Hestia had just opened her carriage, holding Sabrina, “They’re all the rage,” Davis had gushed. “You’re no one if you don’t have a Gisela original. And you actually have Sabrina!”
Trust Georgino to purchase her a status symbol. Witches had been oohing at her all down the Express.
“Well, ‘Hello’ to you, too. Ah,” she said, looking up. “There’s my trunk.”
“We couldn’t hold onto it much longer,” Ron conceded. “But really, married?” His face had gone an unattractive shade of red.
“There was a contract,” Hestia answered breezily, rearranging her robes as she sat down. Hermione was scribbling down in a corner and glanced up.
“Flint actually let you wear red and gold?” She sounded mildly disapproving.
Hestia bristled at the accusation. “He’s not a gaol keep, Hermione.”
“Then why haven’t we seen you?” Ron asked.
Hestia doubted he would care for the answer. Greengrass and then her little sister and then finally Parkinson and Davis were allowed because of the Slytherin Connection. Marcus had seen the errors of his ways and had wanted her to belong to the right set. “As long as you don’t go swooning over Malfoy—“ he warned.
“What? Like Parkinson?” She’d kissed him for his jealousy.
She wasn’t, however, going to kiss Ron for his. “The letter told rather than asked,” she finally said. “One really doesn’t tell Lord Flint to do anything.”
Ron purpled with rage.
“Or Lady Flint, I gather,” Hermione observed. She had always been a little too smart.
“You’re not Lady Flint,” Ron said rather stubbornly.
“I am and have been for over a month.”
“So, what, all the professors are going to call you ‘Flint’ now?” Ron queried.
Hestia was stumped. She really hadn’t thought about it before. Why would she? She just had adoring witches and wizards fawning all over her. A wizard—who she thought was named Zabini—had actually bowed to her, lifted her hand to just beneath his lips before stating how charmed he was to formally make her acquaintance and he hoped to see her in the Slytherin carriages. Marcus rather expected her to put in an appearance as well.
She hadn’t realized she’d been daydreaming until Hermione answered for her. “Of course they will. Hesty is not the first to get married.”
“Hermione,” Hestia nearly whined, bringing Sabrina up to her chest, “you know how much I hate—“
“Yes, yes,” she said dismissively.
“What if we start calling you ‘Hermy’?”
Ron barked out a laugh. “Hermy. Hermy, Hermy, Hermy. I really like it. Thanks, Hestia.”
She grinned at him. “Any time, Ron.”
Hermione had crossed her arms over her chest, which Hestia noticed was starting to develop. Hers, naturally, was completely flat. She had to remind herself that she was just twelve, while Hermione was nearly thirteen. “That really was uncalled for.”
“Your nickname for me is rather unnecessary. I mean, really. We’re only going to see each other in classes. When else are we going to resolve this sort of problem?”
Hermione blinked at Hestia several times. “We’re dorm mates.”
She wiggled the fingers of her left hand at her. “Married, remember?”
“Tell me he doesn’t—“ Hermione began, but Hestia had no idea what she was going on about.
Ron’s ears had gone red again. He was muttering under his breath. “Should have submitted my proposal earlier and none of this would have happened.”
“—He does, doesn’t he?” Hermione asked in horror.
“Does what?” Hestia asked, genuinely perplexed.
“Sleep with you.” Hermione ground out the words as if they were the most painful she would ever say. Hestia didn’t know why she was getting so worked up about it.
“Of course. Isn’t that normal?”
She looked between her friends. It was, naturally, Hermione who answered. “Not when you’re twelve.”
“I don’t see why. You’re just sleeping.”
Hermione looked at her pityingly. “You really see nothing wrong with it at all, do you?”
Hestia looked at her friend hard. She felt like they were talking about two completely separate things. “Hermione,” she tried to explain slowly. “It’s just sleeping.”
That somehow seemed to confirm something for Hermione, but she only leaned back. “I hope you don’t mind, but I’ve been using Hedwig this past month.”
Hestia looked up to her bird. “She really should have been sent to me.”
Ron was now eating a sandwich of some kind and was chewing it rather loudly. The previous conversation had clearly gone over his head like it had Hestia’s. “Mum was against it,” he said after swallowing. “So was Dumbledore.”
“They had no right.”
“You were being held captive by Flint,” Hermione said.
“My husband. That’s hardly being held captive. And I was out and about around London.”
“Just not having tea with friends,” Ron muttered.
“I was hardly having tea with anyone except Junia.” That was mostly the truth. Junia had been about with her squalling baby.
“Crabbe’s step-mum,” Hestia explained, “and Marcus’s sister. She has a baby boy. I babysat a few times so that I can get used to babies. I don’t think I want to allow house elves to take care of my children full time, you know?”
She looked at Hermione who looked back at her blankly.
“It’s too soon to think about children,” she said snottily.
Hestia prickled at her tone. “Of course. But he is my nephew. I thought you might be happy that I have a family now. A husband, a sister, a nephew. Haven’t met Crabbe yet. I suppose Vincent is my step-nephew.” She wrinkled her nose. “That’s a little creepy. I should probably say ‘hello’. I don’t want to snub him.”
She stood smoothly, her robes swishing around her.
“How much did he buy you?” Ron asked with disdain.
“Where’s Ginny?” she asked instead.
“Writing in her stupid journal,” Ron griped.
“Oh,” she murmured. “Send my greetings.”
“Send my greetings,” Ron mimicked quietly. Hestia ignored it. She raised herself on her toes and grabbed Hedwig’s cage.
She turned and didn’t look back at the carriage and headed toward what she hoped was the Slytherin section of the train. One of the first compartments she came across had Flint in it. She knocked on the door, and he immediately opened, already dressed for Hogwarts.
“They had my owl,” she said by way of greeting, handing over Hedwig.
“Did they feed her?” he asked, looping an arm around her waist.
“Yes, fortunately. However, Hermione used her. I just—why didn’t she come and find me? The wards weren’t that bad.”
Marcus glanced at Hedwig. “How long have you had her?”
He hummed. “She could be confused if Granger was a close friend. We’ll just use her to send letters back and forth for several months.” He smiled devilishly at her.
“We will, will we?” She looked up through her eyelashes. “Dear Marcus, I switched our ties this morning. Red looks good on you.”
He kissed her sweetly and she moaned into it. When they finally drew away Hestia became aware of the several Slytherins who were pointedly not looking at them. “My apologies,” she called over Marcus’s shoulder and then laughed when he picked her up. “Be careful of Sabrina.”
“Always.” He pecked her lips. “Shall you go find your year mates?”
“If you keep Hedwig safe,” was her answer. “Is everything arranged for tonight?”
“I’ll come for my robes later,” Hestia decided. “I like these far too much.”
“They are Moroccan,” he pointed out.
She grinned at him as she left, heading further down the train. Hestia knocked before she entered and found Greengrass with Parkinson, Nott, and Malfoy. “Is this seat taken?” she asked.
Malfoy immediately waved her toward it. “Lady Flint.”
“Master Malfoy. I trust we can put our ill feelings behind us, except on the Quidditch pitch perhaps?”
His ears pinked. “That is my exact wish.”
Hestia smiled at him. She turned to Nott. “I do not believe we’ve been introduced.” The words came out of Hestia’s mouth and she sounded like a stranger to herself. It was rather startling. Hestia supposed living as Lady Flint had truly changed her life, even the way she spoke.
“Lady Flint,” Greengrass said. “Mr. Nott.”
“Nott,” she greeted. “I’ve seen you in some of my classes.” She turned to the group at large. “I may be looking for new partners in class.”
“Weasley and Granger were a bit of a let down?” Greengrass asked.
“It was—“ Hestia wasn’t certain what exactly it was. “It just was.” There were no other words for it. It was hardly as bad as she had expected, but certainly no where near as well as she expected. Now Marcus might feel the need to replace Hedwig with a more loyal owl because he was absolutely infuriating. At least they hadn’t rifled through her trunk—
A dead weight dropped into her stomach. “Sorry,” she muttered, leaving Sabrina on the seat. She didn’t even hear when someone was following her all the way down to the other side of the train. When she got the right compartment she threw open the door, barely noticing that Ginny was there. She was scribbling in some threadbare diary that had initials other than her own in them.
Odd. Hestia didn’t know that you could get journals secondhand, though she supposed nothing should surprise her at this point.
“You used my owl,” she declared, glaring at Hermione. “Tell me you didn’t rifle through my trunk and use my other belongings as well.”
Ginny actually had the audacity to squeak.
Hestia leaned against the doorframe for support.
“Look,” Hermione began. “You weren’t using them, Hesty.”
“But you didn’t even ask, Hermy.” She took a deep breath. “All right. Who used my Nimbus 2000?”
“Well,” Ron answered. “Everyone.”
Everyone. Every Weasley and their cousin. This was just too much to bear. “It’s back in the trunk along with my clothes that were most likely borrowed as well?”
Ginny had the decency to shrink into her seat.
“Course, mate,” Ron answered. “We’re not thieves.”
Hardly that. No, they just borrowed what they fancied while holding luggage hostage. She could not believe it. The sheer invasion of privacy. She had nothing, absolutely nothing, when she arrived at Hogwarts, and now to have her precious possessions manhandled made them seem cheap and worthless.
Hestia stood on a seat and started pulling on her trunk.
“Now really,” Hermione huffed, but a moment later there was a presence beside her. Hestia looked up to see Greengrass there, casting a featherlight charm and helping with the pulling. The sight warmed Hestia’s heart.
“Where to?” Greegrass asked as they carried the trunk out of the carriage, much to the occupants’ protests.
“Marcus’s,” Hestia replied. “I also need to change into my uniform.”
“All the pity. I think witches should be able to dress well but modestly. Look at your robes for example or mine. We’d hardly offend anyone but the Weasleys or the Muggleborns.”
“But we would offend someone,” Hestia said, taking in Greengrass’s yellow-gold robes of spun silk that was made of a light wool and covered in shooting stars along the hem. “I always seem to offend someone.”
“You’re Lady Flint. It’s bound to happen.”
“I’m the Girl Who Lived, it already does.”
They stopped by Marcus’s compartment where Hestia handed over the trunk, tears in her eyes, though she promised to tell Marcus everything later. She and Greegrass separated so that they could change and when Hestia returned to the Slytherin second year carriage, she found Sabrina untouched, exactly where she had left her.
“I wish with all my soul his wife may plague his heart out.” Jane Austen, Sense and Sensibility
Hestia barely spoke to anyone in Gryffindor. It wasn’t by choice. It was simply by convenience. In the evening she and the other girls in her year in Slytherin would sit together on the beds and do their homework and then brush their dolls’ hair. It was an old ritual but one that Hestia found strangely soothing.
“I’m glad our house has no Muggleborns,” Daphne commented. “They wouldn’t understand.”
“I heard a Hufflepuff say that dolls were for babies,” Parkinson breathed. “How could they appreciate them?”
When Hestia asked Marcus about it later, he snorted. “They are a receptacle for magic. The stronger the bond with the doll, the stronger magic grows between them.”
Hestia had carefully placed Sabrina on a side table. “And this is good why?”
“Because, little dove,” Marcus explained, grasping her hips so that she would gasp and then laying her down on the bed and crawling over her. “It causes a witch’s magic to grow. It’s why I got you Sabrina immediately. I knew you’d like her.”
“She was the most expensive,” Hestia breathed out after he kissed her passionately.
“Well, you were bound to like her then,” he answered with a chuckle, kissing the tip of her nose. “Any more questions?”
“What do wizards do? You don’t have dolls.” Hestia climbed under the covers and snuggled against Marcus as he did the same.
“We specifically practice spells beyond our means. It’s why Slytherins like to hex other houses. We grow magically that way.”
Hestia hummed. “The reason seems lost on everyone else.”
“Some know the traditions.”
“Most do not.”
“No,” Marcus agreed sadly, pulling her down so that they were lying on the pillows. “No, they don’t.”
Hestia was laid out against her husband’s chest. “Hermione mocked me for it.”
“She’s an odd one. She has a wizard name.”
“I wonder if her grandparent or something is a Squib. What’s her mother’s name?”
Hestia shrugged. “She has a Muggle sister named Elissa.”
“The alternate named for Dido. Very curious.”
She poked him. “Stop talking about my friend. I might get jealous.”
His eyes gleamed and he leaned over and kissed her. “Never that, Lady Flint. Never that.” The kiss was warm and smooth like chocolate and Hestia once again lost herself in it. It was so easy to do, she wondered why more girls hadn’t kissed her husband, then again, she had never asked. Hestia wasn’t entirely certain she wanted to know.
Marcus pulled away with a sigh. “What are you thinking about?”
Hestia blushed and glanced away. “How—How many have you—?”
“Fucked?” he said bluntly.
She sat up in bed, pushing him away from her. “Pardon?”
“Only a few Muggleborns.” His tone was casual, as if it was entirely to be expected.
“Only a few Muggle-borns,” Hestia repeated angrily.
“I don’t want to hurt you when the time comes,” he explained to her. “It’s a pureblood tradition.”
She crossed her arms in anger. “Well, I’m not sure I like it. I just want to know how many witches you had kissed.”
“Oh,” he replied. “One when I was thirteen.” He stared at her evenly and Hestia decided, once again, that he was descended from at troll. Only a troll could be this stupid. “It was in a cupboard, and she was a Ravenclaw.”
“Is she about?”
Hestia sighed. That at least was a relief. But wait a moment—“You—You—with those Muggleborns and didn’t kiss them?” She blushed scarlet. How could she possibly avoid it? This was well beyond something she thought she would think about at her age. Yes, she shared a bed with her husband, but all they did was cuddle. He was rather possessive and liked to hold her to him. If he could have some magical tether keeping them together, Hestia wouldn’t be surprise if he cast it on the two of them.
“No, they didn’t deserve it.”
Hestia stared at him blankly.
“Only you deserve my kisses.” Her heart melted a little bit.
“I think I love you, too,” she mumbled, moving into his arms.
Marcus, of course, fell asleep with a smug expression on his face. It was just like the bastard.
The next day the cat was petrified. When Hestia arrived with Daphne and Davis, they had been near the back, but Marcus quickly found them and pushed them forward. Hestia read the ominous message and almost wanted to laugh. Enemies of the heir beware? The heir had attacked a cat that no one liked! Filch had been pitiful to see but at least Mrs. Norris was only petrified. There were some small blessings in this world.
Marcus, of course, took this as an invitation. He would grab her between classes and kiss her sweetly in broom closets before leaving her addle-brained. Hestia was really wondering how much longer this could really last. Her performance in class was suffering slightly, but Daphne covered for her—except in Potions.
Hestia always did her Potions homework with Marcus who was by no means good at the subject but certainly remembered simpler potions. He said it was good review for his upcoming N.E.W.T.s. Hestia wasn’t entirely certain whether or not she should believe him.
“Have you heard the hissing in the wall?” she remarked one day as she was brushing Sabrina’s hair.
“What hissing?” Marcus asked.
“The one that wants to maim and kill. That hissing,” Hestia stated matter of factly.
Marcus looked at her strangely. “I have no idea what you’re saying, little dove.”
“Oh,” she said, not looking up from her task. “There’s hissing in the walls. It rather reminds me of a boa constrictor I met about a month or so before I came to Hogwarts.”
Marcus was in the process of removing his tie, but left it half undone. “Hissing?”
“Yes. How many times do I have to tell you?” she huffed. “How is this more important than the fact that you never told me—“
Marcus leaned over and tried to kiss her but she moved away, feeling hurt and petulant. “Hestia,” he murmured.
She shook her head.
“I don’t expect you not to have girlfriends,” she explained after a long minute. “But I thought it would be—consensual.”
“It was. I swear.” He came close to her in the light, his large cheekbones and chin making his face a jack-o-lantern in the candle light. It made her want to kiss him. He would always be her Marcus.
“You just happened to choose Muggleborns?” she asked in confusion. “None of this makes any sense!”
“It’s tradition like brushing a doll’s hair for a young witch until she takes her N.E.W.T.s.”
“Then explain it to me,” Hestia demanded.
Marcus pulled her close and she tugged at his sleep shirt. “You are a witch.”
“We are one, are we not?” she argued, half-remembering what she’d heard about marriage. “Surely if we have a son—“
“You will be much older.”
Hestia sighed. “I don’t want to walk around the halls and look into the faces of older students and wonder if you—with them—“
“My innocent little pureblood,” he murmured, kissing the top of her head.
The conversation seemed to end there. It was when Hestia was walking with Marcus that she heard it again. “Shhh,” she murmured to the group of people around her. “I can hear it.”
“The hissing?” Marcus murmured at the shell of her ear. She nodded.
Behind her she could hear him moving back her entourage, as she called them, as well as his. She pressed her ear up against the wall and heard it again. Hunger … Blood … Death … Really, this creature had a rather small vocabulary.
Pushing herself away she turned toward Marcus, not quite forgetting their surroundings. “Marcus, I think it’s a snake.”
Malfoy was the first to speak up. “Why a snake?”
Hestia looked over to him. “About a month before I came to Hogwarts, my cousin Dudley was being a nuisance. I found this nice boa constrictor to talk to and Dudley just pushed me out of the way because it was moving.” She shrugged. “The glass happened to disappear and the snake went to Brazil. I was a bit sad really. I knew I couldn’t take it home but he would have been someone to talk to.”
Suddenly, Hestia could feel Marcus’s hands on either side of his face. “You can talk to snakes?” he asked her quietly.
“Oh, yes. All the time. I had a lovely conversation at tea time when you were out one day with the ones in your back garden.” She said it so calmly and so coolly that whatever Marcus was searching for in her eyes, he must have found.
“What does this snake want?”
“To kill. My guess is a Muggleborn though I don’t know who this heir is.”
“You’re the heir,” Daphne proclaimed proudly. “The other one is just a Pretender.”
“Why would I—“ Hestia began, but someone suggested they follow the snake so Hestia had her ear pressed up against the wall again. She found herself leading a group of Slytherins straight to the scene of some Gryffindor first year.
“Definitely a Mudblood,” Draco murmured.
He was looking through his camera at something and appeared frozen in place. Behind him was the usual note. Enemies of the heir beware . . .
“Could they be threatening people on Lady Flint’s behalf?” some seventh year asked as they all stared at it.
“Now why would they do that?” Dumbledore said, coming onto the scene, the first of the teachers. “Miss Flint?”
Miss Flint. She was always called Miss Flint here for the sake of equality.
She lifted up her chin and let her hair fall back, which was in an elegant braid today. Daphne had been kind enough to do it. Without glancing at her husband, she stated clearly. “It’s a snake.”
“A snake!” he remarked, kneeling next to the body. “What ever gave you that impression?”
“Lady Flint is a Parselmouth and can hear it through the walls,” Marcus proclaimed proudly.
Dumbledore’s head whipped up and Snape, who was making his way through the students, suddenly stopped to stare at her. It was an appraising glance as if she were worth suddenly more than a fly, which was gratifying, she supposed.
“Are you certain?” Dumbledore asked.
“And did you do that?”
“No,” she stated. “I have nothing against Muggleborns. You know that.”
“Ah, yes. Miss Granger. How is she?” he asked, a twinkle in his eye as if he knew he was going to entrap her.
“Studying, per usual,” she responded, a safe answer. “If there’s nothing more I can help you with?”
“Where do you hear it, young lady?”
“In the walls. Perhaps it moves through the pipes. Its murmurings are quite audible from the hallways.”
“A Basilisk then,” Dumbledore said sadly. “You and your friends can go. I may want to speak to you later.”
Hestia inclined her head and slipped back to the Slytherin Common Room. Immediately she was swept into Marcus’s arms and kissed quite soundly and the next thing she knew there were doughnuts and butterbeer and she was laughing with everyone else.
“What are we celebrating?” she asked Daphne.
“You, of course. Our own Heir of Slytherin.”
“Isn’t that rather—bad?”
“Only according to Gryffindors and some scared Hufflepuffs. No, your talent should be celebrated. You’re descended from one of the longest lines in all of Britain.”
Marcus was certainly more protective of her, growling at any male who came near her. It almost made Hestia laugh, but she knew he was entirely serious. Instead she kissed him and he carried her off to bed. They fell asleep curled together, in their robes, and Hestia frankly would not have had it any other way.
“There is nothing I would not do for people who are really my friends. I have no notion of loving people by halves, it is not in my nature.” Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey
Junia was being very trying. “Isn’t it wonderful? Wonderful!” she exclaimed. Her dark brown hair was up in curls and her baby was on her hip. Although it was constantly drooling, none of it got on her perfect robes. “The Heir of Slytherin.”
Vincent Crabbe sat off in the corner and they looked at each other, commiserating. “Actually, sister, there’s someone going about Hogwarts petrifying cats and Muggleborns.” She took a bite of her cooking.
“Nonsense! All done in your honor!”
Hestia looked over to Marcus. He was no help. “Marcus didn’t even know, or any of my friends in Gryffindor. There were so few snakes about and I thought it was as normal as magic.”
As Normal as Magic. That was a laugh. Everything was a laugh these days. She was.
Dumbledore had even called her up to his office to get information. He even had the audacity to wish her well on her marriage, not that he cared at all!
Well, that was a subject that could distract Junia. “So, Crabbe, marrying anytime soon?”
The poor boy looked petrified.
“He’s only thirteen.”
“I’m only twelve.”
“He’s a wizard with another heir in the household.” She held up the baby. Hestia could never remember its name. She called in Gigantus Crabbe in her head. The baby was rather round. Reminded her of Dudley but at least it wasn’t blond.
Hestia pursed her lips. “I’m a witch. Surely I have the same rights.”
“Different but equal, dear. Different but equal.” Oh, yes. Hestia hated Junia. “You don’t regret marrying Marcus?” The woman looked concerned.
Hestia plastered a smile on her face. “No, of course not.” She set her teacup down on her saucer with a sense of finality, a sign in pureblood society that the visit was over.
“So lovely to see you,” Junia sighed and Hestia kissed her cheek. Hestia and Crabbe merely nodded at each other and the three of them—Junia, Vincent Crabbe, and Gigantus—were gone in green flames.
“That can’t be good for the baby,” Hestia remarked.
“It’s not forbidden,” he answered. “You’re twelve and a half.”
That was a strange non sequitor. “Ah, yes. I am.”
“And you’ve been bleeding since before I married you.” His voice was so calm, so even, that Hestia just wanted to slap him.
“Marcus!” she responded, scandalized.
He turned toward her, seriousness in her eyes. “You’re not bleeding now.”
She couldn’t answer him. The two just stared at each other a long moment before Marcus spoke again.
“I want to run a hot bath for you, then massage your limbs and then I want to make you my wife in deed.”
“You want to—“
“I want to make love to you,” he answered quietly.
Hestia felt like she couldn’t quite breathe properly.
“I’ll take care of you. I’ve enough experience not only not to harm my bride but to give her pleasure.”
“That’s what those Muggleborns are for! They’re practice.”
A large hand lifted to cup her face. “I’ve only ever wanted you,” he breathed, and then he kissed her slow and soft, just as he had at the wedding. Before she knew it he was carefully stripping off her clothes and she was in a jasmine scented bath. Then his large hands were everywhere, kneading, making her relax until finally she was under the covers, her damp hair on the pillow, hands tracing down her legs.
He breathed out when they became one and clutched her to him. She felt no pain other than the initial sting and she loved him for it and could no longer begrudge those Muggleborns as she cried out in pleasure.
Late into the afternoon the two made love until they were both completely spent and she was lying in his arms.
“Can I have children?” she asked.
“No. Your magic won’t allow it while you’re still at school.” Marcus’ voice was harsh from crying out.
Hestia’s was no more than a hoarse whisper. “That’s something. Natural contraceptive.”
Marcus tensed. “Such things are frowned upon among purebloods. All children are precious. Magic merely recognizes that you are not in the proper situation to raise a child—unless you take a conception potion. Then all bets are off.”
“Why, Lord Flint, I didn’t know you were a betting man.”
He only smiled up at the ceiling.
Hestia snuggled closer. “Was it good—for you?”
“Yes,” he responded honestly. “Because I love you.”
“I’m a skinny twelve year old who can talk to snakes.”
“You’re a powerful witch who doesn’t care what the world says about her. I don’t believe you ever had.”
Hestia looked at him sadly, thinking of her time at the Dursleys. “No, I don’t believe I have in a while.”
Marcus caught a tear running down her cheek and simply held her closer. “Know that you are wanted and you are needed now.”
“I’m needed, am I?” Hestia teased, feeling herself fall off into slumber.
“Yes,” Marcus murmured. “More than you can ever possibly know.”
And with that Hestia fell asleep in her husband’s arms. She felt fully loved and contented. Although the words never passed between them, they were in every gesture, every glance, every soft touch.
Hestia Flint was loved and she knew it without a doubt.
It wasn’t until the end of January that they went to Gringotts. Marcus had insisted that Hestia both not speak to the Weasleys (“At least I get a say here, if not at Hogwarts,” he all but growled) and that she get an entire new wardrobe.
“I don’t need any of it,” she protested.
“If I say you need it, you need it. Lady Flint shall be inferior to no one.”
He pulled her arm closer to him, it was wrapped in the crook of his elbow, and they swept into Gringotts bank. “Gamble,” he stated imperiously as they skipped the line, and a moment later they were in the same room as they had been married in, and Hestia couldn’t help but look around it curiously.
There were many high shelves that she doubted Marcus could even reach with an awful lot of books on them.
“We came about Lady Flint,” Marcus stated imperiously. “Who were her parents?”
“Parent,” Gamble contradicted in that annoying way of his. “We can’t reveal names as she was stolen. We only know what we can gather by scanning her.”
Hestia looked away from the shelves. “Parent? As in just one?” She came forward and took her husband’s arm again. Hestia desperately needed his strength.
Marcus rested his hand reassuringly on top of hers.
“Yes, just the one. Only purebloods can make children on their own. Only they are powerful enough.”
“And it is not James Potter,” Marcus inquired.
“No. She is not a Potter. She is a pureblood but not a Potter.” Gamble gambled toward some skull in the room. What an odd little goblin.
That’s all they seemed to be able to learn there.
The night before they left for Hogwarts Marcus made love to Hestia even more gently. It was as if he were apologizing for her pain, not that he could. It was not his to apologize for. However, he did make her forget with the feel of his shoulders and the taste of his lips and the sliding movement of his tensed thighs.
Marcus was right about the new wardrobe. No self-respecting witch in Slytherin house showed up in anything she had worn in the fall. Hestia privately thought it was ridiculous in her midnight blue gown with gold rope trimming. She brushed her doll’s hair as she talked to Draco about an eleven year old he’d like to put a marriage offer in for.
“Do I know her?”
“No. She was born in September,” Draco admitted, his cheeks pink.
“Do your parents at least approve?” She could feel the tingle of magic in her fingers.
Draco looked around shiftily even though they somehow had the cabin to themselves. “Of the family, yes. They would prefer the older sister as she’s in our year.”
“But you prefer the younger.”
“She’s my best friend,” he quietly admitted.
Hestia hummed. “Then offer for her on her birthday. It will show how serious you are, Draco.”
And with that the conversation was finished as Daphne Greengrass entered the room with her doll.
The Slytherins still followed her around and were happy when they’d bring her a dangerous snake for her to talk to. Hestia kept on having to remind them that it wasn’t a game. They weren’t pets and to put them back where they found them. Still, they called her ‘Princess Slytherin’ after asking Marcus for his permission, which he stupidly granted. She stopped talking to the snakes they kept on bringing her to make a point and eventually it all stopped.
It was March when the strange event occurred. Hestia was walking through the hall with Parkinson and Greengrass when they were approached by some little Gryffindor. She held out a book to Hestia. “It’s safe,” she promised. “He may know who your parents are.”
Hestia instantly drew her wand. “How could you possibly know, little Gryffindor.”
“I mentioned that you talked to snakes. He said he knew the last of the line—“
Hestia snatched the book away. Malfoy came around the corner. “Obliviate her,” she requested, and a minute later, the girl was looking around confused, saw them, and ran in the opposite direction. Parkinson giggled.
“I’ll have my husband obliviate you,” Hestia threatened.
“Not necessary!” she squeaked, but Hestia was already heading back to the dorms with the strange book. She opened it on her desk, her doll placed on the bed, and saw the words clearly printed: I MAGICALLY SWEAR THAT I MEAN HESTIA FLINT, NEE POTTER, THE LADY SLYTHERIN, NO HARM.
Hestia seized her quill. “Who are you?” she demanded.
“Lady Flint?” it inquired.
“Who are you?”
“I believe I am your father,” the book wrote back before it was slammed shut and pulled away.
“This could be a dark artifact,” Marcus proclaimed before throwing it in the fire, where nothing happened.
“That was mine!” Hestia shouted, reaching for the book, but Marcus just flung her on the bed, away from her doll. Hestia thrashed about but he held her.
“You don’t know how it worked, darling,” he stated harshly. “It could suck up your energy. Someone on the other side could have been using you. You just don’t know. Where did you even get it?”
“A Gryffindor first year,” she ground out, having given up, mostly, on her struggles.
“Exactly,” he proclaimed and then kissed her hard. There was no more talk of books that night. Her doll somehow made it to the trunk. Hestia was surprised her robes weren’t ripped and then, when she woke up, the diary was gone.
It wasn’t until two years later that Hestia finally learned who her father was. Marcus had graduated and worked in the Department of Magical Sports. She still had their room in Slytherin and still brushed her doll’s hair. She gave up in trying to defy Marcus and his possessive tendencies unless really necessary. Gigantus turned out to be named Gorgon, of all names. Hestia sometimes wondered at Junia’s mind. She was about to go to sleep when the Floo in her room flared green, showing her Marcus’s face. “Get your cloak,” he demanded.
“Why?” she asked when she stepped into the fire.
She held tightly to her husband and was surprised to find herself in a dilapidated manor.
“Hurry,” Marcus whispered, pulling her along barely lit hallways until they were turned into a throne room. There were figures draped in black on either side and in the center was a tall man standing, shadows seemingly clothing him. His face was chalk white, his eyes red though no more than slits, he didn’t have a nose, and yet … and yet …
“Father?” she whispered in Parseltongue, moving forward.
The man turned to her and took in her form. Answering in the same language, he hissed, “You’d be nearly fifteen now, am I correct?”
“Yes,” she said, coming even to him. “They said I was stolen and only had one father.”
“You were a product of my vanity, I’m afraid, but those who allowed you to be captured paid with their lives, my little Hestia. Still, you were my child. My immortality.”
She smiled, tears trickling down her cheeks. Hestia. Her name. The one her father had given to her.